Owner: Clyde Johnson
Featured this month is a rare 65 year old truck was saved from an unknown destiny almost 35 years ago. The survival rate of this style 1940 Chevrolet pickup is very low because they are rated 3/4 ton. Heavier demands were placed on almost all non-1/2 ton pickups and most were just ‘used up.’
This beauty still lives because it was first owned by the Walnut Grove, Missouri Volunteer Fire Department (near Springfield) and saw duty during occasional fires in the small community. Much of its life it set in the town fire station ready for emergency calls. This is probably why only 26,000 now show on the odometer. It carried ladders, hoses, and related fire equipment as well as firemen. Usually it followed near the larger town fire truck.
The person responsible for the rebirth of this classic older 3/4 ton is Clyde Johnson of Independence, Missouri. He purchased it un-restored from a neighbor in the 1970’s for $200. It was to give his 16 year old son, Larry, something different, dependable, and ‘not fast’ to drive to high school. It came to be Larry’s main local transportation for several years. But then Clyde got it back after graduation. A total restoration was always a consideration but family responsibilities kept it on a ‘someday’ to do list.
It was over thirty years later that Clyde got serious about giving the little 3/4 ton the ground-up restoration it so badly needed. His four children were on their own and he had just retired after many years as a machinist training instructor.
Once the restoration began, Clyde averaged 20 hours per week, 25 most all was done by him personally. He disassembled it to the bare frame and then began building it back and restoring each piece. To make it look less like a fire truck and more as a civilian truck, he removed the spotlight, siren, ladder brackets and a very large steel plate rear bumper where fireman stood on the way to a fire.
It now looks like a 1940 Chevrolet truck as it left the factory. The correct red, black fenders and running boards plus rebuilt mechanicals and new chrome makes it a real ‘traffic stopper.’ It still has it’s 216 six cylinder engine, 4 speed transmission and ¾ ton differential. Yes, 55 miles per hour is about its limit.
Clyde’s enjoyment with his little red truck has increased even more since the restoration three years ago. He has become very active in the local Kansas City Genuine Chevrolet/GMC truck club. He and his little red truck are seen regularly at local shows, driving events, and cruise night drive-ins.