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1946 Chevrolet ½ Ton Panel Truck

The proud owner of this seventy-five year old daily driver is Joe Thompson of Overland Park, Kansas. More about Joe later in this article!

Our feature truck for this month is Canadian made at the Chevrolet factory in Oshawa, Ontario. It was built just after World War II when the demand for trucks and cars was the highest in history. Factories were being converted back to making domestic products after 4 years of producing war related items. The returning military and civilian population wanted to get back to better than normal.

In regards to Post War vehicles, they were almost identical as before the war in 1941. GM knew changing to a mostly new body design would be a big financial mistake. In 1946, they could market all that could be produced. Buyers just wanted new vehicles NOW! An updated body design was not that important.

After leaving the Chevrolet factory in Ontario this 1946 was delivered to the Chevy dealership in Winnipeg, Manitoba. As panel trucks were made for work it was immediately sold to the waiting buyer: The Winnipeg Free Press. This was the largest daily newspaper in the Province.

It is assumed this panel truck was a delivery vehicle for transporting quantities of newspapers to retail outlets as well as smaller private carriers such as those using bicycles or even walking in crowded neighborhoods.

Little is known of this 1946 panel truck’s history after being retired from the original owner until it was found abandoned and hidden in some tall bushes (still in Canada) about 1984. Before the introduction of “weed-eaters”, it was just easier to allow weeds to grow up around a forgotten vehicle on a back lot. Only when the weeds froze in the winter did the owner even remember he had this vehicle. One advantage: Abandoned panel trucks were great little free storage buildings for anything you wanted to protect from the weather. This saved many from extinction!

Its five later owners after 1984 lived in the Mid-West USA. Each did their part to make it more freeway friendly by adding many, many more upgraded modern extras. On Joe’s truck, this includes a Chevy V8, automatic transmission, 1975 S-10 frame, and a much higher differential gearing. To keep it looking very vintage, most all the sheet-metal, grille, dash, windows, and swingout windshield, are as they were in 1946.

Supporting photos below show what appears to be a seventy-five year truck only lacking its bumpers. Behind the scenes is a vehicle that keeps up with all traffic on the open road!

And now…about Joe Thompson. He bought “Ruby” (as he calls this special truck) in 2018. He has been slowly altering a few after-market items to suit his fancy. Some of the additions are aluminum radiator, updated wiring, new wheels and tires, new appearing original hub caps, plus lots of miscellaneous. Local help such as Suburban Rod and Custom in Merriam, KS have been important guiding Joe so he did not make mistakes.

Joe graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in History and Philosophy. This knowledge was used to create his unique successful business. Its name is displayed on both sides of this panel truck!

Living near historic Kansas City, Missouri, Joe with his love of fixing and making the old look new, saw an opportunity he would enjoy. He and his crew restore very old homes in what continues to be the more classic KC neighborhoods developed over one- hundred years ago. The goal is to make them appear as they were when first built. Even the interiors are made authentic down to creating the exact same woodwork. Other than sometime enlarging the once small kitchens, rewiring, adding new heating and cooling, the potential home buyer with an interest in early history is really impressed!

“When you enjoy what you do, you wake up in the morning excited”.

Joe has recently purchased a very “excellent” 1974 Ford pickup. He is replacing the tired engine and will use what appears to be an almost new 46 year old truck in his business!

If there was any question if Joe has a special talent in fixing and making items, check this! He could not find a window regulator for his panel truck (yes, they are very difficult to locate) so he made his own from scratch! It looks a little different from GM but we are sure it operates way better and it is hidden out of sight. Now that is talent!

You can contact Joe at: joe@archcraftsmen.com

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