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Featured Trucks [unsorted]

1970 Chevrolet “CST” ½ Ton

Wednesday, September 30th, 2020

On July 10, 2020, the 10th South East Truck Nationals were held in Lebanon, Tennessee. What a show! Over 1,000 registered older GM trucks were displayed on the large county fairgrounds. About 5,000 walk-in visitors were observing the trucks. Many parts dealers and food venders were lined up along the walkways. This show is soon to be the largest all GM truck show in the nation.

Of so many trucks, some seemed just right for our feature truck series. The following is one of our choices that caused people to see just about how it was almost fifty years
ago. This 1970 Chevy is owned by Greg Harris of Powell, Tennessee, a serious truck collector of the 1970’s GM trucks.

He bought this top of the line CST (Custom Sport Truck) about thirty years ago. The original owner bought it from Beaty Chevrolet in Knoxville, TN and the many extras were just the way he wanted it! He would never use it for work!

This was the first series of Chevrolet Trucks (1967-1972) when many American’s began wanting the extras that were once reserved for passenger cars. GM quickly picked up on this trend, and more and more options were offered for the first time (In today’s world this continues but buyers want pickups more like cars. It is now very difficult to buy the old standard; a single seat 3 passenger cab with an 8’ bed.). So many use them for their families.

Always dent free 8’ bed floor

Greg knew immediately he wanted this good condition 1970 CST, even though this original owner had not considered selling it. It’s future owner said, “ It is much less expensive to pay more for a better truck you want, than to make so many upgrades on one well used, even at half the price.”

Greg’s new CST ½ ton received a frame off restoration even though most would not have gone that far with such a nice pickup. It was like building a big model kit! No body panels required replacing. The 8 foot bed floor had always been covered with a rubber mat. Thus not dents to repair. The original color; Hugger Orange, was used again.

The beginning of wood grain inside. Top of the line pure CST interior

Most of the black interior was replaced; however, the bucket seats still remain as theyleft the factory in 1970. One must look very close to see they are that old.

This paper decal is the pedigree of the trucks beginning

Here are a few Facts on Greg’s NEW 1970:

402 Cubic inch V-8 with 4 barrel carburetor and duel exhaust

400 Turbo hydramatic 3 speed transmission

308 ratio posi track differential

Wood grain lower side and tailgate trim plus black line upper side trim are all NEW old stock (before GM discontinued it)

Sealed beam headlights have matching T-3 stamping that GM used in 1970.

The AM radio was replaced with a GM accessory Chevy AM-FM non-stereo unit. “Perfect fit”

Tilt steering column

Front bumper guards (the year before the rubber inserted type)

402 V-8. Ready to get tickets!

A few additional upgrades:

Greg moved up one year and added the disc brake system from a 1971. Thus, behind the hub caps are 5 bolt wheels instead of the 1970 6 bolt design. (That 6 bolt pattern had been used since the mid-1930’s)

To keep the rear using the same wheels, the total differential assembly was an easy replacement using the 1971 design.

Yes, the correct 1967-70 door mounted outside mirrors are painted Hugger, Orange, not the chrome sport mirrors of the following year.

Factory tachometer between the gauges

To add just a little extra touch, Greg installed the “top of the line” 1967 Chevelle steering wheel with rose wood edge. A very expensive extra!

Factory air conditioning still uses the correct R-12 Freon. It certainly cools much better!

What about Greg Harris, the owner? He has been in love with Chevy trucks in the 1970’s since his teenage years. Why? Probably because his father felt the same way except his enthusiasm was in high performance original Chevy cars such as full size Chevys, Chevelles, Camaros, and Corvettes.

Both father and son continue to collect and sell only if they can improve the herd! Between the two they have almost twenty-five Chevy’s, most all in near new condition.(Imagine the number of storage buildings!)

CST used a chrome hub cap. Full wheel covers were optional.

Greg is also co-sponsor of a bi-annual truck show in Pigeon Forge, TN. The sponsors rent the 305,000 square foot convention center where 350 trucks are viewed plus 100’s in surrounding parking lots.

One other of Greg’s favorites: This 1972 Blazer has become new again. NOTE: The correct standard spare tire location! It has never been on the ground.

Greg Harris can be contacted at: gharris1967@gmail.com

1946 Chevrolet ½ Ton Panel Truck

Tuesday, September 8th, 2020

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

1972 Chevrolet Highlander Blazer 4X4

Monday, August 3rd, 2020

It is July 2020, and we were attending the annual South East Trucking Nationals in Lebanon, Tennessee. Over 1,000 trucks were on display at the Wilson County Fair Grounds, and so, so many people came just to walk through the many rows of special trucks. Even parts venders lined some aisles!

Of the very few 1969-72 Chevrolet Blazers at the show, one really caught our attention.

It was owned by Steve McDonald of Arab, Alabama. He always stayed nearby to be available for the many questions people asked. We certainly enjoyed hearing the numerous details of such an exceptional 1972 Chevrolet Highlander Blazer.

Steve is a wealth of information on 1955-72 Chevrolet trucks. There were few questions he was not able to answer on these early vehicles. His only hobby is these GM trucks. Most of all, he enjoys the search and collecting rare factory options and dealer installed GM truck accessories.

Over the years Steve has obtained almost forgotten GM truck items such as an under-dash CB radio and a truck 8 track stereo player; all pure factory extras with the GM logo on their front.

The Scottish Plaid is a Real Eye-catcher

He has eleven special Chevrolet trucks, of which three are his regular drivers. These are 1959 deluxe short bed ½ ton, 1966 deluxe ½ ton Fleetside with a rare yellow factory color, and this 1972 Blazer (Actually, the Blazer is his Sunday driver only, unless he drives it 250 miles one-way to this large Tennessee truck show). The interior and exterior are beautiful examples of how they were when new.

Carpeting Over Wheel Well

These special options came from the factory on Steve’s Blazer. The attached inside glove box sheets (in excellent condition) shows what came extra when this Blazer was new.

For details on his Highlander package, see beyond options list:
350 Cubic Inch V-8 With 4 Barrel Carburetor
350 Turbo Hydromatic Transmission
3.73 Geared Differential
Power Steering and Power Disc Front Breaks
Tilt Steering Column
Factory Air-Conditioning
Over Flow Radiator Tank
Hawaiian Blue paint
Yes, GM Offered a CB Radio for Under the Dash. So Rare! A Pure GM Eight Track Stereo!

The 1972 Highlander Option

A different twist! There was a new option in mid-1972 that few people know about, or were even aware of almost 50 years ago. When you see Steve’s Blazer, you know something is very different than normal. Steve’s Blazer came from the factory (last half of 1972) as a pure Highlander.

The focal point of this short lived Highlander is the attractive Scottish plaid nylon cloth seat inserts. Four plaid inserts were available depending on the exterior color.

GM used the 1972 Cheyenne Super seat but instead of Houndstooth inserts, they substituted this unique plaid material. The vinyl seat edging were off-white parchment with all four placed colors.

Actually, the more advertised feature of the Highlander was three pre-installed option packages. Chevrolet put together several popular factory options in the base package in the pickup and reduced the total regular price as much as $260.00. Original equipment option (standard on the Highlander package A) was chrome front bumper, upper body moldings, door edge guards, and Below-Eye-Line door mounted mirrors.

Package B included the above items plus Turbo Hydromatic transmission, power steering and tilt steering column. Package C added the above plus air-conditioning and Soft-Ray tinted windows.

In today’s world, Highlanders has been mostly forgotten. Unless you bought one new or located an original piece of sales literature, it is likely that even GM truck lovers were not aware they existed.

Blazer Trivia

It is said what encouraged General Motors to introduce the Blazer was the U.S. Post Service needs for local mail delivery.

The major car and truck U.S. producers were given the specifications on what was needed. This would be a very large contract for the winner! General Motors was already in the “driver’s seat” to win. The frame length on their short bed ½ ton wheelbase would be shortened from 115” to 104”. Modifying short Fleet sides saved so much in design and tooling. GM was already using the drive train, front sheet metal, seats, window glass, tailgate, dash instruments, and much of the bed sides in their pickups. The other US manufacturers did not have a chance! These Post Office Blazers were sold before production began. What a deal for General Motors!

The Postal Service required the wheel base to be reduced from the 115” on GM’s current short bed ½ ton to 104”. This would allow the Blazer better turning ability to maneuver tight corners on narrow streets in older neighborhoods. They could also back up more successfully in tight places.

Because of using US government tax money, the new Blazers were required to be what we call “Bare Bones”. The engine would be GM’s bullet proof proven 250 six cylinder, no back seat or passenger front seat and no power options. Most were ordered as 2 wheel drive and one color. Even their all stainless steel one piece full wheel covers were used a few years before 1970 on the Chevrolet Monte Carlo.

Blazer Spare Tire Mount

A rarely seen view of the Blazer spare tire mount. When you preferred to keep you spare inside for security or just to lower the cost over an outside swing bracket, GM provided this special two foot mount behind the rear seat. It is secured by fasteners to the metal Blazer floor.

The old saying “Follow the Money” applies with the creation of the Blazer. General Motors saw great potential in this new postal vehicle. With many more options already on their pickup, it just might become a good seller.

The two wheel drive and the six cylinder engine would be standard equipment at no extra cost. GM sold about 10% of these as the base price engines but 90% of the 350 V-8 engines by the Chevy dealers.

GMC Does it Too

GMC also offered this body style so their dealers could be competitive. They are referred to as “GMC JIMMY”. Their name plate will attach to the same fender holes as the Blazer.

So the GMC Jimmy could be different from the Blazer’s Scottish plaid seats, GM turned the material 90 degrees to the side; thus, a slightly different look.

In summary, the Blazer has been one of the success stories in GM history. Today, a nice well-kept Blazer of the early years far surpasses their value of 50 years ago! Thank you, US Postal Service!

Oops! Let’s not forget the special Blazer made fiberglass top.

Blazer Top Facts

At a recent truck show a 1972 GM Blazer was so original that several special points should be shown on the vehicle’s unaltered fiberglass top.

Two dome lights are on the left interior side. This allows light for passengers on the front and rear seat. These lights are the same as in the pickup and Big trucks above their rear window.

As this fiberglass top is made to be removed, GM installed an electric plug warning plate. This was to remind the owner that when removing the top you must remove the electric plug from the top. This connected the main wiring harness to the wires in the top that lead to the two dome lights. As the top is fiberglass, there must be a ground wire in the harness to allow for current flow to the body.

A clothes hanger hook is behind the front dome light.

Another touch that added to the Blazer’s popularity was the removable fiberglass top. Two people could remove it, and you then had an open vehicle for nice days! Of course, if you were away from home base and a rain storm developed, you immediately looked for an overpass, parked in a coin-operated car wash, or maybe got under a tree!

Front Dome Lights Rear Dome Lights
Both Dome Lights Clothes Hanger behind Front Door
“Warning Plate” to Remind Owner To Pull Plug When Removing Top

The photos above are from “our” 1967-72 tech articles under Features. http://oldchevytrucks.com/blog/index.php/2014/09/blazer-top-facts/
You can contact Steve McDonald at: oldtrucks@charter.net

1950 Chevy Half-Ton

Thursday, July 9th, 2020

This month’s feature truck is a 1950 Chevrolet ½ ton that appears almost identical to the day it left the factory in St. Louis, Missouri about 70 years ago. It is a pure standard cab pickup; the most popular light truck sold that year by Chevrolet or any other make. It was made for work and thus no extras were ordered except a chrome grille (that may have been added later) Even the optional radio and heater are not on this pickup.

The standard features that came with this pickup is the 216 six cylinder engine, column shift three speed transmission, and 4.11 ratio differential behind a closed drive shaft. A nice combination for many, many miles of dependable transportation. Yes, it keeps its original six volt electrical system. Why not? Cars and trucks were sold by the millions each year with 6 volts. The electrical demands were only for the starter, lighting, and ignition system.

When you did not order one of the seven no cost optional colors you always received this Green. The nine wood bed planks “always” came painted in Black. After all, in the early years pickups were for work only. Varnished bed wood was never imagined! Most trucks were placed behind the barn on Friday and the family sedan was for socializing and shopping in town. Many never saw water until it rained!

The proud owners of this part of American automotive history are Gary and Jean Lerno of Independence, Missouri. They purchased it at a specialty auto auction in 2008. Gary’s uncle had a pickup almost exactly like this in the 1960’s and he remembered riding in it so often! Without any plans of actually seeing one like this again, “it was love at first sight”. They had it at their home at the end of the day.

Another reason for the purchase of this ground up restored “new” 1950 ½ ton: The Lerno’s moved to Missouri in 1994 from Orange, CA. due to an excellent employment transfer. They brought with them a rust free unrestored 1930 Model A Ford Coupe they had owned 20 years.

Outside Sun Visor. Added by the Chevrolet Dealer.

With finishing a new house and many hours on the new job position, the restoration on the Ford Coupe was placed on hold. Therefore, they were looking for a specialty vehicle that was ready to drive. This new appearing half ton was just right. It brought back pleasant memories and could be driven immediately. It could not have been better for Gary and Jean. They were very happy with being the new owners.

During the past eleven years this little ½ ton has brought much enjoyment. Almost trouble free, it is ready for fun drives whenever they have a need. Some of their most recent activities have been at participating in many parades with their grandchildren that live close by.

The most memorable parade occurred in mid-June 2020. The Lerno’s granddaughter Caitlee, graduated from a more rural high school about 20 miles away. As the school was closed due to the Corona Virus, no formal graduation plans had surfaced. It was then the student’s parents took over. The students would have a graduation!

The Lerno’s and their 1950 ½ ton participated in the best parade of all! Each student was taken on a long parade through Oak Grove, MO. and its suburbs.

Most easily found a vehicle, some very unusual, with a driver. Yes! Caitlee rode in the eye-catching 1950 pickup. The word got out in the surrounding area and thousands lined the streets to congratulate the graduates. Quite a sight!

The next day the graduates were driven by an outside special built and decorated platform. Their diplomas were handed out while announcements were made to the very large number of visitors.

Gary’s words: “What I like about the truck it’s not fancy or flashy. But when you park it in a car show everyone comes up to say, “I remember someone that had a truck just like this.” Makes you feel good to have others remember the good old days.”

For more information, Gary or Jean can be contacted at:  gjlerno@aol.com

1953 “Canadian Built” GMC ½ Ton

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2020

Our regular readers of the Feature Truck of the Month Series know we try to find early GM trucks that are just a little different for an article. Our choice this month certainly fills these qualifications. A 1953 GMC ½ ton owned and totally restored by Allan Fisher of Vulcan, Alberta, Canada. Certainly a rare GMC 1/2 ton, plus it often pulls one of the few remaining 1956 Mercury 12 foot camper trailers in existence. Yes, also a “ground up” restoration by Allan. What an attention getter wherever this pair is seen!

A few comments on the Canadian built GMC’S that might be of interest to owners of those assembled in the U.S.A.

-The Canadian GMC pickups were assembled in Oshawa, Ontario.-They did not have the usual full oil pressure engines in the states such as 228, 248, and 270 cubic inch six cylinder engines. They came with the low oil pressure engine used in Chevrolet cars and trucks: a 216 inline six cylinder.

We were fortunate to receive an article on Allan’s GMC and Mercury trailer from his files on his two special vehicles that you might have seen on the highways in the 1950’s. Here it is for your enjoyment:

ALLAN’S OWN WORDS:

1953 GMC a real survivor: Some History This ‘53 GMC was sold in a small town in southern Alberta which had two automotive dealers. One a GMC dealer and the other a Ford dealer. In a short few years this GM was traded in to the Ford dealer. The Ford dealer also had a J.I. Case dealership for farm equipment. The good traded in GMC was painted Case orange (as it is today) and was used as a sales truck for the Case dealership in the late ‘50s. When the salesman who used the truck retired he got the GMC. It then went to his farming relatives where it hauled many 50 lb. bags of fertilizer for spring seeding. When seeding was finished back inside to keep the leftover fertilizer dry until next spring. When bags were not used anymore the old truck just sat inside forgotten. It was luck to be talking trucks over coffee when the owner of the GMC said he had a truck that was taking up space and should be gone to a new owner. I went to look at it. It was hard to see at the back of a building in the dark. But looked not bad from what I could see so made a deal and got it home only 30 miles. I put it in a building in my yard at the back in the dark and left it for another day. Five years later, time to get the old GMC out and start a cleanup. Out into the light with a careful look at it no rust any place these old trucks usually rust. Paint good for its age. “Orange” with little body damage. A good cleaning with the mouse nests gone it is a much better truck than I first thought. Now it was time to make a plan to save this good old truck. It is too nice original to hot rod but that would get it back on the road and could be driven but the cost is not cheap. A real good start for a back to very original truck but only good for driving in the summer and with faster highways it would not get driven much. Last and best I think for me is a driver that can be used for fun and light work. Upgraded for safety and faster roads at a reasonable cost so work began. First a better 6 cylinder pressure oiled engine. (GM 235 or 261) I found a GM 261 six that was to be in good shape and it really was so I cleaned it up and it bolts in. A better shifting transmission Saginaw four speed seemed best. It bolts to the engine. Rear diff. is a ten bolt GM out of a mid-size car (right width) drive shaft fits too. Steering was good put in manual disk brakes on front, (all parts in a kit) GM drums rear. Wheels changed to five bolt 15” with radial tires Changed to all 12v for better lights etc. All this upgrade were done in my backyard shop and all just bolt on.

1 1/2 years later: How is it to drive? A real treat to get out on the road. I can keep up with traffic, rides and handles well. Steers well, brakes well, no need for power brakes. But had to get the rear end ratio changed so now the 6 cyl. Run at 2850 rpm 60 mph. There were many other smaller things to do to make this truck work but all worth it. If you drive lots in town power steering would be nice. I have a 12’ canned ham travel trailer that this little truck with GM 261 engine pulls just great. This big 6 uses lots of gas, the 235 may be better for just a everyday driver. I hope this may inspire someone to start a old truck project. Just start with the truck you have it will still be fun and safe to drive. One warning you will fall in love (as I have) with these Old trucks as they become part of your life. There are many other details that I could share with someone who wants to build a truck. Contact Allen Fisher at: afishead@telusplanet.net

Like father, like son: While all of Allan’s GMC restoration was taking place, his son David (in high school) took notice! Very interesting on what could be done!

Thus, he bought a 1950 GMC truck from a farmer where he had been doing after hours work. He did the basics to make it more “road worthy” and so much cleaning and surface upgrading. Then, he had his own personal transportation to school every day.

After graduation he found a good paying job in Calgary, 60 miles away. Disposable income allowed him to get serious in his 1950 GMC upgrading. Now it has a very nice appearance, much like 70 years ago. Exception: Lift the hood and there is a Chevy small block V-8 engine.


For those that are curious of what Allan’s ½ ton pulls on occasional weekend get-away camping trips, read on!

He came across this 12 foot trailer by accident seven years ago somewhere in Alberta. An I.D. plate was stamped Mercury, El Monte, California. This forlorn forgotten trailer looked very interesting. After all, Allan liked camping as well as his newly restored GMC. Somehow, wouldn’t that make a perfect pair?

Allan was on a roll after creating his “new” ‘53 GMC so he was ready to get into this totally different type project. All the wood floor top and side wood framing was a total loss due to some roof leaks during long outside storage. Oh well, the patterns were there. Only the metal windows and roof vents were salvageable.

The metal exterior paneling was also a loss. No cleaning, polishing, or straightening would make it the way that Allan wanted it to match his GMC quality.

So luckily, he found a company in Calgary, 60 miles away that had machinery to add the original ridges on new trailer paneling. (This company has employees just repairing trailers from improper backing and wrecks on the road.) The workmen took an immediate interest in this 70 year old Mercury trailer. This was a real challenge to professionals that only repair late model trailers. The result: It may be better than in 1956. Even the depth and height of the ridges was just like the Mercury factory sold it.

Important inside restorable parts were the table, sink, clothing wardrobe, small built-in kitchen stove, and the upper kitchen cabinets.

Big Compliment: Allan Fisher did the total trailer restoration including all the needed woodwork. At least, the metal frame and axle just required major rust removal, re-coating in black and new wheel bearings.

Under Construction

Public Recognition: After this 2-year trailer restoration, Allan heard about an annual “Early Trailer Rally” that would hold its 2nd yearly meeting about 30 miles away. Of course, he had to go with the GMC as the puller! About 30 older trailers were in attendance. Allan received their “Honorable Mention” reward. Not bad for a new guy in the trailer world!

For those that have more interest in the vintage Mercury camper trailers click Google on “Mercury Camper Trailer”.

1938 Chevrolet ¾ Ton

Friday, May 1st, 2020

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.

1955 Chevrolet ½ Ton (First Series)

Thursday, April 2nd, 2020

About 5 years ago Steve and Cynthia Brouker of Lee, Massachusetts got an idea they wanted an old Chevy truck. Just one of many that have made early pickups about the most popular vehicle now collected and restored in the U.S.A. As most current pickup owners, the Broukers did not require a trailer queen for shows but rather a very nice clean, dependable driver for nice weather days.

The hunt began with local newspapers, in national magazines, and EBay. Many trucks were seen, read about, and considered. After much searching, this 1955 appeared and they looked no further. Everything appeared correct. The color was the big attention getter but this ½ ton had the mechanicals Steve wanted. The original 235 six cylinder engine, a column shift 3 speed transmission, and there had been no changes to the differential system. The Broukers went by appearance and what the person sold it had said. After all, the pickup was in Arizona and they lived in Massachusetts; 2500 miles apart. A trip to see it was not possible.

ALL WAS GOOD EXCEPT

They hired a person from an advertisement with a pickup and a car hauler trailer for the long journey. When the tarp was removed at the Brouker’s home, their newly purchased pickup had water in it. They knew it had been uncovered during the trip. The tarp had probably been added a few miles away. Not what they paid for. The driver cheated them on the high price.

Steve and Cynthia quickly realized, though the pickup looked great in the photos, the mechanicals were another story.

  • The engine was noisy and smoked.
  • The transmission gears were grinding.
  • Differential dripped grease on their driveway.
  •  A rear wheel seal had leaked so bad, that brake shoes on one side were soaked in this grease.

Steve called the truck soon after they received it, “A Pig with Ear Rings!”

WHAT NOW? Steve retired from a career in the U.S. Navy, could handle most vehicle mechanical problems, but he had no experience with a 60 year old Chevy ½ ton. The hunt began for help.

Luck was on his side! He was told about one of the most experienced 1947-55 GM truck repair persons in the country and only 50 miles away. Well known in his field with over 40 years’ experience is Bob Adler in Stephentown, New York. Bob was just too busy with customers waiting their turn but he stopped his work, told Steve and his brother what to do on the phone, and had some repair parts in stock. Nice guy!

Here are just a few things that were done by Steve and his brother in Lee, Mass.:

  • Engine removed, disassembled, sent out for cleaning and reboring. Cylinder head reconditioned, etc. and reassembled. What a job for the unexperienced!
  • Transmission: Total disassembly. With a major hunt, almost all new gears and bearings were replaced. It was new again!
  • Differential: New gaskets, axle housings removed to add new grease seals. Brake shoes and new hardware added.
  • The Big Plus: The body and interior were almost as nice as advertised.

Steve and Cynthia now have a great little ½ ton. It is what they thought they were buying in the first place. It just had cost so much in un-planned expense and time. Far from the “Pig Stage”, Cynthia has named it “Happy”. We hope all of this is in a diary!!

You can contact the Brouker’s at: gunner102@AOL.com

WHY THE WORDS “FIRST SERIES”

This mid-year introduction is why the hobbyists refer to a First or Second Series 1955 truck. This is a First Series 1955 (A slightly modified 1954) offered for several months until the introduction  of the new body style. This First Series 1/2 ton was mostly just a “fill in the time gap” pickup with few changes except the introduction of the open drive shaft.


Cynthia is starting a business called,” HAPPY GO LUCKY”. It will feature oldie “Goodies” to children. Partial proceeds will go to, THE NATIONAL EATING DISORDER FOUNDATION in memory of their middle daughter; Mary, who passed away in 2019 at 35 years of age.

1959 GMC ¾ Ton 4×4

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2020

It’s the late 1960’s and John Berry of Lehi, Utah, needed another pickup truck for his ranch duties. He was not particular of the brand but just needed a dependable older pickup for his general hauling requirements. The best he found that seemed affordable was a 10 year old local GMC. John used to tune the truck and service it for the original owner. Its solid 270 six cylinder engine was still in place as was the original 4 speed transmission and two wheel drive. A factory 4.57 ratio differential would be just right for his needs at that time. GMC referred to the color as Seafoam Green.

This GMC was of the age that some repair parts could be found in local salvage yards and a new GMC dealer was in the area. Just right! It could haul heavy loads and was dependable. A little slow on modern highways but that would not be a problem on the ranch.

Now enters his son Max. As he grew into his driving years, this GMC was a big help in accomplishing his work duties on the ranch as well as driving to town for supplies. Young Max had a good mechanical aptitude and quickly learned how to make many occasional repairs when parts were required to keep it running.

A few years later this talent really started him thinking how he might make some serious changes to this work truck. The GMC had become his main ride! Max found himself attached to this GMC! Could he make it a more impressive truck when hanging out with friends and not lessen its ability to be a hauler on the ranch? After all, during the 90’s trucks in the US had grown very popular as fun driving vehicles. Many were no longer parked behind the barn on Friday night and the sedan used for an evening out. They were now even seen in the church parking lots on Sunday! What a change.

As luck would have it, Max’s hopes came true when he discovered a for sale used 1978 Chevrolet ¾ ton, with a 350 V-8, more modern 4 speed transmission with a higher speed 4.10 ratio differential and power disc brakes. Best of all, it had a factory installed complete 4 wheel drive system. Could anything have been better to transfer to his 1959 GMC?

It would be an exciting major project for Max. Of course, at his young age he had the enthusiasm to make it all fit together. Keeping the original frame and springs, failure was not an option! He searched locally and found some others that had been successful doing this type of change over so that gave him confidence it was possible.

What a major learning experience! So much was all new to Max but he never gave up. He knew if others had been successful, he could do it too. Maybe he was a little slower than some but it would be completed. It was almost like going to a college technical class but he did it mostly alone!

This story does not end here. It actually continued many years later with Max’s young son Jacob. Of course, why wouldn’t it? Jacob grew up with this 1959 GMC! When working on the ranch and Max driving on local errands, Jacob was riding with Dad! It was natural that the GMC was the vehicle he learned to drive first. Certainly, he really liked the way his father had changed it to a more socially accepted pickup and could still be used for work duties.

As time has passed, this 60 year old pickup has become an eye-catcher to those that notice unusual vehicles. There was nothing like it in the area, however it is said “nothing stays the same.” After many years of using the GMC it was beginning to show its age. Yes, it was still mechanically strong but the normal wear and tear was definitely causing the pickup to look well worked. It is those little gradual things that are not noticed in the beginning but outsiders would sometimes draw attention to worn areas. When Max or Jacob wanted it to look its best for an occasion, so many places just could not come up to standards. For appearances, it might then be considered a “25 Foot pickup!” In other words, it looked good if a person did not get closer than a 25 foot distance.

Max occasionally got the hint from Jacob to make it nice again but he tried not to say much. After all, upgrading the many items would get deep in someone’s bank account. Just maybe it was Jacob that was responsible for the pickup’s face lift that we see now.

Max realized that the time was right during Jacobs’ late teenage years. Jacob would be on a two year assignment about 2,000 miles away for his church. Max and Grandpa Dale Jones decided this needed major restoration would be a great surprise for Jacob’s homecoming after his out of town work was finished.

Max took this GMC to his father-in-law’s shop. Here he painstakingly completely restored the truck with a frame off restoration and body upgrade. Starting in February of 2019 and finishing on Dec 19th,2019. Almost every night of the week including weekends were spent with family and friends restoring the truck. Many dinners and late nights were spent in that garage next to Jacobs dream. Occasionally Jacob would write home and ask if the truck was still where he parked it.

Big surprise: When Jacob returned home, his parents told him the tired truck he grew up with was needing a new battery and tires. The new parts were down at grandpa’s shop. Jacob was excited to get the old truck road worthy again and suggested they get working on it and maybe paint it. When the garage door opened, what a shock! There sat his old but new 1959 GMC.

Wish we all could have seen that moment!

1954 Chevrolet ½ Ton Pickup

Sunday, February 2nd, 2020

The owner of this month’s Featured Truck is Calvin Weaver of Churchville, Maryland. This 1954 has been in his family almost 60 years! Calvin’s father purchased it in the early 1960’s from a local farmer because he needed a pickup in his masonry business.

As his father used it every day carrying masonry products, he began to really like this little ½ ton. So dependable, easy to make repairs, and carried just the correct amount of supplies for a day’s work! Then he began to notice something happening. After over 20 year old work truck it was beginning to show it’s age. He hoped to have it after retirement so something had to be done to save it. He felt there was only one choice and still be able to use it. He parked it in his home garage at night and during the winter months. The family sedan now sat outside in all weather!

Fast forward to the mid 1980’s and Calvin inherits this pickup from his father. Maybe for sentimental reasons and remembering his father using and growing attached to this pickup, Calvin decided to do a major restoration on it. He was not experienced in this type of project but Calvin was determined to do it as a remembrance to his father.

The more he thought about doing this, the more he got excited. He talked to other vehicle restorers, read articles and ordered catalogs. He even attended some major annual swap meets such as in Carlisle, PA to add to his knowledge. Calvin by this time was in his late 50’s with so much enthusiasm. This “big project” in his life was completed about 1988.

Since that time more pure 1954 accessories were found and added gradually. Calvin now knew what to look for in 1954 options. His hunt was often successful so this challenging hobby continued over the years. Calvin is now 89 years old, he takes in local shows were he often receives trophies. This time in life he mostly enjoys local drives and keeping it clean and waxed. Every time he gets gasoline someone comes out with a camera and questions. His father would really be proud!

More on the Restoration:

It was certainly a learning experience! In his travels he learned the options that were available in 1954. Many his father did not have on the truck after all, the pickup was for work! Some items Calvin added were: a fresh air heater, radio, the dash mounted clock, turn signals, wheel rings, hood bird, the windshield and side window stainless trim, bumper guards, front splash apron mounted fog lights, chrome grill, wood bedside racks with a third stop light. He even added some non-GM backup lights.

Paint Trivia:

To paint the pickup just like Chevrolet did originally, Calvin used the correct Juniper Green. He used “single stage” enamel as they did on the assembly line. (The surface was never meant to be so slick a fly could not land on it.)

Yes, the finish looked just right and not like most two stage surfaces as today! Unfortunately, Calvin did not realize that spayed enamel should be applied in a paint booth, not in a home garage. The overspray covered almost everything in the garage while it was still wet!

Calvin did this painting personally. Very, very nice for a beginner. Few of today’s body shops will paint single stage enamel. Most cannot easily correct paint runs, dusty areas and drips until the mistakes have dried over many hours. Then sanding for a repaint in that area must begin!

1938 Chevrolet ½ Ton

Wednesday, January 1st, 2020

In our 20 years posting Featured Truck series we have only listed one 1938 Chevy USA made ½ ton. (November 2009) The 1938 Chevy trucks are much rarer than the other two years in this series, the 1936 and 1937. This is due to 1938 labor strikes that at times stopped production in most of the GM plants. It was toward the end of the Great Depression and the recently formed United Auto Workers demanded more benefits for plant employees.

Our special truck this month (probably the nicest 1938 in existence) is owned and been personally restored by Glen Andrews of Raleigh, North Carolina. When we first saw a photo of Glen’s 1938, we knew it had to be a very authentic restoration. It had only one taillight! This was just like all early GM trucks when they came from the factory. Most current restorations differ. Correct or not, today’s owners prefer two taillights.

History:

Glen’s ½ ton was originally bought by the father of his then father-in-law. When new it was immediately placed in use to transport heavy equipment for a water well digging company in North Carolina. It was retired 12 years later. By then there was just too many areas that required fixing. The cost would be much less to just by a good used pickup than to correct the aging problems of this 1938 ½ ton. After all, it had been a pure “work truck.” Only absolute necessary mechanicals were updated. It saw water only when it rained! No garage.

The ’38 pickup was placed in a one-car shed near the house where various business and household items were placed on it. Worn out items were kept with the idea that they may still have some value. As more items were placed on the truck and as time passed the old truck was forgotten. The original owner’s son told Glen about this pickup in 1978. It was very difficult to see because of many household items being stored in and on it for 28 years. Glen was able to get in the shed and looked at the cab and engine bay, and then told his father-in-law that one day “I’ll bring it back to life.”

By 1986, older trucks were beginning to gain much popularity and Glen always remembered this rare stored 1938. He decided to take a closer look and then he bought it.

He too stored this pickup but by now he had disassembled most of it. Glen moved the pieces with him during two job transfers. The actual restoration began in Raleigh, NC, in June of 1994 and required four years, finishing it in Pittsburgh, PA. It was then he created this show truck as you see it. Truly a “Work of Art”, identical to the day it left the Maryland assembly line in mid-1938. It is now back in Glen’s adopted home town of Raleigh, North Carolina.

Specifications:

Original colors: Brewster Green with Black fenders, running boards, and wheels; and Gigolo Green pinstripes, which were hand painted to the original pattern. Wrinkle Brown interior panels, and Brown leatherette non-pleated seat cushions. Such a nice combination!
Chevrolet used the 216 cubic inch engine in both trucks and cars; which was a great engine for the types of roads of that era.
This floor shift 3 speed transmission is synchronized in second and third gears. What an improvement over using the clutch pedal twice (double clutching) between each shift.
The rear axle ratio is 4.11 (the engine rotates 4.11 revelations while the wheels rotate one revelation; which allows a comfortable cruising speed of 40mph.
This truck does not have a heater, dome light, cigarette lighter; and, only has one windshield wiper, as well as only one taillight.

Pin Stripe Trivia:

The standard exterior color (Brewster Green) during 1936-38 was given a pin stripe referred to as Gigolo Green.

On Glen’s 1938, he could look very close and make out almost all the outlined factory striping. Photos were taken before the total paint was removed so a hired artist could perfectly replace the color and size. Another work of art in this major restoration!

Why the name Gigolo on the stripe color? This is lost in history. The 1995 Webster Dictionary describes Gigolo as –
⦁ A man who is paid to be a dancing partner or escort for a woman.
⦁ A man is the lover of a woman and is supported by her.

In about 1940 Chevrolet changed the name to Apple. Thus, all new truck shoppers would know the color.

What’s happening now?

As most serious restores know, when you really want it to be factory original, you often find subtle mistakes. The more you place it in shows, read factory original data, and talk to others in this field; the more little things are discovered to correct.

Glen is no exception! In the last 20 years, so many surprises have surfaced. His 1938 truck hobby has been just that, a continual upgrading. A big help has been joining two major early vehicle clubs. The Antique Automobile Club of America & The Vintage Chevrolet Club of America. Their help has been great in guiding this project to fruition.

