During 1936 through 1938 the horizontal pin stripe on the Chevrolet truck cab and hood (on the more standard Brewster Green color) was referred to as Gigolo Green. Strange! Our suspicions were correct. The 1994 Webster’s Dictionary gives two different meanings of the word Gigolo –
⦁ A man who is paid as a dancing partner or escort for women.
⦁ A man who is a lover of a woman and is supported by her.
Why did Chevrolet pick this word for their green pin stripe? This is lost in history.
In 1940, the word was changed to Apple, a little more understanding to most new truck buyers.
After about 30 years of the horn being secured to the engine intake manifold, it was moved to the radiator core support in 1954. This was also the same year the 235 six cylinder engine was introduced in trucks.
The actual body of the horn was used for the first time in 216 engine trucks in 1953. This horn used a different mounting bracket so it would still secure (for the last year of the 216 engine) to the intake manifold.
The radiator core support in 1954 had two holes on each side. One for the standard low note horn on the left side and on the right side the accessory high note horn. The attached photo will show the factory installed horn on the left side paired with the accessory right side horn. The HI and the LO is molded on the die-cast of either horn.
For the Real Perfectionist! In only the first year of the 235 engine installed in 1954 on the intake manifold, the cast iron horn extension was continued as the 216 engine but the two attaching holes were not drilled or used.
The popularity of the 1947-55 (Advance Design) Chevrolet/GMC Suburban continue to increase among truck enthusiasts. Their bodies will never be reproduced. What has survived is what we have! Their capacity is eight adults in three rows of seats or the rear and middle row can be removed to haul merchandise. There has been little serious competition to challenge the Suburban’s superiority over the years. The General Motors Suburban are one of the longest living vehicles in the world. Introduced in 1935 with the encouragement of the US Army to carry higher ranking officers in groups on large military bases. They have since been available from dealerships since that time 85 years ago. With a GM pickup suspension and full steel frame, they have remained a favorite as comfortable transportation for groups up to eight. They can take a very hard hit from most of today’s cars and won’t reflect major damage to their occupants. They were the choice of the Secret Service to transport recent US presidents (until recently) with their ability to carry heavy hidden bullet proof metal panels, thick glass and cover for all drivetrain components. Now the president’s limousine is surrounded by Suburban’s in a convoy. Tim Plake of Kansas City, Kansas is the proud owner of this very attractive 1951 Chevy eight passenger Suburban. He receives credit of personally doing most all of the restoration from the ground up. This even includes the painting. Tim only stepped aside when it came to sewing the correct Spanish grain brown vinyl seat material into the finished cushions to look just like when it was new. The following are Tim Plake’s description of the history and the numerous extras he did to make this Suburban a “stand-out” in any crowd.
”On September 6, 2008 at the all truck Nationals, in Riverside Missouri. I spotted something I’ve never seen before. On closer inspection, I discovered it was a 1952 Chevy Suburban. In my mind I knew I had to have one and the hunt started. A year later I finally found the one for me in Perryton, Texas, a 1951 Chevrolet Suburban Carryall, I borrowed a friend’s trailer and we went on a 448 mile journey to retrieve it. The original fuel tank was rotted out so the owner stuck a portable boat fuel tank in it. He hooked up some jumper cables to the 6v battery, and it fired right up, we were amazed. Purred like a kitten and loaded it onto the trailer under its own power. I ended up removing the enclosed driveline and 4 speed granny transmission. I installed a 1956-1962 3:90 third member into my original rear-end housing coupled to a S10 T-5 overdrive transmission. I decided the 1956 235 passenger car engine would stay in it to power it. I drove it for a few years in its patina state before deciding to remove the body for a full blown revamp. I did all of the metal/body/paint work myself and it was a long journey. The paint is a base coat clear coat and I believe the roof was the hardest to paint of the whole project. My favorite hubcaps are the 1941-1946 Chevrolet style so that is why they are on my Suburban. I still need to install the headliner and rear side panels. I added a 2nd dome light near the barn doors for more illumination at night.
⦁ 1956 235 passenger car engine with water pump adapter plate installed for the earlier model 216 short pump. ⦁ 1983-1985 S10 T-5 overdrive transmission with mechanical speed odometer. ⦁ 1956-1962 Chevy ½ ton truck 3rd member 3:90 gear set. Installed in original rear-end housing for open driveline. ⦁ Duel reservoir master cylinder/power brake booster with Disc brake conversion on front axle. ⦁ Numerous new and nos parts bought for this project.
Suburban History: Tim states during the final years of this Suburban’s life it was actually used for hauling hay to livestock at a Texas farm. The owner could load many hay bales in the Suburban when two rows of seats were removed. No wonder the headliner is gone!
They are NOT all the same! Actually, there are three different designs. Only the 1955-57 will interchange. The 1958-59 grille pods will not fit on a 1955-57 GMC. The shape of their back is not the same because of their different position on the front bumper.
Even the 1955-56 is different from the 1957. The earlier grille pods do not have the center dimple. See Photo. Therefore, to the real perfectionist, ONLY the 1957 has been reproduced.
BEWARE:The current reproduction GMC grille pods are advertised as 1955-59. Not correct for reasons mentioned above! Somehow the person providing a sample to a fabrication shop, must not have known his product would not fit a 1958-59. Too bad!
Just in case, you have an interest in the Advance Design original brake system, this might catch your attention.
For ½ and ¾ tons, in the left corner of the cab floor, is the foot operated park brake. Here, the lever extends vertically up through the floor so the driver’s foot can lock the rear brakes when keeping the truck in a stopped position.
To prevent outside air from entering the cab GM used a rectangle boot cover preventing any leaks. To secure the boot, a metal plate with a long center slot attaches to the floor. The attached photo shows this as GM installed it.
