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1938 Chevrolet ¾ Ton

Thirty six years by the same owner! Mike Odom of Kingston, Illinois purchased this 1938 Chevy 3/4 ton at a farm auction about 1985 for $1275.00. Why? It was the beginning of the pickup craze in the U.S. that still is alive and well. Mike wanted an older pickup long before he had the money to buy one, much less the finances to make it road worthy.

In his research, he decided the 1938 front grille treatment is what he wanted most. He would wait for a 1938 to come along and not buy a second choice in his 20”s. Employment at the young age usually does not pay too well to go beyond a daily driver.

During his 29th year of age is when he found it. He wasn’t quite ready to spend his savings but it might be many years if ever, to find a 1938 in his price budget. He was able to “limp” it home under its own power, but money to make it safe for the road was out of the question. He set it back in a storage building and put it on his future wish list.

A few photos of the 1938 after Mike purchased it at the farm sale.  One can see it had been strictly a rural farm truck.  Having a flatbed allowed for hauling more than a pickup with sides only about 47” apart.

The following tells so much that was done during this seven year restoration. As he spent so much time preparing for this major undertaking, Mike studied what would be best for this type and age of pickup.

Was this project expensive? Your guess! Just the red paint was from what Mike says is the best paint made today. The name is Sikkens, from Germany. This and the interior paint was $4400.00. Total restoration cost? We did not ask. We just kept thinking of the $1275.00 investment at the farm auction.

THE FOLLOWING ARE MIKE’S WORDS and shows he really knows what his more street rod truck is all about.

This truck was built “frame off” with every nut and bolt changed by me and a small amount of help from friends to assist here and there over the last seven years to be a driver, not a show car! Aside from short runs for exhaust, front end alignment and two indoor car shows this past winter, It has never been trailered anywhere. The only other work that was not done by me was the significant welding on the frame for the suspension changes, the stainless steel exhaust, the cutting of glass, and had help with some of the finishing and spraying of the Chevy “Red Hot Red” paint with buffing by Jay Meuser.

It has: “Fatman…stage 3” front suspension with QA1coil over adjustable shocks, power Chevy disc brakes, rack and pinion power steering, Chevy 350 crate engine, air conditioning, rebuilt 700R4 automatic overdrive transmission, rebuilt Nova 10-bolt posi rear end, Chasis engineering rear end mounting kit with springs, and Ride tech adjustable rear shocks.

In addition: Custom “under the body/bed” 18 gallon stainless steel fuel tank, chrome tilt column, OEM style cruise control, custom interior wrapped in leather, and lastly, auto meter gauges and tachometer; except the rebuilt original speedometer.

Next: Custom stereo with equalizer, an amp with tweeters in the upper front roof panel with the mid-range speakers in the doors, and the 10” bass speaker enclosure under the seats, dual intermittent wiper system from Newport Engineering, sequential 6-light turn signal system LED lights throughout.

Further: Custom “side mirrors” with LED turn signals on the inside, custom roll-pan, upgraded spare tire mount with a modern cable hoist that is accessible behind the fold-down rear license plate, classy old vintage metal trunk that has been restored with black crinkle finished “powder coat”; housing the battery, tool kit, electric jack kit, two Pico chairs, cleaning supplies, etc.

Lastly: It has a 1941-46 Chevy bed box as original that is wider than the 1938 rear fenders were. The smooth-sided 1941-46 rear fenders were hammer formed by me to appear like they were made by GM, because of the wide bead character lines appeared like the 1938 front fenders. Also, I hammer formed the rear fender edges around the wheel opening and around the box underneath the rear fenders to match the appearance of the 1938 rear fenders. Custom “Smoothie Fabrication” smooth running boards were custom finished and fitted by me to fit the ’38 front fenders, and reformed in the rear to fit the 41-46 fenders (1938 in front to the 1941-46 rear fender “wider shape” in the rear).

What a job

All in all, the frame remains unmolested, as I built this to be a nice driver not a race car. I only boxed in the frame from the cab forward to accommodate the “Fatman front suspension system” to upgrade the safety and drivability of this truck.

Things not included when originally built in 1938:

  • 350 V8 engine
  • Extra cooling capacity aluminum radiator w/ trans fluid cooler Auto transmission P/SP/B Electric cooling fan
  • Turn signals
  • Radial tires and mag rims
  • Under the body fuel stainless steel tank
  • Stainless steel exhaust
  • Three horns
  • Modern fuse panel and wire harness
  • Emergency flashers
  • Sequential turn hazard/ lights
  • Third brake light
  • Rear license plate light
  • Billet aluminum license plate frames
  • Stainless steel Bed strips and polished stainless steel bolt kit
  • Interior and exterior door locks on both doors
  • 12 volt electrical system
  • Tachometer
  • Tilt chrome steering column with shift indicator Gm style cruise control
  • Stereo with AM/FM/Bluetooth with amp and bass speaker
  • Leather interior bucket seats with head rests
  • Carpeting on center console with drink holder: center console base with two recessed tray areas and two power points and fire extinguisher pocket with door arm rests
  • Internal door crash beams
  • 3 point seat belt system
  • 4 interior lights which is door opening and light switch activated
  • Glove box light
  • Sun visors
  • Defrosters
  • Air conditioning
  • Side mirrors with LED turn signals inside
  • Insulated cab and doors
  • Chrome windshield and back window moldings
  • Head lamp assemblies
  • Hood hardware
  • Bumpers
  • Tailgate hinges
  • Cowl vent lever
  • Numerous stainless steel fasteners inside and out as well as underneath the truck
  • Tinted side and rear windows
  • Custom headliner
  • Extra door weather stripping
  • Bear claw type door latches
  • Cable hoist spare tire mount
  • Extra thick rubberized material applied to the bottoms of the fenders and running boards for rock damage
  • Fully enclosed sheet metal floorboard

People to be mentioned in the order they helped!

Chris Odom: Much all around help/console building/assembly/encouragement

Roger Odom: Dis-assembly/stripping and assembly help

Jimmy Odom: All around and stereo help

John Marshall: Major welding/brake/gas line bending/all around help

Dave Burke: Front suspension placement/trans mount/rear end help

Brad Driscoll: All around and encouragement help

Frank Krumweidte: Rear end placement help

Mike Corson: All around help

Dave Adams: Mechanical/all around help

Jay Meuser: Finish work/painting assy

Harold Hardy: All around guidance

Bob Durham: Electrical/stereo help

Tim Chapman: Auto meter gauges

Chuck Cradduck: Wiring/mechanical help

Jason Withers: Help

Jarrett and Ryan Marshall: Exhaust

Dierdre Kerr: Well, she seen me through!

And last but not least!! My heartfelt thanks to Jim Carter for his help and especially, Jimmy Jones! He was instrumental with guidance and instruction on a ton of things, and has been so great with helping me get through this build. It would have been so much harder without his knowledge and willingness to help whenever I got into a jamb ! ! !

As well as the friendly help that I always have received whenever I have called the store…in my book Jim Carter Truck Parts stands on top of the hill alone as the best place to obtain parts and info when building a vintage truck! While building this truck I have dealt with many other company’s but none offered the products for a very reasonable price with fast friendly service like JIM CARTER TRUCK PARTS!!

If I can help anyone with info about this truck I would be more than happy to help!

Thank you,

Mike Odom – Kingston, Illinois – email: modom6499@gmail.com

For the Serious 1938 Enthusiast:

If you have an interest of how Mike’s 1938 looked over 80 years ago and why this year is so rare, check our January 2020 Feature Truck of the Month. Owned by Glen Andrews of Raleigh, NC.

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