The largest and oldest, The Antique Automobile Club of America, has presented Glen’s 1938 awards over the years. In June 2019, this 1938 was given their top honor with a “Grand National” in Auburn, Indiana. (This is a serious judging club)

Note:

Glen’s 1938 was assembled in June 1938 at the GM assembly plant in Baltimore, Maryland. This was shown in code on the ID plate on the body of the engine compartment. We also know it is at least made in mid-1938 because of the right outside gas add spout.

Therefore, 1938 and all of the 1937 required raising the right ½ seat cushion to expose the gas tank and threaded “bung” that is on it’s top.

 

you can contact Glen Andrews at gandrews5@nc.rr.com

1951 Chevrolet Suburban

Thursday, October 31st, 2019

 

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!

 

1942 GMC 1 ½ Ton Flatbed

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019

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.

You can reach Bob Combe at: bob.combe@hotmail.com

 

The End

1947 Chevrolet Deluxe ½ ton Pickup

Thursday, September 5th, 2019

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.

 

 

 

History:

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
  • Rebuilt Carburetor
  • 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
  • LED Taillights
  • 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.

 

 

 

 

 

The Results

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

1961 GMC Suburban

Wednesday, August 7th, 2019
 

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.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact Joe Disanti email jcepaint2@gmail.com

 

1954 Chevrolet Deluxe ½ ton Pickup

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2019

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
  •  

OPTIONS

This 1954 has many for a pickup of the mid-1950’s

  • Five window deluxe cab
  • Hydromantic Transmission
  • Power Steering
  • Transport Blue                  (No Extra Cost)
  • Shell White Top              (Chevy’s first two tone cab)
  • Rear Bumper
  • Right side Taillight
  • Right side sun visor and arm rest
  • Electric Wiper motor
  • Cigarette lighter

 

ACCESSORIES

Accessories have been gradually added over the years

  • AM Radio and Antenna
  • Factory clock
  • 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!

 

You can contact Byron and Eleze through email at  chevy54@bellsouth.net

June 2019 Featured Truck Owner Ralph Wescott

Friday, June 7th, 2019

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!

1957 GMC Palomino

[from 2007 interview]

Owner: Ralph Wescott

1957 gmc palomino pick up truck

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.’

1957 gmc palomino pick up truck 1957 gmc palomino pick up truck 1957 gmc palomino pick up truck

1957 gmc palomino pick up truck 1957 gmc palomino pick up truck 1957 gmc palomino pick up truck

1957 gmc palomino pick up truck 1957 gmc palomino pick up truck 1957 gmc palomino pick up truck

1957 gmc palomino pick up truck 1957 gmc palomino pick up truck 1957 gmc palomino pick up truck

1957 gmc palomino pick up truck 1957 gmc palomino pick up truck 1957 gmc palomino pick up truck

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.

1972 Chevrolet Cheyenne Super

Wednesday, May 1st, 2019

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!

You can contact Dave and Donna at davidfield5555@icloud.com

 

Few photos of this special truck most like Chevrolet offered it.

1946 Chevrolet ½ ton

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019

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.

1955 GMC Suburban Carrier

Saturday, March 9th, 2019

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

Options:

Hydromatic                  $210.00

Radio                           $55.00

Heater                         $40.00

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.

You can contact Larry Koochel at: lkoochel@Yahoo.com

1935 Chevrolet ½ Ton

Tuesday, February 5th, 2019

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.”

You can contact Jim McCoy at jimmccoy@embarqmail.com

NOTE: ANOTHER 1935!

The 1935’s are so rare we feel lucky to have another from our 19 year Feature Truck series. Click on May 2014 to see and read about this other special 1935 ½ ton on our website.

www.oldchevytrucks.com

1951 Chevrolet Suburban

Sunday, January 6th, 2019

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

Video 1
https://www.youtube.com/embed/Bsq9NS-zjRQ
Video 2
https://www.youtube.com/embed/DOUwiTYYVTc

WOW! Look at Mike’s immediate family in and around this older 1940’s Plymouth convertible.

1957 Chevrolet Cameo

Monday, December 3rd, 2018

             Beside the beach

Louie Hinojosa of Bakersfield, CA has been a car and truck enthusiast since his high school days in the mid-1960’s. He had a 1955 Chevy two door hardtop ready when he was of driving age. This was his daily driver for many years. He learned so much on how to keep it running and keeping its appearance the best. One of the unusual purchases a few years later (while he still drove his 1955) was a 1955 Chevrolet Nomad Station Wagon. How rare! It was to be his “keeper” so he restored it. It’s now in storage with his occasional driven Cameo. This leads us to his first meeting with a Chevrolet Cameo (He had never seen one.)

It is strange how a single occurrence in life can change the direction of our future. The following is the way it happened to Louie. While doing a major rebuild on his Nomad Station Wagon, he needed a truck to haul body parts and mechanical items to shops such as: front fenders, hood, the seats, engine, transmission, etc. When he saw an interesting classified ad in a local newspaper: “1957 Chevrolet ½ ton pickup for sale, runs good” he wanted to check it out. The first time he saw it, he thought “the bed has a weird appearance.” Louie figured it must be a one of a kind special built for some street rod show!

The seller appeared to have no knowledge of its rarity, he bought it for its unique appearance and hauling ability. Now he just wanted to sell it. Louie did some research and said. “Oh my gosh, this is pure Chevrolet.” He had to have it! Plus at the same time he also had a hauler for his Nomad parts. Even before the Nomad was completed Louie began to watch for spare emergency parts, not only for the station wagon project but certainly for his new 1957 Cameo. The more he read about these special trucks the more he realized he found a diamond in the rough.

Louie bought it in 1980 but it was not until about eight years later that he made plans to when the ground- up restoration would begin. He had never restored a truck, much less a Cameo, and he was excited! His 1957 Cameo had received no major alterations. It was all pure Chevrolet, so he could make it very close to factory correct without major research.

In the meantime, he had a full time job, a Nomad to finish and three small children to raise. It was not until several years before his retirement that he could get serious on the Cameo project. It was taken down to the bare frame and all his experience from prior Mid-1950 Chevy cars went into make this Cameo close to the best.

Mechanically, it came with a 283 V-8 and the optional three speed overdrive. Rather, than go through the tired 283 engine, it now has a visually identical 327 engine and a 700 R4 overdrive automatic transmission. Note the special shift lever from the floor. This is a recent addition that makes the automatic transmission look somewhat like a floor shift unit that would have been in a truck. This really adds to the interior appearance. The original 3.90 ratio differential and brakes are still in place.

Louie really liked the original Golden Yellow and he was happy to keep it the same. Great choice! The only color change was to remove the Jet Black inner bed panels and paint in these panels and horizontal outside bed side panels Bombay Ivory (as most other Cameos were that year.) The interior is slightly on the custom side but has been done in good taste. The combination is a real eye catcher. The seat upholstery is of the exact Cameo design used in 1957.

We noticed he kept the optional AM radio just like Chevrolet sold the Cameo. NONE! A radio was a factory option. The blank-out has been chrome plated as in the ash tray. Nice touch! He kept the two paint colors on the metal interior just like the factory made it. A few other dealer installed GM options are the metal outside sun visor and the finger-nail scratch guards behind the door handles, and the pair of chrome hood ornaments.

Who would have thought someone needing transportation for a restoration on a Nomad Station Wagon would have stumbled into something like this! Louie’s hobby has enlarged with his retirement, He is now a major supplier for used and some new Cameo and Nomad parts. What a fun retirement! (We should know)

 

You can contact Louie Hinojosa at louielouie567@aol.com

V-8 Hood Emblem Just Right!

1961 GMC ¾ Ton

Thursday, November 1st, 2018

Ever seen a NEW GMC pickup? If not, our Feature Truck is as close as it comes to factory new.  Now owned by Jan and Ross Gale (father and son) of Princeton Junction, New Jersey.  It is so pure even the seat upholstery is as perfect as it came from the dealership over 65 years ago.  This pickup sets the judging standards for the few 1961 GMC’s now surviving.

WHY SO PERFECT?

It was first purchased by a soon to be retired couple named Clarke. He was an engineering executive for the Bell Telephone Company in Washington D.C.  The new GMC was soon taken with them to Freehold, New Jersey after the retirement.

The next project was to prepare the pickup for the Clarke’s long awaited camping trips. It is assumed the Clarke’s favorite camping grounds were not too far away because the odometer had only 41,000 miles when it was sold to the “Gale Family Collection” in 1999. (About 2,200 miles per year) When not on their camping trips, the Clarkes kept the GMC in their personal garage.  Therefore, it only saw outside weather a few weeks a year!

Keeping the GMC so perfect goes along with the Clarke’s record keeping. Included with this truck they sold in 1999 to the Gales was every repair receipt during their 38 year ownership.  This even included the first written and bound proposal when it was first bought from the GMC dealer.

 

PREPARING FOR CAMPING. SO INTERESTING!

The Clarkes wanted a little more than offered GMC when it was new. This pickup is a ¾ ton, Series 1502, so is one step up from a ½ ton and provided a longer bed and heavier rear suspension for their new live-in camper.  (These campers were so popular in past years)

To give the pickup more stability in heavier winds and during sharp cornering, the Clarkes had the ultimate installed. They added an extra pair of rear wheels and tires to also help in wet weather.  These two extra tires also pulled the weight of the pickup just like the originals beside them (Check the tech article below written seven years ago on what was probably added to accomplish this extra).

http://oldchevytrucks.com/blog/index.php/2011/04/aftermarket-dual-rear-wheels/

It was suspected the extra two rear wheels and another unusual extra were added as a package from the Morysville Body Works in Boyertown, PA. The other extra are storage boxes attached to the bed sides.  What a great extra!  This would allow much more storage on the Clarke’s camping trip.  Ross Gale says, “The tool boxes have never seen a wrench, are covered with the original paint, and are clean enough to eat off of.”  Maybe the Clarke’s did not need them after all!

By seeing the following photos, note because of the extra dual rear axle width, it was necessary for the Morysville Co. to remove the stock step side rear fenders and add the narrower rear fenders they produce. It all fits together just right with the wide dual rears.

 

 

MECHANICALES

The power plant is one of GMC’s greats. A 305 cubic inch V-6 engine was only offered by them from 1960 through about 1969 in light trucks.  All is exact as it left the factory. It was the only engine offered in 1961 a GMC light pickup

The transmission is the almost “bullet proof” 4 speed which had been used since 1948 in the ½ through 2 ton (In a ½ and ¾ ton it is almost under-worked).

Power brake unit at side

 

 

THE SECOND OWNERS

Jan and Ross Gale (father and son) are serious truck enthusiasts and refer to their collection as the Gale Family Collection – GFC. When this 1961 GMC joined their fleet in 1999, it quickly became a family favorite going to shows near and far.  Now with only 51,000 miles, it is barely broken in. (about 1,000 miles/Year.) It now has a nickname as “Blueberry.”

The Gale Family are serious collectors!

Note three other trucks in their collection in the following photo together. These types of trucks are rarely seen in any condition at car and truck shows or other vehicle displays.

  • 1949 Chevrolet 1 ton Canopy Express
  • 1959 Studebaker pickup
  • 1955 Willy’s Station Wagon

These three trucks (in photo) are currently on display in the Vintage Auto Museum of New Jersey.

One other (almost the last survivor) is a 1952 GMC 1 ton “Banana Truck” Too nice to even get outside on a cloudy day.

 

 

 

A FEW MISCELLONEOUS 1961 GMC EXTRA DATA

  • Front license plate not using the two middle holes for the bracket. Could it be New Jersey requiring two plate years later and Mr. Clarke could not find a bracket?

 

 

 

See below

  • Front accessory bumper guards. Nice!
  • Parking lights in the hood the same as Chevrolet but lens background totally different.

  • Notice non-split rim wheels. Most all ¾ ton 8 bolt wheels were split rims. These even secured them to the factory hubcaps. Maybe an option?
  • This 1961 has seat belts. Was it a GMC option or installed later? Federal law didn’t required seat belts on new vehicles until 1968.
  • With new storage boxes attached to the bedsides, the original taillights had to be replaced. See photo
  • Chrome grille, bumpers, windshield trim and hubcaps. ALL GMC extras.

You can contact Ross at ross.gale@gmail.com &Instagram @fringecarcollector

1937 GMC ½ Ton

Monday, October 1st, 2018

During our 18 years’ experience with the Featured Truck of the Month Series, we have never located even one GMC ½ ton pickup of this vintage year. When we discovered it a few months ago, it was an immediate candidate to be posted for all to learn about.

The truck is a 1937 GMC T-14 ½ ton pickup owned by Larry Shisler of Tigerton Wisconsin. It spent most of it life in Montana doing rural hauling for a farm as most pickups did during the 1930’s. Larry discovered it about nine years ago near his home in Wisconsin, its old attached license plate was 1963 Montana. He immediately knew it was a perfect match for him and his interest in rare vehicles.

In 2013 he personally began the disassembly process to check all areas of the frame for cracks. This backbone of his future new older GMC had to be just right. The search for some needed replacement parts became a major project. Due to the rarity of this 80 years old lower production work truck, sometimes Larry often had to rebuild what he had.

Yes, this little GMC shares much from its Chevrolet cousin, however the GMC differences are quickly noticed. Some big changes you begin to see as you look under the hood. Other changes are the grille, the placement of the exhaust system, bumpers, dash gauges, GMC letters on tailgate, etc.

Of course, the first unique feature you see is the grille. Nothing is like this on the Chevrolet. It is totally redesigned to make the GMC look different than any truck on the road. In a time of conservative colors for truck (and cars) these brightly colored non-chrome grilles and striping made many take a second look as it moved down the road. Larry matched its Mallard Blue and Canary Yellow paint just as this ½ ton came from the factory. He found several places with spots of original color.

Larry has a factory 1937 GMC option book that shows deluxe items such as a chrome grille and bumper. It was probably made an option to allow a customer the lowest base price during the depression years.

This little GMC is about 90% finished but we did not want to wait to feature it for all to read. Maybe we can encourage a reader to even find a tired 1937 GMC like this at the end of this article!

Why a GMC small truck?

Our feature truck of the month was the second year a small truck from GMC the big truck division of General Motors. (Chevrolet has produced lighter trucks since 1918.) The US was experiencing the Great Depression and GMC was in big trouble! Sales had slowed to the level that the remaining new big truck GMC dealers were surviving by maintenance of any vehicle, selling used cars and truck plus often taking on new agricultural lines such as tractors and related farm equipment. Something had to be done fast! Thus, trying to survive resulted in the entry of GMC into the small truck market.

Timing was so important to get the first small trucks in the GMC dealerships that they used much from the Chevy pickups. Yet it was disguised with appearance items that were GMC only. If the potential buyer did not know trucks he might have not noticed the Chevy parts used in the GMC or the dealer could always say “A GMC is so improved over a basic Chevrolet!”

Because the big truck GMC dealers were usually in medium or larger cities where more sales existed, their new light trucks found a larger percentage of city buyers over farm purchases as compared to Chevrolet. Most small US towns had a Chevy dealer which sold cars and trucks.

Points of interest on this 1937:

• The two-tone grilles were usually all painted, not chromed.

• Note the left tail light. It and the bracket are pure GMC. None of the taillight items are from Chevrolet. Larry personally hand made a reverse bracket for the right side. (There was no right taillight on any GM pickups in the late 1930’s.)

• On the 1937 only, the right side seat cushion is removed to gain access to the gas tank. (Too bad for the passenger that had to step out in the cold rain or snow and wait for a fill up while the cab interior got cold in the winter!!!) See photos of this very unusual requirement for fueling a 1937 GMC Chevrolet truck.

• The carburetor was recently replaced with an original single barrel 1937 Zenith. This company was a large carburetor provider in the 1930’s & 1940’s.

• The GMC has the logo on the rear of their 1936-46 tailgates. During these years Chevrolet placed it only on the 1939 and 1940.

 

A very small GMC ID plate is on the lower right cowl. Nice touch!

Engine in New GMC ½ Tons

GMC never used a Chevrolet engine until about the mid 1960’s.  Though the GMC Truck Division was developing their own inline six cylinder engine, it would not be introduced until 1939.  Due to slow GMC truck sales during the Great Depression, there was no time to wait until 1939 for a light pickup.  The remaining GMC truck dealers needed help immediately!!

Thus, the GMC Division looked at the GM cars currently being marketed and decided the best engine available was in the Oldsmobile with their 230 cubic inch inline six cylinder.  It would fit in the Chevrolet frame GMC would be using. A modified front cross member was added to connect to the Oldsmobile flat head engine.  This was then used in the 1936-37 GMC ½ ton.  For 1938, one year only, GMC used the Pontiac flat head engine in their ½ ton that even had an Indian head cast in the side of the block. (The Oldsmobile engine was continued in the 1938 light trucks above the ½ ton) Both of these two flat head engines (valves in the block) had a full oil pressure system as vehicles do today.  Therefore, the oil gauge in the GMC dash reads 0 to 80 lbs.  Chevrolet low pressure dipper system in dash gauge reads 0 to 30 lbs.

Larry found papers in the truck showing a new Oldsmobile engine was installed in 1948. It looks just like the 1937 but various improvements had been done internally by Oldsmobile. Larry removed the old pan, all checked good, the pan was cleaned and reattached. It now runs great! It will soon be painted the original Oldsmobile green.

There was another very big difference in the Oldsmobile verses the Chevrolet engine. The intake and exhaust manifold combination are on the opposite side of the engine block! This required a change in design of the exhaust and the tail pipe to be on the passenger side of the truck.

On the GMC truck, this manifold position change required fuel line protection because the GMC shared the cab and gas tank with Chevrolet. The fuel line that came from the tank, now ran parallel and close to this muffler and exhaust pipe. Too dangerous not to make modifications. See photo showing the original metal baffle plate from the frame to lesson exhaust heat transfer to the fuel line. (We hope other early GMC restores remember to add this protection.)

Larry will have a new tail pipe specially made in a few weeks!

CONGRATULATIONS to Larry Shisler for saving and restoring about the rarest of the GMC ½ tons. It is a part of US history created during difficult economic times. American engineering at General Motors helped save so many GMC large trucks struggling dealers.

1958 Chevrolet ½ ton Short Bed

Wednesday, September 5th, 2018

Yes, you can create a 1950’s show truck at home, however it requires a basic mechanical attitude, enthusiasm, tools and of course a garage or work shed. This little ½ ton now looks about like when it was in the dealer’s show room 60 years ago. It left its home garage only once during its three year ground-up restoration.

The owners and restorers are Dick & Dolores Diestel of Schofield, Wisconsin.

 Truck History:

This 1958 Chevy was discovered in Montana alongside a back road by some hunters from Wisconsin about seven years ago. Rust covered and the bed was missing. See photo.

Seen Along a Roadside

Some would say it was a few steps from the salvage yard! At one time it had been used by a local farmer to mostly carry bags of feed from the town to a nearby cattle operations.

The hunters decided the price was right and took it back to their northern Wisconsin location as a future “fixer-upper!” There it sat untouched for about two years until Dick Diestler found it. He bid the right price and then owned it.

READ ON!

Meet Dick Diestler:

This person is a real go getter and an inspiration to many. Dick is a retired electrician and 81 years old. He acts and looks 20 years younger! Not only does he love retirement but he stays so active. Many would say he stays younger by being active and keeping his brain working.

Dick’s talents are many beyond being a quality electrician in his other life. He is a “Jack of all Trades.” During his employment years he did a few complete restorations after hours; Three 60 year old farm tractors, and older earth moving dozer, and early Jeep, a large retired “big” truck, etc.

One day after his retirement Dick rode with a friend in a nice older truck that had been restored and he was hooked. “I want to restore an over 60 year old GM pickup to be just like I remembered when they were new.” As this big restoration got underway he wondered how he had time to work his regular electrician job and still do a few restorations.

The Restoration:

It was three year project but Dick Diestler loved every minute of it. He had restored non-trucks in the past years so he had a general idea of what would need to be done. Finding parts to replace those not restorable was the big part of the project. It can be quite frustrating trying to find items not being reproduced that you need to continue with the restoration.

He did almost the “total” restoration with little help except for upholstering the two seat cushions. With a welder in his garage Dick cut out and replaced the cab corners, much of the floor, and everything that was rusted beyond repair. Completing the frame restoration, was big considering a few age cracks and much grease accumulation over the years. See these photos Dick realized to make the final painting perfect he would have to do it in a paint booth so he found one at local body shop he could rent one.

The agreement was to rent the booth at their shop for 5 days at $1,000.00. An employee would help him block sand the primer before the Cardinal Red was applied. Yes, Dick Diestler personally did the final spray painting of the red.

Completed

The Extras:

He has kept this ½ ton mostly as it left the dealership in 1958 including Cardinal Red paint.

Factory Special order options:

  • The 283 cubic inch V-8 engine that was in the pickup in Montana during its beginning years (Extra cost over the 235 six cylinder engine)
  • 4 Speed Transmission (not the standard 3 speed column unit)
  • A double pulley generator turned by a secondary pulley attached to the crankshaft
  • Chrome grill, bumpers and hubcaps.
  • AM Radio
  • Fresh Air Heater
  • 16’’ Wheels (not the standard 15’’) This helps reduce some engine RPM

Accessories (Non-Chevrolet)

  • The differential gearing was changed from the 3.90 factory ratio to a recently made 3.38 ratio. What a difference 20% increase in higher speed and lower engine RPM on the highway
  • Dual exhaust system gives less back pressure and extra sound difference you cannot get with a catalytic converter.
  • Amber park light lenses replaced the original clear units.

Show Success:

When completed Dick began to wonder just how this ½ ton would be accepted in some car and truck shows. So he and his wife, Dolores, decided they would do local traveling together in Wisconsin. Dolores thought that people at shows might also enjoy seeing and reading about the truck as they walked by other displayed vehicles. Therefore she made a detailed poster with photos and text that is displayed next to the little ½ ton. Wow what an attention getter it has become!

Dick and Dolores can do this together and see much of Wisconsin they would have probably never had visited. It is part of the hobby that Dick had not originally thought about this but what a nice extra. Yes, they now travel together to each show in this 1958. No trailering.

Surprise, the people visiting the shows are in love with this pickup. Judging teams usually place it near the top with other show vehicles.

In two years showing it has received 25 trophies of which 17 were “First” in the show and many, many comments. That says it all. Not bad for a retired guy having fun with his hobby.

One Extra Plus: The Famous Iola, Wisconsin car show and swap meet that attracts 110,000 people each July has given this 1958 a place of honor. It’s one of about 50 special picked vehicles given a displayed area in their large main grassy yard in front the show’s headquarters.

OOPS, one last surprise:

Before this 1958 ½ ton, Dick experimented on a complete restoration on his first GM truck, a 1951 Chevrolet ¾ ton pickup. That is a story in itself! It has received an equal amount of attention at car and truck shows. These two show trucks are always driven, not trailered. Between the two pickups, one end of their family room is filled with all the trophies they have received since Dick’s retirement.

Also see Featured Truck of the Month September 2012. You can contact Dick & Dolores at richarddiestler@charter.net

1949 GMC ½ Ton Long Bed

Wednesday, August 1st, 2018

How many truck owners do you know that have owned their vintage GM pickup almost 40 years! Steve and Patty Briand of Woburn, Massachusetts have been the owners of a vintage GMC since 1978 and it has become part of their family.

HISTORY

This 1949 GMC ½ ton long bed was bought new by the owner of a large chicken farm in Manchester, New Hampshire. Therefore, a ½ ton was adequate but the longer 8 foot bed (not the normal 6 foot on a ½ ton) could haul more of their lighter weight products.

After about 25 years, it was sold to an individual in Massachusetts as his daily driver. He did the usual repairs and upgrades that normally occurs to a well-used truck of this age.

Just 4 years later it was for sale again. The owner had accepted a job transfer on the west coast. As the GMC still required some mechanical repairs, the owner would not drive it the 4,000 miles to his new home. The cost of hiring a transportation company was not an option. When the Briand’s saw this GMC, born in 1949, advertised at $450.00 and they found this was a running truck it was “love at first sight.” For this price it could even be used for their miscellaneous hauling needs.

Their landlord at that time had an available garage to protect it from the heavy seasonal snow. Otherwise, Steve began using it occasionally to drive to his local job. People in his company always knew Steve was on the job as the GMC was taller than the other vehicles in the parking lot!

The first big project was making it all one color instead of several colors and primers that showed its many years. Steve and Patty chose an original GMC cream. It made such a visual improvement. This color remained for almost 35 years.

PREPARING FOR THE RESTORATION

          Over the many years, the Briand’s long term goal was someday to make their GMC just like it came from the dealership in 1949. They knew this would be a major time consuming project and a big money spending project. So for about 35 years it was a driver, the restoration would wait until retirement years!

When they bought their “dream home” in 1989 the GMC was part of the equation. Their pickup must have its own private house, when restored so they built it behind their home in 2014.

The “GMC’s house” has more than parking space. An area at the side gives storage for most of the disassembling that was to occur. Even the roof supports were given extra strength for a winch, for someday lifting the cab and engine with transmission.

 

KEEPING IT GOING

No major changes (other than color) were done over the years. It was a matter of keeping it running much like in 1949, with parts hunting and discovering other owners, Steve managed to usually keep it going.

One great help was discovering and joining the North-East Chevy/GMC Truck Club. Their membership base is in Massachusetts and the surrounding states. It is now considered the oldest running vintage truck club in existence. Club contact is: gordonmil@msn.com Steve could always call on a member for emergency parts and repair advice.

 

THE RESTORATION

          After Steve’s retirement the time was right. The disassembly began in early 2016. One year was set aside for this to be Steve’s only activity. SURPRISE! The restoration has just been completed after 2 ½ years! So many unexpected extras occurs during a restoration of this size. Steve, at times, became overwhelmed. It is one big project to disassemble a 65 year old truck with rusty bolts from New England winters, a totally different set of rules exist for a quality restoration and assembly.

Steve began the long difficult job of the total restoration (he had never been involved in a project like this.) Though he enjoyed it, in a few months he realized there were so many different things to learn that were totally new to him. What now? A different approach would be necessary if it was to be completed in his lifetime.

Sometimes it is who we know that helps solve problems that may seem overwhelming. This speaks for Steve Briand and his GMC. One of his good friends had knowledge of a local shop owner that specializes in major special interest car restorations. In his many years restoring, the owner had never rebuilt a truck and was really interested in this GMC.

Good luck for the Briand’s. Steve had the pickup totally disassembled and parts completely covered their garage floor! To learn about a GMC, and not haul the many parts to his local shop. (Steve knew how it went together) the restoration shop owner offered to bring his tools to their garage and work on the weekends.

Wow! Someone must have been watching over the Briand’s. This match was certainly made in heaven!

The part time weekend project continued almost 2 ½ years. Both added to the restoration. To prevent a possible unhappy neighbor in their residential neighborhood the Briand’s invited them over to share the progress of the restoration. As the Briand’s were already very close with those nearby residents all liked watching the progress in his garage. Most had no idea what takes place in a ground up building.

Yes, sometimes a complicated item was taken to the restoration shop but most work was done in the GMC’s personal house!

 

SPECIFCATIONS

          The Briand’s have kept their GMC with its original 228 inline six cylinder engine and 6 volt electrical system. The 4 speed top loader transmission is almost bullet-proof in a GMC ½ ton. It was standard equipment in the in the large 2 ton GMC work truck! What is unusual it is an 8 foot bed and 125” wheel base like a ¾ ton but is still rated as a ½ ton.

The rear leaf springs are ½ ton 1 ¾’’ wide, not 2’ as in a ¾ ton! The smaller ½ ton differential has a ratio of 4.11 and not of the lower gear slower moving 5.14 or 4.57 on ¾ tons.

When removing the hood hinges from the firewall during the complete disassembly, they found the untouched original Brewster Green. This is now its new correct color! It has also the orange engine color that replaced olive green in 1948.

SUMMARY

          Steve and Patty Briand now have their new 1949 GMC. It is kept in its own personal home and will not be on the road during snow days. Now only an occasional light weight hauling job might be allowed.

Very important for the six volt electrical system, this GMC has the correct heavy gauge battery cable to the starter plus two ground cables. Just like General Motors did on all their 6 volt vehicles. Thus, the engine turns over almost as fast as a newer 12 volt vehicle.

The Briand’s give fair warning to a thief with an idea of breaking into the GMC’s garage to steal expensive tools. Check out their sign posted on the door!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can contact Steve & Patty email usscassinyoung@yahoo.com

Another Steve Briand’s sideline. For 35 years he had been helping 30 military veterans in the restoration and upkeep of a WWII destroyer, the U.S.S Cassin Young now kept in a dry dock in Boston. All is volunteer work and they have brought it back to its appearance 75 years ago in the Pacific.

 

A Few Photos of the Restoration

 

 

Rear of truck. Notice the rare GM accessory reflector!

The Red Wheels Sure Make the Truck Stand Out!

 

 

 

 

Steve and his buddy!

FOR THE PERFECTIONEST

If you would like getting into more details regarding this GMC ½ ton long bed read on!

½ TON LONG BED TRIVIA

From 1936 through 1955 a 8’ long bed on a GMC ½ ton was a factory option. (The more normal ½ ton bed is 6’) Our feature truck included the usual 16’’ 6 bolt wheels, longer frame side rails, an extra cross sill, and the same bed used on the GMC and Chevy ¾ ton pickups. This long bed ½ ton was not offered on Chevrolet pickups.

For this GMC option General Motors cost was not that expensive until it came to the need for a longer drive shaft behind the transmission. What do they do now?

No doubt this is where real engineering talents become necessary. This would require about a 2 foot connection for the extra bed length, between the u-joint and the short bed driveshaft used on their 6 foot bed.

GMC engineers suspected there would be some major problems if they just lengthened the ½ ton drive shaft assembly. Too much length to withstand overload abuse by some owners and repairs might be a big expense to them. It would probably be the last GMC the mad owners would ever have if the problem developed.             The decision was to continue with the proven short ½ ton closed drive shaft but create an almost 2 foot insert with and extra u-joint.

If and when this extension failed it would be much easier to repair. Some have called it GMC’s “weak link” but they were built heavy and withstood many, many years of abuse. After all it was a ½ ton, not a big work truck using this extension See photos and the enclosed blue print from a GMC shop manual.

More details of the GM Optional Reflector

To add better night visibility to all trucks, Suburban’s and panel trucks, General Motors offered a 4 inch diameter reflector as a dealer installed accessory. With the single small factory taillight, seeing of these vehicles on the road could be difficult especially if their one bulb burned out. To help correct this problem GM offered a larger reflector that could be attached to the rear license plate bracket. It greatly improved visibility to others at the rear during night driving.

This was a time when town street lights were limited. Of course, on the open road there was no lighting along the highways! This simple GM reflector was offered by the dealers to prevent rear end accidents. The customer could buy this dealer accessory from about 1940 through 1953. One of the attached photos is taken from a 1949 Chevrolet Truck Data Book. The 4 inch lens is a Stimsonite # 24 and the metal Guide ring has a stamping of X-19. Jim Winters of Rochester, Minnesota has both a restored 1946 panel truck and ½ ton pickup with this option.

1948 Chevrolet ½ ton Funeral Hearse

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2018

It will be difficult to ever top this Feature Truck of the Month! Rarely do we find a Chevrolet ½ ton so unique. It may not have been a one of a kind but in today’s world it is close to it. The truck is a 1948 Chevrolet Funeral Hearse on an all original ½ ton chassis.

We discovered this unusual vehicle seeing photos of a recent club truck driving event in the country of New Zealand, though the other trucks were very interesting, this stood out as so much different than the others. This Chevrolet is probably the only 1947-55 Funeral hearse now surviving! So different and yet it is obviously an Advanced Design 1947-53 truck

The reason for a hearse body on a Chevrolet ½ ton is simple. In the US as well as other countries, small communities do not have the population to justify the expense of a top of the line hearse. The request for a more affordable vehicle for the “last ride” has always existed. Some vehicle body companies realized this need and marketed a hearse at a fraction of the cost to funeral homes. During the 1950’s and before, most people in many countries and the US had very little disposal income. Thus, a lower cost funeral was a requirement for so many families.

With extra research we found the owner was the Chevrolet Enthusiasts Club of New Zealand. We made contact with two of their members: Grant Williams (long time member and often the hearse driver) and Rob Webster (the club president.) Between the two members, we were able to learn of the hearse history or as much as is known.

When new in the 1950’s the frame, mechanicals and no bed were shipped from the assembly line in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada where GM’s right hand drive trucks were produced. Many were then shipped to New Zealand and other countries to a specialized local manufacture to make and install the hearse body.

The club members state it has been owned by their National New Zealand Club for about 20 years. It is perfect for carrying merchandise for club events and always seems to have the required room for what is needed. All club members refer to it as their bus or van.

Rob (one of the longest running club members and now their president) remembers them buying it from the fourth owner. This person had used it basically as is. It was the third owner of 4 years that removed the dark blue velvet material from the sides and ceiling, a wood dividing panel with a small sliding window behind the bench seat and all the funeral related apparatus.

The enclosed photos show it for sale on the street in the late 1980’s with the traditional black paint.

For sale in the 1980’s

It is understood during the beginning years two funeral homes had ownership, one buying it from the first owner used.

It is so much like a usual ½ ton. Wheels are 16’ with 6 holes. The dash is reversed like most New Zealand GM Advance Designs trucks with right hand drive. Engine is the correct 216 valve six cylinder and still has the original 6 volt system. This 1948 has a floor shift 3 speed transmission. (In the US, the last year for this early 3 speed was 1947.)

The change in the hood (bonnet) size is very interesting to appear less like a ½ ton pickup on the front. The body manufacturer created a high hood from the Canadian import to appear much like 1946-48 Chevy cars. After all, a hearse should not look like a truck! Good sales feature! It even appears to have a Chevy chrome hood ornament very similar to a 1948.

FROM A CLUB MEMBER

Note: During the email exchanges several questions were asked to Grant. Here is our questions in black and Grant’s answers in red.

–          Made by a body company in Australia?

Body was definitely made in NZ. All Chevy pickups and panel truck were given the final assembly in NZ. They were not imported as complete vehicles. It would have come from Canada as a rolling chassis with bonnet (hood), front guards, front windscreen, and running boards. Everything else was made in NZ including the doors.
You will note that the bonnet is higher than standard to line up with the rest of the body (this alteration can be easily seen on the underside of the bonnet)

–          Know anything about the body company and did they only make hearse vehicle’s and only for Australia? Sold to NZ?

Not sure which company but there were several that made bodies in NZ at the time.

–          Is it on a ½ ton chassis? 6 bolt wheels?

Yes it is built on a ½ ton chassis. It has 16’ wheels and not the 15’ split rims that the heavy duty trucks had. Yes, 6 stud wheels.

–          Original engine?

Yes, original 216 & 3 speed floor shift transmission.

–          How long have you owned it? Where did you get it?