A different metal plate is required when there is no foot brake. On 1 through 2 ton trucks the total hole is covered with the same plate but no center hole. Interesting! It actually then becomes a just blank-out plate to cover the now unused hole.
It’s about 2015 and Bob Combe semi-retired of Rancho Cucamongo, California (40miles east of Los Angeles) had begun to develop an interest to restore an early General Motors truck. This may sound strange as he had never done a major restoration but he had the itch to do it. He had always done all maintenance on his daily drivers so he knew he could be successful on a truck over half a century in age. Bob being 72 years old was not an issue.
The action began on a visit to see his daughter near Boise, Idaho. On that trip Bob saw what would be his retirement project. While on a Idaho country back road he saw a hidden truck in weeds beside a fence in a farm field. When he got closer his instinct told him “This is it.”
The owner said it was a 1942 GMC and was left by the field many years ago. (As with many farmers, the time and expense to haul it to a local salvage yard was not financially practical) The dry Idaho air had saved it from being land fill material. Bob had to have it.
He had it transported to Southern California and within several months a total disassembly began. During the 3 ½ year restoration there was not a nut or bolt not removed, examined and restored. To Bob, it was a challenge to prove to himself he could create a “New” 77 year old GMC.
He now proudly says, “I personally did everything myself except for the painting.”
The GMC has its original 228 cubic inch inline six cylinder and the correct non-synchronized 4 speed transmission. Electrical: GMC have positive ground on six volt systems (Chevrolet were negative ground.) To get the most hauling capacity for the 228 engine, the low geared differential has a ratio of 5.43. (The engine turns 5.43 revelations and the rear wheel turns once)
COLOR; Very close to the 1942 GMC factory color Permanent Red. The standard color for fenders and running boards is black. All the interior panels were removable (not welded on) and are the correct tan color
WHEELS; The 20’’ split rim wheels look better than original. These splits are not the design of large over the road trucks that have received so much bad publicity. This GMC lock rings are “one-piece” with no splits. Bob disassembled these, sand blasted all, added new tires and tubes on the wheels, and added air to the factory specifications.
BED DETAILS; its restoration followed the original bed specifications perfectly. Tongue and grooved, 5’’ wide boards, 1 5/8’’ thick. These many 2’’ oak boards (before planing) were one of the more expensive single item of this restoration!
Bob also personally created the metal perimeter band around the bed with the right angle corners. See photos
HISTORY; Because the Cooper Tire logo was still on each door it is assumed its first owner delivered this once famous tire brand from a company warehouse to locations that sold the tire to retail consumers. When the GMC retired after many years of delivering tires, it was purchased by a farm owner. The Cooper logo on each door was of no concern to the new owner in farming. He did not take the effort to sand it off and repaint the door with a close color.
RECENT SHOWS; Bob now belongs to a Southern California car and truck club, CAL-Rods. Now in its 65th year. It has 250 members and at least half attend their monthly meetings and events. A great percent turnout!
One of the few judging shows that Bob has taken his GMC was in Solvang, CA about 400 miles north. It was the Wheels and Windmills early vehicle show. Over 300 classic antique vehicles attend and Bob’s GMC received first place in the commercial class. Not bad for a first time restoration!
Being in serval local South California parades is no exception in public interest. All eyes go to this “new” 1942 GMC 1 ½ ton.
The seats on this 1964-1966 Chevrolet Suburban are pure factory original.
Their shape is designed for only the Suburban body.
They allow for access to the rear seat.
Horizontal white vinyl in the back rest is characteristic of many GM vehicles during this era.
It was an extra touch that added a little extra flair to the deluxe models
Split rim wheels were used over 30 years on larger trucks with inner tubes. They were the only method of keeping the tube within the tire under air pressure and to allow for easy removal of the tire from the rim by tire repair shops and individuals in home garages.
An over view of tire removal was to remove the air pressure, push the top bead of the tire down to release pressure from the small circular lock ring. This ring must be rotated several degrees until it can easily be removed from the wheel. This allowed easy access to the tire and tube to be removed.
The big danger is when a more unskilled person replaces the lock ring without fully turning it to its correct position. Unfortunatly, the tube will still take in air pressure when the lock ring is not fully secured into the proper position. It is then when what happens that has given split rim wheels such a bad reputation of permanently damaging a tire repair person, so many did not live to see the next day!
General Motors was well aware of dangers of not completely turning the lock ring into the required position. Thjis recommendation applies today just as it did in the early years.
The following shows a diagram from a 1959 GMC operation manual. To prevent a major accident, simply place 4 chains around the tire and rim and fastener. In case the worst happens while adding air, the lock ring stays within the retainer chains! (How many small shops and farm owners took this precaution?)
In today’s world, most every early Chevrolet ½ ton has now developed it’s own unique features. Few are exactly like they came from the factory over a half a century ago. Their past owners have added changes just to keep them running. However, in recent years these trucks have been altered in appearance, for safety or for keeping up with traffic on modern highways! The days of owning a 50 year old pickup for hauling farm products or factory merchandise are all but over!
Our Featured Truck this month is a perfect example of what could be done during the early 1960’s when you wanted a very custom ½ ton. Most all these extras are what would have been available 50 years ago when just a few work trucks were beginning to be looked at as having potential to compete with cars for a different appearance.
This very special, one of a kind, 1947 Chevrolet ½ ton deluxe pickup is owned and has been restored under instructions of John Welsh of Lee’s Summit, Missouri. It certainly draws a crowd everywhere it is seen! There is so much to say about this unique custom ½ ton, we will discribe it in sections for easier reading.
