In our 20 years posting Featured Truck series we have only listed one 1938 Chevy USA made ½ ton. (November 2009) The 1938 Chevy trucks are much rarer than the other two years in this series, the 1936 and 1937. This is due to 1938 labor strikes that at times stopped production in most of the GM plants. It was toward the end of the Great Depression and the recently formed United Auto Workers demanded more benefits for plant employees.
Our special truck this month (probably the nicest 1938 in existence) is owned and been personally restored by Glen Andrews of Raleigh, North Carolina. When we first saw a photo of Glen’s 1938, we knew it had to be a very authentic restoration. It had only one taillight! This was just like all early GM trucks when they came from the factory. Most current restorations differ. Correct or not, today’s owners prefer two taillights.
Glen’s ½ ton was originally bought by the father of his then father-in-law. When new it was immediately placed in use to transport heavy equipment for a water well digging company in North Carolina. It was retired 12 years later. By then there was just too many areas that required fixing. The cost would be much less to just by a good used pickup than to correct the aging problems of this 1938 ½ ton. After all, it had been a pure “work truck.” Only absolute necessary mechanicals were updated. It saw water only when it rained! No garage.
The ’38 pickup was placed in a one-car shed near the house where various business and household items were placed on it. Worn out items were kept with the idea that they may still have some value. As more items were placed on the truck and as time passed the old truck was forgotten. The original owner’s son told Glen about this pickup in 1978. It was very difficult to see because of many household items being stored in and on it for 28 years. Glen was able to get in the shed and looked at the cab and engine bay, and then told his father-in-law that one day “I’ll bring it back to life.”
By 1986, older trucks were beginning to gain much popularity and Glen always remembered this rare stored 1938. He decided to take a closer look and then he bought it.
He too stored this pickup but by now he had disassembled most of it. Glen moved the pieces with him during two job transfers. The actual restoration began in Raleigh, NC, in June of 1994 and required four years, finishing it in Pittsburgh, PA. It was then he created this show truck as you see it. Truly a “Work of Art”, identical to the day it left the Maryland assembly line in mid-1938. It is now back in Glen’s adopted home town of Raleigh, North Carolina.
Original colors: Brewster Green with Black fenders, running boards, and wheels; and Gigolo Green pinstripes, which were hand painted to the original pattern. Wrinkle Brown interior panels, and Brown leatherette non-pleated seat cushions. Such a nice combination!
Chevrolet used the 216 cubic inch engine in both trucks and cars; which was a great engine for the types of roads of that era.
This floor shift 3 speed transmission is synchronized in second and third gears. What an improvement over using the clutch pedal twice (double clutching) between each shift.
The rear axle ratio is 4.11 (the engine rotates 4.11 revelations while the wheels rotate one revelation; which allows a comfortable cruising speed of 40mph.
This truck does not have a heater, dome light, cigarette lighter; and, only has one windshield wiper, as well as only one taillight.
Pin Stripe Trivia:
The standard exterior color (Brewster Green) during 1936-38 was given a pin stripe referred to as Gigolo Green.
On Glen’s 1938, he could look very close and make out almost all the outlined factory striping. Photos were taken before the total paint was removed so a hired artist could perfectly replace the color and size. Another work of art in this major restoration!
Why the name Gigolo on the stripe color? This is lost in history. The 1995 Webster Dictionary describes Gigolo as –
⦁ A man who is paid to be a dancing partner or escort for a woman.
⦁ A man is the lover of a woman and is supported by her.
In about 1940 Chevrolet changed the name to Apple. Thus, all new truck shoppers would know the color.
What’s happening now?
As most serious restores know, when you really want it to be factory original, you often find subtle mistakes. The more you place it in shows, read factory original data, and talk to others in this field; the more little things are discovered to correct.
Glen is no exception! In the last 20 years, so many surprises have surfaced. His 1938 truck hobby has been just that, a continual upgrading. A big help has been joining two major early vehicle clubs. The Antique Automobile Club of America & The Vintage Chevrolet Club of America. Their help has been great in guiding this project to fruition.
The largest and oldest, The Antique Automobile Club of America, has presented Glen’s 1938 awards over the years. In June 2019, this 1938 was given their top honor with a “Grand National” in Auburn, Indiana. (This is a serious judging club)
Glen’s 1938 was assembled in June 1938 at the GM assembly plant in Baltimore, Maryland. This was shown in code on the ID plate on the body of the engine compartment. We also know it is at least made in mid-1938 because of the right outside gas add spout.
Therefore, 1938 and all of the 1937 required raising the right ½ seat cushion to expose the gas tank and threaded “bung” that is on it’s top.