The club had owned it for over 20 years and it has just been used as we purchased it, the club has only kept it in useable condition and has not been restored. One of the previous owners had it for four years and in that time it was stripped out and entered into the “Variety Bash” which is a fundraising rally for all types of vehicles from race cars to fire engines and everything in-between. The bench seat was removed at this timeframe and fitted with the current seats. The wall behind the front seats were originally a complete wall with sliding windows and not the current walk through arrangement.

–          Was it used in small towns?

It was used by at least two different undertakers and they were in smaller towns in NZ.

–          Original paint?

The paint is not original as this was, of course, black and done up in blue velvet with all the usual equipment. By the time the club purchased this vehicle all this equipment was well gone.

–          Is the bed bottom wood planks?

The bed in now plywood.

–          Front sheet metal like a pickup?

Originally yes, but the hood and guards (fenders) were modified. The overall effect makes it look more like the 1948 car.

IS THIS UNSUAL OR WHAT?

Take a closer look:

The body sides extend out to the edges of the running boards. Yes, the boards are the same as on the conventional ½ ton pickup! This gives the passengers the convience of stepping up into the cab easier. See following photo. Therefore, the front doors must be constructed by the body builder and the fenders were also modified. VERY interesting.

Front View Shows tall reworked Hood
CLOSED                                                                                OPEN

Good Distant View
Full view Dash                                                     Different seats added later

 

 

Flat door Panel probably once covered with blue velvet as the rear. Door remade with non-opening wing-vents. Running board still in place!

The normal 216 engine. Oil add position on both draft tube and valve cover. Hmmmm!

Horn may be aftermarket!

Probably how it left Canadian factory in 1948 (maybe ever more disassembled and without rear fenders)

Proudly owned by

If you have any questions on this unique hearse contact Rob Webster at : robwebster@slingshot.co.nz

1956 Chevrolet Cameo plus Topper

Friday, June 1st, 2018

If you are a regular reader of our Truck of the Month series, you know we attempt to present the more unusual. These vehicles are rarely seen at car and truck shows or even in specialty magazines.  This month’s feature truck is so rare; it is possibly the only example still in existence.  Its photo recently arrived in our company computer of an unrestored 1956 Chevrolet Cameo with less than 13,000 miles on the odometer.

It has what we will call a Topper that has not been removed since installed over 60 years ago. When contacting experienced Cameo enthusiasts, they unanimously said, “Never heard of a Topper made only for a Cameo”.

(He even has a business in marketing pre-owned German vehicles. See below).

When Bill heard about this unique low mileage 1956 Cameo, and in his own state, he had an immediate interest. He discovered it was an almost pure un-altered 62 year old but yet something else stood out of equal interest.

Attached to the Cameo bed was a Topper.

Bill knew that Cameos were marketed as GM’s “Boulevard” most top end truck during the mid-1950 so why would there be a Topper over the focal point of the total pickup? Most buying this expensive pickup would want to show it in “all its glory”. If you wanted a Topper, you usually placed it on a more basic step bed pickup and spend much less for the total package.

Bill had to have this “top of the line” pickup and it was soon moved from one storage building to his own private collection.

The information Bill received is this Cameo was bought new in Arizona and stayed with that owner until 2008. It was the most popular color; Bombay Ivory, with Cardinal Red inner bed sides, front bed panel, tail gate, and around the upper back of the cab.

FACTORY OPTIONS:  265 V-8 engine and Hydromatic 4 -speed transmission.  The most expensive dealer installed accessory is under dash “Cool-Pack” air conditioning; a nice extra for the hot Arizona summer.

STRANGE: With all the money spent on this 1956 Cameo, the first owner decided not to order the AM radio. The factory blank-out plate still remains.

This was quite a unique accessory on a 1956 truck as very few cars even had it available! In-dash factory air was not offered until 1965 on trucks.  All GM truck air conditioning systems were dealer installed cool-Pack until 1965.  The dealer received the system in a large box and it was ready to connect to the engine and cab.

Interesting is this center under dash evaporation and blower unit would not match up with a 4-speed shift lever that required a high hump in the cab floor. (Not Bill’s Cameo). Thus, if the owner had a 4-speed it was installed to the far right under the glove box area.  No doubt, the passenger got more cold air than he wanted!

Sometime after this Cameo purchase, the owner had the Topper installed. He must have been an outdoors person as the top is more than just a cover. Its extras include slider windows with curtains on the sides and curtains over the front and rear stationary windows. Also, there is a varnished plywood ceiling with adjustable round air vent plus a light, and a pair of swing down bed spring frames (like at a boy scout camp).

The attached ID plate on the Topper exterior refers to it as a Sportsman Top
manufactured by Borg Welding & Manufacturing Co. in Gardena, California.

THE BIG SURPRISE! The Topper was made just for the Cameo pickup bed.

Notice the pair of vertical end plates on each side of the lift gate. The bottom edges taper up so they do not touch the taillight housings. The Topper bottom edges run beside the fiberglass bedside. A rubber weather seal prevents the Topper to make direct contact with the bedsides or get water inside.

Bill feels sure the cover has “never” been removed. Either as part of the Topper package or installed by the owner, there is black carpet over the bed wood floor, the inner bed sides, plus the front bed panel and tail gate.  This total Topper package made a nice weekend getaway fishing truck especially if you could park near a picnic table.

Sometime after the original owner had the new red Topper installed, he made a major color change. This Cameo was painted all red to match the new Topper, not given Cardinal Red as GM would have provided.  Where the original color was Cardinal Red around the upper rear of the cab, it was reversed to white.  Of course, the insides of the bed remain the Cardinal Red from the factory.

Records show it being sold to its 2nd owner in 1970.  It then went to San Diego, CA, with less than 2,000 miles on the odometer and later he moved it to Washington State in 1986.  It was sold to Bill Steely of Monroe, WA, in 2018 with a total of 12,788 miles showing.

If there was ever a question if the bed wood floor was body color, varnished, or black, this 1956 Cameo is proof that it came from the factory black. The aftermarket carpet has protected the bed’s original appearance all these years.  Bill has no plans for changes!  He knows that other than the outside paint, this Cameo is pure GM.  It is almost like it left the factory in 1956 plus the low mile odometer is the proof.

Look at the 15” original wheel covers. GM used the best available in 1956.  They are the same as the top of the line Chevy Belair car.  Because these Cameo wheels also were on the standard ½ ton, they still have three hidden spring clips that could secure smaller hub caps.

On the underside of the driver’s sun visor is an instruction sheet explaining how to operate the Hydromatic transmission. With automatic transmissions NEW to many in 1956, these sheets were of help to the first owner.  This is especially true on the 4-speed Hydromatic that is placed in park different.  Put it in reverse and shut off the engine.  Now you are in park!

On the passenger side of the in cab gas tank is the fire extinguisher
held in place with a snap band, probably a non-GM accessory.

A few extras on this 1956 Cameo that may be of interest:

The word “Frigidaire” is on the under dash dealer unit. It is there because General Motors had recently purchased this company that became famous for home refrigerators. The nickname “Fridge” is still heard among some seniors!

Notice the left chrome air vent cable and knob under the dash. Because of the air conditioner unit, it must be positioned on an angle.

The original owner added the two roller bars on the top of the Topper. They are still in place. This made it much easier to slide and remove his fishing boat up on top of the Topper.

One modern extra was added by one of the first two owners. Note the small speaker box at the top of the Topper front. This would imply that a second person could nap on the bed spring bed while the driver continued on the road.

When you find any 62 year old vehicle that has averaged 210 miles per year it is a real find. Fortunately, Bills 1956 Cameo is a guide to show what is correct! So important if you want your Cameo just right!

Bills lifelong automotive interest has lead him to also making it into his business. He is one of the leading sellers in the Pacific Northeast of used German made vehicles.  His main interest in this area is BMW autos and he carries a large pre-owned selection for sale.  The company name is: Velocity Automotive and can be found at www.Velocityautomotive.com

~NEWS FLASH~

Bill recently sold his 1956 truck to Scott Phaneuf, a serious owner and restorer of Cameos in Massachusetts.

Email Scott at keyman4885@yahoo.com

1951 Chevrolet ¾ Ton (BIG RED)

Tuesday, May 1st, 2018

It is rare that we see a transformation that has occurred like this 1951 Chevrolet ¾ ton pickup. It was changed from being a parts truck to a national show winner among some very stiff competition.  It has become a step above the quality on the day it left the dealership 65 years ago.  The owner, Dr. Fred Young of Moorestown, New Jersey is the one initially responsible for it reaching this level.

The adventure began about 15 years ago. Fred’s interest in older vehicles had been growing over the years. To restore an older 1950’s vehicle was what he wanted.  It would be a complete change of pace over his daily routine but maybe this is what made it so rewarding!

 

 

Why a pickup? Fred was told by a vehicle hobbyist that pickups were less complicated to restore, and would be a good starter vehicle. Who ever said that did not realize how deep Fred and his restoration technician were going to get into this project or the poor condition this new acquisition would be. Greenie, as Fred first called it, was because of its original Seacrest Green color.

 

           

 

 

 

 

 

It had been on a working farm (used and abused) near Danville, VA for 49 years. The older it got, the less it was taken care of, until it had almost reached the parts truck category.

No windshield (caused interior damage), a metal plate covered the rotten wood and cross sills, 3 fenders a total loss, and enough caked mud and dirt removed to start a 50’ x 50’ vegetable garden. Yes, the farmer had tried to keep the body going by just covering the rust with Bondo.  Oops, he had forgot to add enough antifreeze one winter so the truck’s replacement 235 engine (1954-55) had a 10” crack in the block that was spot-welded by the other owner.

                                                                                                                               

 

 

 

 

 

 

A major restoration always begins with disassembly. Fred jumped right into this project with no hesitation.  This is what he had been looking forward to before his retirement.  He worked on it hours a day discovering the abuse it had experienced.  He began with the preliminary restoration work such as paint and dirt removal (a big job), and begin buying the new parts that would be needed soon.  With the paint removed to bare metal, Fred renamed Greenie to the Silver Monster!  With so many parts now spread over his garage, he began to realize maybe he was beyond his ability as a first time restorer.  He wanted to enjoy driving this truck and not just be restoring it during all of his retirement years.

                                                                       

He began to visit the body shops in Danville for help and all four said the same thing. “We do not do restoration work anymore.  We have changed over to more profitable insurance work and our employees do not have the skills to satisfy older car’s owners.”

 

 

Fortunately, Fred’s research found one of the most knowledgeable persons in the country on 1947-1955 (Advance Design) Chevy/GMC trucks.  Bob Alder of Stephentown, New York, has about the top reputations in this field.  Bob has his own restoration shop, has built many show trucks, plus behind his building is over 100 early GM trucks for parts and research.  Also, he is a tech writer of restoration articles in national magazines on AD trucks.  These credentials could not be better!  Fred certainly found the best person to finish his pickup and Bob’s shop was only 150 miles away.  Better yet, he had a spot open for Fred’s Silver Monster!

 

 

 

 

 

 

With the paint removed, Fred towed it to Bob Adler Restoration Shop with all the parts he had accumulated. Bob did an excellent job over the next 18 months.  He even regularly emailed Fred showing him exactly what he was doing every few days.  What a nice touch!

 

 

 

 

 

The cab was removed immediately and set on a dolly until the chassis was completed. The cracked engine block needed a replacement. No problem for Bob.  He went out back to his massive collection of Advanced Design Trucks and picked the correct Thriftmaster 216 cubic inch engine that was pure 1951. What restoration shop in the world could have done this?

The same was the truck’s two doors. They were beyond salvaging.  Once again, Bob was about 200 feet from his door collection and made a quick exchange.

Once the 18 month project was complete Fred had a brand new 65 year old truck! Certainly a sight to behold.  It was then christened with a new and final name.  To Fred it will always go by “Big Red”.  It does have some factory options.  Fred chose Swift’s Red as the exterior color.  This is one of the optional 12 colors that year.  The interiors of all 1947-52 trucks were a gray-brown with slight metallic.

White wall tires were a non-factory option. In 1951 any Chevrolet dealer would have been glad to take a new non-sold showroom ready truck down the street to a tire store and exchange for a set of more “attention getting” tires (to get a sale).

 

  

One photo below shows this ¾ ton pickup has a 3 speed shift lever on the steering column. Most pickups of this size came with the optional 4 speed floor shift transmission as the plans were to use them for hauling heavier loads.  Thus, it is questioned if the very first owner in 1951 was on a farm or the farmer got a sweet lower price but that answer is lost in history.

Fred requested the option chrome grill with Waldorf white back splash bars and stainless around the windshield and door windows. The chrome hood ornament and bumper guards were Chevrolet dealer items and add a little extra sparkle.

 

AWARDS

While Fred’s “Big Red” was at its very best he decided to take it to serious judging shows in 2012 sponsored by the Vintage Chevrolet Club of America (VCCA). He received more than three major awards over a three year period, including First Junior, Senior, and Preservation awards in their Commercial Class.  One of the larger 2013 shows in Lawrence, NY, “Big Red” was recognized as the Best Commercial at the show!

So this is an overview of a very large pickup with humble beginnings; saved from almost being sent to the salvage yard. What a second act for a hardworking truck from Virginia.

 

Contacts for the above are:

Fred Young – ybarbfred@AOL.com

Bob Adler – bobadler@NYCAP.RR.COM

 

                                                             

1969 Chevrolet Short Fleetside Pickup

Monday, April 2nd, 2018

Owner: David Griffin

Suddenly, while moving with traffic, directly in front of our vehicle on a major interstate highway, was a very attractive 1969 Chevrolet ½ ton short bed pickup. We also watched other drivers and we could see it was certainly an eye catcher to them. The biggest surprise was that it was soon parking in the same building supply store where we were parking!

This coincidence was just too great not to talk to the owner about his attractive little red Chevy. The more we discussed his truck, the more it seemed like a perfect candidate for our feature truck of the month series.

The owner is David Griffin of Oak Grove, Missouri. He rarely drives it the 40 miles to his work, however, that day we saw him was an exception.  It was his “fun” transportation to his job then and we were both going to shop at the same store.

David told us the major part of the restoration was complete to almost factory specifications except for the interior. That will follow soon as time and money are available.  Of course, for now it is a great driver but it is only out on nice days!  He continues to do the many other small restoration extras that need to be completed while it is his fun driver.


It’s legal in Missouri to re-use the same year license

Here is what makes it so special to David: His grandfather, Jim Kuder, had owned it 15 years, personally did most of the restoration, and then gave it to David. What a gift and a surprise!

Jim has always been an avid collector and restorer of specialty vehicles. He still has such special completed cars such as a 1931 Model A Ford, 1954 Ford Sky liner (glass top Tudor), 1951 Studebaker, Ford Bronco, VW Dune Buggy etc.  This special ½ ton was built just for his grandson, and this certainly gives David real pride of ownership!

This 1969 Chevy pickup is painted the same colors as it came from the factory in Crimson Red with Polar White top. Jim bought it at a local antique car swap meet about 2003 because of it having so much restoration potential and it had the very popular short bed. The limited rust required only one cab corner to be replaced and most all was factory original.

It’s tired 250 six cylinder engine and Power glide transmission were easily exchanged for a 400 small block V-8 and 350 Turbo Hydromatic transmission. This transplant pair came from a 1974 Chevy Bel Air Car. Unfortunately, the hope for this being a good engine was short lived.  The timing gear broke soon after instillation and driving came to a stop.

Jim must have had plans for David to later own the pickup because the V-8 was removed and given a major rebuilding, not just a timing gear. Even a 4 barrel intake manifold and carburetor were then added.  With the powerful V-8, David has no problem keeping up with freeway traffic.  It is the more frequent stops for fuel that reminds him, “Gasoline used to be much less expensive”.


Speaker Hole. Do we use them or fill them?

David is not new to older Chevrolet trucks. In high school his first truck was a 1964 Chevrolet ½ ton stepside long bed.  He drove it another six years learning so much on how trucks operate and how to make the repairs that are required when driving an over 10 year old vehicle.

Note: David did not realize at the time how unusual this high school pickup really was.  Few long bed stepsides were produced by the mid 1960’s.  Most wanting a long bed, (usually for work) paid a little extra for the extended bed with the 127” wheel base, and got a fleetside pickup.

1939 Chevrolet ½ Ton (Australia)

Thursday, March 1st, 2018
Owner: Colin Carvolth

 If you are a person that has followed our Feature Truck of the Month series you know we try to find GM trucks between 1934 and 1972 that are just a little different. Their criteria are they should have a different flair in some area that makes them almost a one of a kind!

Therefore, even though our featured truck for March’18 is unrestored and been sitting outside in dry air for almost 50 years. It is being shown to our readers that enjoy learning about an almost 80 year old ½ ton that most did not know ever existed.  We hope you enjoy this article as much as we had fun in discovering this unique “creature”.

This pickup is not just a 1939 Chevrolet ½ ton (rare in any country) but is one of the few survivors that was assembled in Australia. Its owner is Colin Carvolth of Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory.

The original owner was the Coolahcore Company that manufactured refrigeration cooling coils for Australia. Their logo still remains above the windshield and on each door as was painted in the company colors of orange and black in 1939.

 

Colin bought it from a 90 year old orchard farmer in Wombat, NSW, about 230 miles west of Australia’s east coast. Thus, no salt air or snow.  The farmer had driven it under an old wooden carport in the middle of the orchard.  It was left there 20 years sunken in the dirt up to its axles before he bought it.  Colin could not pull it out with his 4-Ton truck, so the farmer got his tractor and a 50 foot chain.  They wondered what would break first: the chain, the tractor, or the farmer!  Fortunately, the tractor not only (very slowly) pulled it out of the soil but was able to drag it up on the trailer in the photo.  After Colin brought it home, it has been stored behind his home garage another 30 years!

Now the time for a full restoration has arrived! The rebuilding has become more on Colin’s mind in recent years and he has recently bought miscellaneous parts. He has become very committed to a total restoration.  Recently, a person heard about his 1957 Chevy station wagon and would not take no as the correct answer when he asked to buy it.  Colin now has a garage and a little extra hobby money!

Many things show this unusual pickup as a pure 1939 Chevrolet, however, several changes will cause a US knowledgeable truck enthusiast to quickly take a second look.

From the factory the Australian ½ tons came with no beds. Two new rear fenders were wired flat to the rear frame rails (for the new owner to use if he wanted). * It was his job to build a flat bed or equivalent as he needed.  In this case Colin’s photo of it being pulled from the orchard (by him after the purchase over 30 years ago) shows the rear fenders in place but their tops cut away to make room for the home-made low flatbed (or as Colin calls the bed in Australian a “tray”).

 

 

 

 

 

Why was no bed provided? The Australian government required a certain percentage of the new assembled trucks to be furnished by their country for economic reasons.  This includes the lack of a bed (it also lowered the cost), locally made wiring harness, glass, tires, floor mat, exhaust system, paint, etc. After all, a truck was for work and the new owner was most interested in an affordable truck.

Note: The major mechanicals and front sheet metals were shipped from the Oshawa, Ontario factory in Canada to be put together in GM’s Holden factory in the Camperdown, Australia assembly line (near Sydney). All of the cab is pure Holden in Australia; this is similar in the United States, when Chevrolet cars once had their bodies by Fisher.

Here are some things that may seem very different to a 1939 US Chevy truck owner or even a 1939 pickup assembled in New Zealand less than one thousand miles away.

*REASON FOR INCLUDED REAR FENDERS

The rear fenders (mud-guards) for a ½ ton were usually included with the new bare frame pickup. It was felt they would be needed after a home-made bed was made by the owner.  This would stop mud and water from being thrown after a bed was created and installed.

EXAMPLES OF SOME FEATURES ON AN AUSTRALIAN 1939

About the most unusual item on this truck is NO swingout windshield. The bottom of the lower edge of the frame is straight across, not with a slight upward arch as on the US 1939’s.  Therefore, how do you get outside air to flow into the cab?  This is by a method not seen in most 1939 trucks.  Note the vent doors on each cowl panel between the door and hood (bonnet).  Opened by a lever from the inside of the cab.

Thus, there is no top air vent on top of the cowl. Almost all US trucks and cars had top cowl vents in those years, but not this 1939 Chevy ½ ton.

Look at the rear cab window. It’s slightly taller than other country’s 1939’s.

The wide panel below the bottom of the door is really different!

There is a very wide horizontal belt stamped in the cab along the doors and around the back of the cab below the rear window. Not seen is other country’s 1939’s.  Belts can give metal panels stability.

Interesting is the gas spout on the left side of this right hand drive truck. All is just the opposite on a left hand drive vehicle.

The length and diameter of the headlight buckets are the same as passenger cars in Australia and the US. This results in 7’’ reflectors vs. 7.5” in the US on trucks.  The reason is unknown.  (Unfortunately the longer headlight bucket allows for easier metal to metal contact when the hood “bonnet” is opened or closed).

We note that the front bumper on this 1939 ½ ton is the same as 1937-45 1 ½ ton larger trucks in the US.  Thus, this bumper extends further on the edge of the front fenders.

Check out the seven I.D. plates Colin removed from the cab for safe keeping. They show it was assembled at the factory near Sydney, Australia in Camperdown, NSW.  These plates each have something to say (in the US trucks did not have a different cab company and there is only one plate).

FYI: The Australian 1939 Chevy trucks are so rare! Two big reasons:

  1. Australia entered World War II in 1939, not late 1941 as the US. This was to provide assistance to England as Germany continued to move closer to invading Australia’s mother country. Their army went to help! Soon after, the Australia vehicle assembly lines were shut down to be changed over to making war supplies.
  2. After the war, when these pickups finally required major mechanical repairs it was less expensive to convert them. The frame rails were cut behind the cab. This provided the beginning of a utility trailer. The two “stubs” of the frame could then be pulled together and a hitch assembly added. All that the owner then needed was to build a bed for hauling. Yes, the differential stayed in place for the rolling support of the trailer. This was done over and over!

1942 Chevrolet ½ Ton

Friday, February 2nd, 2018
1942 Chevrolet ½ Ton

Owner: Bill Sanders

If you like the 70 year old body designs with the “creature comforts” of a modern vehicle, our feature truck this month might really catch you attention. It may appear very old but on a freeway it can reach a speed far above the legal limits!

This eye catching stand out in a crowd 1942 Chevy pickup is owned by Bill Sanders of Crossville, Tennessee. What a creation!  After 2 ½ years of building it has just been on the road only a month to check for little problems that need corrections.  So far, nothing has shown up that cannot be easily repaired.

Bill has been involved in other vehicle restorations but this is the first time using a late model drive train. His brother had stored this cab, bed, and front sheet metal for many years with no steps taken to restore it.  So, one day, Bill got the opportunity to buy it.  It was soon brought to his home but in pieces.  No frame or related suspension, motor, transmission or differential.  So what now?  Either gather original parts and create a “frame off” original or do what he has sometimes seen at local car shows.

A VINTAGE LOOK WITH LATE MODEL MECHANICALS

After much research and talking to others. Bill’s discovered a US Company that manufactures conversion kits designed to attach a 1939-46 Chevrolet ½ ton body to a Chevy S-10 pickup chassis. Why an S-10?

They are almost the correct wheel base as Bills 1942 and have a full frame to secure the older sheet metal and extra weight that may be hauled. S-10’s have repair parts readily available and they come from the factory with options like automatic transmission, independent front suspension, power steering, power brakes and air conditioning.

The company “Code 504” will even get involved to help you adapt your S-10 Chassis to hold a late model Chevrolet V-8 or most any tech question during the installation.

Bill was hooked! This is what he wanted.  A good friend with experience in this type work was retired but decided being off work was not for him.   Bill found him at just the right time.  Thus, John Leech, also of Crossville, Tennessee and Bill Sanders became partners.

Together Bill and John with 2 ½ years created the finished product. John did the chassis rebuilding on a 1979 S-10, adding the “Code 504” kit, and restored much of the 1942 body.  Bill says he became John’s assistant.  John’s so many years in mechanical repair business made him a natural on what needed to be done.

The easy part was replacing the worn out ½ ton bed. Fortunately, all bed parts are available and they fit and took just like the originals.  No repair panels required.  Mostly a light sanding, paint and the detailed assembly was needed.

The 1942 sheet metal was another story. It had been so abused over the many years!  Few, items are being reproduced and it became a hunt to locate better used replacement parts.  Thank goodness for John Leech!

The updated modern mechanicals from the radiator to the differential were not difficult to obtain. You just need some deep money pockets to take position and then get them to all line up together.

A few of the major items were a 350 Chevy V-8, 400 turbo transmission, (both from a 1975 Corvette) GM power steering and brakes, air conditioning, plus tilt steering column. Of course, the extra chrome and polished aluminum made the engine compartment a real standout.

Owners of special interest older vehicles are never completely done. Bill has some ideas that may take place in the future.

For sure, he plans on this to be a tribute to US Army Special Forces that include:

Delta Force * Green Berets * Army Rangers
(Bill’s son-in-law is a Green Beret and this had made a deep impression on his feelings for our US military).

He might even install an exact copy of a 50 caliber machine gun and mount it in the bed for local parades. What a parade eye catcher!  A non-military vehicle with a large machine gun!

Bill is even thinking of calling it his Hillbilly Humvee.

Special bed side boards will announce this fact during parades!

You can contact Bill at wildbillsanders@comcast.net.

1942 Chevrolet ½ Ton

Coming down the road

Side View

Nice Bed – Small Tubs Required

Satin Sheen in Red

View from a step ladder

Centerline 5 bolt wheels

Extra Bright work is just right

The kit installed on a restored chassis ”before the body”.

The Proud Owner, Bill Sanders

1942 Chevrolet 3/4 Ton

Friday, December 1st, 2017

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WOW, a real World War II produced pickup! Few have survived and those remaining are usually restored with their trim parts chrome plated as before and after the war years. This 1942 Chevrolet ¾ ton pickup has been kept over 95% pure as it was during the final year before most all pickup truck production came to a halt in mid-1942.

The owner and restorer is Roger Dunford of Elba, Ontario Canada. Records indicate it was built in California and spent most of its following years as a Fire Department truck in Gabbs, Nevada. No doubt the dry Nevada air plus being kept inside out of the sun made for a perfect example of its originality. Yes, it still has less than 4,000 miles on the odometer!

Many years later it was brought to Alabama for a future restoration however, this never materialized and it remained in the same barn for so many years.

Roger decided a truck this rare (plus such low mileage) deserved to be kept much as it was over 70 years ago.

The Nevada dry air and long term storage had prevented major rust. Only some sheet metal surface rust existed. Replacement of all rubber parts was necessary as well as master cylinder rubber cups and all brake hoses!

Surprise, the brake shoe linings still looked new since installed in 1942! Of course, no grooves in the brake drums. The 216 engine required an oil change, cleaning, and a repaint to make it as it left the factory. It still runs like new.

To make it correct, Roger dis-assembled the pickup restored each part, and then painted them before assembly. He painted the exterior Apple Green (a GM color) and kept the tool box on the right side running as was installed by the Gabbs, NV Fire Department in 1942.

In summary we could see very little that would not have been on a new 1942 as it left the factory. Possibly the pine bed wood (Roger personally cut and grooved it) would have been black as well as black fenders but it is about as pure as anyone will find.

The 15” artillery wheels are pure 6 hole units as were on pre war Chevrolet / GMC long bed ¾ tons. The 85 ¾” bed length and three stake pockets per side shows its ¾ ton difference over the shorter a ½ ton.

Reason for no chrome: After the US entered WWII in early December 1941 almost all car and truck production began to come to a stop. Factories began to tool up for was necessities required overseas. Planes, tanks, guns, ammunition, uniforms, big trucks, were all more important to the survival of the USA. Plus so many people enlisted or were drafted into the military. Less demand for small personal vehicles would begin to occur.

The material required to produce good plating (copper, nickel, and chrome) would be used in the war effort, not on a pickup that was bought in the 1940’s for work. Thus, the grill, hubcaps, hood and interior trim, plus bumpers were painted Turret Gray.

As the story goes: When the replacement non chrome painted trim arrived at the 1942 factory assembly line, their remaining chrome items were never discarded. They were painted gray to match to new incoming items. This kept all trim painted the same color when the truck left the factory! No one complained. It was the state side people doing their part to help make the US successful in winning the world war!

You can contact Roger @ r13659640@aol.com

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Correct six board bed

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A personal touch!

1957 Chevrolet Cameo

Wednesday, November 1st, 2017
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Our special truck this month: A 1957 Chevrolet Cameo owned by John Wazorick. Few people can say they have owned their 60 year old vehicle 40 years! It all began when John was in high school and the new 1957 Cameos were introduced in Chevrolet dealer’s show rooms.* It was love at first sight but it brought up a big problem. No money! It would be 20 more years later when he heard about a 1957 Cameo for sale in his state of Illinois. It immediately brought back high school memories. He thought this might be the only chance to buy a real 1957 Cameo! Plus it was his favorite colors: Cardinal Red and Bombay Ivory. He bought it unrestored with a locked up 283 engine.

This was not a good time for John to make it new again. He owned a business, had a wife, 3 children, 2 dogs and a summer home. At least he now had his high school dream. It would be in storage an additional 20 years!

When the Wazorick’s retired, they decided Arizona was where they wanted to spend their later years. John remembers trailering the Cameo from Illinois with his unrestored 1963 Chevy ¾ ton. What a sight with two very tired looking trucks going down the highway, both looking very tired.
It was not until he and his wife settled in their retirement home in Waddell, Arizona that he began to consider a full restoration. Now with extra time and some disposable income, John began a total disassembly and rebuilding.

As with many ground up restorations, it went down to the bare frame and was put together like an oversize toy model kit. In two years it was back to almost new condition and now it is a pleasure to drive.

John rebuilt it much like the one he saw at the dealership in high school. Only a few changes were made such as adding power steering, and a currently popular 5 speed overdrive transmission from a later S-10 pickup. A rebuilt 283 engine plus the original 3.90 ratio ring and pinion differential are like GM made them.

WHY ME?

About 5 years ago, while driving his fancy Cameo in his Arizona home town, an unbelievable thing happened. While waiting for a stop light to turn green, John was rear ended by a 1 ton box truck. Neither John nor his wife was hurt but their Cameo was another story. The tail light, bedside, quarter panel, and trim were mostly not repairable.

Though the odds of this happening was almost zero, it still occurred. John felt so lucky they were not injured and had full coverage insurance. After the shock of this misfortune, John found how fortunate he was to have Hagarty Insurance. (A company that markets insurance for special interest vehicles) They took care of all repairs. Even a complete paint job was provided so the red color would all be the same! $15,000 later the Cameo was back on the road, looking even better than before.

*These were Chevrolet’s most deluxe pickups ever offered. Often referred to as a “Boulevard Pickup”. It was designed for the buyer that wanted a pickup with the appointments of a top of the line passenger car! In today’s world it is so natural that most pickups are bought with little thoughts of much hauling but in the 1950’s it was a chance General Motors took to market such an unusual pleasure pickup.

FYI: Here is another creation that can be credited to John’s talents in truck restoration of unusual vehicles. This short wheel base 1937 GMC cab over engine is probably the best example in the country of how they first appeared 80 years ago. It runs great and looks even better! See Photo.
You can reach John at tovintrk63@sbcglobal.net

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“After the big hit!”

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1937 GMC Cab Over Engine

1939 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton

Monday, October 2nd, 2017
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On The Liberty, Missouri Square

A part of the family 55 years! Rob Bratcher of Liberty, Missouri is proud to be the owner of his father’s 1939 Chevrolet ½ ton. It was bought in 1963 for miscellaneous chores on the family farm in Kentucky. It had originally been a total work truck and it showed!  Rob’s father used it until some engine problems developed about 1968. It was then set aside and not repaired.

Rob remembers the Kentucky farm in his early years, both before and after the ½ ton was retired.  He always enjoyed time playing on the old pickup. As many years passed since then, Rob’s interest in this truck remained strong. The time finally came when the little pickup needed to find a new owner as it had sat abandon for many years. Rob was the chosen family member to own it. Lucky guy!

It was transported from the Kentucky farm to Rob’s Liberty, Missouri home in the year 2000. Parts of the motor was missing, the wood bed floor rotted (most missing), and the dented fenders gave evidence of it being a working pickup most of it’s life. What now?

It was decided to get it running perfect but to keep its character just like when Grandpa and his father drove it for work projects. Rob said: “If I replaced all the needed parts that were almost beyond repair, it would not be like the old truck I remembered”. It was decided to repair most used items, except mechanicals (they were replaced) and give all sheet metal parts a clear coat. He would call it pre-restoration (preserved and restored).

The non-mechanical items that just had to be fixed was a wiring harness, bed wood, seat covering, and interior paint (1939 grey). Rob realizes it is not a typical restoration but it retains its “Old Truck Look” while still being a driver when needed.   He and his father spent two years bringing this little ½ ton back to life. His father took a strong interest in the restoration because he had been its only driver for many years and he remembered Rob often being with him when it was driven on hauling projects.

This is a perfect example of why trucks were bought over 50 years ago. They were farm workers! They were set aside after hours and the family sedan became the transportation.

In summary, Rob mentioned his 3 dreams in life: Get married and have a family, check. Become a Police Officer, check. Preserve the old truck he remembered, check.
You may contact Rob Bratcher at robert.bratcher@lps53.org

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Rob at 3 years old in front of the 1939

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When Rob took possession in the year 2000

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The Best Home Ever!

More Details on Rob’s Special 1/2 Ton

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The 1968 license. Last plate used. 5,000lb gross weight

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Bed wood. White Oak, Walnut and Maple (all from very old boards)

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Original with one wiper arm

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Got paint but no brush? Rob says it was painted with someone’s finger (These truck letters are required
for state truck scales)

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Fender support strap. Thousands of pickups used these when the factory under-fender brace deteriorated

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Rob added this accessory fog light from the 1930’s

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Replacement tail lights and brackets are just right

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ID Plate with clutch head screws still in place!

1965 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton

Friday, September 1st, 2017
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Here is a Feature Truck of the Month that was truly saved from the salvage yard. It had been outside deteriorating over 20 years behind the out of business Dellwood Dairy in Copiague New York (on Long Island). Because of some mechanical problems it had been left in the back lot of the abandon dairy.

Now enters Vinny Tumminia of nearby Lindenhurst that had once worked for the dairy making daily milk deliveries in the neighborhoods. (We would have called him a milkman) On his way to his US Post Office job each day he passes the empty dairy building and always notices the tired ½ ton in their back lot. It brought memories of his younger days as a dairy delivery person. He dropped off milk and related products on front steps of homes between 3 am and 9 am so the glass bottles were always there when the customer got up in the morning.

One day after passing the empty dairy building on the way to the post office, it just hit him. Now with just a little disposable income, why not try to buy the old delivery truck, get it running and use it for driving to work? (Just for old time memories).

Therefore, one Saturday Vinny began to hunt for the widow of the once owner of the dairy. The search was successful and he became the pickup’s second owner for $200.00. It was towed to his home the next day.