Purchased new in mid 1947 by an auto and tractor radiator repair shop in Garden City, Kansas. It was used by the owner to pick up and deliever in the town and surrounding farms. This was its purpose for so many years, even after his business later moved to Glendale, Arizona. There, the owner finally retired and this pickup was stored 12 years in dry-air Arizona.
When it finally came up for sale after many years in storage, the second owner brought it to his home in Lone Jack, Missouri and enjoyed several years of just doing minor upkeep and occassionly driving it as a “fun truck.”
Now, enters John Welsh in the next town in September 2008. It was just what John had been looking for. This pickup had so many early accessories added about 45 years ago that it only needed restoring. John added some items from today’s world that would make it even better than the show stopper it once was.
During it’s many years as a working pickup, the owner made suttle changes and most were left unchanged by John Welsh during the major restoration.
Because the original owner is no longer with us, we have done the detective work and feel very sure this is how was altered about 50 years ago. Very early photos (some included) tell much of the story.
About 10 years after buying it new it was time to freshen up this little ½ ton for better local attention. There was almost no “store bought” extras then for trucks. The owner must have found many of these additions from a local salvage yard. Sixty years later finding these early extras would be almost impossible!
Here’s what we see: From a used 1954 Chevy ½ ton, the owner obtained a then modern step bed (first year for this deeper 1954-1983 Chevy pickup bed) and the 1954 doors with special stainless window-trim and air wing vents for better ventalation. All the remaining 1947 sheetmetal was repainted black.
Early Changes by Original Owner:
So many changes by the first owner still remained when John first saw it. He was really impressed! He just added more items that were not work truck related.
Theses are some of the accessories that appear to have been added during the first upgrade in Kansas.
Duel side mounts with metal covers. This allowed for advertising by the radiator shop on both sides of the truck.
Possibly for more hauling capacity the owner replaced the total bed with a 1954 deeper design.
The pickup has an inside cab hood release lever. Very unusual!
The original 1947-48 gas tank was exchanged for tank behind the seat. [Suspected reasons for this change are at the end of this article*]
A non-Chevrolet aftermarket rear bumper wraps around the fenders for protection and allows for extra strength pulling a trailer. A chrome grill guard was also bought new during the owner’s upgrade. Both items are from the aftermarket company “Smash-Hit” made by the Perry Company in Waco, Texas. (John had them restored to look new) Such rare accessories.
Rare Chevrolet stainless steel fender trim as used on the 1947-55 deluxe panel trucks. The long front fender strip is repeated on the rear fender of the pickup. Nice touch!
A real pair of authentic hand operated GM spot lights attached to the windshield posts.
1947-48 Chevy car standard hood ornament on each front fender. On the deluxe car of that year this touch shows the single hood ornament.
Some of the John Welsh Changes:
This list was provided by John during our first interview. It’s posted below with just a few extra words added to better describe.
Buckets Seats-converted to original bench seat
New Electric Fuel Pump
Factory Front Sway Bar- Very Rare
Factory Running Board Safety Treads
New Rubber Seals for all of the cab
New Disc and Drum Brakes, Wheel Cylinders, with a Chevrolet 11 inch rotors
Turned Flywheel & New Clutch
6-Volt Battery Changed to 12-Volt
Heater, cleaned & Lubricated
4 Speed Transmission changed to 5 speed overdrive from a Corvette.
New headliner & Glovebox
New overhauled 235 engine
Sliding glass rear window.
Back up lights for obvious reasons
Rubber pads on the rear bumper are early non GM brake pedal pads. Allows an easier reach to bed cargo.
1947 license plate, Legal in Missouri
Updated with a modern middle stoplight that shows STOP when illuminated.
Pontiac Steering Wheel painted to match the truck
The hand pull park brake handle beside shift lever. Used the first seven months of the 1947-55 Advance Design on ½ & ¾ ton pickups.
The tastefully built oak side boards by Hot Rod Express Restorations are connected at front with wood pegs!
The countries most popular outside sun visor, a Fulton 800, is painted to match the beige color of the cab top.
The first owner added two spare tire mounts so he could better advertise his business. John decided to add his own personal touch.
Not easily visible in a following photo is the interior of the bedsides. Sprayed red over black textured paint. They perfectly match the exterior paint. Great idea!
John moved the gas tank from behind the seat where the first owner had placed it.
The Mechanical Changes were Major
The original 216 engine (used over 60 years) was exchanged with a full oil pressure 235 inline six cylinder. Minor corrections required to make it an easy upgrade.
The factory 4 speed transmission was replaced with a Corvette 5 speed giving the ½ ton an overdrive gear for better highway speed and lower engine RPM’s
The Chevrolet car differential raises the gear ratio to also give better road speed
The front brakes are now the modern disc design for faster emergency stops. To do this a total front suspension from a mid-1980’s Ford Mustang II replaced the 1947 front straight axle. Thus, the pickup now has coil springs! The smaller “Mustang rotors were exchanged with Chevrolet eleven inch kit currently available. Now this light weight ½ ton “really stops.”
A late model dual chamber under the cab master cylinder is also a big safety factor! Losing fluid to either the front or rear wheels and you still have the ability to stop.
This pickup’s second restoration was completed in 2015, after over a year in the process. Much heavy work was done by “Hot Rod Express” in Blue Springs, MO. This is one of the premier restoration facilities in the Mid-West. Contact at the end of the article.
Here is a one of a kind 70 year old ½ ton that is admired on the road and at truck and car shows. Its combination of 235 six cylinder, 5 speed overdrive and higher differential gearing allows it to easily cruise at 60 mph. It can now get traffic tickets like other newer vehicles!
The color is 4-stage Candy Apple red with clear coat and beige top. Application for “professionals only” to get this deep metallic appearance.
