Owner: Kevin Koch
There may be no other survivors! If this is the only 1934 Chevrolet Canopy Express remaining, we are all fortunate to see it in this pristine condition. It is owned by Kevin Koch of Morgantown, PA. His Grandfather, Jack Crane of Willow Grove, PA bought this little 1934 in 1974 with the hope of someday giving it a major restoration. As money and replacement parts were very limited, the project remained a dream. Later, un-restored, it was passed down to his son, George. Kevin later found several drawings and notes his Grandfather had made many years ago showing how he had hoped to restore it and what it could look like. He researched the major vehicle restorers at the time and picked Al Pruitt in Glen Rock, PA to do a total rebuild. Six years later, it was a new truck and just like the drawings.
As a tribute to his grandfather, it now appears as it left the Chevrolet dealership over 78 years ago! It is on display in the lobby of Kevin’s company, H and K Equipment Company of Coraopolis, PA. A new larger building was recently constructed around the showroom that is for displaying his grandfather’s one of a kind 1934 Canopy Express.
Why a Canopy Express?
In the days of the one car family (or no car in the family) the Canopy Express was an extension of the retail stores. Products for sale could be brought to the neighborhoods. The lady of the house could even call the store requesting a delivery. The roll-up canvas sides of the Canopy Express were a natural for displaying groceries and related home merchandise in housing developments while protecting it from bad weather. They were equipped with a 4 speed transmission that gave them a very slow speed in first gear while moving through neighborhoods.
In the beginning of the 20th Century more people were moving from multi-story apartment living into stand alone new homes. This was the beginning of urban spread and stores were no longer just a short walk away.
It was difficult for a housewife with a few small children to walk to a distant grocery store, especially in bad weather. The Canopy Express was just what the store owner needed to reach his customers. Often a bell was attached to the cab near the driver’s door. This told the housewife that the Canopy Express was coming. The grocery shopping for the family’s evening meal could be done beside the city street.
Neighborhood deliveries were very important to the many stores that served new neighborhoods with individual homes. A Canopy Express was the vehicle of choice among grocers for over 30 years. The end of this type delivering began in the mid 1950’s. With more disposable income in the USA, a second family car became available. Larger supermarkets in shopping areas now successfully encouraged people to shop away from home.