Vinny’s excitement now began to grow! The more he looked at it the more he wanted it better than a very rough driver to get to work. He had seen 1965 Chevy ½ ton’s at local car and truck shows and they were so nice. He would change course, take his time, and as money permitted restore it to be new again!

As parts were removed, another item was usually found that also needed attention. When he got down to totally worn out body mounts and the cab needing lifting to replace them plus bed wood and cross sills a total loss, it was time to get to the bare frame rails. Thus, this would now be his oversized model kit.

The pickup’s condition even got worse when rubber parts of a few old floor mats were removed. Surprise! Water had been in the cab so many years from a damaged windows. All floors and rocker panels had to be replaced. That was in addition to both cab corners that he already knew about. Six months in the body shop. (As Vinny said, he saved it from the crusher!)

The frame became even better than new. It was transported locally to be sand blasted and then to a powder coating company.

On weekends and many evenings each week for three years, Vinny was in his garage building his new truck. In the first year he knew it could not stop the project. The pickup was in so many pieces in his 12’ x 24’ garage and in the back yard. To try to sell it at that time would have brought him scrap metal price per pound for abut the $200.00 he had first invested. This wasn’t going to happen but he sure hoped he did not accidently walk out in front of a bus! His very supportive wife, Elizabeth would even have an additional loss, with iron parts filling the garage and yard. Where would she sell all of that stuff?
Three years later it was beautiful. It became Vinny and Elizabeth’s new 1965, ready for Sunday drives and local weekend car shows.
Factory available upgrades were added as chrome bumpers and grill. The largest expense was eliminating the factory 250 six cylinder engine plus 3 speed column shift transmission. The replacement was an optional factory 283 V-8 and 4 speed transmission that he found in Central Kansas. It was all shipped by truck line to his home in New York.

Color is Teal Green and updated modern deluxe wheels make the total package just right.

CHANGE IN LIFE 2004

After many years outside delivering the US mail in New York, the cold winters became less enjoyable. Many below zero days and snow blowing sideways was becoming a real challenge! So because most towns have a post office he was able to transfer his job to the south. Vinny and Elizabeth now live in Melbourne, Florida. What a change! Their “new” little ½ ton now goes to car shows in winter more than summer. They had it hauled from New York in a large enclosed truck. No extra miles place on the odometer. This ½ ton has never had it so good.

What’s the future plans for another restoration? They just completed a 3 car garage behind their Florida home. We suspect he wants to be ready, just in case another special vehicle comes up for sale.
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Nice view!

How did Vinny have the confidence to think he could build this 1965 (destined for the crusher) with never doing a restoration before? There was a reason. Check the following and see how his early years made it all possible. This is

The Rest of the Story.

School is out for summer and 11 year old Vinny Tumminia is usually riding his bicycle around the neighborhood. By chance he stops by a local auto repair shop and asks if he can now mow their over grown yard.  (A little spending money is always nice).

To Vinny’s surprise the owner Richard Fellner said yes. The mowing was done so well, Richard said “See you next week and you can mow it again”.

This began a 3 year relationship that molded Vinny’s interests in life. Soon he was sweeping the shop, carrying out trash, and doing misc. clean-up projects in this repair shop near his home. Richard was impressed with Vinny’s upbeat attitude, wanting to learn about cars, and being on time when it was necessary. This opened a new world for Vinny. He loved every minute of being in Richard’s shop.

Then a great opportunity occurred the next summer. The shop’s one employee left for another job and Richard needed help until he could find a replacement. Vinny was ready to tackle any auto repair. He just needed guidance. In addition to continued yard mowing, Richard taught him light jobs like oil changes, tire rotation and lubrication of car and pickup suspension, etc. Vinny was like a sponge and he did not forget!

This would be his summer and after school enjoyment and very close to his home.  He would even help Richard on numerous more difficult repairs like replacing a clutch, pulling an engine head and removing a radiator.  Of course, Vinny became the number one mechanic for his family’s sedan.

Thus, a 1965 Chevy ½ ton setting for 20 years did not scare him. He already knew how to replace parts and how to diagnose problems.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

It is so interesting how one little occurrence can point us in a different direction for life!

This is certainly such an example as Vinny ask to mow a yard!

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All looks good.

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Optional V8 engine

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Sitting in sunny Florida

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Signs on the new side racks

1941 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton

Friday, August 4th, 2017
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When light trucks appeared on the scene about 100 years ago, they were created for only one reason: WORK. This remained their primary use through at least the 1960’s.

Move up another 55 years and today we find the majority of light trucks purchased for another reason: FUN, PLEASURE, and TRANSPORTING PEOPLE. Even the traditional 8 foot ½ ton bed has been mostly replaced with a 5 passenger cab in front of a 6 foot bed. Hauling is less important than carrying friends and family.

Now enter a related newer segment of this trend. It is a spin-off of our current love for trucks and probably why you are reading this article. Of course, it is the enjoyment of owning and rebuilding an old hauler that once was parked and forgotten on a Friday evening when work duties were finished. Then the family sedan or even a sporty coupe or convertible became the weekend transportation.

In regards to his enjoyment of older trucks, few early pickup enthusiasts can be a better example of our country’s new love affair than Jim Shaw of Marshfield, Wisconsin. When you first see Jim’s 1941 ½ ton you think “It all flows together just right but is still very different. Pickup was a limited production or experimental model that General Motors had considered for production!” Here is Jim’s story:

He purchased this ½ ton about 14 years ago in central Wisconsin. It had spent most of its life totally on a local farm. In fact for its last 20 years it had not been even licensed. The title was lost, probably because the farmer never needed it beyond his property use.

Jim immediately decided to keep its attractive 1941 appearance but add some mechanical modifications that would give it a better cruising speed on modern highways, stop quickly and safer, plus be more comfortable to drive. Though the updates were kept hidden, the most eye-catching feature is the all metal bed.

He was just the right person to create this special pickup. Researching, attending auto shows and swap meets allowed him to be so successful putting this project together.

When it came to replacing the very poor condition pickup bed it was the cost that made this unique ½ ton bed come into being. Jim added the new bed price plus shipping and all came to a stop. He is a metal worker by trade. Some left over metal was free at his company after some jobs were completed. His imagination began to put together plans for a special metal bed. It would look much like a private company might have offered it in the 1940’s.

We think he got it just right. It is all hand built by Jim Shaw personally! It was sure an attention getter in the very recent Iola, WI swap meet in July 2017.

The following are some of the modern updates that make this ½ ton his daily driver.

POWER:

Jim found the ultimate in horsepower from a drop-in 261 six cylinder to replace the original 216 low oil pressure engine. The 261 was used in 2 ton trucks and school buses during the late 1950’s. What a difference!

TRANSMISSION:

A 5 speed overdrive transmission makes all the difference in highway speed. The big surprise here is Jim installed this unit from a 1985 Ford pickup! He had this tranny and he felt sure he could make it fit. What a project! As you might suspect it became a complicated project to get a later Ford transmission to fit against a 45 year old Chevrolet bellhousing. The amount of re-drilling, building special shims and spacers is difficult for one’s imagination. Our hats go off to Jim Shay, a professional metal worker with patience and talents far above most restorers.

It gets even more complicated. The original bellhousing was used because in these early years the horizontal shaft that secures the clutch and brake pedals also support the under floor master cylinder. This shaft extends from the left frame rail to the left side of the bellhousing. In this way Jim could place a new duel chamber master cylinder (for safety) out of sight and position it just like GM did it.

We wonder if this configuration exists anywhere but on Jim Shay’s special ½ ton. This is so unusual, we would be interested to hear from anyone that has completed this project.

A LITTLE MORE SPEED:

A higher speed ring and pinion replaces the original. Lower engine RPM at the same speed is the reward. An open drive shaft now connects to the later differential and the overdrive transmission. All are out of sight unless you get down under.

EXTRAS:

Front late model disc brakes, not seen unless you look at the underside. Extra money was spent during this modification to keep all the original 6 bolt wheels.

THE RESULTS:

A Show Stopper ½ ton that cruises at 70 mph and Jim Shay, made it all fit together!

He drives it daily to his work and on weekends. He keeps it in storage during the Wisconsin winters but still has driven it 2,700 miles in the last 5 months.

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Rear View

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A Little Extra

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From the Driver’s Seat

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Passenger View

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261 Engine with Full Flow Oil Filter

1953 GMC Long Bed 1/2 Ton

Friday, June 30th, 2017
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We had heard of this special GMC over the years but had not personally talked to the owner or seen the various photos showing it in detail. The owner and person responsible for this creation is Bill Miles of Ashland, Massachusetts. After several conversations with Bill, we knew this pickup should have been a part of our Feature Truck series long before now!

It was created in 1953 and began its life as a long bed ½ ton, not a short bed as most are used to seeing. It was the decision of the General Motors Truck Division to offer a long bed ½ ton (using a ¾ ton bed) during the early years and not make it with heavier suspension, a stronger frame , and low gearing in the ¾ ton differential!

GMC had its own full oil pressure inline six cylinder since 1939. Additional horsepower allowed this extra 12” bed length on a ½ ton (not available on the Chevrolet ½ ton). The gross weight remained 4,800 pounds, the same as the short bed. It was still far below the ¾ ton gross weight of 8,800 pounds. This long bed could still have the higher ratio 4.11 differential and not the lower geared ¾ ton with 4.57 and optional 5.14 but with the same bed. The ½ ton ride was smoother, highway speed increased, and fuel economy improved over a ¾ ton.

Another very unique feature is the factory 4 speed Hydra-Matic transmission. It operates just right and was the first year GMC offered it in a pickup. Photo shows this “big brute” on a table just after its rebuild.

Our feature truck is one of these unique pickups, however with Bill’s help it has been given several additions to operate better on today’s highways. And the big plus: Most of these extras are not visible. Bill’s ½ ton has been given a higher speed and is a pleasure to drive.

To most, it appears as a very nice restored stock GMC pickup that is as was bought new over 60 years ago. It is not!

The following is the data from Bill Miles that personally explains what he added to make it so road worthy and at the same time safer to drive. His reward: 40,000 miles over the US in fun driving since he bought it in the year 2000. Many vacations were scheduled.

YOU WILL REALLY LIKE BILL’S STORY

I purchased my 1953 GMC Hydra Matic long bed half ton in the summer of 2000. At the time, it had a 270 GMC engine with Fentons, 4 wheel drum brakes, the original 4.11 rear gears, and 15 inch bias ply tires that were 27 inches tall.

Over the years, I have installed a 302 engine with a 2 bbl. Holley AA-1 Carburetor, keeping the Fenton Headers, changed the rear gears to 3.55’s, changed the tires to 215/85R 16 inch radials that are 30.5 inches tall, installed front disc brakes with a dual master cylinder, and added an original sway bar.

By changing from the 4.11 and the 15 inch tires, to the 3.55’s and the 16 inch tires(3.5″ more diameter), my engine rpm dropped by approximately 800 at 65 miles per hour.

I kept the 16 gallon fuel tank behind the seat and added a second 16 gallon tank under the rear of the bed, where a spare tire would mount if there was not a side mount. I have a valve on the floor of the cab to switch between tanks. Each tank has a sender that is wired to an On/On switch under the dash. When I flip the switch forward, it reads the seat tank, when I flip it back it reads the rear tank, all from the original gauge.

The two tanks come in handy when I am traveling. In 2009, I shipped the truck to my friend Ken Brown’s home in Yacolt, Washington. Then, my son Connor and I flew to Washington, and drove the truck home to Massachusetts. We were on the road almost a month and drove 5200 miles, visiting San Francisco, Yellowstone, Mount Rushmore, The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, and other attractions.

I have driven the truck to ATHS (American Truck Historical Society) shows in Syracuse, NY, Baltimore, MD, Auburn, IN, and several times to the ATCA show in Macungie, PA. I have logged about 40,000 miles since I bought the truck in 2000.

In May 2017, I drove to the ATHS show in Des Moines Iowa, then headed south to Nashville, and Lynchburg, Tennessee, then drove north through Bowling Green, KY, toward home. I was on the road for 15 days and traveled 3800 miles. To date, I have driven the truck through 31 states.
Www.53gmc.wordpress.com

You can contact Bill Miles @ bd97@comcast.net

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Loaded and ready for travel

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Nice Phrase

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First year for the optional side mount

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The cockpit for traveling.  Look at the speed on the speedometer!

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Close-up of Hydra-Matic shift and original gauges plus a very old turn signal control.

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Only year for the Ram Horn attached to the intake manifold. It requires the new relay on the firewall.

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The 302 looks new!

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Fresh Hydra-Matic Rebuild. Now that is a heavy weight! Bill’s 1953 in the Background.

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Bill showing the “shaft extension” that gives the short bed the extra length to make it a long bed GMC ½ ton. Making this extension saved GMC so much money in designing a total new longer ½ ton drive shaft system. Some may have call it GMC’s “weak link” but it sure has not been the case for Bill Miles.

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Setting by the Bowling Green Water Tower near the Corvette Museum.

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A day at the Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky

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Beside a small local church in West Virginia

3.5 more diameter

1939 Chevrolet COE, 108″ WB

Monday, June 5th, 2017
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If you wonder what are some of the most unusual early GM trucks, you should always remember John and Lisa Milton of Vestal, New York. Their continual search for those with almost no survivors is their passion. Not only do they occasionally find an available rare truck for sale they usually give it a ground up restoration to be like it left the factory.

Among their collection of almost non-remaining GM trucks, one of their favorite is this restored 1939 Chevrolet Cab-Over-Engine (COE). Of the very few remaining, maybe none have this short 108” factory wheel base.

The attached photos show it like the day it was delivered to the dealer in 1939. Swifts Red, 216 six cylinder, 4 speed non synchronized transmission and single speed rear axle. About 2 ½ years were required to complete a total restoration.

It was first seen in a national ad and John was immediately interested. Especially at the $500.00 price.

Having the first year for a Chevrolet COE was just what John wanted. The immediate trip from their home in New York to Janesville, Wisconsin was 1,300 miles with their trailer behind. Unfortunately it was not love at first sight! Photos certainly did not tell the true story. There was so much rust and abuse since it was abandoned outside for many, many years.

They offered only $250.00 just for parts and to help pay for their long trip. Surprise, the owner agreed. After all few people would attempt this major rebuilding of a totaled 39 COE. This would be the owner’s only chance to sell it. Once back in New York, it was placed in their side yard until 2 years later when Lisa said “Move It”. John knew it was time to begin the planned major restoration.

Down to the bare frame and each part evaluated. John had done this many times before, but never to a COE. Fortunately, the cab is much like a more common ½ ton and chassis is so similar to a conventional longer wheel base 1 ½ ton of several years. John’s talents in finding parts, knowing people in the business and many years doing restorations as a hobby made this project possible. Much money was saved by John having his own shop with so much repair equipment. If this project was given to a restoration company, the price would have been prohibitive! John’s many talents even includes sheet metal welding, straightening, and repair plus painting. Even so, the price to complete this project far exceeded the planned budget.

Just the plating of the limited chrome on a COE truck was over $5,000.00. Plating the massive grille was the really big ticket cost. Expensive! There are no grilles available so you write the check and try to not think about it!

The not even in fair condition 1939 COE front fenders were repaired. You must restore your own no matter what damage they have as others are about non-existent.

Lisa, has always been a great supporter of John’s passion for unusual early GM trucks. She also helps when time allows however Lisa also has another interest. She raises English bull dogs and miniature pony’s and has done some showing. What a unique couple!!

ADDITIONAL TRIVIA

John’s future plans is to build a 90” wood flat bed for this short COE. It will be much like other after-market beds sold by non GM companies about 75 years ago. This will certainly protect the back of the cab from flying debris, and rear wheel gravel when on the road.

Notice the voltage regulator on the upper left side of the firewall. Other 1939 Chevy trucks still had the voltage cut out attached to the generator. Because of the difficult accessibility to the cutout on a COE, GM used a voltage regulator that would later be on all 1940 models.

SO SAD!

In the year 2000, the Milton’s had a major barn fire. All the rare limited survival trucks were lost. At least 10 restored very rare GM trucks were gone! Years later, his current collection of 17 years is almost as good.

John and Lisa had nothing but compliments for their insurance company, JC Taylor. They received a check in the mail within 10 days from that company after the fire. The Milton’s photos of the ashes of the barn and trucks told the story. This time he built an all metal building.

You can reach John and Lisa @ jmilton@stny.rr.com

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The real thing!

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Don’t look at the flowers!

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Waiting for a new bed

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Drive line exposed

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The massive tall grill

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The script says it all

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Nice chrome nose

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Maybe better than new

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one year only interior color

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Wish you had one?

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No mistakes here

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Correct non-pleated seat

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Factory accessory re-circulator heater

1948 GMC COE Deluxe Crew Cab

Monday, May 1st, 2017
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When your love for custom cars and hot rods has continued to grow over the years there comes a time when you really want a “one of a kind” vehicle. It must relate to your personality and have that certain flair that will never be seen anywhere else.

This creation came after years in the imagination of Cholly Nachman in his small mountain town of Lancaster, New Hampshire.

In his younger years, Cholly had limited disposable income so he personally did minor repairing and rebuilding of his and others special interest basic cars and trucks, attended local vintage vehicle shows, plus was just wishing for something to come into his life that would be more than “everyday”.

Then about 3 years ago when he reached his mid-40’s he said to himself “It’s time to stop wishing. Let’s just do it!” Cholly had mechanical talented friends as a backup, he had some extra money and he sure wasn’t getting any younger.

The decision was made to find a Chevy pickup or panel truck from the 1950’s and fulfill his dreams. In his search for ideas, he suddenly saw a COE (cab-over engine) truck of that vintage. Wow! Not only was it an eye catcher from the factory 60 years ago but he thought what an owner could do to make it different! Cholly was sold. He would find one, try to stretch it into a crew cab and add a pickup box. This combination would be his goal and he began with only some auto magazine photos.

He searched the country for the right cab for a longtime to start the project. The choice would be a deluxe 5 window COE cab. He found his choice in Florida, almost 1,800 miles away. It was shipped to John’s Welding and Repair Shop in Vermont (Now the money flow began) and soon after the rear of the cab was cut and pulled in two pieces. This totaled deluxe cab with all the floor rusted away was just candidate for this project.

The finished product had to be totally ready for highway speeds and have most all modern extras. Therefore, the “drive train” came from a 1985 Chevy Suburban with a 454 cubic inch V-8 two wheel drive. The body was removed and all the mechanicals and frame were rebuilt to be like new. Cholly wanted no repairs, once all was complete.
The long Suburban wheel base allowed for an 8 foot bed from a 1950’s ¾ ton pickup even with adding the longer crew cab. It all fit together so well including the 60 year old pickup rear fenders. All the details of this total project could fill a small book!

GIVING CREDIT TO THE EXPERTS

One of the best ways to be successful in creating a quality custom truck is to be able to call upon experts that know your rebuilding needs and are willing to lend a hand when the need occurs. Cholly knew he could be successful in most any basic vehicle update but much of creating an extended cab would be in new territory for him. Mistakes can be very expensive to correct!

The person doing the metal panel addition on the cab sectioning had been a good friend for many years and metal work was his specialty. His name is John Lovell and he operates John’s Welding and Fabrication Shop about 10 miles distance in Maidstone, Vermont. To Cholly – John is a legend! He can build / fabricate anything he puts his mind to and he’s learned a ton of skills in his 30 year career building and maintaining Ships in Alaska. He was the shop foreman for a large shipping / fuel company in Nenana Alaska – Working there from spring till fall every year and would come back to northern Vermont for the winter months while the shipyards were closed in their coldest weather. “This project would not have been started without John’s ability!” (This claim to fame is very unusual). He is retired after spending the warmer months in Alaska building and the maintaining of ships but works full time doing sheet metal repair on antique and special interest vehicles. He specializes in antique auto restoration with 30 years’ experience.

John has spent the winters in northern Vermont most of his life. Yes, it is warmer there than in Alaska and he knew Cholly back in the days when he worked in his off season shop. Cholly got lucky! John was willing to take on this very difficult cab extension at 73 years old. Impossible by most any body shop! His tools, lifting equipment and many years’ experience makes it all come together.

When Cholly and John created the extension, they cut the back off the deluxe 5 window COE cab and slid it back 33 inches. Then talented experience began! John created metal panels that fit so smoothly it appeared GM did it with tooling in the 1950’s. He made the large shaped panels to connect the roof and the sides with the original. Everything had to be just right. There was no room for any error.

Here were some of Chollys associates that were so much help in creating this unusual COE extended crew cab three years ago. Without any of them, this truck would not be as it is today.

Larry Mclain – Body Work specialist Paint Specialist
Steve Bennett – Cleaning and Fabrication Start to finish.
Wayne Gilcris – Electrical Wiring
Dillon Fosket – Welding
John Lovell – Project Manager – Fabrication Specialist.
Dane’s Upholster – Danville Vermont – specializes in Antique Upholster
Rae Davenport – Pin striping – Detailing.

With Chollys team of experts, most all of the COE crew cab was finished in about 12 months. Record Time! The results are outstanding as seen in these attached photos.

After so many years of dreaming of building a really awesome custom truck, Cholly now owns a vehicle unlike anyone else. It looks like an all original 60 year old to non-experts but it has the modern necessities. This includes a smooth riding suspension, extra horsepower and an automatic transmission. Cholly has given his special vehicle thousands of miles over the past 3 years. It’s super comfortable on long trips and is a complete blast to be out and about in. People are so drawn to the truck! Compliments occur at every stop and questions just keep coming.

Cholly stores it for most of the winter as they salt the roads heavily in New England. With a 7 ½ foot height a special garage is of course required.
Much of the fun during its first 3 years has been taking it to local Special Interest car shows. The COE has won 30 first place trophies in the truck class. Most impressive is 1st place 3 years in a row at the International Car Show in New Port, Vermont. What a pedigree!

You can reach Cholly @ cholly.nachman@myfairpoint.net

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Cholly and his “One and Only”

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3/4 ton long bed fits just right

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Even made original Hub Caps fit model wheels

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New White wall tires made all the difference!

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Open for view

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New England back ground

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Nice Interior

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Comfortable Custom

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At Home

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Yes, you can park it with cars on the street

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COE meets an International! Are we related?

UNDER CONSTRUCTION
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At the beginning. The COE from Florida

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The separation

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Placing the body on the 1985 frame

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Assembly work

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Cab almost complete

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All together in one photo!

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Cholly and John just saying Hello!

1937 Chevrolet Panel Truck

Friday, March 31st, 2017
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Its 1947! A 14 year old Burt Fulmore thinks of a method of getting to school each day from his home in the small town of Economy to Bass River, Nova Scotia Canada, seven miles away. (This island province in eastern Canada is 450 miles above the US most northern state of Maine).

He knows his father’s 1937 panel truck is not used in the mornings for local deliveries from the family’s general store. So an agreement is made. Burt can drive the panel truck to school and in return he will make local grocery deliveries after classes twice each week for his father’s store. Sometimes he does not get home from deliveries until 7:00p.m., just in time to milk the family cow.

Burt soon transported as many as 10 class mates to school each day often in very bad weather conditions! (.50 cents per week per passenger) His friends did not hesitate to jump in the panel truck and sit on “butter boxes” or the floor for the seven mile ride to school. No, he did not have a driver’s license at 14 years old but the 1937 panel truck was the only option. In those early days, there were no school buses. (Maybe the one local policeman looked the other way as Burt was helping local children get to school). He got his license at 16 years old and continued to take his friends to school two more years until he graduated in 1951.

These pictures show the panel truck and 14 year old Burt posing for the photo in 1949. Note the round grill guard!

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Burt then began attending Mount Allison University in New Brunswick, the adjacent province beside Nova Scotia. Yes, his transportation was still the old 1937 panel truck. He drove it 75 miles, to and from college every weekend until he graduated with a mechanical engineering degree in 1954.

To be sure that the truck started easily every time during the winter, each summer Burt did major engine work. Replacement piston rings were added each year to ensure high compression for successful starting. Some of the shims in the rod and main bearings were removed, if needed, which insured the moving bearing surfaces had the correct clearance. He wanted no part of replacing a noisy rod bearing in the Canadian winter after classes in a parking lot.

As with some of us, if you must keep an older vehicle running during your youth it can be more on the fun side as it was for Burt. Therefore, years later he began to think about the “Good Ole Days” in terms of having another vehicle to repair just for old times.

As the years have gone by mostly Chevrolets have become Burt’s addiction. He began with two very rare GM vehicles, maybe the only remaining examples of their kind. These are a Canadian built 1934 Chevrolet Cabriolet (not even 200 made) and a 1937 GMC 1/2 ton (352 produced). Because they were both assembled in Oshawa, Ontario in such limited numbers over 80 years ago, Burt suspects these are the last examples. Being produced in Canada there are some features that are not like those made in the USA. The devout US restorer, soon sees there are things that are Canadian only. Finding those parts from about 80 years ago are almost impossible!

While these two major restorations, were underway Burt kept thinking of his father’s old 1937 Chevrolet panel truck that he drove and repaired for many years. The decision was easily made. If he could ever find another, it would be restored just like the one he drove during his younger years.

He became so sure he could find one, Burt bought a 1937 pickup with an un-restorable body. As the chassis are the same as the panel truck, he completed a major rebuild on all the mechanical parts. It became a new rolling chassis but with no body. He hurried to find a Canadian 1937 panel but with 847 produced there appeared to be almost none. He jumped at one in 1997 in Ontario, but when he got it home it was decided it was “too far gone”. What a loss. See photo. About 2 years later he found a restorable 1937 panel truck in New York. Finally Success!

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Oops, Too Far Gone

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Finally, a restorable 1937 panel truck

In October 1999 this second panel truck was delivered in Nova Scotia. Burt and Mike (his youngest of four sons) began the detailed body work and paint restoration in Mike’s garage with excellent results. Completion was two years later in 2001. 3 photos below are “under construction”.

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This second panel truck is now like new. It is even much better than the one he had for so many years. Even the sides are hand lettered with the company name just like his father’s. The 216 cubic inch engine with 3 speed transmission is just what Burt drove to school so many years ago.

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FOR THOSE THAT WANT MORE DETAIL READ ON.

A. About 1948 Burchell (Burt) met Lucia (Lu) in a high school class and they began dating in late 1949. It is said even their first kiss was shared in this 1937 panel truck. Burt and Lu were married in May 1955. They have four sons: Doug, David, Jim and Mike. They also share their father’s interest in all things automotive, but mostly Chevrolets.

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B. Two months after the restoration was completed Burt and Lu made their first long vacation in the “new” panel truck. They toured some of New York State, visited friends and during the 2,800 mile trip had no problems.

C. After returning home from the New York vacation Burt and Lu sponsored a 50 plus reunion for their classmates to reminisce about their school days and talk about their riding in the old 1937 panel. Burt even made “Butter Boxes” (they sat on going to school) to place in the panel and several climbed in like the old days for photos.

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Classmates standing in Front of the New Panel Truck

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Sitting on “Butter Boxes” for a photo

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Three Butter Box Seats inside the panel

Note: The wooden Butter Boxes came to the general store regularly with 60# of butter. (It would be repackaged in their store in smaller private label boxes for home kitchen use). These boxes made perfect seats for the 7 mile trip to school.

D. What a coincidence! Burt’s father had this personal initials BL, placed on the side of the early 1937. This restored panel is of course lettered the same as original however the BL can now also stand for Burt and Lu! What are the odds of this happening?

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E. Notice the round grill guard attached to the front bumper. Burt removed this aftermarket accessory from a totaled 1936 Plymouth in the mid 1950’s. He then placed it on the everyday panel truck. He kept it stored over these many years. It now sets in the same position on his “new” 1937. He has never seen another!

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The same grill guard Burt added to the older 1937 in the mid 1950’s

F. Look at Burt in 1947 sitting on the hood at 14 years old. Look at Burt in 2001 sitting on the hood of his new 1937, 53 years later.

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2001                                            1947 (Check the round grill guard)

G. Note the center indentation on the rear photo. This was GM’s idea to allow the person loading to get closer to the body. Good Idea!
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H. The panel truck has now been driven over 22,000 miles. Burt and Lu traveled as a team to places like Vermont, Quebec City, Maine and New York. That does not include so many car shows plus trailering to two national more distant shows sponsored by the Vintage Chevrolet Club of America in Flint, MI and Nashville, TN.

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The happy couple about 2015

Below is a group photo of Burt and Lu’s vehicle collection. Left to right.
1957 Bel Air convertible, 1952 Styleline Deluxe Two Door, 1937 GMC ½ ton Pickup, 1937 Panel Truck, 1936 Maple Leaf 1 ton, and 1934 Master Cabriolet.

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You can contact Burt or Lu @ burtfulmore@gmail.com.

1948 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton “Deluxe” Pickup

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017
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This is one of the better examples of an Advance Design “Deluxe” pickup. General Motors offered this extra above the standard model. As extra money was limited during these years, most settled for the no frill model. After all, pickup trucks were for work duties. Spending extra income (which most did not have) was not spent by buyers that were just one generation out of the Great Depression of the 1930’s.

To make a 70 year old pickup as nice as this Feature Truck, it certainly had to be disassembled and rebuilt from the frame. Most all areas were kept as factory original as possible. Even the Windsor Blue color was retained.

The proud owners are Dave and Julie McBee of Independence, Missouri. During nice weather Dave and Julie can be seen in their little ½ ton around town or on the open highway for a Sunday drive. Here are the items that make the McBee’s 1948 a factory “deluxe” pickup:

Five Window Cab (the main feature)
Chrome Grill
Stainless Outside and Inside Door Window Trim
Two Inside Sunvisors
Arm Rests
Stainless Outside only Windshield Trim

Two special extras were added to give it more “Keep up with Traffic” qualities. The original 216 cubic inch engine (90 horse power) was exchanged for a 1954 235 high oil pressure engine (145 horse power). What a nice upgrade. This 1954 inline six cylinder, first year for this 235 power plant, was the factory unit in a 1954 Advance Design pickup. Thus, this is a “drop in” exchange with no alterations. It looks almost factory but has 55 more horsepower.

The other important extra was exchanging the original 4.11 ratio ring and pinion with the recently offered 3.55 ratio. This gives about 20% lower engine RPM and higher road speed. What a difference these two extras have given this pickup!

To obtain even less engine RPM, Dave will soon remove his later 6 bolt 15” wheels. They will be replaced by 16” original” wheels plus radial white wall tires that look in tread like the original bias ply design. (The taller the tires, the lower engine RPM)

AND NOW FOR THIS MOST UNUSUAL CHANGE OF ALL!

Julie had been in love with this pickup since they bought it 3 years before. However there was just one item that was not to her liking. It had a 3 speed standard transmission with a column shift lever for changing gears! She would drive it this way but always wished it had an automatic transmission.

Dave soon picked up on Julie’s wish and began to research if any upgrade could be added. What a surprise! He discovered Jerry’s Chevy Restoration Shop in his own city. The owner, Jerry Rivers, can do most anything if it has to do with an older Chevrolet / GMC truck or car.

On their first meeting, Jerry thought about using the same year Chevy passenger car transmission. That automatic (a cast iron case Power Glide) it was introduced in 1950. The car and truck engines were the same. They both had about the same wheel base and they shared a closed drive shaft. Surely, with some yet unknown problems, the automatic could be transferred to a ½ ton. Maybe if it was not too impossible he might even mount the shift lever assembly to fit like the car. After all, the production years were about the same and maybe the same GM engineers shared some of their designing between ½ ton and passenger car. The only way to find out was to try the transfer on a very tired loaner ½ ton to see if he could make it fit. There was no sense tearing into Dave’s really nice ½ ton and find it was not possible! Dave liked Jerry’s cautious attitude so the agreement was made.

Jerry thought he could do it but locating all Chevrolet car parts would be a challenge. It was agreeable to Dave so they both began the parts hunt. From the first day hunting until the finished product, four months passed. It was really a learning experience for Jerry Rivers even though he had done most anything else to 1947-54 Advance Design trucks.

Here are some facts that were discovered when Jerry (with Dave’s help) finished the very unusual automatic transmission instillation.

The early cast iron Power Glide is the same length as a 1948 pickup 3 speed transmission. This saved them from using an open drive-line and a different differential. The ½ ton closed drive line and all its rear end differential could be used. That included axle housings, brakes and wheels. This had been a real concern. Wow, it fit together. What luck!

Even the rear yolk of the u-joint and the middle cross section was still used from the pickup. Just the readily available Power Glide front u-joint yolk was required to slide in to the transmission.

Jerry used a 1953-54 cast iron Power Glide transmission, bellhousing and flexplace. This is because it has a “kick down” that automatically drops to the lower gear during passing on the highway or other extra RPM requirements. It was discovered that the earliest Power Glide (1950-52) required the shift lever to be manually moved to the next segment by the driver to get the higher RPM’s.

The last year for the cast iron Chevy Power Glide (some were a different design) was 1961. After that an aluminum case was used. Check carefully if you make this change to a Power Glide. We do not know if the later cast iron unit will exchange this well!

Surprise Problem: The steering column on the car is one inch longer than the pickup. This created a problem because the small factory hole in the mast jacket that kept the pickup shift box from moving was no longer spaced correctly. To keep the Power Glide shift rod just like the car in length Jerry made another hole up the mast jacket that would hold the lower shift assembly in just the right position. Thus, the shifting mechanism is now exactly like the Chevrolet car engineers designed it 70 years ago.

New Surprise! It was discovered that because the car steering wheel has a center hub lower than its outer round edge the hand shift lever will not fit the flat pickup steering wheel without touching. What now? No, Jerry would have no part in substituting a with a modern street rod steering wheel! Therefore, the car shift lever was given a cut about 75 % deep and then bent before welding about two inches. The shift knob was now in just the correct place. Genius!

The Chevrolet car column linkage fits just right. Years of linkage use were corrected by welding the wear and grinding to exact dimensions. It now moves perfectly. All were zinc plated to look new.

The Power Glide starter is a perfect exchange on the 235 engine. No foot starter. This starter is now engaged with a button under the headlight switch, just like the car.

The Power Glide fluid is water cooled. Jerry found an original Chevrolet car fluid cooler that connects to the lower radiator horse position and is secured to the timing cover for stability. A perfect match for the 235 transplant engine. The attached photos show how nice the finished product now looks. Unless you are a real 1950’s Chevrolet expert you would think the Power Glide on the ½ ton was a GM assembly line product.

Another Nice Surprise: Top of the line “floor mats” are now produced with markings on the back for pedals and 4 speed transmissions cuts if there is a need. Thus, this ½ ton has no unnecessary visible holes for a clutch pedal!

Yes, the running boards have been painted lower body color by mistake. Dave will soon have them repainted to factory black.