The following photos show the many areas of John’s special truck. Hope you enjoy them as much as John did in creating his special 1947 deluxe pickup. A few like it may have been seen in the 1960’s.
*The following mentioned in an earlier paragraph*
The 1947-48 ½ tons all had an under bed gas tank. To make this happen GM had to fit between the cab and rear axle. The only way to keep an 18 gallon capacity was to extend the tank bottom closer to the road surface.
A General Motors mistake! Lowering the tank caused contact with the ground and rocks when the wheels sank deep in ruts on a mud road. Dents caused leaks.
The answer in the 1960’s was replacement 1954 tank from the first restoration which was behind the seat that year. John decided to remove this tank during his major restoration with a flat tank behind the rear axle. Thus, the gas tank spout in the middle of the accessory rear bumper. Problem solved for our Featured Truck of the Month.
Much of the recent restoration was done under John’s guidance by: Hot Rod Express in Blue Springs, MO. Phone 816-224-9597
A Cameo leads the Chevy Truck “six pack” on the Alcan highway in 1957. For this one time General Motors used this 1,520 miles between Dawson Creek, British Columbia, Canada to Fairbanks, Alaska (two years before Alaska was made a U.S. state).
Their engines were never shut off during the 45 hour run! It was all a dirt and gravel road except for a short strip south of Fairbanks. The U.S. had built this road so our military could have access to Alaska during WW II in case of any invasion by Japan.
The Chevrolet Cameo was kept in front all the way with an almost bullet-proof 235 inline six cylinder engine. For a 1957 GM video of this dramatic run through the wilderness with blinding dust, rain,hail and treacherous washouts in between, check the video section of our website at –
The Task Force champs took it all in stride with no break-downs.
NOTE: It is assumed the Chevrolet dealer in Fairbanks, Alaska was given – or sold at a very low price – these six trucks. General Motors had no interest in doing a return back down the Alcan. Lucky Chevrolet dealer!
NOTE: This was only half the journey for these six Chevy trucks with each assigned two drivers. Yes, it happened all over again! After several days in Fairbanks, including a real bed in a hotel for the drivers, the fleet did the RETURN to Dawson Creek under the close observation by American Automobile Association (AAA). Soon after that they all continued again as a convoy to the GM Proving Grounds near Detroit for vehicle checks. Total distance in 1957, over 8,000 miles round trip!
Buying a GMC truck in 1961 with this many special options is quite unusual. Now 58 years later this GMC is about one of a kind survivor.
Think about this: A GMC with a 305 cubic inch V-6 engine, Suburban body, 4 wheel drive, and the higher 3.73 differential. What a combination!
The proud owner is Joe Disanti of Shurly, Long Island, New York. This has been a part of his family for about 40 years. He found it in a nearby neighborhood front yard with a for sale sign on the windshield. It was love at first sight (and still is.)
Joe and family live on Long Island about 10 minutes from the Atlantic Ocean. It soon became a perfect weekend camping vehicle with then two young children. So many warm weather weekends all would head for the beach for a few days of fun.
Of course, that always included drives along the Ocean shore besides water’s edge. Great family memories but not good for the Suburban. Salt water and mist in the air on the metal body took their toll!
Actually, the body rust had become so bad there was no repairing it however, Joe was not about totaling his Suburban. There was just too many great memories of the good times his family had with the “old Suburban” plus by that time Joe’s family had increased with two more children. He really wanted these younger children to also share the same weekend camping trips the first two had experienced.
So, a serious Suburban body hunt began. Among the many dead end rumors success came in 2002 when Joe found a Suburban body in Texas, a long way from Long Island, New York. It had limited rust and resembled his Suburban when he found it in the late 1960’s.
With some transportation help and willing shop to help make some of the change-overs this was now a nice Suburban replacement much like it was 40 years ago. The two younger children could now experience the weekend fun as the other two had done.
No surprise it became another total body loss with beach salt working on the recently installed Texas body that already had some damage rust developing.
LET’S DO IT AGAIN! Now when the children were mostly on their own, Joe decided it would be great to do another body replacement and now give it a major restoration. This time it would be kept away from the beach salt! The GMC would be a wonderful momentum of his years spend with his children as they grew up.
It was much more difficult to locate a viable 60’s Suburban body. Joe wanted it to be from an area that had no winter road salt. This would be a last restoration and he would always keep it for memories but now going in a different direction! Joe would get acquainted with local early car and truck clubs. Having a now almost extinct GMC was certainly an incentive to make it special.
The body hunt was quite a project but now time would not be an issue. He would look until he located a solid body that would stay that way. It did not have to be only 1961 but must be from the 1960-66 series.
After a few years regularly looking though car magazines and on Ebay he found the expectable body. The state was Arizona. (Even further from New York) It was rust free 1965 body and chrome grill. It fit into his major body restoration plans. Yes the Suburban would keep its original V-6 engine, 4 speed transmission, differential and GMC four wheel drive. It now drives just like the early year except Joe added 1971 disc brakes and master cylinder. It has its own 30’x40’ garage so it never see the big winter snows that used to affect the other bodies Suburban bodies.
WOW look at the attached photos and see what the Disanti family have now. There is nothing even close to this GMC at the New York shows where it is seen.
NOTE: The 305 and 351 cubic inch V-6 were the one and only offered in GMC smaller trucks from 1960 to about 1963 and then as an option though 1969. This quality built GMC only V-6 engine really gives so many years of service.
The 4 speed transmission on this Featured Truck is often referred to as a “bullet-proof.” Millions were used in ½ to 2-ton truck from 1948 thought the mid 1960’s. They rarely need repairs and so often go to the crusher in good condition when the trucks and its other mechanicals are no longer useable. The salvage yards can only afford to keep so many in their stock!
