Where did they all go? Sold in high volume to small businesses for local neighborhood deliveries, these little panel trucks served their purpose well. Merchandise stayed out of the weather and theft exposure was greatly reduced. It has been over 75 years since the last of the series came off the assembly line but here are 10 important factors are why they are now almost non-existent!
- Created during our country’s Great Depression. There was limited money to do repairs or preventive maintenance. Owners just did what was needed to keep them on the road.
- Bought as a delivery vehicle. Most did not even have the optional right front seat.
- Few small businesses had a garage. Most of these panel trucks were stored outside.
- Most were thought of as commercial only. They were seen in the neighborhoods making home deliveries by groceries, laundries, plumbing repairs, painters, etc.
- Hot in the summer. Door windows in the rear don’t open to help air flow.
- Body construction is sheet metal over a wood frame. This is a recipe for disaster over the long term. Deteriorating wood supports, particularly near the floor began to decay from leaks. Even leaking merchandise add to the demise.
- As with most early passenger vehicles the top had a non-metal covering over wood frame in their center. It was not if rain water would leak inside, it was just when.
- By 1941 our country was in World War II. Factories were converted to make defense products, not these neighborhood panel trucks. The 1934-36 panel trucks just kept working. Wood repairs and top patches gave them just a little more life.
- When the original owner put it up for sale or trade for a new vehicle, there were few takers. Not many second owners were looking for a one passenger well-worn panel truck.
- When they finally did reach the salvage yard, their weather protection advantage saved some a few extra years. Their bodies became storage. They were set aside to keep more vehicle parts such as mechanicals, gauges, tires, upholstery in a scrap yard! Can you imagine the amount of house roofing tar was used to keep the tops from leaking?
The whole scenario is a recipe for extinction! Most of today’s auto and truck enthusiasts will never see a 1934-36 panel truck in any shape. As an enthusiast once said, “They all went to see God”. We have accumulated these photos over our 35 years. Thought you might be interested in seeing the panel truck that could not survive!
NOTE: The full color photo shows a yellow late 1936 panel truck. When you look carefully you will see the same body as the 1934-early 36.
To save money, General Motors kept the same body on this later 1936 version. Yes, the dash, hood, front fenders and grill are the later design but it all interchanges. It wasn’t until 1937 when the body became all metal including the elimination of the large vinyl patch covering on the top. Our main photo shows a corner of this factory patch.
Owned by Curtis Cole, a retired school teacher, in Anaheim, CA in the year 2000
Oops! Perfect Panel Truck except the spare goes in right front on Chevrolet (Left on GMC)
Lots of Carrying Capacity
Passenger seat was an option
207 engine restored just right
From a 1934 Chevrolet Sales Brochure. The drawing appears to have stretched the body to make it show better.
The following show a 1935 Chevrolet panel truck saved from extinction. It was abandoned in a dry California desert and thus it survived! Owned by: Sean Yellowhorse, Rancho Palus Verdes, California in 2012.
Look at all the wood.
Doors sagging but all there.