NOW LET’S GET BACK TO DAVE AND JULIE. It was so difficult for Dave to explain to his wife why the pickup was away for 2 or 3 weeks for major repairs. The truth was this “Power Glide Pickup” was to be her surprise Christmas present for 2016. She had no idea and Dave said it was difficult for this to remain a secret until Christmas morning. What a surprise! Julie was overwhelmed. It then all came together why their pickup suddenly needed to be in the repair shop so long. Now this little pickup is driven by her as much as Dave.

It actually required months to get all perfected and gather parts. Jerry had a worn out ½ ton as the test truck to fit the many components. A few weeks before Christmas all the altered parts were then transferred to the McBee’s ½ ton. This is why Julie was told 2 to 3 weeks for “some” type of repair.

You can contact Dave and Julie McBee with questions at dlmcbee@hotmail.com

HINT TO READERS: Here is a thought. If your left leg is tired of the clutch or your spouse says an automatic would make the family Advanced Design pickup just right, contact: Jerrys Chevy Restoration Shop at 816-833-4414. Don’t forget to provide him with the Power Glide Transmission, all linkage, and most related do-dads he needs. (He has only a few extra items for the conversion) jerrysbodyshop@comcast.net

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Full side view

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Deluxe cab window trim

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The 1947-48 Hood Emblem. Only years made of Die-cast

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From the rear

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Light in bed roll for turn signal plus 1948 truck license plate

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Last Advance Design pickup under bed tank

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All original dash

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Fresh air heater works so good

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Two words say it all

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New old stock door panels

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Fog Lights. Nice Accessory

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The Power Glide Transmission after its rebuild

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Transmission rear on modified 3 speed cradle

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The modified rear transmission cross member

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Engine, Bellhousing and Power Glide together

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Transmission dip stick tube

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Lower shift column linkage control

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Transmission dip stick tube beside starter

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The Car Power Glide Shift indicator fits correctly

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Reshaped shift lever

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Starter button below headlight knob

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Floor mat with no extra holes

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The 1954 high oil pressure engine. Fits perfect

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Transmission fluid cooler attached to lower radiator hose (beside front of engine)

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Jerry Rivers, The early GM car and truck expert!

1951 Chevrolet Suburban

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

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What a unique 1951 Chevrolet Suburban for our Feature Truck Series! It is certainly a one of a kind. The owners are Jeff & Brenda Kuhn of Plainfield, Illinois. Their dream is now complete after 4 years in the making. The goal was to restore or find a totally original Suburban and then add special performance features that were usually available during the 1950’s and 1960’s with a few modern features. Here are the results. It is not only a “show stopper” where ever it is seen but it easily keeps up with freeway traffic even with its 60 year old inline 6 cylinder engine.

Here is a big plus, Jeff’s wife Brenda is great supporter of his enthusiasm in the old GM truck hobby. She gets involved!

Jeff has been a lover of Advance Design (1947-1955) Chevrolet / GMC trucks most of his life, even long before he married Brenda in his 40th year. At that time his interest was very strong in drag racing late model stocks cars, which he built and raced personally on local dirt tracks. Now the racing has been placed aside and he is totally into the hobby of Advance Design ruck enjoyment. He has owned and rebuilt over 10 of these trucks since he stopped dirt track racing. He puts them together in such a unique way that other truck enthusiasts just want to own them. It was not always the plan but sometimes offers come very difficult to turn down. His last, a 1948 Chevy ½ ton, was quoted to a potential buyer at above the six figure amount just so it would not sell. Well, it sold anyway! Therefore, don’t price your truck unless you really want to sell it. Probably a good selling point for this 1948 pickup was that it had been the feature truck in 8 national automotive magazines! Yes, Jeff knows how to create very special Advance Design trucks.

The dream that had been in Jeff and Brenda’s mind was to rebuild an early Suburban. With the sale of the 1948 pickup the money was available to make a Suburban into the vehicle they had hoped for. He discovered this Suburban 4 years ago. It was found in Wichita, Kansas and had been totally restored over 20 years exactly like it came from the factory. It had the correct Seacrest Green paint, all the seats were covered with the proper brown Spanish Grain vinyl, and even the grill back splash bars had been painted the proper Waldorf white.

Jeff and Brenda had always thought of having a Suburban because they can take other couples to car shows or just go out for fun. The changes Jeff added to this “people hauler” allows it to stay up with traffic at most any speed, and keep the engine at a lower RPM, and have an easy smooth ride.

The interesting surprise: No body cutting or frame alterations: The all stock body, windows, paint, interior, engine block, and most accessories are like it came from the dealership 60 years ago.

Here are some of the Suburban modifications available 50 and 60 years ago and a few that are very modern updates.
Engine: 1957 Chevrolet 235 high oil pressure inline six cylinder, however, there are some changes on the top end. Jeff added Fenton dual intake and exhaust manifolds. The two exhaust and tail pipes plus mufflers are all stainless steel and correctly run along only one side of the frame rail.

The two carburetors on the Fenton intake are early Zeniths from a GMC, not the original type Rochester’s. This provides a lean burn system with the correct amount of fuel to the engine. Thus, no high lift cam shaft required.

To catch more attention at shows when the hood is raised, Jeff found a Wayne polished aluminum valve cover and side plate for the 235 engine. (This was a high performance supply company in the 1950’s) What a nice touch!

Transmission: Jeff discovered this special transmission in his many years of racing and rebuilding Advance Design trucks. This 5 speed overdrive is the main feature that allows this Suburban to stay with fast moving traffic. It is manufactured by the Tremec Company and fits perfectly against the 1951 bell housing. Even the original clutch pressure plate and flywheel are still used. Only its fine spline input shaft requires a different hub on the clutch plate!

Differential: Jeff added a complete drum to drum assembly from a 1958 Chevy ½ ton. (He keeps 6 bolt wheels) This allowed him to remove the stock 3.90 ratio ring and pinion and exchange with a 3.38 ratio system. It gives about a 20% lower engine RPM. Another nice touch! This 1958 differential attaches to an open drive line system that is needed to connect to the above described modern Tremec 5 speed overdrive transmission.

Front Axle: A 4 inch “dropped” axle is just like they did it in the 1950’s. In addition the two leaf springs are multi leaf Posies brand called “Super Glide” and add another 3” drop.

Rear Suspension: By using special 1 ½ inch blocks between the axles and springs plus using Posies leaf springs the total lowering is about 4 ½ inches, not radical, but just right for this Suburban. Original hub caps are still used. The front and rear Posies springs make it ride like a passenger car!

Wheels: The 15 inch artillery wheels are a great copy of the 1937-45 Chevy ¾ ton six bolt units that have become so popular in recent years. However, these are modified so the calipers on the disc brakes do not rub them. Jeff found these at the Wheel Smith in Santa Ana, California.

Electronic Ignition: Here, Jeff went modern. He used a currently popular Pytronics electronic system. It is hidden inside the original distributer. He starts the old 235 engine now in a split second in even the coldest Illinois days.

Outside Trim: This was a major hunt! Originally on the deluxe panel truck as an option, but they fit a Suburban perfectly. A two year search found this set of trims and spears in Hawaii. The panel truck owner on the islands was building a street rod and decided to not use them (Probably because of their high value to a restorer!)

Jeff was soon the new owner and made the repairs to their scrapes and dings. He recalls his nervous feeling while drilling the 68 holes in the Suburban body for the trim clips and hoping they were placed in the correct position.

Fulton Sunvisor’s and Spotlight: Jeff got lucky on the Fulton Sunvisor. The windshield GM accessory is being reproduced just like they were in the 1950’s. The almost impossible item to locate is the Fulton side window visors. What a find for Jeff! Most of us would have no idea what they were if not in an original box. Another lucky find is the amber lens fog lights. They are now being reproduced to exactly copy those sold 60 years ago! They look great on the Suburban.

Interior: Just look at the authentic inside. This Suburban is mid-1951 due to the lack of bright work on the dash. (Korean War Shortages) Some accessories include tissue dispenser below dash, radio, flash light on steering column, right sunvisor and factory fresh air heater.

Front Protection: This single horizontal bar design was a very rare dealer installed accessory offered from 1951 through 1953. Chevrolet defined it as a “Radiator Grill Guard”. Not only attractive, but designed to protect the grill and radiator from minor accidents on or off the road.

Jeff and Brenda Kuhn certainly have a one of a kind Suburban. It’s a mixture of the old and new, and is great fun to drive. There is no doubt, it will be their keeper for many years. For once they have a 60 year old vehicle that does not have to be trailered. Just turn the key and go! It’s a part of automotive history for all to see.
You can Contact Jeff and Brenda at ohsolow48@yahoo.com.

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Engine on display

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Closed gates

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Open Gates

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The trim and spears make it complete!

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GM’s idea: Lower the mirror arm to protect it’s glass from an open wing vent

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Suburban dealer installed accessory rear turn signal light

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Side view of dual Zeniths, manifolds, and filters

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Wayne valve cover and side plate

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Mounted on firewall instead of intake because of the slope of the Fenton manifold

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A photo view of front Fulton sunvisor

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The left edge of the front Fenton visor

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“Very” rare Fulton side window visor

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Dual pipes on an inline six cylinder. Side by side just like they should be!

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Accessory GM safety treads to prevent slips when running boards are wet

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New Spanish Grain brown seat upholstery

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Late 1951 dash. The Tremec 5 speed shifter is just right

1967 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton Step Bed

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016
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What an “attitude change” for this ½ ton! It moved from a stock long bed fleetside to a nice custom short stepside ½ ton in about 3 months! The owner and responsible person for the work is John Toon of Sugar Creek, Missouri. As his first major truck transformation, we feel he has created a very different “breed of cat” in record time. It will be his daily driver and certainly a pickup to catch the attention of others.

While having a 1955 Volkswagen Beetle, his first fun car, he began to getting attracted to owning a late 1960’s Chevrolet pickup. So many car and truck magazines gave John ideas on what could be done with a limited budget if you do most of the work yourself.

Here is what happened between about mid-May and late August 2016. John found a 1967 long bed ½ ton fleetside in a local advertisement. This is because he gave up trying to find a 1967-72 Chevy short step bed (what he wanted the most) as they are the more difficult bed to find. He said “I will build my own short step bed! All I need is this long bed to start the project”! This driving white long bed pickup did not last long once John got it home. It was soon disassembled to the bare frame and his major makeover was underway.

Here are some surprises you find when you take apart 50 year old pickup:

1. The fenders and doors were previously repaired and needed to be replaced and the cab corners, rocker panels, and floors were repaired by John.

2. The frame assembly above the rear axle and under the bed was rusted so much a replacement would be required. To John’s surprise, the parts he needed were the same as far back as 1960! He then found a 1963 ½ ton chassis with no bed or cab. John ended up splicing the rear half of the 63 frame with the front of the 67 frame. The replacement included cutting 12” out of the middle and 8” off the rear. Once professionally welded the pickup had the correct 1967 short wheel base length. John says that all fit together perfectly!

3. Half ton long bed. The rust was major all around the bed edges, bed bottom, tailgate, and front bed panel. All was beyond use. John could care less! This problem only allowed him to negotiate a better price when it was bought. His plans were to install a new short step bed (all the parts are now available).

4. Radio Dash Opening. This area had been cut larger to install an aftermarket sound system years ago. No problem for John. He wanted an updated radio so a Pioneer unit fit perfectly.

5. Gas Tank. He removed the behind the seat tank and added one especially for the 1967-72 ½ ton under bed and behind the differential. Advantage: He now had the space to install the many speakers for this new sound system.

6. Paint. Here was a big surprise! The truck’s attractive appearance is from less than $60.00 in Rust-Oleum satin black paint purchased at a local hardware store. With a little thinning, it was sprayed to give this nice look John wanted.

7. The Mechanicals. Here is where John was lucky. The long bed ½ ton had a good running 327 V-8 engine, original 4 speed transmission, and 3.73 ratio ring and pinion in the differential. Extra expense was adding power steering and power brakes. Of course, the driveshaft, exhaust, brake line, and brake cables had to be shortened.

8. Glass. As John got deeper into this big project he decided to replace all the glass and eliminate scratches from the past 50 years. This was made official the day he broke the original windshield trying to install it back in the truck by himself. The new replacement was installed by a glass company!

Yes, what started to be a low cost transformation changed as the need for replacement parts increased. Even so, John Toon now has a short step bed he wanted and at so much less than buying one of the same design on the open market.

Even more amazing is that John, almost with no help, could make his creation in about 3 months.

More about John Toon’s Talents:

John has a metal and wood shop that allowed him to transform his 1967 pickup. However, there is another talent that he has developed over the past 10 years. His other big enjoyment has been the bass guitar. As his talents with this guitar became very advanced, he wanted a certain style of custom made bass guitar that he could not afford. The cost of these custom made guitars is very expensive.

Therefore, he started building his own and now offers them to the general public. This has been his second job for 10 years. He markets hand crafted custom guitars at a price most can afford. The quality of workmanship, the sound and feel of his guitars place this product up with those that advertise high quality.

A touch of John’s wood working talent is also shown in his “shift knob creation” on his rebuild 1/2 ton.   It was made on his wood lathe and is oak with a black ebony center. Nice. Check John’s website for the best in bass guitars and about his 1967 step bed at: www.toonbass.webs.com

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New bright work sets off the front

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Nice Wheels. John painted the orange

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All wood parts created in John’s shop

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Completed!

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New power brakes

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Replacement Windshield

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Completed dash and new carpet

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Vinyl dye makes seat a new color!

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Speakers in space when gas tank was removed

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Last year for 1960-67 design armrest!

 



 

UNDER CONSTRUCTION – SUMMER 2016

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Bare cab after new panels
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Two frame rails welded together
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Extra side plate on frame rails for safety after welding
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The short frame completed after changeover to 1963 identical rear assembly
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Under bed replacement gas tank

AS JOHN BOUGHT IT

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The way John purchased this long bed
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Looks good until you get close

JOHN’S CREATIONS

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Tinted plastic sunvisor “See thru” to lesson glaze
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John’s Oak and Ebony shift knob
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A bungee cord woven in the chain links
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Bungee cord pulls all back in place
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John’s new side boards (His creation). He can make them for you!

One little extra John decided he needed. To give him some additional clearance with the steering wheel, he shortened the steering shaft above the “rag joint” 3 inches. Not noticeable to most!

1936 Chevrolet 1 1/2 Ton

Tuesday, November 1st, 2016

Buy Chevy & GMC Truck Parts only @ Jim Carter's Old Chevy Trucks. 1000's in stock now!

Our monthly feature truck is an 80 year old regular driver! Born in late 1936, it found a great home in mid-Missouri about 10 years ago. It was found in Western Kansas where the low humidity slows rust on metal left outside. To keep it looking much like it was found, the remaining Brewster Green paint was untouched and the surface rust from many years in the elements was also kept as is.

What is interesting is the mechanicals. They have been kept pure 1936 Chevrolet and are restored to perform as they did when they left the factory. Therefore, it cannot be given the title of a “Rat-Rod”. These usually have very up to date hidden mechanicals.

When you know the proud owner, (Mike Russell of Columbia, Missouri) you can understand why he is a real example of what the antique car and truck hobby is all about. There has never been a time since his teenage years that Mike hasn’t owned an early vehicle. In his case they were usually Chevrolets. He even brought his son, Sam, home from the hospital 37 years ago after his birth using the family’s 1935 Chevy Coupe!

This feature truck of the month project was begun because Mike had got an “itch” to have an older 1 ½ ton in about 2005. Therefore, on a Saturday in that year Mike and a friend were driving a distance to evaluate a 1940 Chevy 1 ½ ton that was advertised. During the drive they noticed a farm beside a mid-Missouri rural back road that looked like nothing had been discarded in 60 years including all their past worn out farm machinery. The surrounding grounds were loaded with rusty stuff. They got out to look just because of curiosity.

In 10 minutes looking Mike saw an interesting site in a distant field. It proved to be a 1936 Chevrolet 1 ½ ton (short 131” wheel base with 5th wheel for towing) attached to a long flatbed trailer. Both had sat in that spot for many years! One of the attached photos is just what Mike saw that day!

What became even more interesting to Mike was the attached trailer. It still had its rear gate with the large stamped letters: FRUEHAUF. He thought: It must be about as old as the truck. Could there be any others left in the world?

Mike had to have them both! No doubt the owner was very excited to sell something out of his large junk collection but of course he kept this to himself during the money negations.

So, now Mike is the new owner. The pair are soon at Mike’s business. The Show Me Powder Coating Co. in Fulton, Mo and an evaluation of this new purchase begins.

Sadly, he had to face some financial facts. The truck was too far gone to restore, unless someone was in prison and worked for .25 / hour. Otherwise Mike would have to jack up the radiator cap and place a different truck under it! Yes, at least he still had that rare Fruehauf trailer. That became the high point of the purchase.

So Mike still had his heart set on a 1 ½ ton but the hunt was narrowed to a 1936 so it will be like the one that was not restorable. The hunt begins again!

The diligent hunt ended with a find in Western Kansas where the dry air keeps rust to a minimum. The almost 500 mile one way trip would be worth the effort. This 1936 1 ½ ton had the longer 157 inch wheel base and was previously a farm truck. We will call this 1936 No. 2. It had not run for so many years but Mike knew he could fix whatever mechanical problem it needed.

The restoration of 1936 No. 2 starts. Now the money begins to go out on truck expenses such as a “total” brake rebuilding. The engine head has several burned valves. The lower end of the 207 block required most of the rod shims to be removed to create the proper clearance. The engine is cleaned painted and returned to the truck. Gauges are checked and repaired as needed. Wiring installed. New original tail lights are added. Seat cushion covers need replacements. Windshield and side window mechanisms must be repaired and lubricated, etc. etc.

Because the sheet metal was so straight for an 80 year old it was decided to create a different finished project than most would ever consider. Mike would keep it much like an above average prewar used working truck however all hidden mechanicals would be restored to new condition. He wanted no part of being broken down by the highway! Being at fault in an accident with bad brakes in what appeared to be an unrestored 1930’s truck plus his name and photo in the newspaper would not be apart of this equation.

When we asked Mike why he created a new and old combination he said “Because I wanted to!”

The original transmission and differential had not been put in operation because no running engine existed. Now the rebuilt 207 engine was almost ready and the 1936 No. 2 first drive would be soon.

Mike’s son, Sam, was drivin down from Wisconson to watch the maiden voyage on this special day that had been over a year in coming. Even though Sam had been in a bicycle accident a few years before that left him paralyzed from the chest down, he wanted to be there that day. He had excepted the fact that he would never be able to take rides in pre-war vehicles and being inside this big 1936 would be no exception.

NOT CORRECT!! Mike had other ideas on this special day! The passenger door was removed from the truck. Mike placed a piece of plywood on the forks of his company fork lift truck. Sam was raised in his wheel chair to the perfect height to slide over on the truck seat. Sam said, “I was so proud to take a real ride in the 1936 on its maiden voyage”. They made the trip around the shop in the grass and then it was driven out on the highway. All the gears in the unrestored differential and transmission worked just right!

Soon, Sam’s three young daughters each got to go for a ride, of course with no right door. It was certainly a high point for the Mike Russell family!

Mike has since become quite attached to 1936 No. 2. The weekend before the interview, he had driven it about 150 miles just for fun on the rural roads in the county. He has what he wanted: An old looking big truck that runs like the first day it left the factory.

You can contact Mike Russell by email @ ml.russell@mchsi.com

FOR MORE DATA ON MIKES 1936 NO. 2 READ ON:

Mike wanted 1936 No.2 with its 157” wheelbase to be like the original short 131” wheelbase of 1936 No. 1. It could then be given the 5th wheel from 1936 No. 1 and all would be a perfect fit for someday pulling the restored Fruehauf trailer.

This idea worked perfectly! Mike and a friend worked in his shop on a Saturday and the frame shortening was completed in less than 5 hours. Soon the 5th wheel was restored from 1936 No. 1 and all fit in place just right.

A great surprise: The longer section of 1936 No. 2’s drive shaft was easily exchanged with the shorter from 1936 No. 1. A no brainer! What a break from spending more time and money.

A very interesting feature! On the right side frame rail behind the cab is an etching added at the factory 80 years ago. It is a warning on the dangers of cutting the frame to get a longer or shorter length. This is said to still be placed on large truck frame rails today! See Photo.

WHAT ABOUT THE ALMOST ONE OF A KIND REMAINING FRUEHAUF TRAILER? This restoration is planned for the near future now that the 5th wheel assembly has been restored and moved from 1936 No.1 to 1936 No. 2. Mike gave an interesting comment about this trailer (He says this is his personal opinion but he is sure he is correct). To help sales, the Fruehauf Trailer Co. in the early years would provide the wheels and hubs for what the customer requested. Thus, the truck owner did not have to carry a second spare tire and wheel just for their trailer. Good marketing. Very interesting.

So out of curiosity, Mike asked the farm owner, “Any story on the 1936 No. 1 and its attached Fruehauf trailer?” The answer was a surprise. It was used to transport donkeys from city to city throughout the mid-west during the 1940’s and 1950’s. These animals were the center part of interest in the then popular Donkey Baseball. Before television and air conditioning, people were often entertained outside the home for their fun. When the donkeys came to town, local clubs or churches used this to help their group in local fund raising. (The donkey owners shared the gate fees with local groups) Members of the clubs on the local baseball fields were assigned a donkey to ride. Any field movement such as chasing a hit ball or running the bases had to be done while on the back of a donkey! It was great fun entertainment in a bi-gone era.

1936 No. 1 and the Fruehauf Trailer was used to move the donkeys to towns every week and thus high miles were shown on the truck’s odometer. If the wear and tear on the truck did not kill it, the final death was setting beside a fence in a farm field probably 30 years!

In the truck and trailer’s later years the Fruehauf had its sides removed to allow it to be a hay bail trailer for some local farms. The 207 engine finally gave up and the rig was set beside the farm pasture until Mike found it in 2005.

For those interested in more data on “Donkey Baseball”, check Google on your computer. There is so much to see about this game from our nation’s history.

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Shortened 1936 No. 2 attached to the Fruehauf. So much better truck than 1936 No. 1 but from a distance they look the same.

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Just like Mike found 1936 No.1

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The Fruehauf attached to 5th wheel during a turn.  Note the “tow ring” in the middle of the rear cross member on the 1936. Mike says all 1936 1 ½ tons had the bolt hole punched at the factory. If the customer wanted this accessory it would be easy for the dealer to install. Simply a nut and washer to hold the threaded stud.

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Attached Fruehauf Trailer

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It was slowly returning to the soil.

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This is the trailer tailgate on moving day with everything cleared away.

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Front of Fruehauf

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Attached 5th wheel on 1936 No. 1

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Old one-eye 1936 No. 1 ready to leave the field after Mike’s purchase

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1936 No. 2 with 157” wheel base

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1936 No. 2 with its 157” frame wheel base at a different angle

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1936 No. 2 with door removed for Sam.

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Mike taking measurements before frame shortening on 1936 No. 2

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The cut is underway

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26” of frame rail removed on 1936 No. 2

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The differential and rear frame rail after the cut on 1936 No. 2

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The 26” frame section removed

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Frame shortened to be like 1936 No. 1

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Another view of the shortened 1936 No. 2

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Rebuilt, cleaned and painted placed in 1936 No. 2

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Right Side View

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Left Side View

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Even has the accessory oil filter

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1936 Missouri license below the correct truck taillight

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Part of the new exhaust system

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Sam and his daughters on the day of the Maiden Voyage. Mike on the fork lift.

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Close to getting into the cab

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Sam’s big smile sitting by Mike. The first ride begins!

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The young ladies ready to ride!

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1936 No. 2 first drive around the building

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Restoring the 5th wheel from 1936 No. 1

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What a job!

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Installing new cloth hood lace.

ADDENDUM TO MIKE RUSSELL’S 1936 CHEVY 1 ½ TON: Even though Mike really likes his Fruehauf Trailer he could not pull it with such a long length on a daily basis. It would certainly not fit in most parking lots! When he stored the trailer he still had the attached “5th wheel” for towing. Thus, the truck cannot be used for hauling.

So in 2017, Mike’s search for a factory 1936 1 ½ ton flatbed was successful. (an after-market bed was not acceptable) Unfortunately, he found this tired bed in New York State, a long way from Mike’s house in mid-Missouri. However, knowing it might be his last chance to find another, close or far from his home, there was no choice. He saved it from the landfill!

Look at the attached photos after he added replacement wood planks and all were secured to the frame rails. How nice!

1959 Chevrolet Spartan 100

Monday, October 3rd, 2016
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 Let’s Really Talk Trucks!

Our Feature Truck of the Month series often shows the more unusual GM trucks. Most are rarely seen at special interest car and truck shows. This month is no exception! This ground up restored 2 ½ ton 1959 Chevrolet Spartan 100 is one of the very few (if any) in existence fully restored. It even goes further. It is said to be the “only” big back window cab in any condition that carries this name plate of a Spartan 100. They can’t get more one of a kind than this!

It all began over 40 years ago when Scott Phaneuf of Hatfield, Massachusetts purchased his first 1958 Chevrolet Cameo at 15 years old. This was his regular driver for several years until suddenly into his young life came the opportunity to own a well-cared for 1960 Corvette. If you are about 20 years old, what do you do? Yes, the Cameo was placed in a garage for another time in his life.

His Cameo fever came years later when his prior 1958 was brought out of storage. Scott had begun to have an interest in a major restoration of this rare truck. He wanted it just like it came from the factory.

He kept its original 283 V-8 and 3 speed column shift transmission. It became a real show stopper with its original Cardinal Red and Bombay Ivory trim.

Now, Scott’s 1958 Cameo fever had really begun. Married now, his wife Donna, had begun to like this restored family Cameo. In fact, Scott was impressed with this and he thought it was time to buy a second 1958 for Donna and make it also like a new truck. He found what he was looking for in Georgia. It had a Hydromatic transmission and rare factory power steering that pleased Donna even more. It had a great color combination, Tartan Turquoise with Bombay Ivory trim. The 283 was given a complete rebuilding as did the transmission along with every other part. Donna was a full partner in the restoration of this special Cameo. A great team effort! She now drives it from time to time and loves it, especially when it has won trophies at so many shows. This Cameo is so impressive it was a Feature Truck of the Month on Jim Carters website November 2012. It is still posted there for all to see at www.oldchevytrucks.com.

Two restored 1958 Cameos would be adequate for most, but Scott was on a roll! He had become an expert restoring 1958 Cameos, so he could not turn down the great opportunity to buy one of the rarest of colors: Kodiak Brown with Bombay Ivory trim. Kentucky was a great distance but it was one of the only remaining examples of a true Kodiak Brown Cameo. Scott has it now 90% restored and it will also be just like it left the factory including 283 V-8 and 3 speed overdrive column shift.

One day when Scott’s ‘58 Kodiak Brown restoration days were almost over, he was sitting at home looking through a special interest magazine and there it was! He was shocked with no idea this type 1958 Cameo existed! The sellers describe it as one of the two remaining with factory installed fuel injection and a hydromatic transmission. It even originally came with a great color combination:  Golden Yellow with Jet Black Trim. Yes, he was off to Arkansas and again towed another Cameo back to Hatfield. To date the restoration is 70% complete.

He recently located one other 1958 in Georgia with a very unusual color mix. It’s Bombay Ivory with Cardinal Red trim. Just reverse colors of his first 1958 he bought at 15 years old. It has a 283 with column shift 3 speed transmission. Scott originally bought it just for parts but now has decided to make it a good Cameo. He just found a ½ ton frame to replace the remaining pieces of frame that came with the truck. No formal plans on when it will be completely restored. Scott is fully involved with the other above restoration projects.

NOW FOR THE GRAND FINALE!

When you reach the level of 4 fully restored 1958 show Cameos, you have created a handicap if you enjoy showing them all at early auto & truck events. The time and expense to get them all to a show is a major consideration. Scott saw this problem coming long before all four Cameos were completed. To him it was a “no brainer”. Somehow he needed to find a Chevy tractor of those years with a fifth wheel for towing. Not an easy task! Of course, you must also locate a car hauling trailer used 50 years ago. This was is the big challenge as most older haulers have been sent to the crusher. Their weight value in steel scrap prevents them from sitting long in a salvage yard! He was worried none existed!

The hunt for a tractor continued for several years. It was so difficult to find even one in any condition and it had to be GM. Then one day, there was a 1959 Chevrolet Spartan 100 rated at 2 ½ ton and it was not even in an antique type magazine. It was advertised as in the back row of a small salvage yard in North Carolina. Scott had to have it! Being over 1,000 miles away was not an issue even with pulling it in his old dependable tow trailer.

It was “not” love at first sight but if it is the only one remaining. You cannot say no even if most restoration people would consider it a total loss.

The salvage yard owner did not mention it would be Scott’s job to remove all the tree saplings that were growing around it and through the rusted out floors. Most of the mechanicals were frozen tight from sitting in the timber so many years. The driver’s door was held on with one remaining hinge due to rust. No paint remained. Only primer and surface rust. The snakes would now lose their protection from rains! It is suspected during the 1,000 mile trip back to Massachusetts some on lookers said “why such a small trailer to haul just one vehicle to the crusher”? Once back in Hatfield a full evaluation was made of the Spartan 100. Every part needed major restoration or a total replacement. Later, it was discovered that even the rear brake drums were a total loss and no replacements were on the market. What now? Scott was able to re-drill and lightly trim newer GM truck drums so driving it safely would be possible.

To most, the effort to restore it far excided its value. However, to Scott how do you place a value on the only big back window Spartan in existence? After all, he needed this late-1950’s GM body design to blend with the Cameos he would be hauling. Thus, a total disassembly began. The four Cameos he had restored had given him so much knowledge. To undertake a project of such large proportions, this project would be just the challenge that he lives for.

It was like building a great big model kit and finding that you did not have all the parts. What a challenge! Most salvage yards had no spare used parts. Scott never gives up! With the aid of his computer, he searched over the US for needed replacement items and hoped it was what he needed when it arrived. The bare frame was totally cleaned and painted to make a place for the rebuilt motor, front suspension, 4 speed transmission, differential, brake lines, etc. The cab was totally taken apart nearby and then it also became part of the big model kit.

To make the cab extra special Scott added the exact GM stainless steel window and door trim that is the same on the Cameos. After all, as the “only” Spartan 100 big back window remaining, it should have that extra Chevrolet touch.

The 22.5” wheels are a real eye catcher. The cast iron black factory spokes with what looks like zinc plated rings. They almost look like narrow white walls!

HERE ARE SOME ADDITIONAL DETAILS OF SCOTT’S SPARTAN 100:

Cab: A “Full View” back window cab as on the top of the lines ½ ton pickups during 1955-59

Color: Dawn Blue (GM option # 707)

Engine: 348 cu in big block w/230 hp. 8 to 1 compression ratio. Scott had it totally rebuilt. It now looks and runs better than new!

Gas tank: A 141 gallon factory gas tank sits across the frame rails behind the cab and it fills on right or left side. Behind the seat is a 21.5 gallon tank with left side fill through the cab. It looks like a pickup tank but it is deeper.

Differential: 7.67:1 great for heavy pulling. It makes the Spartan love gasoline.

Tires & Wheels: 22.5” x 7.50” tubeless, cast-spoke

Weights: Curb weight 6,400#, gross weight 25,000#, pulling weight 40,000#

Wheelbase: 132” The shortest of the Spartan truck series. Just right for a 5th wheel connection.

The Nice Extra: This short wheelbase will allow it to sit beside family cars in a shopping center

Brakes: Air and fluid. If there is a fluid or air leak in the system, the brakes lock for safety!

Exhaust: All V-8 Spartans came with duel pipes and mufflers

Options (factory installed): AM radio, fresh air heater, stainless steel windshield and cab trim cab trim. Turn signals, and big back window

Accessories (dealer installed): Behind the seat package tray, outside sun visor, outside duel side
mirrors, cab roof clearance lights, and inside controlled spot lights

Four years later it is now fully restored. Hunting parts, restoring used items not otherwise available, and so much research has gone into this now “work of art”. The big block original 348 V-8 engine, without pulling a trailer, will quickly reach speeds that allows the driver to easily collect speeding tickets!

If anyone thinks Scott has more money than God to create this restored collection, he does not. It all went into one of the most unique truck collections in the world! Our hats go off to such a dedicated hard working individual that is able to follow his dream.

Here is the real surprise!  Scott left his life career job at most people’s usual retirement age about 7 years ago. This restoration hobby is his later in life enjoyment that he does so well!!

WHATS NEXT FOR SCOTT?

We probably can guess. He must also have a mid-1950’s vehicle hauling trailer to carry the Cameos. He reportedly purchased a 1964 Stewart 38 foot, 4 car capacity car hauler just like 1958. After looking at 50 year old trailers for 5 years, he found this one in Minnesota. The others he found were so bad they were not worth the effort to restore! Another rig saved from the crusher! Scott never restored a 53 year old hauler before or anything like it. There is no doubt, with his ambition, on completion it will look like it was put away in storage the day it came out of the factory!

His first trailer project will be to upgrade the brakes to a more modern system for safety. They will be connected to the Spartan brakes. If the tractor or trailer loses its fluid or air both tractor and trailer brakes lock up together.

Until the 1964 Stewart is completed, look at Scott’s rig. The Spartan and two 1958 Cameos are shown on a universal trailer on their way to a show!

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You can contact Scott Phaneuf at keyman4885@yahoo.com

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Chevrolet Accessory Package Tray (behind seat)

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1959 Chevy’s Big Block – 348 cu.in. V-8

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The compressor for the truck’s air brakes.

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The day Scott brought it home!

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Only its mother could love!

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Page from 1959 Chevrolet Salesman’s Data Book showing Scott’s Spartan 100

1951 Chevrolet COE Tow Truck

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016
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This month’s feature truck may be the only COE (cab over engine) short wheel base Advance Design Tow truck in existence! Most trucks that are tow vehicles are doomed to extinction once they begin their job of car and truck moving duties. They are worked everyday sun, rain, or snow to justify their expense of huge insurance, a driver, maintenance of the tow equipment, some jobs at night in dark places (more body damage), city and county license fees, etc.

Sheet metal rust and thus bad appearance develops as well as occasional body damage. By their 10th year most are retired. The later use of an older tow truck is limited! Their extra weight usually makes them a high candidate for the crusher.

The wrecker body on this month’s special truck was manufactured by W.T. Stringfellow Co. in Nashville, TN and installed new on the cab and chassis as received from the GM factory. We checked our computer on Google under W.T. Stringfellow and what a surprise! They show it based in Nashville, Tennessee at 125 North 12th Ave. as a corporation beginning in 1946. The company became inactive in 1987.

This 65 year old 1951 Chevrolet COE series 5100 (short 110” wheel base) is a rare tow truck survivor for one reason; It was owned from the beginning by a small Chevrolet dealership in Lyndon, Kansas. It was always stored inside and kept very clean to make a good impression to their Chevrolet customers. Plus it was only used for towing duties for this dealership, not a full time hauler.

It has been owned by Jim Carter of Jim Carter Truck Parts in Independence, Missouri for almost 25 years. (He found it beside a vendor booth at the annual Lawrence, Kansas Swap Meet and drove it home 60 miles) It has since been kept out of bad weather. Jim said, “We saved this big rig from eventually going to see God”. It is now a little part of our country’s history!