This transmission is much overbuilt when placed in a ½ ton such as Joes 1961 Suburban.
What a great example of the mid 1950’s when the United States’ population began (for the first time) to have a little extra disposable income. Our Featured Truck of the Month, a 1954 Chevrolet Deluxe ½ ton pickup is an example of this developing change. The first owner obviously wanted a little more than just a pickup truck to park behind the barn while he used the family sedan to go shopping in town or parking in the church lot on Sunday. This was the time when pickups began to emerge as a little more than a vehicle that only saw water to wash off dirt naturally when it rained. In that era few pickups were given valuable space inside a farm building or a company warehouse.
The real General Motors experiment would be the next year with the introduction of the Chevrolet Cameo Carrier and the GMC Suburban Pickup. Their popularity would show if the 1950’s buying public was ready for a pickup with extras. In 1954, the buyer added most options and accessories to his base work truck. This was the beginning of the American Truck love affair that has continued more than 65 years!
This month’s Featured Truck is a 1954 Chevrolet Deluxe pickup (loaded with extras by 1954 standards), owned by Byron and Eleze Fuller of Symsomia, Kentucky. Finding a ½ ton pickup with so many options is very unusual and they realized it rarity. They found it in California 14 years ago and had to trailer it to Kentucky. It had received a basic restoration so this was a great pickup to work with and add even more extras.
The Fullers are real truck enthusiasts and are seen with their pickup in so many shows within a few hundred miles from their home. This pickup is considered Eleze’s and Byron drives a red 1955 Chevrolet first series pickup as his special ½ ton truck. Yes, it’s a family hobby!
They are members of the American Truck Historical Society (ATHS) that is considered the largest truck club in the world. Byron and Eleze are seen each year at the conventions wherever they are being held in the U.S.
Here are some facts about this unusual pickup but first here are two definitions:
OPTIONS: Factory installed (with an extra cost) items special ordered when the vehicle is being ordered.
ACCESSORIES: Installed after delivery by the dealer or owner
This 1954 has many for a pickup of the mid-1950’s
Five window deluxe cab
Transport Blue (No Extra Cost)
Shell White Top (Chevy’s first two tone cab)
Right side Taillight
Right side sun visor and arm rest
Electric Wiper motor
Accessories have been gradually added over the years
AM Radio and Antenna
Front Bumper guards
Right side mirror arm
Outside Sun Visor
Running Board Safety Treads
Deep 8’’ wide X 15’’ wheels for slightly wider radial tires.
By-Pass Oil Filter
The Fuller’s 1954 stands out at all shows with the great restoration and extras. Byron mentioned a big concern on the factory 4-speed hydrometric transmission. It operates great but where would he find a rebuilder if something broke in this rare vintage unit?
The above is a Chevrolet drawing showing the power steering option on an early straight axle ½ ton. With a 235 Six Cylinder engine
Note: The Pump is secured to the generator which has a one inch longer armature with gear for turning this add-on. Very Unique!
This month we decided to take a different spin on our long loved “Featured Truck of the Month Series”
For the first time since we began the series in 2000 we are featuring a person that at one time was the country’s number one collector and restorer of mid 1950’s GMC ½ tons. RALPH WESCOTT of Largo, Florida is that special person!
You can’t get more unusual than 1 of 1. This is how Ralph Wescott of Largo, FL describes his 1957 GMC Palomino. General Motors built only one! It was produced to draw attention to their truck display at the New York Autorama show in 1957. Fortunately, its prior four documented owners recognized it as special. It has been mostly in storage and only a few recent car shows have had it on display. The Palomino now has 9,350 miles and almost no restoration has been done. Even the original custom leather seat is free of age cracks. The engine sounds like new as it slowly moves out of its enclosed trailer. It occasionally may be driven in the neighborhood or at a car show.
Gm designed this special 1/2 ton around a fully optional assembly line model. This includes a deluxe cab, Pontiac V-8, Hydramatic transmission, power steering, power brakes, radio, deluxe heater, Cameo style bed, windshield washers, etc. The manufacturer then added additional features that set it apart from the others. In the following photos note items such as (Palomino only) gold paint, custom leather seat and door panels, script trim panels over the front edge of the bed and gold floor mat.
One of its more unique items are the U.S. Royal Master tires. Ralph states GM requested U.S. Royal to produce 5 with this unusual rubber sidewall. After 50 years they are still in on their original 15′ rims! When not at a show the Palomino is in temperature controlled storage out of the sun to protect the leather interior, it’s original paint and bed.
Based on Ralph saying his Palomino is not for sale at any offer, we will refer to it as ‘priceless.’
2012 NEWS FLASH UPDATE
Ralph at 75years old finally decided to sell some of his most prized low mileage show trucks at his own auction that was nationally advertised. The Palomino was given a value by the last bidder. It brought $197,000.00 by a west coast buyer. WOW! See what happens when you have the only one GM ever made.
America rightfully looks to its basic industries for renewal of prosperity. Its colossal utitilies are employing thousands of GMC trucks in the construction of giant power dams and in weaving a network of wire and pipelines that project electrical and gas services even to the remotest outposts. This is a job that must be done mostly on wheels! Typical is the latest GMC innovation, the new 5-man line service cab, designed for the safety, comfort and efficiency of a vast army of utility workers!
Our Featured Truck of the Month (a 1972 Chevrolet Cheyenne Super) is the final year of this classic body design. It has never lost its popularity! The 1967-72 GM pickups are the ultimate result. GM began the transition of a farm truck to some luxury trucks in 1955 with the introduction of the Chevrolet Cameo. This was GM’s test to see if some American buyers would pay more for a full dress pickup. Yes, they did! GM then began to gradually add more deluxe features to their top of the line pickups. These fancy trucks just kept selling! So GM went all out in the 1967-72 pickups with more extras each year. The grand finale was the 1971-72 Chevrolet Cheyenne Super pickup.
