Jim Carter's Old Chevy Trucks - Classic Chevy & GMC Truck Parts for all of your restoration needs! 1000's of parts in stocks now!

Posts Tagged ‘korean war’

Korean War Shortages

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Prices of more valuable metals such as copper and nickel reached their height during mid 1951 through 1953. Though U.S. shortages were much less than in WWII, there were price increases in the market that affected the financial bottom line of auto and truck manufacturers.

America almost demanded chrome on cars even if it raised prices. Decorative shiny trim was almost necessary to get buyers into the showroom.

Trucks were a different story! They were work vehicles. Eliminating the chrome extras did nothing to lessen the load capacity or operations off road. To keep the price down GM and other truck manufacturers removed much of the chrome and replaced it with paint. The steel stampings were the same, they were just painted. It was very necessary for GM’s base model to be priced low. City, county, federal, and many companies bought fleet trucks that offered the lowest price. Purchases had little to do with appearance. Even a $10.00 savings could make a sale.

The noticeable changes on GM light trucks is the lack of chrome on hub caps, grill bars, bumpers, and even the wiper knob. Stainless steel also felt the Korean War shortages. The deluxe five window pickup cab no longer had the stainless around the windshield and side windows. The glove box as well as the radio speaker horizontal trim was now painted steel. The deluxe panel truck with all its extra stainless side trim was now history.

By 1954 the chrome and stainless was back stronger than ever though some base models were kept in paint to hold their price low.

The following photos show just a few examples of GM’s Korean War era trucks. Considering their uses it doesn’t look too bad.

korean 1

korean 2

korean 3

korean 4

korean 5

1954 GM Transition Year

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

This was one of the most unique years for Chevrolet trucks. The Korean War and some resulting material shortages were now history. The economy was growing and the average worker brought home more wages than ever before. Sales of luxury options on automobiles were showing definite increases.

To capitalize on this trend for transportation improvements, GM was fast working on total new automobile and truck models for the coming year. When introduced, the result would be record sales which put General Motors even further above it’s competitors.

But what about the 1954 year for GM trucks? Waiting buyers had the demand for a new updated truck but the tooling was not yet complete. Other competitive truck manufacturers were beginning to offer many deluxe features.

Therefore, General Motor’s 1954 answer to temporarily satisfy new truck buyers was a major facelift of the prior models. To keep costs down, GM continued to use the basic cab introduced in mid-1947. To update this seven year old design, an enterprising engineering department added items such as a modern one piece curved windshield, completely redesigned dash board, and created a totally different grill. All this while keeping almost identical hood, fenders, bumpers, running boards, seats, doors, etc.

Another big first for 1954 Chevrolet truck cabs was the optional color coordinated interior and the two tone exterior. This had never been offered before by GM on truck cabs. Advertisements defined it as “The Bold New Look”. For an extra cost (only on cabs with rear quarter windows), the customer could order interior color combinations including two tone blue, gray and maroon, two tone green, plus dark and light brown. Each of these four base color combinations were harmonized with the headliner, floor mat, door panels, windlace, arm rest, and interior sheet metal. Pearl beige was the standard color on non optioned cabs.

This deluxe two tone interior package was introduced in mid year. Therefore, it is not shown in early 1954 Chevrolet truck brochures and many perfectionists do not know it was available later.

The above mentioned colored floor mats also added little to GM’s investment when they produced quantities.  These have never been reproduced.  Note:  For the perfectionist that requires all extras for the 1954 deluxe pickup, we have heard that a restorer spray painted his new black floor mat with flexible rubberized paint used on newer automobile exterior front and rear bumpers.

Here is another very exclusive item on the 1954-55 deluxe pickup were their armrests: These were not found on other GM vehicles. The more basic pickup still used the arm rest introduced in 1947. See our tech article & photos on these arm rests. They came in the four door panel colors so both could be correctly coordinated.

The two tone exterior paint option included a white top only (shell white) and only on the deluxe cab. For the short run in 1955 of this body design (first series), the two tone was still with only a white top but the shade was changed to Bombay Ivory.

Another very unusual feature, that cost GM no extra, was colored running boards.  They matched the lower body color.  On standard and prior years, the boards were black.

With fears of Korean War shortages now over, chrome and stainless steel could now be offered again as part of a long option list. On the deluxe model this included stainless exterior window trim plus chrome hub caps, grill and bumpers.

The option list also increased greatly for the 1954 year with new items available not offered during previous years. Examples were full wheel covers, electric wiper motor, automatic 4 speed transmission, ride control seat, day-night inside rear view mirror, etc.

It is also important to remember that for 1954, Chevrolet chose to introduce two major items and not wait for the totally new later 1955 models. This was the high pressure insert bearing six cylinder engines and the deeper restructured pickup bed. Thus, the 1954 shares both the early and late features and is a true “transition truck”.

At present, the 1954 GM light pickups, particularly the deluxe models are showing a fast increase in popularity among restorers. They stand out as a unique transition truck having various characteristics not associated in total with any GM commercial vehicle. It is felt their future pricing will also stay higher than either 1947 to 1953 or the 1955 to 1959 models in equal condition. Of course, all older GM trucks are on their way to the top in popularity and value. They are to restorers “the Model A’s of a New Generation”.

1954 gm transition

Proper 3100 Hood Side Emblem

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

During the Advance Design years no less than four different Chevrolet hood side emblems were used on 1/2 tons. Each of their two mounting pins are in the same place so the punched hood holes were unchanged during these years. All were chromed die cast even during the 1952-1953 Korean war chrome shortage.

The following pictures show the correct emblem for each of the years. Beware, some vendor’s catalogs do not list them correctly.

Note: Between mid-1949 through 1951, a separate small 3100 emblem was placed below the Chevrolet letter plate. Therefore, hoods during these years will have two additional factory punched holes. The longer Chevrolet emblem used between 1949-1952 are the same.

proper 3100 1

1949-1951 3100 Emblem (above)

proper 3100 2

1955 First Series (above)

proper 3100 3

1952 (above)

proper 3100 4

1953-1954 (above)

proper 3100 5

1947-1949 Thriftmaster (above)

1954-1955 GMC Bed Reflector

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

By 1954, the Korean War shortages were history. More trim and chrome plating began to show up in trucks and cars. The Chevrolet and GMC truck divisions both introduced a deluxe model for their pickups during mid-year 1954. Hopes were to appeal to the emerging buyers with more disposable income.

The deluxe model of these two trucks shared most of the same sheet metal, however special unique items kept each individual! One of these exclusive items was used only on the top of the line GMC pickup. This was the bed-roll reflector. It was never placed on Chevrolets or the basic GMC pickup.

In today’s world this extra is almost impossible to locate. Not only was it on the deluxe GMC’s but few of these top of the line models found buyers. Most still thought of trucks as workers and ordered the basic vehicle. This reflector is on the very end of the bed roll and it is exposed to being damaged while backing.

To save tooling costs, GMC designers borrowed the red reflector lens from the 1953 Buick taillight. Unfortunately, the stainless ring (riveted to the bed roll) is exclusive only to the rare deluxe GMC pickup.

1954 gmc bed reflector 1

1954 gmc bed reflector 2

1954 gmc bed reflector 3

1954 gmc bed reflector 4