The first 6 months of owning it, Jim, plus the help of nearby Jerry’s Chevy Restoration Shop, stripped out the interior and put back to the new exact factory appearance. They even added the factory radio and fresh air heater. Paint was polished to a high shine and a few appropriate metal repairs were made. The towing rig on the back (yes, it operates like new) was sanded, primed and painted in white as the Chevrolet dealer had it so many years ago. The long decorative stainless rails on each side of the wrecker body were polished to a mirror finish.

Jim used this fancy tow vehicle every few weeks during the first years of owning it. Believe it or not, it was a fun pleasure vehicle but occasionally did a few actual tow duties. Jim says one of the most remembered moments occurred during my “single years” while driving this restored tow truck. On a casual date with ladies for the first time, it created quite
a surprise when this truck drove up to their home. “What is that?” was just the beginning of their comments, especially as they climbed up the steps to reach the cab. They loved it!

Another special memory was the attempt to find a parking space during a major local event. Thousands of cars were there and the closest parking lot to the event was full. “When I drove the tow truck by that full lot, attendants immediately dropped the ropes at the entrance and allowed my truck to enter! Yes, they actually thought I was there to tow a stranded car. What a hoot!”

Driving a COE like this is a real fun experience. Not only is it a great eye catcher but you look down on all the cars that are now smaller in today’s world! We refer to our special wrecker as “The Blue Hooker!”

Get ready for real memories if you drive on a rough gravel or dirt road. Even if you ride over a section of damaged concrete or asphalt on an otherwise smooth surface, the stiff suspension springs give very little movement when not hauling weight so a big bounce can be a part of the action. Wear a pad under your cap if you want to protect your head from the top of the cab!

Before Jim purchased the COE, almost 30 years ago the original low pressure 235 six cylinder engine had been replaced with the next series, a 235 high oil pressure engine. This gives it the additional horse power that makes it better in driving this 6,500 pound short wheelbase COE on the highway. Oh yes, it has a wheel base close to a VW Beetle so you can put it beside other cars in a shopping center parking lot.

One other feature! All the towing controls are in the cab. If you are ask to tow a car by yourself, you must personally climb up into the cab several times to safely and correctly lift the vehicle on its two wheels. Yes, drivers did this many times every day in the 1950’s and earlier. We doubt if there were any complaints. 15 years earlier, drivers would have used a “hand crank” on the side of the wrecker body. Yes, both ways rolled the cable onto the spool behind the cab and lifted a car or truck on its two wheels for towing.

The new “modern” way of lifting a vehicle (using the “Power Take-off on the side of the 4 speed transmission) allowed middle age drivers extra years of work before being forced to retire because of the difficult hand cranking!

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The license say it all!

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Hood up!

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It made the cover of “Pickup ‘n Panels” magazine in August 1996

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Split Rims with white painted edges. Looks like whitewalls!

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Lay on the ground to get this photo

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A close-up of the wrecker body. Even has the “tool box” attached to the floor.

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These photos are from the “Salesman’s Data Book” that was issued to all salesman at the Chevrolet dealerships. This page features the 110” wheelbase COE as it would have been received by the Chevrolet dealer in Lyndon, Kansas. A short time later they installed the wrecker body ordered from the W.T. Stringfellow Company. All has remained as a package for 65 years.

Early 1947 Chevy 1/2 Ton

Saturday, July 30th, 2016
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What a one of a kind early 1947 Chevy ½ ton! Joe Haney of Independence, Missouri decided to use his skills to create an older Chevy pickup that would be nothing like anyone had ever seen. At the same time he would keep the project to a level that would be within his budget. Fortunately, Joe’s mechanical talents and love of older vehicles allowed him to do so much of his own work over several years. Attending many local car shows gave him numerous ideas to pick from while making plans for his creation.

Joe purchased this little ½ ton in 1993 and then kept it in his large home garage 12 years until the time was right during his retirement. To make it so unique over other modified 1941-1946 pickups, Joe bought a 1985 Chevy S-10 just to get the frame. The only S-10 parts he used from the pickup were the frame, gas tank, master cylinder, tilt steering column, and disc brakes.

Some of the other items used from other sources were a 1991 Chevy 350 V-8, a 1979 350 hydro-matic transmission, and a rear differential assembly from a 1980 Chevelle.

The bed is home built except for the front bed panel and tailgate. At first adding a 1947 bed to an S-10 frame seemed next to impossible but Joe never gives up. Here the old saying applies “If you have lemons, make lemonade”.

The problem with the S-10 frame is the side rail rear hump over the rear axle. They and the shock towers raised the bed too high. Thus, using this S-10 frame raised the bed too high. The appearance made the truck look totally out of proportion. Joe made corrections that gave a great custom appearance. It makes this 1947 an eye catcher at all the local shows. He raised the bed floor almost 40% higher than original to be above these stock towers. The following photos show what makes it so unique.

When the full height tail gate is opened, a horizontal oak plank fills the created opening on the end. Nice touch!

The interior is a money saving creation that looks so good! Joe spent time in local auto salvage yards to find just the right seat cushion that fits correctly in the cab’s small area. He found the answer in the third seat in a 1990 Ford mini-van. It’s amazing how well it connects to the seat riser and is slightly away from the doors. He then found one from Ford’s top of the line mini-van which has a leather pleated seat. All the interior was then coordinated with the color of this seat.

Look at the texture coating on the two-tone door panels. What an excellent idea! Trucks had painted metal interior door panels but not this nice!

The oak bed planks are also a Joe project! And oak overhead and floor custom console he made greatly adds to the interior appearance.

Look at the very dark wood that secures the gauges. Yes, Joe cut and drilled it to just the right size. These later gauges look just like they belong there!

COMPLETE AND READY FOR SHOWS

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Complete plus the shop where it happened

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All fits just right!

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Headlight close-up

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These Alloy wheels certainly add to the appearance

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View from the back

UNDER CONSTRUCTION

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Cab complete

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Nice firewall with no extra holes

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Fitting the new grill between the fenders

INTERIOR

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Leather seats do not have to be expensive!

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Lower oak console

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Upper oak console

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Joe’s special made gauge

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Insulating the doors

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Speckle Paint

BED CHANGES

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Raised bed floor. Its hauling days are over!

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The 1947 bed floor was raised because of the S-10 high hump frame

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Joe made his own bedsides

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Gas add location to S-10 tank

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Oak horizontal plank fills the gap

REAR FENDER REPAIRS

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Patching required if you want real metal fenders

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More patching. Joe did it all

JUST THE WAY JOE FOUND IT

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The end

1953 GMC Deluxe Panel Truck

Thursday, June 30th, 2016
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Ever hear of an older vehicle being bought on its way to the metal crusher? Our feature truck this month was one of those saved from the recycler to later become one of the most attractive panel trucks in the country!

The savior of this 1953 GMC panel truck is Max and Margaret Davis of Columbia, Tennessee. They are the owners of Possum Holler Garage one of the premier 1947-55 Chevrolet / GMC truck restoration companies.

Finding this panel truck was a “freak occurrence” while at a special interest vehicle auction. Possum Holler Garage had several of their trucks in line for the bidding, when a person stopped by and asked if they had an interest in a 1953 panel truck that he was taking to be pulverized in a few days. If they did he would sell it for the metal price of $300.00!

Of course, they bought it on the spot! It was soon setting behind their restoration shop with other unrestored Advance Design trucks to be rebuilt. When the right enthusiast asks for a restored truck, Possum Holler will often sell them a truck they have at their shop and then restore it how the customer wants or restore the customer’s vehicle. Surprise, this panel truck was in waiting less than two weeks before a person bought it and requested they rebuild it as a real eye catcher.

Of course, as these photos show, it had to be disassembled to the bare frame and then assembled piece by piece. It is now owned by Larry’s Country Diner in Nashville, Tennessee. Plans are to place it in front of the diner to attract people’s attention. No doubt, it will increase the diner’s walk-in customers immediately everyday it is on display.

Possum Holler Garage used Larry’s color suggestions and a later model drive train. The modern Chevrolet V-8 and automatic transmission even has air conditioning! It can easily get its share of speeding tickets!

A few things that are a real “stand-out” on this panel truck is the two-tone paint, outside sun visor, white wall tires, and all the chrome.

Possum Holler even turned it into a deluxe panel truck by not only having all the chrome but installing the correct 12 stainless steel fender trims and the pair of long front fender spears. (Yes, deluxe panel truck trim is now on the market in limited quantities). The total package is a real “head turner” on the road or sitting beside Larry’s Country Diner.

POSSUM HOLLER GARAGE CO. DATA:

Established in 2009, their first GM pickup truck was for the famous George Jones, one of the top country singers of the 1960’s through 1990’s. This truck now sits in a country music museum in Nashville, TN.

During the past 7 years they have restored 60 vehicles for customers over the USA. If you want yours or one of their 1947-55 GM trucks restored with top quality, contact Possum Holler Garage. Email @ mxdavis1@earthlink.net

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As they bought it

UNDER CONSTRUCTION

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Disassembly Begins

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Media-blasing the Insides

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Body Complete (What a clean shop)

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After Body Painting

ALMOST FINAL PHOTOS

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Near Completion

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Fenders Installed

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Detail Work

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Checking Door Alignment

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Almost Complete

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Look at that Trim!

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Making it ready for fenders and grill

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Front vocal point

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One of the best in the Country!

1949 GMC 3/4 Ton Pickup

Thursday, May 26th, 2016
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This special Advance Design pickup has come a long way from its early life on a Mid-Missouri farm. Owned and restored by Dale Jacobs of Dallas, Texas, this 1949 GMC ¾ ton has been down to the frame and came out just a little nicer than new.

It’s the old story. It looked very nice and ran just as well but a little extra touch would make it a nicer pickup. Well, the more he got into areas, the more he saw things that just were not quite right. After all it was a farm work truck for so many years. Before long you are tired of seeing so many imperfections, you check your bank account, and say “Let’s just make it a new truck”. It will only take time and money! It was taken down to the bare frame (the easiest part) and the building of the oversize model kit begins.

This four year project involved doing much research, making local new restoration contacts, and learning so much about early GMC’s.

Over the years Dale has owned several “special interest vehicles” including a 1954 Corvette. (Lucky guy!) However, he has always had a hidden desire for a pickup. Thus, this GMC became his project.

Dale’s ¾ ton has the optional 17” split rim wheels instead of the stock 15”. (These were original on the 1 ton pickup of these years). The extra 2” gives the truck a higher top end speed and lowers the engine RPM. Good during daily in-town driving.

Another very unique fixture is the intake manifold, mentioned in Dale’s article below. The original single barrel carburetor intake center hole was blocked off. Then front and rear carburetor receiver openings were installed to hold a pair of two-barrel Stromberg’s. It operates excellent and is probably the only one of its kind in the world! What an eye catcher! He says it easily cruises at almost 70 mph!

The following is a few of the special features Dale wrote about on his GMC. No doubt it is an overview and is the “tip of the iceberg” of all he has done to make it such an attractive well-appointed truck.

Dale’s Personal Story:

A 4 year “frame off” TOTAL restoration of this “numbers matching” GMC 3/4 ton pickup.
The “Ron Kelly Designs” complete rebuild of this original drivetrain and chassis included the GMC 228 engine long block (.08 over rebore), head, flywheel, clutch, 4-speed on the floor transmission with “granny” gear, drive shaft and rear end, all dynamically balanced. Modifications to improve performance include full-flow oil filtering, dual 2-barrel Stromberg carburetors adaptation to original intake manifold with new linkage, and Fenton dual exhaust headers with custom muffler routing.

The chassis rebuild involved frame powder coating, front and rear spring leafs with helpers, Delco lever arm shocks, duel master cylinder brake system, front end and steering linkage with drive box.

The electrical system conversion to 12 volts included the original Delco starter and generator, regulator, new Mallory dual point distributor and coil, new wiring harness, 4 corner lighting with halogen headlights and turn signaling. A new water pump, radiator with expansion cylinder and hoses improve the cooling system.

All body panels were COMPLETELY disassembled and, along with the cab, subjected to a strip and de-rust total immersion process. Reassembly with new fasteners was preceded by extensive applications of epoxy and urethane primers and initial custom lacquer paint then followed by final lacquer paint and clear coatings.

Cab restoration involved new door handles, hinges and panels, headliner with insulation, sun visors, gauge cluster and speedometer, vintage GMC reproduction stereo AM/FM radio and 7 new glass windows allowing a surround view. The air flow heater with control valve and defroster ducts, vacuum wiper motor with linkage, fuel tank with new sender, and all pedal controls were also restored to original specifications. Traversing seat with era appropriate new upholstery allows comfort with a vintage signature. Firewall, roof, floor and doors all received sound deadening applications.

Finishing touches include the re-chromed original grill, badging, radiator fan and added dual trumpet horns. Color coordinated powder coated engine side and valve covers enhance the engine bay. Also evident are new bumpers with valences, vintage Unity spot and fog lights, chromed fuel tank linkage, and powder coated original split rim wheels with new 750-17 tires. An eye-catching top grade oak bed and side rails with stainless linings and fasteners complete this classic restoration.

If you have questions on Dale’s special GMC pickup, his email is drj86wr@aol.com.

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Here it Comes!

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Open for Viewing

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Correct 9 Board Bed

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Standing Tall on 17″ Wheels

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Even a Right Side Spotlight

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Excellent Oak Side Racks

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Yes, Dual Exhaust. Neat!

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Extra Stake Pocket on 3/4 Ton

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150 Represents 3/4 Ton

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Good View of Right Side Hardware

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Original ID Plate

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Door Restored Just Right

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Side View of Interior

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Nice Dash

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Gauge Color is GMC Only

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Modern Radio Looks Original

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Heater and Spot Light Switch

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Like New!

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Two Carbs on a Single Barrel Manifold

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Dual Horns Will be an Attention Getter for Pedestrians

1959 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton

Friday, April 29th, 2016
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What a Deal! When the term “Only One in the World” is used in the automotive world, this special 1959 Chevrolet ½ ton Fleetside short bed should be near the top of the list. There is none like this one!

The owner and creator is Sam Caudle of Independence, Missouri. Using GM as the original designer, Sam became a subcontractor for its second coming.
Part of its 13 year rebuilding was spent by Sam in researching (GM Manuals, attending early truck shows, subscribing to truck magazines, etc.) on just how it could be made into a pickup he had always dreamed of.

This is Sam’s creation! It is a natural for our Feature Truck of the Month.

The dream began to develop prior to 2003 while he was still on his 40 hour/week job. A 1959 Chevy ½ ton was his daily transportation and he began to get serious on just how he would redesign it when he retired. A life’s dream was in the making!

And then in a split second, it was over. An automobile missed a stop sign and Sam with his truck were almost totaled. Yes, Sam lived. His 59 ½ ton, hit in the side, did not. Usable truck parts were the right door and bedside plus its grill.

While Sam healed he decided this would not stop his dreams. It was too developed in his mind. He would make a comeback and be stronger than ever. Therefore, this is the story of the “next” 1959 in Sam’s life!

This Time a newer more modern vehicle would take him to work. Sam’s next 1959, found locally, was in one way even better than his first. It had a large rear window! This 1959 would now be kept in his home where it was safe.

Thirteen years have passed since he found his second 1959 ½ ton. The disassembly and then careful rebuilding has been his main hobby all that time. If he had to wait to save his money for the next part of his creation he would just wait and study truck manuals and restoration books for the next step. Time was not an issue.

The little ½ ton’s unveiling occurred early this year. What a show it causes! That’s why it just had to be our Feature Truck of the Month! The following is a few of the areas that makes Sam’s 1959 such a real show stopper.

BODY: Basically stock. Emblems removed and a non-lettered tailgate makes many armature onlookers just wonder if its sheet metal has been shaped and formed into a one-off pickup.

SUNVISOR: The outside sunvisor above the windshield looks a little different from those often seen on these years. Then we discovered why. Sam cut the width down almost four inches. It might allow more sun in the cab but so what. It has a new modern air conditioning system from the Old Air Company!

INTERIOR: Passenger car seat allows the back rest to tilt forward. This gives access to the space behind. Late model steering column adds turn signals and tilt wheel.

The special padding throughout the interior reminds one of a deluxe car in appearance.

Look at the dash. A GMC dash perfectly replaces the original Chevrolet. Sam liked the GMC gauge placement so much better. Yes, the original heater control dash panel now operates a new modern air conditioning and heater system. It’s not easy to make the lever connection from an old heater to a new air/heater combination. Much time and planning on this one. Remember, time was not an issue with Sam. He was going to have it finished his way-a tasteful blend of modern and a 55 year old pickup.

BED: Sam’s 1959 is the second year for the GM Fleetside pickup. On the sides he has the bed stainless horizontal strips that were available for only this one year and only the top of the line model.

This bed is 6 foot length which results in the shorter 115 inch wheelbase. Look at that oak bed floor. A piece of furniture!

The mirror polished bed strips, without holes are a recent introduction in the pickup market Nice!

ENGINE: This is one of the top focal points of the truck. Sam’s goal was to get the best performance from a Chevrolet 250 cubic inch inline six cylinder engine. (Used by GM from the mid 1960’s to the mid 1980’s) He had read articles of the high power that is possible from a GM 250 six cylinder so he decided to reach that level.

Some of his six cylinder rebuilding includes a performance cam shaft and milled head to raise the compression ratio to 9.5. Yes, it now likes premium full. Of course, balancing all engine moving parts beyond GM’s specifications was a necessity.

This all blends nicely with a 4 barrel 450 cfm (cubic feet per minute) Edelbrock Performance Carburetor. It attaches to a Clifford intake manifold that is made just for the 250 engine. (Sam is considering adding a 390 cfm Holly carb to eliminate excess gasoline in the engine and losing some unburned fuel) An electronic ignition is pure GM and was a drop-in from an early 1980’s six cylinder 250 engine.

To add another 20 horse power Sam arranged the power steering, air conditioner, water pump, and alternator, to operate on one late model serpentine belt. Of course, some pulleys also needed updating to accept the newer serpentine system.

What is the result of all these engine modifications? When taking a drive with Sam and then returning to home base all that could be said was WOW! This little truck could out run a telegram! Sam was reminded that he needed pads on the rear window to prevent glass breakage when his head hit it during fast acceleration!

FRONT SUSPENSION: The front suspension as well as the frame rails to the pickup body are a transplant from a 1975 Camaro. This “clip” makes lowering it 8 inches not difficult (many aftermarket systems available) and all is factory ready for items such GM disc brakes.

REAR SUSPENSION: Instead of the factory 7 leaf rear spring Sam changed it to 3 leafs. This helped it to lower the bed 6.5 inches.

The big change of removing 4 leafs required another addition. Sam’s pickup has air bags! This catches the frame if the three spring leaves do not. As one change leads to another, the next problem to cover was the width of the air bags. NOTE the 6 inch wider wheel tubs. This makes room for these necessary accessories.

TRANSMISSION: The tried and proven GM 700 R4 automatic overdrive transmission just fills the bill. A nice bolt in with a 250 six cylinder as well as a small block V8.

NOTE: Sam preferred not to have the usual floor shifter used by most street rodders. He created metal arms that could be properly moved by a column shift lever and look more from the 1950’s. This little touch is not often seen with vehicles on this level. Another of Sam’s creations!

BRAKE SYSTEM: All wheel disc brakes! The front easily connected to the front frame rail assembly of the 1975 Camaro front frame section. It was the rear disc brakes that required some extra modification and were not a total bolt-on. Sam used the rear differential assembly from a 1978 Nova and then added to it the disc brake assembly from a 1991 Pontiac Trans-Am.  In that way, all brakes are GM. An extra project was to get the total assembly to attach safely and correctly to the leaf springs. The firewall mounted master cylinder, connected to modern swing pedals, was also a GM unit used from a full disc brake car.

SUMMARY: This is an overview of a few features of Sam’s “one of a kind” ½ ton. Some would say “This Must be the Tip of the Iceberg” in what was done and time spent. After 13 years, he can now enjoy the results of his research and personal involvement in this major project. Now retired, Sam will finally have more time to Have Fun!

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Short and Wide

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Lettering Relates to Sam’s Second 1959

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Big Back Window

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No Tailgate Lettering

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Air Bags Require Wide Tubs

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Deluxe Rear Bed Side Trim, Very Rare!

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Car Seat Forward Allows Extra Space Access

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Trimmed Accessory Sunvisor. Nice!

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Well Done

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Great Two-Tone Combination!

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Cab Steps. Perfect!

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Special Seat Upholstery!

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Modern Gauges & Steering Wheel

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Under Dash Air Outlet Assembly Fits Perfect

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More Dash Views & Modern Carpet

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The GMC Dash. A Perfect Fit into a Chevrolet Cab

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Not One Side of a V-12 Engine. It’s All 6 Cylinder!

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Edelbrook Carb on a Clifford Intake

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Clifford Valve Cover

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All In One Photo

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Air Conditioning. The American Way!

1938 GMC Cab Over, Roll-Back

Thursday, March 31st, 2016
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Wow! Here’s what you can do with a 2 ton 80 year old truck that has become almost beyond repair! Glenn Garrison of Germanton, North Carolina decided to build a roll back truck that was one of a kind. He wanted something no one else would have and yet could do car hauling duties as well as others.

When he saw this (almost only 1938 GMC Cab-Over-Engine 1 ½ ton survivor) he got very interested. It was so far from his home but he had never seen one before!

This rare 1938 GMC Cab-Over-Engine (COE) was in Kimball Nebraska (over 1,800 miles from his shop). It was once a city work truck and still had their ID plate attached to the door post. He had to have it! After having it transported the long distance to his shop, in Germanton, NC. he began to make serious plans to make a major transition. The badly used bed and mechanicals would be discarded and much money would be spent to bring the sheet metal and interior to new condition. Even the original GMC color, Narva Green (1938-52) was used on the exterior.

During the restoration Glenn found a downer truck to receive the now immaculate cab and front sheet metal. The choice was a 1998 GMC 6500 two ton.  The restoration continued now on the newer vehicle with cleaning and replacing parts plus finding a roll back chassis bed.  It also was restored and finished with shiny black paint.

What a project! Fortunately, Glenn has excellent abilities in repairing vehicles as was certainly needed during this project. Just getting the 1938 cab to align with the 1998 chassis was a real project!

As a part time restoration project (work duties had to continue) it took Glenn 5 years to complete this project.

It is now well recognized in Germantown. For those not acquainted with the mechanical side of trucks, now assume Glenn has come to tow their car with a 75 years old truck! You can contact Glenn by email at skgarrison@windstream.net.

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When first received. Looks like someone found some “get-by” headlights!

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1998 GMC T6500, 3116 Cat Engine 250hp, 6 Speed Manuel Transmission, Air Brakes

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Under Construction!

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Look Inside!

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The Finished Product.

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Still Beautiful, over 10 years later,

1951 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton Pickup

Tuesday, March 1st, 2016
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One of the lowest mile over 50 year old trucks in existence! A great example of what an older truck was like when it first came off the assembly line. It is owned by Gerald Cooper of Manassas, Virginia. He has almost 50 early vehicles in his collection but this ½ ton is a special vehicle to him. It is so untouched. Few of his collection can come close to being this factory original!

It was bought new by a relative in Pennsylvania and used mostly for hauling trash to a nearby landfill plus a few miscellaneous local projects. When Gerald bought it in 1993 it had 4,620 miles on its odometer. Since then it has mostly been in storage as he has other early vehicles in his collection to drive. It currently shows 6,105 due to taking it to some car shows and very limited pleasure drives. The great condition plus the miles shown on the oil change door post stickers all go along with the odometer being correct.

With these miles, it is understandable that it has the original Swifts Red paint. With polishing and a few touch-ups, the paint looks very good. The wheels were the item needing improvement. They were sanded, repainted and now look as good as the body paint. It is a standard cab (not deluxe pickup) because of no rear corner windows and painted outer grill bars.

One major accessory is the Chevrolet dealer installed heater. Of course, it was certainly needed by the first owner in Pennsylvania with their cold winters. The other accessory is the GM by-pass filter attached to the intake manifold.

Amazing! It still has its factory installed 600 x 16 tires. They are cracked in places but have never gone flat. This explains that the ½ ton was usually in storage and out of the hot summer sun.

Two non-GM accessories are the back-up light and add-on turn signals. These directional lights were added later by the owner to give more ease in driving. (Turn signals were not an option in 1951) However, it was during the late 1950’s that many private companies offered this add-on accessory kit. Usually sold at auto supply stores.

These rare low mileage trucks have a great plus for the perfectionist. If there is any disagreement on what is correct in a total original restoration trucks like this little 1951 ½ ton will give the answers.

You can contact Gerald@thestevepetty@gmail.com.

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The 1949 to 1952 standard cabs usually had body color grill bars and white back-splash.
(See our website Grill Restoration tech article at www.oldchevytrucks.com)

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Original 1951 tires, 600 x 16. Still no flats!

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All original Swifts Red. Note: the GM by-pass oil filter on the intake manifold.

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Painted gas cap to match the body. Correct?

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The original one left side taillight (as it left the factory)

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Maroon door panels to match the seats. Just right!

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A perfect example of a factory dash. The horizontal strips are just right.
(See our tech article on this on our website. www.oldchevytrucks.com
Under interior)

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Excellent Maroon vinyl seat covering.

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All “bone stock” except the accessory turn signal switch.

1953 Chevrolet Canopy Express

Friday, February 5th, 2016
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For the First Time – Two in a Row!

While the Feature Truck article for January 2016 was being developed, we noticed an additional very special vehicle in Greg Fanning’s collection. His photos showed another eye-catcher, one of the rarest of the 1947-55 Advanced Design truck series. This is the now almost extinct “Canopy Express”. We doubt if even 100 remain out of thousands that were once produced annually!
After being used several years by their first owner, they had limited value to later buyers. Few used car dealers even wanted them in their inventory. Now the tables are reversed. They have become about the most valuable body style of AD Truck Series!

Check Greg’s Personal Story:

“Did you cut the sides out of your panel truck?”….You can’t imagine the number of times I’ve heard that question. Inevitably, it is usually followed by “I’ve never seen one of those before.”….. A rare, yet very historical fact that comprises this ‘Advanced Design’ Canopy Express from General Motors was, and although preceded by other canopy manufacturers, GM brought this AD line out to facilitate the delivery of consumables to the neighborhood buying public. In the late forties and early fifties the ‘big box’ grocery stores had not yet arrived so ‘hucksters’ as they were called, wanted a vehicle to take the product to the consumer. Hence the open sided panel was designed. However, I have had some very interesting discussions with trades people like plumbers and electricians that used this vehicle because of the ease of compartmentalizing their diverse parts inventory.

This particular vehicle came my way after attending a ‘Utilities’ conference in Denver. A power lineman from Pueblo put me on to a co-worker who had originally secured this Express for his retirement so he and his wife could sell oranges from his groves at various local farmers markets. Sadly, a personal setback caused him to park the truck in his garage as it ‘conjured up bad memories’ as he put it.

I hopped in my truck, hooked up the trailer and left Vernon, British Columbia, Canada and a 2700 mile, three day turnaround to Palisade Colorado and back, I was in my driveway with a new toy. Very quickly, those bad memories of the previous owner have become fond ones for me. Although very drivable, I felt that much work had to be done to bring this fifteen or so year old ‘restoration’ to my standards. If not the condition, at least the ‘Sea Crest’ (gag-me green) color had to go.

One of these plumbers had an interesting story about one of the major drawbacks of this body design. It appears that the front cab floor was particularly subject to extreme rust depending on how you parked at the end of a days’ work. Under each front ‘folding bucket seat’, if you chose both seats, was a tool compartment each with its own cover, not unlike the battery cover lid, only longer. The outer cab floor was contoured to a low point drain hole, but, if you failed to park slightly uphill during rainy periods, the water flowed forward after leaking through the back canvas tent and sides. You may notice the factory tool kit and tools in my picture, the canvas bag, usually wrapped in plastic, would vibrate down predominantly rough roads, slide over the drain hole causing a swimming pool and of course floor rot. This particular vehicles floor was covered in ‘stove pipe tar’ which trapped the moisture but it eventually rusted through as shown, so I did a complete front floor replacement. The rear floor was factory 7/8 in. single piece construction grade plywood, which made it difficult to slide in between the cross members. Single board installation was an option, but, you needed the two outer boards around the wheel wells to be a minimum of 11 ¾ in. wide and 7/8 in. thick. Tough to find or custom cut. As luck would have it, I came upon some African dark mahogany that fit the requirements, and I think spruced it up a bit.

I was especially happy to secure this model with the ‘end board and rear inside cab window’ separator. Although usually a northern (cooler) state option, it is removable if desired and many farmers chose to not have the rear cab divider and optional passenger bucket seat to facilitate hauling more product. You may notice in the pictures, instead of the usual fruit and produce in the bins, I have chosen to display an array of original GM parts that I have managed to acquire over the years. An eye catcher and well received by the old car buffs at the vintage car shows. In its inaugural vintage show, it captured ‘Best Restoration’ from a fleet of 600 plus entries….very satisfying reward for endless hours of enjoyment.

Not quite finished the ‘Resto’ yet, hence the purchase of the 2 ‘Sargent Fender Stripes’ from Jim Carter Truck Parts….as yet I have not been able to muster the courage to DRILL the 36 required holes in my factory flawless fenders…..probably this spring when the weather improves.

There is so much more that could be said about these vehicles, but I’ll leave you with one parting thought. Many theories exist as to the downfall of these unique members of the “carry-all” design. The one that intrigues me, although the saddest for mankind, was referred to me by that plumber I mentioned earlier. It was his recollection that the Canopy Express met its demise because of the ease of access. If left unattended, it was simply too easy to either undo the snaps or as he recalled, cut the tent with a knife to ‘steal’ the contents. A sad testament to humanity on such a beautiful design.

Thanks again Jim, it’s a pleasure participating in your ‘Feature Truck of the Month’ article…….Greg

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“Side Canvas Up” with display boxes

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Greg’s boxes filled with NOS Chevy Parts

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Chevy parts on display

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New floor wood

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Accessory sun visor

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A 235 Chevy six cylinder

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Under Construction

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Down to the Bare Bones

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Tailgate, etc. removed

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New Burgundy Maroon Paint

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New Floors

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Optional Passenger Seat Tipped Up. Note: Tool Box and Nearby Black Lid.

1953 GMC 1 Ton Pickup

Monday, January 4th, 2016
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Just a quick note and story for you Jim and a big “thank you” to Jim Carter Truck Parts for all the support while doing my rebuild, couldn’t have done it without you guys…..Greg Fanning, Province of British Columbia, Canada.

Well, I guess I should begin this dialogue by saying what an honor it is to have been asked to contribute a story of one of the vehicles in my fleet.

It all started during my career as a power lineman for the major utility, BC Hydro. The job required that I travel extensively building power lines around the Province of British Columbia, Canada. I began to find various old trucks and numerous parts in remote areas, so during after work hours while away from the family, it became a hobby of sorts.

This particular vehicle, a 1953 one ton dump pickup was brought to my attention by a lineman buddy from Saskatchewan, a couple of Provinces to the east of British Columbia.

One Sunday night after overstaying my welcome at the local watering hole the night before, I called this old farmer that my buddy had told me about. He was an acquaintance of his family and had bought this truck new in 1953 to haul grain. That same Sunday that I called was also Halloween in early 2000. The old boy was home that night and said he was only available the next day, so 2 hours later I was airborne and 3 hours after that I was 770 miles from home in a motel waiting to be picked up the next morning.

The truck was sitting in the field looking so tired after 50 years of hauling grain with its five foot high wooden box sides and end gate with a discharge chute for dumping. Interesting point here, my buddy always told me that if I ever bought an old grain truck in the prairies, be sure to ask about the tailgate and the hubcaps. Why I asked? The reply was instant “The tailgate was always removed to accommodate the built up intake at the grain elevators and the hubcaps were removed because of loss while pounding down the predominantly gravel farm roads….both were usually hung on the BARN WALL”.

After a thorough walk around, oil check, and a fire up, that old 235 cu. in. Thriftmaster, with its 17500 miles just purred to life. People always want to argue, and still say that motor is a 216 cu. in. because of the two “acorn nuts” peering up through the valve cover and that the first “oil pressured” 235 engine didn’t come out until 1954. Actually, in Canada, the first oil pressured 235’s were rolled off the assembly line late in 1953 using the old valve cover and rocker arm posts. Not until the first FULL year in 1954, did they bolt the valve cover directly to the head.

I asked the old boy what he had to have for his “old friend”, and without hesitation he replied “Exactly what I paid for it in 1953, $1,730.00”…. I handed him the money, (never leave home without it) and signed the deal. Then I asked, “What about the tailgate and hub caps?”… “Holy, it’s a good thing you asked” he said, “I took them off brand new and hung them on the barn wall”…..WOW, there they were flawless.

“Will this old girl get me home?” I said, “I have to be at work tomorrow”. His response was “It doesn’t leak, it doesn’t burn oil, and it doesn’t boil over”. Eleven hours and ½ quart of oil later, I was rolling in my driveway with a smile from ear to ear, a new toy and a new friend.
I did a ground up, end to end restoration that spring and still enjoy driving this old girl every summer…….can’t beat a GMC — G-reater M-ade C-hevrolet.

You may contact Greg Fanning @ gmcgreg@shaw.ca

ADENDUM:

Why a Dump Bed?

These were used by the thousands in wheat country of Canada and the U.S. It is part of our farm history 50 years ago. During the harvest these extended pickups would be in the fields and receive wheat from combines (pulled by tractors) that had gathered a full load of grain. (At one time our feature truck even had tall wood sides that fit in the stake pockets. In this way, even more wheat could be taken to the local elevators during each trip) They then loaded the wheat to haul to local grain elevators and sold. After harvest season, these pickups could be used on farms for other duties.

Manufactures sold kits that could be installed under the truck bed. On Greg’s one ton, it included a hydraulic pump that operated from the “power taken off” of the factory 4-speed transmission. This pump forced the hydraulic cylinders to dump the bed. Of course, the bed used a pivot or hinge on the rear to hold it during its rising and lowering.

Another unique feature of these wheat harvest pickups was their tailgate. Most all original gates were replaced with a custom made grain tight gate that had a small slide-up door for dumping the wheat as the bed raised.

At the end of harvest season the correct tailgate could be placed back on the pickups. In many cases the replacement gate was never removed from the truck once installed!

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Greg’s Collection

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1952 Chevrolet Tanker Truck

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015
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Seeing a small tanker vehicle like our feature truck this month brings back memories from another era in our country’s history. It was a time of smaller family farms that dotted the country by the millions. Usually one medium size tractor was adequate for the planting and harvesting of the numerous crops these farms produced.

Suppliers of petroleum products in the towns soon realized the opportunities that existed when they delivered fuel and oil to small farms. Most farmers had no time or the hauling equipment to drive to town and get fuel and lubricant.