The owners of this special 1972 ½ ton are Dave and Donna Field of Greenwood Missouri. They have always been avid car collectors. They also own a 1966 (Corvette Convertible and 1967) Corvette Coupe and a 1965 Chevelle Super Sport L79 with 4 speed transmission. With one extra space available in their garage, Dave and Donna have always been on the watch for another vehicle that would be as enjoyable the other three they have.
Their pickup purchase happened about 6 months ago. An old friend a hundred miles away called them to say his neighbor would be selling his Cheyenne Super. As lovers of special interest vehicles, this rare pickup caught their attention. They had seen it when visiting their friend in the past. Yes, Dave and Donna now have it in their garages to fill the vacancy.
This ½ ton had been driven occasionally by a nurse to a local hospital in nice weather four years. With various repairs soon needed and winter months ahead, it was just the right time for them to sell. A few things that needed to be repaired or replaced was a leaking front engine main bearing seal, carpet, padded dash, fuel tank, taillight trim and adding a chrome grill. It now certainly keeps up with the reputation of the Fields other three special interest Chevrolets.
The shorter 6’ bed and automobile like deluxe interior does not relate to a truck for carrying heavy merchandise. Even the name “Cheyenne Super” says what so many non-hauling pickup buyers wanted to see.
In addition to standard equipment on a Cheyenne Super, the Field’s pickup has factory options that more pleasure truck buyers required (GM knew to make some popular items optional so they could make a more profitable sale). On the Field’s Cheyenne Super this includes: 350 V-8, Turbo-hydromantic transmission, in dash air conditioning, power brakes, power steering and tilt steering wheel. Two very unusual options on the dash cluster is the tachometer and vacuum gage. This midnight black ½ ton is a real eye catcher even to the non-truck people.
Missouri (like some other states) allow the use of original older license plates. The Field’s took advantage of this and located a nice 1972 plate. It is now registered with the state!
Notice the wheels with chrome centers and stainless steel rings. These were on the top of the line 1973 and newer. In todays’ world they are almost always seen on 1967-72 GM pickups that are being made as attractive as possible. (Originally GM used full wheel covers) This is the second year Chevy and GMC ½ tons changed to 5 bolt wheels from over 45 years of 6 holes.
This little ½ ton is the ultimate pleasure truck and designed to be more at home parked near a golf clubhouse rather than hauling hay on the farm. Dave is now proving this is true. He drives it almost weekly with his golf clubs to a special golf course to meet with his friends.
To the Field: Welcome to the world of Chevrolet Trucks!
This term usually refers to a vehicle manufacture (in this case General Motors) that markets different marques by just changing emblems and some easily swapped trim items. In many ways, the Cameo and Suburban Carrier can be placed in this category.
The cab and bed of these two brands are almost identical. The dash board is shaped differently along their top horizontal edge, but it is welded in place during cab production.
The complete bed with spare tire assembly has absolutely no changes except for the tailgate emblem and later Cameo side trim.
In the family so many years! This little ½ ton spent most of its life in North Carolina where it was first used on a farm and did the required hauling duties. Now owned by Stephen Caudill of Wichita Kansas about 6 months ago. He purchased it from a family member in North Carolina after the immediate owner had passed away.
Stephen has since done several requirements such as all new wiring, a major break overhaul, and a modern electric wiper motor. The bed wood was removed and refurbished to look new and then sealed. Over the years the original 216 engine has been replaced with an updated 235 six cylinder. Nice easy replacement.
The original 4.11 ring and pinion remains and holds this ½ ton to about 55 MPH. It also has the same factory non-synchronize 4-speed it had during its beginning years on the farm.
To give his truck a little extra, he has placed the name “Bird’s 46 Chevy” on the grill. This is because his nickname is Big Bird.
Note the 15’’ wheels. They are from a 1937-41 Chevy ¾ ton when those heavier pick-up, still had 6 bolt wheels. Nice touch! They’re are very popular and difficult to find.
Stephen regularly drives this 1946 in the Wichita area. Very dependable as it was when it came from the dealership over 70 years ago.
The recent trophy for “Owners Choice” (Includes an eyeball!!)
In Mid-March 2019 Stephen entered his ’46 ½ ton in a car and truck show in his home town of Wichita, Kansas. He took home the “Owners Choice” award. The public certainly were impressed with the special pick-up.
They don’t get much rarer than these! In our over 200 Feature Truck of the Month Series since the year 2000, we have never even found one of these Carriers to use as an example. In their three year production, mid-1955 to mid-1958, less than 1000 were sold through the many GMC dealers in the U.S. The limited survival rate in over 60 years is unknown. The proud owner is Larry Koochel of Liberal, Kansas. As a special interest vehicle enthusiast and owner over the years, Corvettes being his favorite, he became aware of this GMC many years ago. A friend told him about this truck and mentioned it was in storage near his home in western Kansas. Larry had not heard these were ever made and being able to see it in a storage building really got his interest. Research bought answers to this unusual factory made ½ ton. No, it was not for sale!
Larry later heard the owner was paying for its storage garage until he was released from a state prison. Unfortunately, soon after release, he again broke the law and returned to behind bars. Then it truly became up for sale!
It was only then the GMC came out of storage and found a new owner. This person gave it a body off restoration. Cab corners were all that was required in body part replacement before painting to the original Dover White.
Flame Red was on the wheels, inner bed panels, and rear cab secondary color. Of course, all rubber seals, window channels, most glass, and bed wood were replaced.
