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1937 to Early 1938 Chevrolet /GMC Gas Tank and Seat Cushions

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

So unusual to place a gas tank under the seat with no fill pipe outside the cab! To engineer this big change for 1937 was expensive and very different from earlier years when it was under the bed. Why was this done? What advantages could this have been over an outside fill spout? Was gasoline theft during the depression years a big problem?

To add gasoline on a 1937, the right lower cushion half was raised up toward the back which exposed the threaded ‘bung’ on the surface of the tank. It meant a person stood outside by the right side of the cab, raised the cushion half and added fuel. This is how it was done! If it was raining or snowing, the driver or the attendant stood there fueling. Maybe you kept an umbrella stored in this small cab for emergencies. Maybe gas station employees knew that when a 1937 Chevrolet or GMC truck drove in to get gas in the rain, a raincoat was needed. If some gasoline was spilled while filling, the vapor was smelled throughout the cab. If you were a cigarette smoker, well—–!!!

We were fortunate to recently obtain a set of 1937 original seat cushions. Even the upholstery on the two lower halves was still intact. The non-spout gas tank from the same truck came in the set.

Before they were requested by a serious collector, pictures had to be taken. Finding a pure set again in one place would probably be impossible.

An interesting feature is the plywood bottom on the right side removable cushion. The rectangular hole in the plywood prevented the springs from ever sagging and touching the electric gas sending unit. This must have been placed there to also protect the gas tank and bung from contact with a passenger’s weight on the seat. Engineers knew that a spark from an electric short near gas vapor would be a disaster!

We think these photos will be very interesting to the 1937 GM truck enthusiast. This way of tank filling continued into early 1938. Probably during the depression years, the manufacturer used their extra bodies and tanks that were left over from 1937 until supplies were depleted. Of course, this changeover would vary depending on the assembly plant.

The in- cab gas tank is also unique. It lies neatly inside the seat riser. The twist cap (bung) hole for adding fuel is at least 10′ away from the sending unit (protection from a gasoline pump add nozzle). For some reason the tank is built with two drain holes. One is always plugged and therefore the tank can be used in two type cabs. Maybe the gasoline outlet is different for right or left hand drive trucks!

Both Cushions have original upholstery Easily removable wood bottom half cushion. Note: the 2 small blocks to keep cushion secure on the seat riser.
Open spring half cushion for driver Both cushions raised above gas tank.
Plywood notch fits above gasoline sending unit. Sending unit in place.
Gasoline add bung and adjacent air vent. Open bung during refueling.
Top of tank. Note: Sending unit, bung, and air vent. Bottom of tank. Note: 2 Gas outlets.

Amendment to 1937 to Early 38 Chevrolet / GMC Gas Tank and Seat Cushions:

Several years after the above article was posted, a pair of original bottom cushions appeared at our shop. The owner stated they were from a 1937 pickup that had been in the family since it was a year old.

As the underside is covered with a sheet of rusted thin metal, it would appear it is original GM. We now wonder if the wood plywood bottom in the first article is factory installed or the result of a very skilled carpenter attempting to add additional years to a deteriorated set of original cushions. You be the judge!

SURPRISE:  As of December 2016, new 1937 gas tanks are in stock.  Just like GM made them 8 years ago!

1939-1946 Replacement Seat Cushions

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Locating a pair of seat cushions for the 1939-46 truck has become very difficult in recent years. These early trucks increased popularity is the main reason for the shortage. Even when a pair of cushions are located the asking price often does not justify the purchase because of the age damage to the springs and frame of the lower cushion.

It is this lower cushion that has received the most wear in its 60 years. In a salvage yard the door or window left open for even a year allows rain water to soak the seat padding and hasten the damage.

As your hunt continues, here is a practical substitute that fits the cab well and gives the appearance of a re-upholstered original. Locate the common rear seat (not the middle) in a 1984-90 Dodge Caravan or Plymouth Voyager mini-van. You can even pull the factory levers on the back and the seat is quickly removed. Most salvage yards have many extras and their pricing should be under $50.00. You will even get the seat belts!

With less use of this rear seat in the van, you can find one with no tears or permanent stains.

The next step is cleaning. Simply place it in the bed of your late model pickup and find a coin operated wand car wash. The hot soapy water will make the cloth covered cushion like new for less than $5.00. Leave it in your truck for a few hours until the water drip stops. Then place the cushion where it can dry. In about 24 hours, the job is done! The padding is closed cell foam and does not absorb water.

You won’t need most of the lower metal attaching brackets. Remove them and attach the remaining metal and cushions to your trucks original seat riser. Here is where you can be creative but it is done and the remaining metal will not be visible.

For the perfectionist, the cab tapers inward as it reaches the cowl. Thus, the two doors are slightly closer to each other at the front in a standard cab. This new van cushion will touch the front of the doors because of this taper. If you don’t like this contact with the door, an upholstery shop can place a taper in the lower cushion to parallel the inside door panel. A small portion of the foam edge can be removed from the front sides of the lower cushion.

Continue to search for the original 1939-46 seat cushions. In the meantime, you have very comfortable clean cushions with seat belts. Most people will think you had your originals reupholstered.

The following article and pictures were received from Brett Courcier. He personally used this type seat and is very satisfied.

My name is Brett Courcier. I live in Fremont Nebraska. I own a 1946 Chevy pickup street rod. I wanted to take a few pictures of how my seat fit in my truck. I was trying to find a seat for my truck. I found a Plymouth Caravan minivan rear seat. It fit great. I cut off the latching pieces that go in the minivan floor and welded on a piece of 2″ square tubing to the front legs and a piece of 1″ square tubing to the rear legs. The pictures show them. My upholsterer added lumbar support to the lower back area and also added 2″ in heigth to the back of the seat. The seat comes with three seat belts and folds forward from the back of the cab. We added a full length pouch across the back of the cab for storage. I hope the pictures show enough for you. If you have any questions please contact me.

Brett Courcier

402-727-7127 or e-mail baccourcier@team-national.com


We just had an email showing another excellent seat for a 1939-46 Chevy / GMC cab. This photo is of a rear seat cushion from a 1990 Ford mini van. Nice fit. This person found a top of the line leather seat in a local salvage yard. A good cleaning made it a very nice inexpensive seat that fit really well!

seat 1 seat 2 seat 3

1984-1990 Dodge Caravan or Plymouth Voyager


1990 Ford Mini Van

Seat Cover Kits

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Our seat cover kits are produced with an emphasis on originality. The materials are top quality for many year’s service. Seams, ribbing, etc., are based on original seats.

seat cover

We recommend that installation be done by a professional upholstery company. However, if you wish to do it yourself, here are several important steps to follow:

1. Seat springs must be in original condition. No breaks, sags, etc.

2. Over springs, place one layer of burlap.

3. Over burlap, place two layers of cotton padding. Cotton must extend down over edges of outer springs.

4. Place vinyl cover over padding. Stretch evenly to eliminate wrinkles. Press special C shape clips at rear of springs to permanently hold cover in place.

5. If clips are put in place with pliers, cover the end with tape or equivalent to lessen chances to vinyl tears.

6. Wrinkles from storage will normally disappear in several days.