Thus, when horses were replaced with tractors, a whole new industry emerged. The smaller farms delivery tanks trucks became a common site in farming communities and in the country. Their tanks were usually divided into three compartments for fuel oil, gasoline, and motor oil. At the small farm was usually a few 55 gallon drums the farmer used to fill his tractor. The tanker truck from town added the amount of fuel and oil as the farmer requested either by phone or during the shopping day in the nearby community. Even many homes were heated with fuel oil. This gave the petroleum dealers more income with in-town deliveries.

Our December feature truck is just one of these vehicles. Now small tanker trucks are almost non-existent! The owner and restorer of this unusual truck is Charles Shook of North Richland Hills, Texas. His 1952 Chevrolet ¾ ton carries an 8 foot long 390 gallon capacity tank with three chambers.

NOTE: The long tool box on the left side. Every small farm delivery tanker had to have one. It held all basic wrenches and related tools the driver needed to transfer petroleum products through a hose to the farmer’s small tanks. Charles copied the original but used very attractive pecan wood.

This tank was made in 1937 by the Columbian Steel Tank Company in K.C. Mo. (still in business) This older tank would have been correct on a 1952 truck as they outlasted their first vehicle and would be moved to a different chassis over the years. It still fills the farmer’s smaller drums by gravity. No need for a pump if their drums were lower than the delivery tank.

Charles made a hidden change during the tank restoration. The inter dividing walls between the compartments were removed. By opening the two rear doors this exposes the interior of the chambers and allows for carrying lawn chairs and a cooler. These really come in handy during the hours at the car shows!

Charles bought the unrestored tank at a swap meet over 3 years ago and it fit his newly acquired ¾ ton. He suspects it might have originally been on about a 1 ½ ton but being for display it is just right for his small truck.

Charles has spent 3 ½ years making his truck and tank 100% like new. Completion was September 2015 It was disassembled to the frame and then the complete restoration began. During the truck restoration, Charles made it as close to new in 1952 as possible.

Every part was perfectly restored or replaced. It even has the correct Forester Green paint. The original 216 inline six cylinder engine was rebuilt about as GM made it. The exception was using bearing connecting rods to eliminate the softer babbit bearings.

He is the third owner of the ¾ ton. It began its life as a farm pickup near Bridgeport, Texas were it was bought new. He has most all past records including a copy of the original title and the early service data through 1963.

The second owner bought the truck with a restoration in mind however the lack of time and money prevented any of this to materialize. When Charles bought it about 4 years ago a serious restoration began. His grandfather drove a delivery truck for a Sinclair wholesaler in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Already a restorer of farm tractors and stationary engines, having a restored tanker truck fit into his life history. Of course, the Sinclair signage on the “New” tanker goes along with his grandfather’s early days.

The restoration was completed in September 2015. Two local shows were then attended and Charles received Best of Class in both! This is proof of a good restoration by judges and the general public. Hopefully, it will be seen much more in Texas shows in the spring.

You can contact Charles Shook by emailing him at xr25r@yahoo.com.

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Sitting at a car show. Note New tool box!

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A real attention getter!

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Accessory oil bath air cleaner and oil filter are just right.

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Ground up rebuilt 216 engine.

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Measuring wheel shows sale amount.

1952 Chevrolet 2 Ton Caravan

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015
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Here is an example of pure American Ingenuity! Put two things together:

A 1952 Chevrolet 2 ton and an ambitious top quality retired carpenter that wants to travel. These qualifications fit Richard Howe of Trinidad California. (About 300 miles north of San Francisco, California) He built another similar house and truck combination several years ago on a Cab over Engine 2 ton chassis. What he learned on that project will be used to make this unit even better.

He is the only builder of his one of a kind “Caravan “and he had no extra help. After all, Richard has been a professional carpenter all his life!

His current unit is made much of recycled redwood from boards used years ago in other prior construction purposes. Richard lives near redwood country and he suspects the wood is from trees that are 1,000 to 2,000 years old! He has been on this project about 6 years as money and time allows.

A little less than a year is remaining in this project because Richard’s goal is to have his unit completed and roadworthy by the summer of 2016. That will be the time for his high school 50th graduation in Minnesota. This personally built “Caravan” will be his transportation for this over 1,500 miles one way trip.

Even though Richard is a great carpenter, when it came to the mechanicals he needed help. He got the assistance he needed from two excellent skilled workers at Bill’s Repair Shop in Redding, California. Their names are Bill Tuschen and Ed Demoll. Richard would recommend them to anyone needing early truck repairs!

With the help of these friends the “house” may possibly come off once more to restore the truck cab!

The drive-train will include the original 4 speed transmission plus an optional Brownie 3 speed attached at the rear. This rare overdrive unit will provide him a top speed of almost 55 miles per hour. Yes, he will certainly have time to better see the USA. The original differential gears will give the correct ratio to support the speed of this heavy home he has built.

Oh yes! Richard decided to install a Chevrolet 350 V-8 as the power source. With a V-8 bell housing, it perfectly fit the original 4 speed transmission! It just needed some side motor mounts to fit it in correctly. (Available from many suppliers) He feels it will be the best for his long trips, the heavy Caravan weight, and higher speed demands of modern highways.

The enclosed photos show some of the under construction views of Richard’s Caravan. It’s great what one can do with ambition. The finished project will certainly be a “one of a kind”. You can contact Richard Howe at 1-707-273-2742.

We hope to receive photos of the completed unit next year at Richard’s school reunion time. We will post them here!

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1952 Cab and Chassis after the frame is extended 4 feet

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350 Chevy V-8 replaces the inline six cylinder engine

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Stock setup for the carrier bearing needed lowering with the 4’ lengthen
frame. The first trial run quickly wore out the bearing! See next photo!

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A 3″ channel is needed to lower carrier bearing due to the lengthen frame.

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Hand built new doors before redwood siding

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New top almost completed. Just before siding added.

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These 5″ redwood planks were on an old construction job and are from trees
1,000 to 2,000 years old.

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Lap siding is from the 5″ scrap redwood. 17 operations in each board before
ready to install.

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Start of installation of front cab-over windows

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Frames for front cab-over finished

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Front cab-over almost complete

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1/4″ welded steel support brackets on both sides of “cab-over” windows

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Corner cab-over brackets in place plus 1,000 to 2,000 year old lap siding

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Interior started.
NOTE: The window frames were made from scratch and are to appear as those
from an old hotel transom used in room ventilation.

1953 GMC 3/4 Ton

Thursday, October 1st, 2015
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Our feature truck article is a little different this month. One of the country’s leading truck restoration shops was ask to pick a favorite of those completed in their many years of rebuilding, General Motors Trucks. They chose this truck as their all-time favorite.

This very special pickup is a 1953 GMC ¾ ton. The restoration company is Possum Holler Garage owned by Max and Margaret Davis in Columbia, Tennessee. They only restore the 1947-55 Advance Design trucks, probably the best know trucks ever produced by GM. One of the enclosed photos shows our feature truck and seven others in various stages of restoration. (Their shop is as clean as most people’s personal homes)

This restoration shop purchases their trucks from all parts of the country. The employees are capable of repairing most any damage or worn out part of these trucks. Parts are available with a little research as over 5 million AD trucks were sold during the seven year production run. These years were truly the “Heartbeat of America” in trucks!

This GMC pickup was purchased from an estate sale in Colorado and transported to the Possum Holler Garage.

As with all their completed trucks, it was rebuilt from the bare frame. It is now new! All worn parts were repaired or replaced. Its 228 cubic inch inline six cylinder engine has been the same during it’s over 60 years. The 4-speed transmission is what was in most of these ¾ tons when they left the factory.

During the final stages of restoration it was discovered by the current owner, the A.J. Walker Co. of Matoon, IL. This is a ready-mix concrete company begun in the 1950’s by the current owner’s grandfather. It was love at first site! This little pickup was almost identical to granddad’s original (the company founder). The deal was made with the final color being Omaha Orange just like that first company pickup. Even the door lettering is just like an early photo.

The pickup now sets in a temperature controlled garage in Illinois. It is often seen in local parades and even shows. The company founder A.J. Walker would be proud!

Looking for an expert in Advance Design truck restoration?

Contact Possum Holler Garage at www.possumhollergarage.com

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The Feature Truck with Seven Others in Process

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Chassis Completed

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Just Before the Tailgate and Lights

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The Finished Product

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As Purchased in Colorado

1946 GMC 1/2 Ton EC101

Monday, August 31st, 2015
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When we saw this beautiful restored 1946 GMC ½ ton EC101, we were really impressed. It just had to be our September 2015 Feature Truck of the Month! After all, we had not had a 1946 GMC in this section since 2001.

The proud owner and restorer is Larry Dessenberger of Parsons, Kansas. Why did Larry pick this year GMC to complete a frame off restoration? His comment: “I wanted to restore a vintage truck, had a very nice 1996 GMC, so a 50 year older GMC pickup would be perfect to show the old vs the new”.

The hunt finally ended in Buffalo, Missouri when Larry found a 1946 GMC that had been in storage 25 years. The restoration then became a serious project that required almost 3 years with very few days off! The result is a factory fresh GMC now 70 years old.

It has its restored original full pressure 228 cubic inch inline 6 cylinder engine, 3 speed transmission, with the correct 6 volt electrical system. Even the wiring harness is cotton cloth covered as are vehicles of the pre 1950’s.

To be sure the restoration would be done only once, the mechanicals were replaced including kingpins, brakes, clutch assembly, fuel system, spring pins and shackles, transmission internals and drive-line bearings.

The color is Bamboo Cream, with Butterscotch fenders. Certainly bright for 1946, however still seen occasionally in 1946.

The painted interior is silver brown. Slightly different than the hammered silver brown used on that year of Chevrolet trucks. One of the special GMC standard items (not available on a Chevrolet) is the metal ribbed bed bottom. Larry found one and it fits just right! Even the GMC lettering is correct on the tailgate (Chevrolet used no lettering). Look at the round taillight. It is GMC only!

A very unusual GMC accessory that Larry found and restored is the correct GMC dealer re-circulator heater. What a rare find!

He felt this would allow more comfortable driving on cold dry Kansas winter days.

Point of Interest: Take a look at the GMC horizontal bar grill. General Motors found another way to save money between GMC and Chevrolet trucks. Though the fenders and hood are the same, GM created a grill the same size but with a very different appearance from the vertical bar grill of Chevrolet! It allowed the GMC dealer to have a truck that did not so much as the Chevrolet.

The GMC inline six cylinder engine has a full pressure oil system. Thus, the dash oil gauge reaches 80 pounds. Chevrolet stops at 30 pounds.

Since the restoration completion in about early 2013, this little GMC has won a wall full of trophies and is one of the top attention getters at any show. What a great example to those considering a correct restoration!

Surprise to all of us! Larry is considering the sale of his special GMC due to some developing health issues. It is now posted on a very popular antique vehicle website: Old Ride.com.

This GMC was also given a nice right up in the May/June magazine issue of Vintage Truck Magazine on page 12.

You can contact Larry Dessenberger at his email larrylindadess@gmail.com.

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Not a Chevy but Close

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Right Side. Correct Olive Color

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Left Side

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Silver Brown Interior Color

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There is that Rare GMC Re-circulator Heater

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Pure GMC Round Taillight

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Bringing it Home! As Found in Buffalo, Missouri

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1957 GMC Napco

Friday, July 31st, 2015
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WOW! What an unusual totally restored truck. When we were first shown the photos of this step side pickup, we saw this was special. No one we knew could recall anything quite like this.

The pickup is a 1957 GMC Napco ½ ton (Factory 4 wheel drive) with 125 inch wheel base. Not only is this an almost 60 years old unusual pickup but then add an original Pontiac V-8 as its engine. (Chevrolet did not offer a V-8 on their early Napco 4 wheel drive pickups).

When the demand for V-8 engines began to develop in the mid 1950’s, GMC had none to offer! Their answer was to use the 347 V-8 used in the Pontiac car. Thus, such a large cubic inch for a ½ ton pickup. Of course, no Pontiac logos were shown. GMC decals were placed on the valve covers.

The proud owners are David & Julie Bailey of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. David found the GMC on the internet and Julie encouraged him to own it. It would be an excellent replacement for their specialty car, a 1992 Pontiac Trans Am. The pickup was in Salmon, Idaho. Quite a long distance from their east Oklahoma home. They quickly recognized the unusual qualities of this pickup and bought it! What a long drive to Idaho with a flatbed trailer, however the GMC was just as good as they had hoped. It fit nicely on their trailer and off David & Julie went on their long trip back to Oklahoma.

They are members of the Pontiac Oakland Club International which has now welcomed all GMC owners to be part of the fun. The club has over 9,800 members in the US and other countries. You can contact the club website at: www.poci,org. David belongs to the local chapter, The Indian Nations Pontiac Car Club with 60 members. He is also president of the local GMC chapter with 100 members.

This Idaho GMC was in such good mechanical shape, David drove it almost daily in his home town for 6 years. Brake problems began to develop in the last year and repairs seemed to be temporary at best. Therefore, the long distant plans for a total restoration was moved up. It was decided to disassemble it to the bare frame and start back like it left the factory in Pontiac, Michigan almost 60 years ago. The Baileys even did the frame better than new. It was sand blasted and given a powder coating!

Finally four years later David & Julie had a new 1957 GMC Napco. Julie even helped install the new windshield among so many other things. At least an extra year was spent waiting for more skilled people such as a body shop and upholstery to find time to work on it. All body parts were restored and painted individually. It was the Baileys that had to assemble the parts without chipping the paint. What a job! The original colors were used, Seminole Brown and Panama Cream. The other factory option is a fresh air heater and side mount spare tire.

Also included is the factory 2 barrel carburetor, 347 cubic inch V-8 with dual exhaust, 4 speed transmission, and Spicer transfer case.

The Bailey’s current project is building a new home in Broken Arrow, however this time a separate 30 x 50 garage will be included. We wonder what specialty vehicle will be placed in all the extra space this building provides.

ADDITIONAL NAPCO DATA

Prior to 1957 the four wheel drive system used on General Motor’s trucks were provided and installed by specialized independent firms not connected with GM. These “kit” companies included American-Coleman, NAPCO, Marmon-Herrington, PABCO, etc. and made assemblies for many truck manufacturers. Beginning with 1957, General Motors selected NAPCO as their first official supplier of 4 x 4 units placed on Chevrolet and GMC trucks. Now dealers could sell factory-ready units as well as provide replacement parts listed in the GM Master Parts Catalog. GM used the NAPCO system exclusively between 1957 and 1959, however this name is not found in GMC or Chevrolet data books! Independent local NAPCO franchise dealers continued to install these units thru at least 1963. NAPCO’s can be identified by the raised N-A-P-C-O lettering on the forward side on the front axle housing.

You can contact David & Julie Bailey at: david.beetle@cox.net

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One of So Many Awards!

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Excellent From the Back Forward

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The Long “M” Continued in 1957

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Nice New Interior

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Just After the Final Paint

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New Seminole Brown Paint

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The Upper Hood Says it All

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Bed During Assembly

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The Pontiac 347 V-8 gets David & Julie’s Touch

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Bringing it Home Before the Restoration

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Close View of it Arriving in Oklahoma

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Not Bad for 45 Years and No Restoration

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Everyday Work Truck Engine

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Napco Transfer Case Made by Spicer

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Caulk Letters Showing 4WD from the GM Factory

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Grandson, Ian, in the Driver’s Seat

1936 Chevrolet Low Cab 1/2 Ton

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015
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We just had to make an exception! Normally our monthly feature is to help show our readers what the new truck was when they first left the dealers showroom. However, this unrestored 1936 Chevrolet low cab ½ ton changed our direction. In our 35 years in business we have never seen an 80 year old work truck so unaltered. Yes, used, but almost all parts have remained without later changes.

What a reference vehicle for the restorer! There is almost no trucks of this age that can be used as a restoration example and the owner be so sure everything is right!

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It arrived at our shop one morning on a trailer from its prior life’s location near Monument, Colorado. The new proud owners, Bryan and Beth Frogue were taking it to their home in Elkton, Kentucky. They found it on eBay and were very surprised that so many high bids came before they owned it. Others recognized the purity of this old truck. It would require almost no body work and what came with it was correct as installed by General Motors eighty years ago.

Bryan and Beth and their children Van, Madison and Emily are great examples of the old saying, “If you want to get something done, give it to a busy person”. They are avid antique vehicle collectors and enjoy originality so they quickly recognized the unique qualities of this little 1936. Their vehicle collection they have and still display, are at least 5 very early John Deere tractors plus a 1940 Chevrolet ¾ ton pickup and a 1950 Chevrolet 1 ton pickup with a 9’ ft. bed.

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Pictured ’46 John Deere H, ’46 JD LI, ’41 JD LA, ’53 John Deere G, ’37 Unstyled John Deere B (Not Pictured)

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They own 70 acres that support a stocker feeder cattle operation which they run approx. 150 cattle thru on a yearly basis and raise 40 ac of alfalfa and grass hay. Bryan has a regular day job as a crop consultant and Beth is a Kentucky Tech Area Technology Center school principal. She even drives the 1950 pickup to school!

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Their plans for the 1936 is to give it a ground up restoration as time and money permits. At least now they own it and there will be no doubt on what is correct.

During the time Bryan and Beth were at our shop, we took various photos to emphasis the untouched qualities of their 1936. For the perfectionist, these relate to items that will be very important during a full restoration. Check the text under each picture.

You can contact Bryan & Beth at bryan.frogue@att.net

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Still shows its Expert Blue. No repaints

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Splash apron under grill. Dent free?

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Rubber gas grommet still behind right rear fender

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Black windshield frame. Saves time on assembly line with just one color.

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Left rear fender with some black remaining.

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Yes, hole for wiper motor. Drivers side only.

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Unbelievable! The 80 year old headliner still in original position.

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Spare tire pins to better secure tire in fender well.

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Spare tire removed for the long journey home.

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Tailgate (dent free?) with its Export Blue paint

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Original Taillight bracket (left side only) with 44 year old license.

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Slight bend has occurred in taillight bracket
NOTE: Correct metal loom held with clip to non-original taillight.

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Wood floor has protective canvas on edges. (See lower left corner for loose piece)

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207 engine and 4 speed in pickup bed. Prior owner went no further.

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80 year old paint still shines in places.

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Only one dash knob has been changed.

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Yes, the seat was once recovered.

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Hood – All is just right.

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Correct 17’ wire wheels wait in towing pickup.

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Door rubber bumpers in place.

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Crank hole cover still attached. “Amazing”

1935 Doodlebug

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015
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Mr. & Mrs. Steve Mosley & Family Is it a truck, a car or a tractor?

Neither. It’s an American Doodlebug! Once found in farming areas all over the USA, they are now a rarity. The few remaining are now owned by serious automotive history buffs that want something much different and are interested in this segment of our country’s history.

We’ve all heard the old saying: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”. The need for a farm tractor during the Great Depression of the 1930’s, with little extra money, brought out the talents of entrepreneurs to the surface. It was the beginning of what is called the American Doodlebug. A farmer or local repair shop discovered they could build one! All makes and models of used cars and trucks were considered as possible farm tractor material. Three major changes had to occur: The tired bodies were discarded, frames shortened to allow for short turns in a field and if available, larger wheels and tires were placed in the rear for gripping into the soil. Usually the hood was left as is as to protect the engine from rain.

Often a heavier transmission was added and when available a large truck differential gave more tractor strength.

Thus, at the fraction of the cost of a new tractor, the farmer had a Doodlebug. It was very adequate for a small acreage that could support a family in the earlier years. Thousands were created and none were the same.

Just as the Great Depression was winding down and a little disposable income began to surface, the worst thing happened. The US became involved in World War II. Tractor factories were forced to stop production and build products for the military overseas. Once again no new tractors!

The creation of more and more Doodlebugs during WWII saved many farmers and added to our badly needed local food supplies. All citizens that remained stateside, required a dependable supply of crops. The Doodlebugs emerged to “save the day” for much agriculture production.

This month’s feature truck is a real Doodlebug built many years ago on what appears to be a 1935 Chevy ½ ton chassis. The owner is Steve Mosley of Independence, Missouri. It is an excellent example of what was done with limited funds combined with a need for a small farm tractor. Steve has kept it just the way he found it after it had been sitting in a back field in Southwest Missouri. He only added a lawn chair seat and side gas tank. What an eye catcher at any car & truck show, even though few have any idea what it is?

As all Doodlebugs are custom created, here are some specifications of Steve’s “one of a kind”.

  1. The original 207 inline 6 cylinder engine block cracked about 1970. A full pressure Chevy 235 six cylinder engine was a drop-in replacement.
  2. A two speed differential is from about a 1940 1 ½ ton. The mechanical lever, not vacuum shift, changes the rear end ratio from high to low speed when you are on a real pull.
  3. The transmission arrangement is the real eye catcher!! A 4 speed secured against the bell housing is the more common unit used on Chevy & GMC trucks from 1948 to about 1964. The real surprise is a second 4 speed (it appears from the original 1935) that is secured backward to the front 4 speed. This raises the Doodlebug’s speed up to passenger car miles/hours if anyone would consider driving it that fast. By Steve’s calculations this gives it 34 forward gears. The lowest (for moving beside slow snails) is over 372 to 1 ratio. Remember: All is home-made with parts that could be found locally (probably less than 6 of these forward gears were ever used).
  4. The next is really impressive! Dual rears (Steve only adds them during raining and snow months) is a real example of creating custom overloads on its dual tires. The two outside tires are slightly smaller than the inners and are wrapped with chains. Therefore, it runs on a smooth field on the large inner tires. If they sink into soft soil or mud the outside tires, with chains, help in the pull. What an idea!!
  5. The rear axles are secured directly to the light-weight original 1935 frame. This prevents the narrow 1 3/4” wide leaf springs from bending and breaking on a heavy pull.
  6. As the frame is shortened, the drive shaft must be cut to length.

DOODLEBUG KITS

Of course, hungry entrepreneurs quickly jumped on the opportunity to make it easier for people to own a Doodlebug. Kits became available in farm stores as well as in mail-order catalogs such as Montgomery Ward and Sears and Robuck. For those not quite as creative, it was a good way to create your own Doodlebug. Most conversion parts were included so it was not necessary to hire the town mechanic to help. The more common kits were for a Chevrolet or Ford vehicle because so many of these makes were in existence. Other less popular vehicles had no Doodlebug kits and the owner was totally on his own to build his own little tractor.

DOODLEBUG CLUBS

In looking for a Doodlebug Club to join, Steve found none in the Midwest only a few in New England. So he started his own club with free membership. In 2 years, he has 78 members! He calls it: The Winch Truck / Doodlebug Strip down Association of America. (Try to get all this on a club flag)

A FAMILY AFFAIR

Steve’s whole family gets into the fun of owning a Doodlebug. People at car and truck shows stop all conversation as Steve creeps by on his little tractor. Some attached photos show a local Boy Scout troop selling 50cents soda pop as they ease by rows of vehicles on display. A donation! Most usually donate at least $1.00 to the Boy Scouts for their summer camp.

To Steve’s surprise there were many, many Doodlebugs in Europe. After the disasters of WWII the people had no money to buy tractors. If they wanted to go back to farming, they had to build their own. Even used little vehicles like Opel’s and related English cars were made into Doodlebugs.

You can contact Steve Mosley at mongo@mongosgarage.com.


Bringing it Home


Soon after its on its own feet. (The hood is laying in the back)


The Front Vocal Point


Beauty and the Beast


The “SODA POP” Salesmen


Steve in the Lawn Chair Seat


50₵ “Soda Pop” at a Car Show


Hydraulic Brakes only on the Front


Connecting Two 4 Speed Transmissions

1936 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton Panel Truck

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

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!

  1. 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.
  2. Bought as a delivery vehicle. Most did not even have the optional right front seat.
  3. Few small businesses had a garage. Most of these panel trucks were stored outside.
  4. Most were thought of as commercial only. They were seen in the neighborhoods making home deliveries by groceries, laundries, plumbing repairs, painters, etc.
  5. Hot in the summer. Door windows in the rear don’t open to help air flow.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.


1934

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.

1947 Chevrolet 1 1/2 ton Pickup-Open Express

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015


After featuring a truck of the month on our website for 15 years from over the world, we decided to do something a little different. For March we are featuring one of our own trucks! Sometimes, it’s fun to “blow your own horn”.

It was 25 years ago and our growing GM truck parts business had been progressing nicely for 10 years. About then we received a tip from a customer on a very unusual tired pickup seen stored in a midtown Kansas City, Missouri back yard. He said it was a step side bed pickup but it was so large! I decided to take a look to see what homemade truck was in that yard.

WOW! It was a real factory built pickup but was so oversized it looked gangly. It was pure 1946-early 1947 because of its updated front bumper, however the Chevrolet Salesman Data Book for that year did not recognize this model. Strange! We looked back to the 1941 data book and there it was. A 134 ½ wheel base pickup with a 108” long bed, on a 1 ½ ton chassis.

The back yard truck was totally unrestored and certainly had been used for work duties as GM had made it. Grill gone, little paint, no seats, bed wood missing. It would not be allowed to be in many neighborhoods without a garage to hide it.

Because it was so unusual (maybe the only one to survive) I sure wanted it in our collection. Yes, the restoration would be expensive but to have about the only one remaining would make it worthwhile.

A note hung on the home’s front door fortunately got a call. The owner had found it a few years before near Dodge City, Kansas and was told it was a harvest truck used annually during wheat and corn hauling. This may be correct because it had been given an aftermarket tilt assembly (now removed) for raising the bed to dump the contents much easier. He kept postponing the restoration because of the expense and the lack of an extra garage.

Because of these obstacles we reached an agreeable price and it was hauled to our shop the next day. Within several months, the total restoration began when its bare frame was setting on buckets.

The mechanics of this truck are totally 1 ½ ton. The engine has the extra horsepower of an original low oil pressure 235 six cylinder engine with standard 4 speed non-synchronized transmission, single speed differential, and 20 inch split rim wheels. NOTE: The silver zinc plating on the wheel’s lock rings. GM did this to help prevent rust from sticking the ring to the wheel.

Color: Boatswain blue with black fenders. Brown vinyl non-pleated seats. No accessories. The title shows 1947. Thus, produced somewhere in the final 4 months of this Open Express body design. It is the last of the 12 year production of this special bed style.

BED STATISTICS (OPEN EXPRESS)

      • 1. This design was first introduced in 1934 and referred to as an Open Express.
      • 2. Used on both a 1 and 1 ½ ton chassis in the final years
      • 3. 4 stake pockets on each side
      • 4. 4 inches wider than a conventional 1946 ½ and ¾ ton.
      • a. Thus a totally different width tailgate and front bed panel
      • 5. Bed length 108 inches
      • 6. Narrow wheel width and very low body mounting requires narrow “tubs” on inner bedsides.

Page 157 in the 1941 Salesman’s Data Book Sales is the only reference to the dual rear fender 1 ½ ton pickup but no Photo! The 1942 sales brochure shows the drawing of this “Open Express” with single rear wheels. The dual pickup is an option. The term rear dual wheels also are only in the text.

Why did GM offer a 1 ½ ton pickup? Why not?

They already had their very popular 1 ½ chassis with many different beds. The 9 foot box was first offered in 1934 so the chassis and bed were both available. No new tooling! A minor gamble! If it found a few owners, then more sales would be created for the Chevrolet Division and their dealers.

Setting on a 1 ½ ton chassis, it would have been difficult to overload this long 9 foot bed. With the manufacture’s gross weight of about 13,000 pounds, some very heavy merchandise would be needed to ever overload it.

INTERESTING ON REAR FENDERS. Because this duel rear fender pickup was such a slow seller, GM did not change these wide fenders after 1938. Our 1947 feature truck still uses the early fenders. The ridge around the wheel well opening is 1937-38 and match the 1937-38 front fenders. They do not match the non-ridge front fenders of the 1939-46! Just a matter of economics. These were truly work trucks. Owners has no interest if the rear fenders were 1938 or 1946.

NOTE: What happens when wide rear fenders are added to cover the 1 ½ ton dual rear wheels?

Now is where it becomes “very” interesting! The long narrow running boards required with single rear wheels will not reach to full width of the dual fender. Therefore, GM made a special running board extension just for the dual rear fenders.

They are connected to a stock 1 ½ ton running board that extends to the back edge of the cab. This extension widens to connect to the rear dual fender. No doubt, this was a big investment even for General Motors considering the low sales volume that was anticipated.

However, this extension was a must. It must be there for a person to stand on them and reach into the bed. The attached photos will make the configuration easier to understand.

SLOW SALES! No doubt retail sales were always extremely slow. The dealer price would have been slightly above the flat bed with wood sides and it could not carry more volume. Gross weight limits would have been the same when both used the same rear leaf springs.

TWO POPULAR USES:

1.  If the Kansas City owner was correct and it was used near Dodge City, Kansas during the harvest season. Why?  That is because where you found wheat country in the US and Canada, you found numerous Chevrolet Open Express Pickups.  They were natural to carry heavy wheat from the combine to the grain elevator in town.  The 9 foot bed on a 1 1/2ton chassis could not be overloaded with wheat especially with the dual rear 20″ tires of the 1 1/2 ton!  The bed was grain tight so very little wheat was lost.

The open express would have been well suited for small heavy loads such as bricks and masonry related products.

2.  RARETY. As this pickup was built just for work, almost none exist 70 years later. If you paid the extra 1 ½ ton price, then you worked it to justify the price. Few got stored in a barn or garage like a ½ ton! When they finally reached a salvage yard, their value in pure weight made them a first line candidate for recycling at the crusher. Are there any other survivors? We have only seen one!!  An unrestored 1941 owned by Dalton Brack.

YEARS AVAILABLE. This bed introduced in 1934 (also on a 1 ton chassis toward the later production years). Referred to as an “Open Express” because of its exceptional low body mounting and heavier gauge steel bed sides. So low that tubs in the bedside must be provided to protect it from the inner tires

The following photos show some data we had available on the early and late Open Express series.


1934

1939

1941


AND NOW PHOTOS OF OUR 1947 OPEN EXPRESS


Ready for Hauling!


Not as Fast as it Looks!


Sitting High on 20″ Wheels


Dual Rears Require Wide Fenders


The Retired Worker


Much Different Bed Construction than a 1/2 or 3/4 Ton Pickup


THE END!

GARAGE PHOTOS

In storage 5 years! Pardon the dust on the sheet metal.


Running Board Extensions at Rear


Portions of the Complete Board at Front


Correct Dash


Hammered Paint on Interior


Done as GM Made it


It’s all There as When New


Like GM Did it!


Even Cotton Covered Wiring


A Better View of Boatswain Blue


Dual or Single Wheel Fenders Connect to the Bed Lip


Correctly Restored

You can contact Jim Carter at jcarter@oldchevytrucks.com

1946 Chevrolet Ice Cream Truck

Monday, February 2nd, 2015
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It is often said that when a person does a complete ground-up restoration on a vehicle that otherwise would be sold to the metal crusher by the pound, the owner has saved it for future generations. Our feature truck for February is certainly one of these vehicles that was close to having been gone forever. Don Ranville of Lee’s Summit, Missouri definitely saved this 1946 ¾ ton ice cream truck from being cut into metal scrap and splintered wood.

He noticed it deteriorated in back of a commercial lot by the Leeds District in east Kansas City (very close to the now idle Leeds Chevrolet assembly plant). It was of little value to most anyone seeing it. The truck required a rare person like Don to recognize the potential of this deteriorated part of history.

Don could see areas that identified this truck as once used by the Belfonte Ice Cream Company *.
He later found this was built in the 1960’s for advertising in parades or giving out their ice cream at local trade shows. Using a 1946 truck would emphases they were an old established ice cream company. This truck even has a large metal ice cream container in the rear to keep ice cream from melting at a show! It probably held dry ice.

Don, a restorer of early cars and trucks for many years, saw possibilities in restoring a vehicle in this condition. The mechanicals, even including the 8 bolt drums and front sheet metal could still be found and it was hoped the remaining wood body might be used as patterns.

When the restorations got underway, Don decided to keep the running parts mostly original. Only the engine was upgraded. A more powerful 1958 high oil pressure 235 six cylinder (almost a drop-in) replaced the original 235 low oil pressure unit.

The optional 4 speed transmission and low geared differential were necessary for the way a neighborhood ice cream truck was used. It needed to move very slowly in housing districts to give children time to get some money and wave down the driver to a stop. A hand operated bell could be heard a block away and signaled the ice cream truck was coming.

Restoring the aftermarket body required much extra talents from an experienced wood worker. Each wood part had to be exactly correct to fit other adjacent panels. Any mistakes could cause a total loss of a panel or wood support and the piece would be remade. Of course, no roof leaks allowed!

Enclosed is an original photo from the 1960’s given to Don by the Belfonte Company. The restoration gives an excellent example of how almost scrap can be turned into a work of art. Note that he decided to use a pair of metal rear fenders. We think it was nice improvement over missing the original multi-piece wood units that were once used.

* The Belfonte Ice Cream Company is based in Kansas City, Missouri. They have been one of the major ice cream suppliers for many, many years and provides their products over much of the Midwest. When being restored the Belfonte Company gave Don permission to reuse their name as it was once on this special truck.

test A company in Florida recently heard about Don’s special Ice Cream truck and offered him a price he could not refuse. It will now be used in that state, marketing a product or just kept for display.

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Color: Like it was Found

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Original Photo of the Belfonte Ice Cream Truck
NOTE: Rear Wood Fenders

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New Restoration

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Restoration Complete

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Restoration Completed

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A Little Extra Original Beyond Original

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Logo – Close Up

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Don with his New Toy

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All Trim Work Done by Tim Bratcher

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Close Up Side View After Restoration

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Most will be Patterns

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Taking it Apart

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Patterns in the Making

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Body Dismantling

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Starting Back

1953 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014
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It was over 4 years ago when Vernon Buskirk of Webster, Wisconsin saw an ad on Craig’s list for a restorable 1953 Chevrolet ½ ton. He had been considering a truck like this for rebuilding and when he saw the photos it looked just right!

The all-day project included pulling a flatbed trailer 400 miles and bringing the little ½ ton home that same day. The truck appeared to have everything in place as GM made it so Vernon would have to do no major alterations. Vern said “It was very tired and had not run since 1970”.

The original owner and later the son-in-law had used it for the normal duties on their Iowa farm. When Vernon bought it the original 216 six cylinder engine was badly worn and the valve lifters were frozen in the head. A later model 235 engine was located and fit just right. This gave it that extra horsepower to better move with local traffic.

It was placed in Vern’s garage for 6 months before the total restoration began. He knew he would not be satisfied just making it run and giving it new paint so this was the time to do it all.
Then the big surprise occurred! The more Vern began to disassemble the cab, the more he discovered just how rusty the cab had become. It was not practical to restore. It would be much less expensive to locate another 1953 cab! Even the fenders could not economically be saved.