Now enters Larry Koochel. As a follower of special interest auto auctions he was shocked to see this same Suburban Carrier at a vintage auction two years ago and within driving distance of his home! He immediately recognized it as the GMC he had seen years ago in storage. Yes, he wanted it and the high bid was his!
It is now in storage near his home but this time occasional driving keeps it “up and going”! Probably one of the only Suburban Carriers in Kansas. Having a truck this unusual sure makes Larry happy being at that auction two years ago.
With the coming of the new 1955 pickups GMC knew there was no time to develop a small V-8 engine. What now?
GMC already produced a much larger V-8 but it was for very big freight haulers, not practical for the ½ tons! The GMC inline 302 was one of the strongest six cylinder gas engines in the industry but the GMC Division realized that they had to do something else to satisfy a ½ ton buyer’s V-8 wants.
Therefore, GM did the same as in 1938. They borrowed the correct size engine from the Pontiac car division. In this case a 287 cubic inch V-8 that was used in the 1955 Pontiac. They then became a leader of largest “small block” V-8 and with little tooling costs. NOTE: GMC slightly modified the V-8 heads so compression was slightly less than the Pontiac. This made sure the engine operated well on regular octane gasoline.
Two other modifications when the Pontiac V-8 was placed in the GMC, the color changed from dark green to red orange. Of course, GMC did not want the Pontiac name stamped on the two valve covers. Thus, truck valve covers do not have the Pontiac script stamped on their top.
Why a Pontiac V-8 engine in a GMC? The new GM truck body in Mid-1955 for both GMC and Chevrolet were following some customer’s interest for more power in pickups. Chevrolet had been developing the 265 cubic inch small block V-8 for several years to be ready for the new body designs.
Specifications for Larry’s Suburban Carrier:
Engine: Pontiac V-8, 287 Cubic Inch. 7.4 compression ratio
Transmission: 4 speed Hydromatic
Differential: 3.90: 1 semi-floating
Single exhaust and 2 barrel carburetor
Weights and Measures:Wheelbase: 114”Overall width: 74”Ground clearance: 7 1/8”Base price without options: $1,981.00
Shipping weight: 3,645 pounds
Bed length: 6’6”
Overall length: 198”
Tires: 6.70 X 15” tubeless
Oil Bath Air Cleaner $15.00
V-8 engine $106.00
The year 1955 was good at GMC Truck and Coach Division, made even better by the surprise appearance of the sporty, classy Suburban Carrier. It was a truck that was much more at home pulling up to the country club than hauling hay on the farm. NOTE: We heard a rumor that this rare GMC might be for sale for a little less than $39,000.
About 4 years ago Jim McCoy of La Fontaine, Indiana attended the area’s largest car and truck show in this part of Indiana. The Dave Kunkel Cruise in occurs annually and has grown to be the largest the state. Jim is a regular and always reserves the day to be a part of it.
It was love at first sight when Jim McCoy saw this month’s featured truck among the many vehicles. This 1935 ½ ton is so rare! Their wood framework that supports all the body sheet metal has made almost all cabs a total loss during the past 80 years. Almost all trucks in those years were used for work only. Few were kept inside a building much less ever washed between rains! When water began to seep into the cab, rotten wood was soon to follow. Replacing the wood frame in the cab would cost much more than just buying another working pickup! They then went to the salvage yard.
Jim quickly recognized this unusual truck as being an almost one of a kind in his area. He asked the owner if it was for sale. The answer was NO.
A year later Jim was back at the show wondering if he would see this little orange 1935 again. Surprise, there it was among hundreds of other special interest vehicles. The owner was given the same question and the answer was the same. NO!
The third year all was repeated, however to Jim’s surprise the answer was MAYBE. By the end of the show it was a YES! He was now the proud owner of one of the very few 1935’s remaining.
The updates now began with various improvements including a new very deluxe interior and completed rewiring. Jim needed extra storage for his short trips. Thus, a custom wood box, with a 1935 Chevy Bow-Tie on top was custom made to fit at the front of the bed. SEE PHOTO
Much cleaning, paint touch-up and mechanical tuning brought it up to updated quality. A very detail project was removing an accumulation of dirt and grease from all areas of the modern V-8 engine. Now, the chrome and orange paint shines like it was just added! The two hood sides have been removed to draw attention to the “work of art” engine compartment! As a final touch he attached blue lights to underside of the hood. A real eye catcher to draw attention to all the chrome during night shows and driving.
The pickup has a 350 cubic inch V-8 engine, 350 transmission, front disc brakes, and a higher speed differential to keep up with highway traffic.
The organizers of this annual car show in Wabash, IN were so impressed with this 1935 that they used it on all show plaques given to entries in 2018.
Here is the Jim McCoy story:
Jim worked for the Morton Building Company for 20 years as a sales representative, when his knees got bad at 61 years old the decision was made to replace both at the same time. He liked his job and wanted to go back as soon as possible.
In 2008 he went in for knee surgery at 6:00am and later that evening he had a major stroke in the hospital! This put him in the intensive care for many weeks. Jim could not eat, talk and certainly not walk. We can only imagine the extra time and care the staff put in the first few days after his stroke to keep him alive.
It has been 10 years now. During the first 5 years he had to teach himself how to talk. This was difficult for a person that made his living talking.
Jim’s car hobby is his retirement therapy and aided in his recovery. He drives a late model Corvette but loves the short drives with his special little 1935 ½ ton pumpkin. No speeding tickets yet!
During our interview we could tell Jim (now 72 years old) is on a high with his second chance at life. He says. “I feel so blessed.”
These six fiberglass parts were the main items used to create the Chevrolet Cameo and GMC Suburban Carrier. They were made to attach to the existing 6 foot step side bed.
