During the great depression of the 1930’s, almost half of the automakers ceased business forever. Most remaining manufacturers modified their vehicles and advertising techniques to appeal to a very conservative buyer. With limited disposable income the few people willing to purchase a car or truck were very careful.
To help boost or at least hold sales steady, the Chevrolet Division introduced a new model in 1936. It was referred to as the Coupe Pickup. With a small corporate investment a dual purpose vehicle was created to appeal to the buyer with a need for both a car and a pickup.
The new model was a standard coupe with a miniature pickup truck bed placed in the trunk area. This small new bed included wood planks, metal strips, sides, and tailgate much like larger ½ ton pickups. It extended out of the trunk about the distance of the rear bumper. To keep out dust and rain water, a custom made canvas snapped in place between the small bed sides and the coupe trunk edges.
To appeal to the conservative new car buyer during the depression years this vehicle even included a painted coupe deck lid wrapped in several coverings of butcher paper. In this way if the mini-bed was removed, the deck lid could be attached and the owner then had a car.
A popular use was by neighborhood grocery stores. The coupe express was excellent to deliver grocery items in the neighborhood. The owner could also use it as his personal car!
This unique model was available each year from 1936 through early 1942 when World War II stopped domestic car production. There is almost no survival of the original coupe pickups. The few that made it even to the 1950’s were almost always given their deck lid to transform them to a pure coupe. Few people wanted an older pickup with such limited hauling capacity when they could have a coupe with a somewhat youthful sporty appearance.
No doubt the major weakness of this model was the canvas between the bed and body. It soon deteriorated when the vehicle set outside leaving the trunk area exposed to rain and snow. This was just the beginning of major rust problems which in time totaled the trunk area and maybe even the complete vehicle!
Today, if one of these beds would appear at an antique auto swap meet, almost no one would remember it’s original application. When the Chevrolet lettering was not on the gate, most would pass by thinking it is probably home made for a forgotten use.
Below is an example of an excellent used insert that made the standard coupe a coupe express. Found in Montana in 2013, it is about as pure as one can find of an almost 75 year old Chevrolet accessory. Almost no rust damage and some original paint! It had to be placed in a storage building when the car was made back into a standard coupe.