GM’s design department created this deluxe pickup with very limited investment. A deluxe cab, the pre-existing mechanicals, and a short step side bed were already in production. The additions to make the Cameo and Suburban Carrier that became so famous were in these NEW fiberglass parts!
Featured Truck of the Month 2019 starts off with a bang! We are offering a different way of showing this special truck. We hope you enjoy the video, background music and the detailed description as much as we did putting it all together.
This Advanced Designed Suburban was rebuilt by Mike and Tyler Chance a father/ son team devoted to their business of restoring early Chevy Trucks and Ford Mustangs. This is one of so many vehicles they have completely restored over the, 18 years in business. This 1951 Chevy Suburban is a real stand out for any GM Truck enthusiast.
Mike the founder of the restoration company stated: “This type of a custom truck was sometimes seen in the 1960’s. No structural changes and the mechanicals appear almost factory original.” The first differences you see will be the unique color arrangement and extra chrome under the hood. The gray pleated material on the seats are a plus as well as the carpeting. They give it the extra touch!
Yes, it is upgraded with a 1957 six cylinder 235 engine (an easy drop in) and slightly higher ratio differential. It will now cruise at 70 MPH with traffic on the open road!
Notice a few little extras that places this suburban a cut above so many others.
GM Dealer Installed in the mid-1950s:
Rear turn signal lights when you requested this new option
Grill guard from side to side above the bumper. Very rare!
GM tissue holder under dash
Aftermarket extras that could have been added by the owner.
Fenton Exhaust Headers, and in this example, have been polished and chrome plated as well as the intake manifold
Wolf Wistle operated by vacuum from the middle of the intake manifold.
Six-hole wheels are from a 1937-1941 Chevy ¾ ton. Nice Extra!
White wall tires
Stereo System disguised by an in-dash copy of a real Chevy radio.
Left door hand operated spot light. Great for seeing house numbers and strange things along the road.
A very unique feature is adding a 1963 and newer 3 speed transmission that is synchronized in all three gears, not just 2nd and 3rd as original. Even more unusual is the modified shift linkage. It still remains a column shift much like when it left the factory. There is one exception! To correctly allow it to still use the factory steering column and shift lever an unusual modification was needed. After the two linkage rods were remade between the transmission and gear shift box, the quadrant position had to be reversed. This moved 2nd gear to the lower right and the higher gear to the upper corner. This requires a 180 degree design change from the original factory transmission.
Mike’s interest in older vehicles comes from his father’s hobby of collecting older cars and trucks. At times he has had over 50 unique special interest vehicles. Now, at 85, his father has kept his two favorites. A 1955 Chevy car and a 1972 Chevy ½ ton pickup both of which he drives regularly. In addition he walks and jogs about 10 miles each week. What a great example to all of us. Mike and Tyler, has some big shoes to fill in being involved in this restoration company.
Their GM truck and Mustang restoration business is in a large airplane hangar near the Fort Worth, TX area. The airport is still an active for light aircraft. Some other adjacent hangars store antique airplanes and some additional car storage. It’s a little like following Jay Leno who has a similar car workshop and display area in an airplane hangar located in Burbank, California airport.
Mike said the Suburban was originally bought and used on a large farm in California as a family and worker hauler. Somehow it found its way to Texas, where Mike saw it at the large Pate Swap Meet near Fort Worth. He was so impressed he bought it on the spot!
Almost no body rust made it a real find. Much less time, money, and labor to make it the way it is shown in this video. You can spot the many extras in the body color, redesigned interior and extra chrome. The Suburban has been changed by following what might have been available in the 1960’s.
Look at Mike and Tyler’s Video on this 1951 Suburban. We think you will find it quite interesting. (Don’t forget there are two videos to see it all.)
The following are the words of Mike Chance on his love for the old Chevy trucks
“Having grown up in Abilene, Texas in the 1970’s, I was familiar with Chevrolet trucks of the early to late 1950’s. They were so well built that many of them were still doing time. Almost everyone I knew had owned one or knew someone who had. As I grew older I grew more and more fond of these uniquely American workhorses. For me, it was interesting to watch the truck morph from just above tractor status to a legitimate dual purpose vehicle capable of rivaling the car as a transportation choice.
Back in the early 1950’s, the Carry All was the ultimate people transporter. It exceeded the typical car’s capacity by at least two people. When I saw this 1951 model at the Pate swap meet in Fort Worth, Texas I purchased it on the spot. It had benefited from a quality restoration and was a real eye-catcher. Better than that was the fact that it was capable of providing on demand fun by loading it with friends for delightful excursions.
It had been upgraded to a late model 235 engine along with a high-speed rear end and power disc brakes the combination of which allowed it to be driven at high way speeds with confidence.
Always looking for the next thrill, I ultimately sold it. Had I known that I would one day have 11 grandkids I would have never sold it. I am now back in the hunt for its replacement.
I still LOVE old trucks and currently own a 1959 Apache “double deluxe”. My grandkids call it Apache Red. It’s a factory 283 engine with some mild updates for drivability. My wife and I drive it almost every day. We recently added Vintage Air to help us get through the hot Texas summers.
I have other collector cars, but the old trucks have my heart. It seems like everyone loves an old Chevy truck. My personal taste runs more to stock original presentations with some mild updates for reliability and safety. If it has a 235, 261 or 283 in it, I am a fan.
Michael Chance lives in the DFW area of Texas and buys, sells and updates Classic Cars. His website is MyRod.com This video is just one of several he has done on classic truck ownership and is currently working on one to describe his idea of the “perfect mix” of originality with a few critical updates for drivability. “
Our 1951 Chevy Suburban In Action
WOW! Look at Mike’s immediate family in and around this older 1940’s Plymouth convertible.