Once the cab and bed was removed he could more easily restore the frame and all the mechanicals. Reaching these items from the top saves so much effort than doing most of the restoration on the garage floor.

Everything was disassembled to the bare frame and the mechanicals were given a new life. The sheet metal was taken apart down to the rivets.
Norm hired a local body shop to handle the metal repairs and final paint on the replacement cab. Of course, now came the hard part. After the chassis was restored piece by piece and the sheet metal was complete, the very careful assembly begun.

Everything must fit together as when it left the assembly line. What a project! No scratching the metal and all new rubber must lay in the proper place.

The project required 3 ½ years. It is now Vern’s pride and joy. During the final days of last summer this became his drive on nice days. Vern is an example to the neighbors as they saw the parts spread over and around the garage and gradually emerge into a work of art. This little show stopper catches attention everywhere it goes!

For questions on the restorations you can call Vern Buskirk at 1-715-349-7305.

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The Replacement Cab Arrives

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A Beautiful Dash Restored Just Right

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Under Construction

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Secured to the new Motor Mounts

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Front Fenders in Place

1962 Chevrolet 1/2 ton 4×4

Monday, December 1st, 2014
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Imagine having 53 year old Chevrolet ½ ton driven only 20,000 miles. Almost unheard of! The proud owner is Nelson Good of Stanley, Virginia.

The pickup is a 1962 Chevy 4×4. It’s very unique features are a 261 cubic inch inline six cylinder (the last year for this large six), a 3 speed on the column, and deluxe cab! What an unusual configuration. It certainly had to be a special dealer order from the factory. We doubt very few that year ever left the factory with this combination.

Nelson, the third owner, knows this trucks history. Reasons for this unusual combination fall into place after hearing his description.

Grafton Lee Ogden purchased this 1962 truck from the B and M Chevrolet Co. in Winchester, Virginia in December 1961. He, his wife and a young nephew, Robert Prangle, lived on a small nearby livestock farm. When Mr. Ogden decided to purchase a new 4×4 pickup, young Robert quickly requested it have a V-8 and a 4 speed transmission. The wall posters in the dealership showed some high performance new Chevrolet cars with very fast V-8’s and 4 speeds.

It appears Mr. Ogden did not understand that a truck 4 speed and car 4 speed were totally different. He told young Robert he could help pick the new truck options but no V-8 engine or 4 speed transmission.
Therefore, the 4×4 came with a full deluxe package, red paint, a 261 six cylinder engine, and the standard 3 speed column shift transmission (somehow Robert got Mr. Ogden to order the big six cylinder and not the standard 235 six cylinder).

Now enters the third and current owner of this special 4×4, Nelson Good. He bought it from young Robert, the second owner, who obtained it from Mr. Ogden’s widow in 1988. At that time the odometer registered 19,410 miles.

Ten years later when Nelson became its new owner it was a 19,856 mile ½ ton. In 10 years, now middle age, Robert had driven it only 446 miles! Nelson is protecting it with the same limited use. In the 6 years of his ownership the odometer has turned just 314 miles.

The truck is stored in Nelson’s large home 36×50 garage with his other collector vehicles such as 1956 Chevy 210 sedan, 1967 Pontiac Grand Ville convertible and 1966 Chevrolet ½ ton short bed.
The truck has required little to make it one of the best. The tailgate had two dents and these were repaired with the gate repainted. New tires and Chevrolet chrome hub caps were added.
A set of Fenton Headers and a warming kit plus seat belts are accessories that seemed just right for this larger 261 six cylinder engine and for safety.

The bed was given another coat of black paint. Nelson left the paint chips in the wheel well as a remembrance to the many pigs, sheep and caves that were once carried to and from the market by the original owner with the white wood stock racks that were used for that purpose. Note the Photo.

Just look at this untouched interior. It is a guide for a 1962 purist. The anodized aluminum trim and grill are like the day the truck left the dealership. The sound from the AM radio is perfect. Mr. Ogden’s 1962 truck is now in good hands, much better than when it was carefully used on the farm.

This is one of the few older vehicles that should never be restored. It is so pure, it is an example of how Chevrolet sold it over 50 years ago.

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All original paint and trim

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Only the tailgate has been repainted!

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Pure original four wheel drive!

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Out of garage for the photo

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The original farm racks installed for a photo

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The bed with a new coat of paint

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Nothing changed on this 1962 interior

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20,167 Miles!

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Chevrolet’s largest six cylinder, a 261.

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Only the Fenton headers are aftermarket

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Deluxe cab has large back windows

1941 Chevrolet COE

Friday, October 31st, 2014
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It was show time at the 2014 American Truck Historical Society national convention. This year it was held in Springfield, Missouri. The Ozark 4-State Chapter was the host. Over 713 large and small trucks from across the US and Canada were registered and on display! So many more were in the parking lot outside of the gates.

Of all these examples of trucking history, several stood out just a bit higher in popularity with not only the crowd but by the officers of the ATHS as well as the local chapter.

Our feature truck of the month is one of those vehicles that was special even before the show began.

This “one of a kind” show stopping small big truck is a 1941 Chevrolet Cab Over Engine (COE) with optional dump bed. The shortest COE offered that year, its wheel base is only 109”. It can fit comfortable in a parking spot at a shopping mall! After all, its massive size extends vertically not in width or length.

The proud owners are Earl and Karen Burk of Ozark, Missouri. It has been their family’s prize position for many years. When they bought it 21 years ago their three young children quickly bonded with it. Karen made decorations for the truck to fit the holiday’s shows and parades such as Christmas, St. Patrick’s Day, and Independence Day.

While the children were young, they would ride on the dump bed extension over the cab during parades with decorations of gifts and Santa and Mrs. Clause likenesses in Christmas local parades.

During these parades when onlookers are admiring this special COE they get a double surprise! It was Karen’s idea to decorate their son Trevor’s toy dump truck also with seasonal trim. It is now towed by the big guy! What a pair and a crowd pleaser of the parade! From 1 to 95 the looks of delight and hilarity come across their faces.

The COE appeared on the official poster announcing the ATHS Convention so it received so much press coverage over the country. The small brass souvenir plate, given to all show entries, is made from Burk’s COE. It was found on a few very large banners used to advertise the convention in earlier local shows. The compliment of all was it being on the cover of the ATHS Showtime Magazine sent to club members around the world. It shows data and photos of all convention truck participants. See photos.

NOTE: If you want to know even more about the details of the Burk’s COE check out this part of our Feature Truck of the Month.

The wheels began turning several years before Earl purchased this COE. A nice article on this truck appeared in the Wheels of Time, the official magazine of the American Truck Historical Society (ATHS). The article showed this blue COE at its best and described it as a very special truck. To Earl’s surprise about a year later in this same magazine there was a small classified ad offering this identical truck for sale.

At that time it was owned by Joe Fuller in New Cumberland, West Virginia. Joe is known for building quality early large trucks. Earl made several calls and Joe sent some photos showing more details. Earl became convinced, this will probably be the type of truck he had hoped to find. Its short wheel base and tall height would be great fun for his young growing family.

He purchased a ticket on an Express Greyhound bus in Springfield, Missouri and in about 18 hours arrived in Pittsburg, PA. Joe picked him up at the bus station and they were off to New Cumberland.

When Earl saw this beautifully restored blue 1941 COE, he knew the long bus trip was worth every hour! Joe had personally restored this special COE in 1986 with the help of two parts trucks. The best of these three trucks made this COE one of a kind.

When Joe built this COE in 1986, he kept it mostly original with a few exceptions. This was adding a Chevy small block V-8 engine, a 1948-66 synchronized 4 speed transmission, a “Brownie” auxiliary 3 speed attached to the rear of this transmission (to add extra highway speed), and a 2 speed electric operated differential from the 1950’s. Also added were extra leafs in all springs to raise the truck 4 inches. It is now equipped with 9.00 x 20 tires and heavy duty more deluxe non-original split rim wheels. The gas tank on the left has been cut in half horizontally and now serves as a tool box. Creative idea!!

So the sale was made with Earl having no hesitations. He filled the tank and headed west out of West Virginia, through Ohio, and spent the night in a motel in Indiana. On the road again the next morning and back home in Springfield that evening. Total drive was 800 miles with no mechanical problems.

At every stop for gas it was the focal point and would draw a crowd. It was equipped with a CB radio and Earl grinned all the way home as truckers talked about this COE driving down the highway.

Earl and Karen Burk. Great examples of using a special truck for helping bond their family together. What a major change from the “work only” use this truck was designed for! We salute the two of you for being great parents as well as keeping your special truck before the public. Your interest in early trucks will encourage others to follow in your footsteps.

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This is in your rear view mirror

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Left gas tank opens as the tool box

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Class Act

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Radiator Repair Day

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Grab Handle and Step to get Inside

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Show Banner still used after the ATHS Show

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Two Dump Trucks in the Parade

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Bed Tipped Up

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Levers for the 4 Speed, Brownie and PTO.

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Nicely Done!

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Brass Souvenir Plate given to entries at the ATHS Show

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An artist admirer recently sent the Burk’s this pin and ink drawing. Titled “Old Trucks are Fun”.
Very Impressive!

You can contact Earl and Karen on their email at: erlburk@yahoo.com

1952 Chevrolet UTE

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014
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WOW! What is this? It is a car or a truck? Surprise. It is neither.

This is an “American made” 1952 Australian UTE!

It’s probably the only one of its type in the world. The owner and restorer is John Smith of Tonganoxie, Kansas.

We first saw this special vehicle displayed at the Mid-West All Truck Nationals on September 6, 2014. What an attention getter!!

This all began in the 1960’s when John drove a much worn 1952 Chevrolet Sedan for almost 10 years. He was personally involved in all the repairs that were required. He knew all the in’s & outs of the 1952. Now fast forward more than 50 years. John is nearing retirement and keeps thinking about the 1952 he once owned. Wouldn’t it be great to own another 1952?

He could restore it just like the one in his memories of the 1960’s. So he spent much time searching.

And then it happened. In an Australian movie, John saw a 1952 Australian unibody UTE used as their regular transportation. It was love at first sight! The front and mechanicals were all the 1952 Chevy car he remembered but the rear was a pickup truck.

Soon frustration began when he could not find a 1952 UTE imported from Australia. The time and money required to visit that country, buy a UTE, have it delivered to the USA, and change it to left hand drive was beyond consideration. Therefore, the next step is called by many “American Ingenuity”. John would make his own UTE in his own garage in the Heart of America!

Thus, many hours were spent just planning how this could be accomplished. It finally began to come together when he saw an original unrestored 1952 Chevrolet with a US made sedan delivery body and chassis. This is like a Chevy car station wagon without quarter panel windows. They also have a side hinge single rear door for easily loading merchandise. Most were for commercial use.

He said “I think I can make this into an Australian UTE”. It took three years in uncharted waters (not been there before) to create the show truck in the following photos. He started with a 1952 sedan delivery and restored most of it (similar to a sedan). The rear suspension was upgraded and the front mechanicals now have Mustang II suspension which allows for power steering and disc brakes.

The engine is from a 1989 Chevy Camaro I-Rock 350 cubic inch V8. Transmission is the very popular 700-R4 with overdrive. Of course, the UTE now has air conditioning, cruise control and power brakes.

The above updated mechanicals he used are not easy to install however, the availability of these parts are not difficult to locate from street rod suppliers. It was the creation of a UTE from the sedan delivery body that was the automobile challenge of his life! So carefully the body panels had to be cut and welded. No mistakes allowed. Compared to the Model A Fords he had once restored this was over twice the project.

The most difficult project was making the tailgate. Sedan delivery bodies have a single door that opens sideways. This door had to be shortened and hinged at the bottom to the body floor to transform it into a useable tail gate. Even the original wood floor in the sedan delivery (now the truck bed) is a ribbed metal creation. What a project! This would be impossible for most. Here, John received assistance from a very talented body expert, Carey Ditty near his town.

Another very big challenge was to make the back of the cab from the top of the sedan delivery door. The sedan delivery rear window and surrounding metal was moved forward to become the stationary rear cab window used in John’s Australian UTE. Not for the average body person’s talents. John had to have some help on this major project from a very skilled “metal bender”.

To keep it looking 1952 on the outside, John used the original 15” wheels which hold pure Chevrolet hub caps. Note the original factory side trim. It certainly makes it appear like a nice restored 62 year old deluxe Chevrolet.

So there you have a basic overview of three years of major challenges for John Smith. Look and admire a one of a kind 1952 Chevrolet. For our Feature Truck of the Month, we will call it a truck just like the Australians do.

We understand the Aussies made these in their own General Motors assembly plant from 1936 through 1952.

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All new chrome!

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Nicely Restored Emblem

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Correct trim, wheels and hubcaps

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The most difficult to make!

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Floor mat over new floor

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Spare tire behind passenger seat

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Power windows and no wing vents (Big Job)

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The Beginning!

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It’s mostly there except front metal!

You may contact John Smith at nstarrsmith@gmail.com

1950 GMC 1 Ton Pickup

Monday, September 1st, 2014
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What a rare pickup! When new the owner paid the extra price to buy a 1 ton pickup, his number one need was a heavy hauler with a larger bed. As the fleet side had not yet been introduced, General Motors made the bed longer and the frame stronger to carry more merchandise.

During the Advance Design years (1947 early 1955) all 1 ton pickups even had the same tailgate, front bed panel dimensions, cab, and fenders as the ½ ton. Their bed length was 9 foot rather than the 6 foot of the top selling ½ tons. Their gross weight was about 6100 pounds instead of the 4600 gross weight ½ tons.

The sad fact is that few 1 tons remain in existence! They were bought for heavy work by their first owner and a second owner would usually have similar needs. When this pickup reached salvage yard status, their heavy weight made them a likely candidate to be sent to the recycler for their money value due to their size.

Our feature truck this month is one of these few remaining 1 ton pickups. It is a 1950 GMC with the same 228 inline 6 cylinder and 4 speed transmission that was in it at the factory. The owner and restorer is John Lesmeister of Bolivar, Missouri.

John bought it 25 years ago because of its unusual appearance. “It’s like being in an overgrown ½ ton”. He followed the prior owner home when he first saw it while driving down the highway. “What is that he thought”? With some negotiations it was brought home the next day to add to John’s collection of 13 older special interest vehicles.

Over the years John has sold most of his early vehicle collection but not the 1 ton. It is so unusual it became the one he wanted as his brand new pickup! The last five years has been the time of the most serious restoration on this unusual truck.

John’s son Brian has known the 1 ton most of his life. Lucky for John, Brian not only has strong feelings for the truck but has become a vehicle body shop technician. His talents have made the 1 ton’s sheet metal near perfect and then he gave it a show winning paint job in the correct Ferrara Blue.

The pickup has received its restoration beginning with the bare frame. John went by the rules to make a “new” 1 ton pickup as it looked at the dealership in 1950. A few points of interest are:
Correct painted all black bed wood and strips
The second year the engine was orange.
Wheels are correct 17” split rims.
NOTE: the small ring near the outer edge. They are the correct zinc plated to prevent them from rusting metal to metal between tire changes. (An attractive touch!)
The 250 hood side emblem always relates to a GMC 1 ton.
Due to the 9 foot bed length, there are 4 stake pockets per side.

John used the correct Spanish grain maroon seat and door panel upholstery with metallic brown metal paint on interior panels.
The front bed panel has a horizontal stiffener to prevent bending when hit by a heavy load on a stop.

John’s talents with Brian’s help have made this a true show truck. It stands beside the best at all shows. John’s “new” truck is a part of U.S. Truck History.

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The Day of Purchase

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25 Years Later

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An Ant’s View

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Body by Brian

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The View from Behind

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Bed Splash Apron – Sooo Long

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Just like GM Sold Them

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New Cab Floor

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250 – Only GMC 1 Ton

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Pure GMC 17″ Wheels with Zinc Plated Ring

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Being Assembled

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Fender Finish: Glass Smooth

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The Real Spanish Grain Door Panel

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Original Data Plate

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Regulator and Fuse Box

You can reach John at bluegoose37@windstream.net

NEWS FLASH!

What a surprise! During the recent large 2014 Midwest All Truck Nationals in Riverside Missouri, there were three Advance Design 1 ton pickups. We doubt if there has been that many 1 tons pickups in one place in 50 years.
This unusual event required photo shots. Several attached. They are owned by:

1947 GMC Joe Miller of Smithville, Missouri
(See our July 2013 Feature Truck of the Month)

1949 Chevrolet John & Peggy Milliman of Mechanicsville, Maryland

1949 Chevrolet Jim Carter of Independence, Missouri

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1954 Chevrolet 3/4 Ton

Friday, August 1st, 2014
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WOW! Look what you can do with a 1954 Chevy ¾ ton. How impressive. It can stand right alongside of all the short beds and receive equal or more attention.
Terry Millsap of Independence, Missouri bought this pickup in 1999 with the intension of a major restoration. With the encouragement of Jerry Willis, a 1953 GMC owner near his home, the project began the next year. Jerry had completed a major rebuilding of his GMC a few years before (see the Feature Truck of the Month for July 2008) and with his knowledge and experience the two retired friends began the project. They would get together every day to restore the 1954 for driving to events at the local organization, the Genuine Chevrolet / GMC Truck Club of Kansas City.
It was a team project, about 8 hours per day 5 days per week. In almost record time, they finished the pickup in five months! We call it a very mild custom. Though it looks original from a distance Terry added just a few “creature comforts”.
A pre-upholstered more modern seat has storage pockets on back cushions and more room above the in-cab gas tank. The high oil pressure 235 engine remains. The 5.14 ratio ring and pinion differential has been exchanged with higher speed 4.10 gearing. A 15% improvement in speed with lower engine RPM. Yes, the 3 speed column shift transmission was correct on a ¾ ton. (You paid extra for a 4 speed floor shift transmission)
An interesting feature on a 1954 8” bed: The short third stake pocket is hidden just above the rear fender. Not like the 1953 ¾ older pickups. Look at the stamped arches inside the bed sides. This was on 1954 pickups through early 1955 and allow the early rear fenders to drop into place. No road dirt will seep out of the wheel well from the tires driving in dust!
Most of the engine compartment looks stock until your eyes catch the right side of the firewall. There is what looks like a factory accessory. Terry calls it his Jack in the Box!! With the more modern seat cushions his bottle jack could not be kept under the seat.
The final touch to his 8 bolt drums are these very special sport wheels with modern radial tires. What nice steering this makes! Check the optional left side spare tire position. This was an extra cost option at the factory. With the 8” bed it does not require a cut-out in the left fender as on a 6” bed ½ ton.
You will often see Terry and Jerry running together in their two pickups in the Kansas City area heading to a local truck show. Of course, driving our trucks is what it is all about! You can contact Terry Millsap at terrymillsap@att.net

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Nice Grill

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Red Verticals. 1954 Only

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Pure 3/4 Ton

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Running Boards with Bed Liner Material

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Correct Yellow Pure Bed

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Factory Accessory Side Mount. See Center Stake Pocket

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Sport Wheels

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3/4 Ton Column Shift, etc.

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Jack in the Box

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Correct Right Mirror Arm

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Lots of Room in Seat Back

COE

Monday, June 30th, 2014

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During the recent 2014 annual convention of the American Truck Historical Society in Springfield, Missouri, hundreds of large and small trucks from over the US were in sight! This number is only found at this once a year convention in a different city each year.
As people walked through rows of so many older trucks several seemed to be at the top for getting the most attention. With several there was just something more special. Colors, workmanship and a unique body style combined to create these more popular trucks.
From this top group, it was easy to pick our Feature Truck of the Month for July – a pristine 1950 Chevrolet Cab Over Engine (COE) with optional power lift grain bed. Wheel base 158”, (see the 5700 emblems on the hood) and the factory color of mariner blue. The proud owner and restorer is Kent Zimmerman of Mesa, Arizona.
Kent retired 5 months before as a 30 year career pathologist in a local medical facility. His retirement gift to himself was to transport his now new COE to the largest truck convention in the world.
As an outlet from his sometimes strenuous job, Kent has enjoyed collecting and repairing older trucks. During his career, he has obtained: 1942 Chevy ½ ton, 1947 Diamond T and 1951 Chevrolet ½ ton.
The more he became involved with trucks the more his attention moved to Chevrolet COE trucks. Their appearance and good parts availability convinced him. He wanted one! His two year hunt was for an all original COE that had very few modifications. He looked at so many either personally or in photos.
His discovery was in western Minnesota near Fargo, South Dakota (a long way from home in Arizona). It had been a grain farm truck used mostly at harvest time each year in Eastern South Dakota.
When Kent saw the COE for sale it was love at first sight! He not only wanted to own it but made a decision to turn it into a new 65 year old. It would not be work but rather relaxation from a very responsible position as a pathologist. One of the attached photos show it on its way home to Arizona.
Once it was home, the planning for the restoration began. Parts were gathered, rebuilding contacts were found and more detailed studying was done to help lessen mistakes.
Piece by piece the disassembly occurred. Most of the COE was pure untouched. As a seasonal harvest truck most of its life had been in the owner’s barn off season. Much wear was certainly showing but most items were still in place as they left the factory in 1950. The more Kent got into the project, the more he enjoyed his first full restoration project. Of course, his workshop became covered with COE parts as the project continued. Even some items were hanging from the building rafters.

To restore the Load King Grain bed just as it had been since new, Kent was in luck. The metal black band around the wood floor was mostly repairable but any part that moved needed to be refabricated such as the hinges that are part of the bed tilting. There was enough wood still there for patterns. It could be replaced just like it was produced 60 years ago! One change: He made it 8” shorter so he could then use a center factory rear view mirror in the cab.
The bed decals showed just enough lettering and color to make perfect new ones. See the before and after photos. The Load King Co. of Sioux City, Iowa would be proud!
The bed also had a lift powered by a 1950 Lundell hydraulic cylinder. Kent’s surprise was that it operated perfectly even after setting in the Arizona desert heat for 3 years until it was checked. The exterior cylinder assembly was totally restored and special made Lundell decals were created.
Yes, this grain truck even came with the General Motors 2 speed vacuum operated differential for more hauling capacity. Unfortunately, it gives the truck a lower speed gear for work and not a higher speed for the road.
The interior. WOW! Look what a professional pathologist can do on his time off. It is a rare Advance Design truck interior that is restored with such perfection. Even the handle on the hand brake lever has been re-chromed. The horizontal ridges on the radio speaker grill and glove box door blend together perfectly. The seats are covered with the proper Spanish Grain Maroon Vinyl.
Looking deeper into the mechanicals, Kent discovered the 235 low oil pressure engine in an original COE had been replaced in prior years with an upper power range 235 cubic inch high pressure engine from a 1958 Chevrolet. It appears to have been professionally rebuilt by someone earlier. Kent tested the compression, vacuum and plastigaged the bearings. All were found to be within specs, therefore with a reassembly plus a major cleanup and detailing it was almost new. The ease of exchange requires no motor mount altering. He used a short shaft water pump and eliminated the cutting of the upper air dam. Kent is very satisfied finding a larger six cylinder engine that gives this COE the power and the additional speed it needs on most of today’s better roads. On the level it can reach 55 mph. This truck even retains its 6 volt system. With the proper 6 volt extra grounding, it starts just like in 1950. (With no effort)
A unique upgrade are the wheels. Kent chose to replace the factory split rims with non-splits. He sent the truck’s wheels to a specialized California Company. To the original centers they attached 22.5 inch outer rims. Low profile Goodyear radial tires gave the COE the same height as GM’s 20” split rims. A perfect equivalent! The result is much better road handling.
Because of limited room in the engine compartment, GM was forced to place the oil bath air filter to the lower rear. There is an air tube from the carburetor to this oil bath air filter. Look at the orange decal. Very unusual. Yes, Kent also had these made! Also changed from a conventional truck is the location of the horns, oil filter, hand brake lever, and wiper motor. See Photos!
Summary:
During our several discussions with Kent, his opinion on restoration was very important. He was very serious when he said “As I sat behind a desk for 30 years and did this major 4 year restoration after hours, it was nothing anyone else couldn’t do. I am an amateur and hope to inspire others to do this”.
Kent feels there are several points should exist for an individual restoration to be successful.
– Most Important! You must really enjoy the restoration process.
– Don’t do it just to get away from your daily routine. You may get tired of the project.
– Remember this is a hobby. If it gets to be a job you should stop and just think about it for a few days.
– Get to know locals that are specialized in different segments of your restoration needs. They are the experts in what will be very difficult for the inexperienced.
– If this fits you’re personally, go for it, and make great memories.

You can contact Kent Zimmerman at 1950coe@gmail.com.

Special Photos of Kent’s COE

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Coming Home
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Before Kent Zimmerman
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After Kent Zimmerman
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Correct Cotton Cover Wires. Nice!
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Most Controls Close Together
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Shift Mechanism
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Hand Brake at Left of Pedals
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Horn on Firewall. No room on engine!
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Electric assist wiper motor & oil filter on firewall
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Hood Up!
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Hood hold open lever
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The Lower Door Hinge is Bent by GM to Fit
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New oil bath air cleaner decal
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Stair Steps to the Cab – Plus New 22.5 Wheel and Tire
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Your arm helps pull you up
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New Load King Grain Bed
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New side view
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Authentic New Decal
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The bed tilting cylinder is new again
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Here’s Looking at You!
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Relates to the Long 158″ WB

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During mid-September 2015 Kent Zimmerman was at the annual Midwest All Truck National’s in Riverside, Missouri. What made his attendance so unusual was how he got to the show. Being a “real” early Chevy truck enthusiast, he decided to drive there from his home in Mesa, Arizona to the show near Kansas City, Missouri, a distance of 1,200 miles one way.

The decision was made to drive his all original 1951 Chevy ½ ton and come by himself. What a go getter! This little ½ ton has its original 216 cubic inch inline six cylinder engine with Babbitt bearing non-insert rods and close drive shaft. As Kent said “In their day they used these engines and closed drive shafts in cars and trucks all over the USA”. The key is not to push them to freeway speeds. Kent used the back roads, kept speeds to about 55 mph, and enjoyed seeing the countryside. A wonderful adventure!

During a discussion at the Riverside show, Kent had a trouble free trip and had enjoyed every minute of this 2 ½ day drive. The pickup was restored about 25 years ago before Kent bought it. Below are a few photos of this ½ ton setting among the many other trucks at the show.

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Pure 1951 in Seacrest Green

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Correct 1951-53 taillight bracket that pulls the housing beside stake pocket.
Protects light when bumper is absent.

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Left rear fender in Seacrest Green.

1946 Chevrolet Panel Truck

Monday, June 2nd, 2014
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Jim Winters of Rochester, Minnesota looked two years before he found the vehicle he wanted to restore in his retirement years. He did not want to spend the time and money required for a major rebuilding unless it suited him just right. Many cars and trucks were checked but few gave him that special feeling he wanted.
When he saw an unrestored 1946 Chevy Panel Truck for the first time in 2001, there was no hesitation. This was the one! His retirement project would be this very rare vehicle. It was so untouched. If Jim looked carefully, he could see the remains of the lettering on its sides of a Lenox Plumbing and Heating Company in Rapid City, South Dakota. A panel truck was a natural for this type business, long enough for iron pipe and secure for hauling a furnace out of the weather.
These panel trucks were used in the early years by grocers, bakeries, flower shops, small constructions companies etc. They were a perfect all-purpose vehicle for companies serving the many new suburban neighborhoods developing at the edge of cities and towns. The main buyers were commercial, not the home, farm or apartment owner.
When Jim’s panel truck reached its new garage behind his home, the BIG project began. Piece by piece it was disassembled with most parts marked. A digital camera was also great help. Good records of the 60 year old parts were a necessity.
The 930 pound panel truck body was lifted by canvas straps attached to the garage rafters and the chassis rolled outside. Then more disassembly occurred until the long frame was all by itself. It was then checked for cracks and bends before sandblasting and finally powder coating at a local specialty shop.
It was then extra hidden rust was discovered in the large double panel under the rear door and in these doors. No reproduction panel truck parts were available. Talented metal benders and formers had to be hired to actually create the numerous unusual and important parts.
By, now there was no turning back. A stack of unrestored 1946 Chevy parts would be of little value to a buyer. There was no choice but to move ahead creating the new handmade metal panels. With metal craftsmen from Kuhn Auto Specialties in Rochester, MN making the panels, there is almost no filler in this vehicle. At completion of his truck restoration, Jim would have in just body and paint receipts, $10,000!
During the rebuilding Jim added several improvements that would allow for more pleasurable driving on today’s highways. The truck 216 cubic inch original engine was ok for the local in town work 65 years ago but Jim Winters knew this large panel truck body required more horsepower on current roads, especially in high winds. Thus, the extra power from a 235 inline six cylinder engine was a perfect drop-in replacement.

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Almost the Beginning

Instead of the original non- synchronized 4 speed transmission, he added a modern 4 speed synchronized from a 1967-69 Camaro. It has a floor shift like original. The 4.11 ratio closed drive shaft differential was replaced with a 1958 ½ ton 3.9 ratio which was then rebuilt with a higher speed 3.38 ratio ring and pinion. Just $1,200 more!
The wheels and tires are 17”. This is from a ¾ ton, not the ½ ton 16” wheels. They provide extra to the highway speed but do not add much to the vehicle’s height.
All of the above gives Jim a speed up to 75 mile/hour on level highways. This is about a 20 mile/hour increase. WOW! What a change.
This became a 9 year restoration project due to the passing of his daughter with an incurable disease that even the most professional hospitals could not cure! The rebuilding came to a complete stop many times.

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Nose to Nose

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Closed Doors
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Open Doors
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Under Construction
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A Restored Floor with Siginaw Transmission Installed
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The High Dollar Apron & amp; Doors – PERFECT!
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Yes, it’s all 235!
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A Perfect fit for a 235

Few accessories were available for trucks in 1946 but Jim has located most of them. The 1942 fog lights (added later) are pure GM. A 4” reflector was an important safety accessory for vehicles with a single tail light. See recent technical article on the reflector at the end of this article.
The big find was locating an accessory passenger seat. Very few panel trucks were given this extra. Look at the unusual Chevy truck grill guard. This is pure GM. It is given an opening down the center so the engine could be hand cranked in an emergency.
Jim’s panel truck also has a GM dealer installed cigarette lighter, radio at left of steering column, a 2 motor heater/defroster assembly, a cargo light that is secured inside above the rear doors, and a rare right side taillight bracket.

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Original Right Seat             2 Motor Heater-Front / Side
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Dip in Rear Bumper and Rare Right Taillight
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Bumper Guard

By doing it all correct the first time Jim Winters has a new 68 year old panel truck that is ready for modern traffic of this century. People love it! He has attended 3 local car shows and received 3 first place awards!
You may contact Jim Winters @ jimw71@juno.com

A Little extra on this Special Panel Truck:

To add better night visibility to all trucks, Suburbans and panel trucks, General Motors offered a 4 inch diameter reflector as a dealer installed accessory. With the single small factory taillight, seeing of these vehicles on the road could be difficult especially if their one bulb burned out. To help correct this problem GM offered a larger reflector that could be attached to the rear license plate bracket. It greatly improved visibility to others at the rear during night driving.

This was a time when town street lights were limited. Of course, on the open road these were no lighting along the highways! This simple GM reflector was offered by the dealers to prevent rear end accidents. The customer could buy this dealer accessory from about 1940 through 1953. One of the attached photos is taken from a 1949 Chevrolet Truck Data Book. The 4 inch lens is a Stimsonite # 24 and the metal Guide ring has a stamping of X-19.

Jim Winters of Rochester, Minnesota has both a restored 1946 panel truck and ½ ton pickup. He found these reflectors for both his vehicles at local swap meets. Few people recognize what these reflectors were used for. Jim found his in a box of miscellaneous unmarked parts.

1935 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton

Thursday, May 1st, 2014
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This month we feature one of the nicest 1935 Chevrolet 1/2 ton pickups in the country. At 69 years old, the owner attends his first 12 car shows.
All are in upstate New York during 2013.
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His 1935 received no less than first place in every one in the commercial class. In five of these events he also was awarded “Best of Show” Those attending
stand and admire. Quality parts, good workmanship, its rarity, and the owner that is always there for questions at shows is important. Here is how a ½ ton
pickup receive this much attention.

IT GETS BETTER!
The Westtown NY newspaper sponsors a classic car and truck display each month in their city which awards a trophy for the “Best of Show”. At the end of 12 months of shows the public then picks the best of all the prior 12 winners. Yes, you are correct. Richard’s little 1935 was voted the 2013 “Ride of the Year”! They don’t get much better than this.

This is its story

Its 1965 in upstate Westtown, New York. A young Richard Wright notices a 1935 Chevy ½ ton in a local salvage yard. He can see it every day as he passes the yard. One afternoon he finally stops and asked about it. What a surprise! He can own it for $100.00 and then tow it home. The next day it sits in his back yard!

At 21 years old, you usually don’t consider restoration. It soon received a V-8 engine and related mechanicals to make it go fast and sound like it could even go faster.
And then comes life changes. Marriage, children and a home with all the usual expenses on a limited income. The little truck was put aside for the other higher priorities. When Richard received an offer to sell it and make a good profit, he knew he had to let it go.

In looking back, Richard remembers being unhappy for 44 years whenever he thought of selling that little truck. He had not seen another since.
Now enters Richard’s brother in about 2009 when he noticed an unrestored 1935 advertised in the next county. He demands they go together to see it. Though very badly worn most all parts were there. It was said to have been used in a New York apple orchard during its earlier years.

Richard decided it would be a great retirement project for himself (he was 65 years old) and his brother. He just had to own it! It would be much like reliving their early years when he had his first 1935. Only this time, it would be mostly just like GM made it.

Sadly, soon after the restoration started, his brother developed an incurable disease and then the rebuilding begin feverously. Richard worked continually with some help from the brother so at least the truck could look near new and it would be drivable for both. Only a surface restoration was done but it looked good if you did not get too close.

Sometime after his brother passed away, Richard decided it was time to restore the pickup even better. Now it went down to the bare frame. Each part was restored or replaced. Four years were required to make it what it is today.

He went out of his way to find original GM parts when possible so it could be very close to a new 1935. Every nut and bolt was removed, cleaned, painted or replaced. Being a retired Chevrolet mechanic gave him experience to help carry the project to completion.
Even the cab was disassembled completely. The top unbolts from the cab sides. All the mechanicals were rebuilt to make it like new, no exceptions. It still has the correct 207 six cylinder and 3 speed transmission. Richard wanted no problems once the pickup was completed.

One special extra that always separates the “men from the boys” in a show is the addition of a correct cotton covered braided wiring harness. This looks so special in a 1935 vehicle in comparison to modern day PVC coated wiring!

About 3 years into this major 4 year restoration another bad thing occurred in Richard’s life. It was necessary that he have open heart surgery! This really slowed his progress on the little 1935 ½ ton. “I could not do things like I used to”.

To help with the final 20% of the restoration his good friend Glenn Adams owner of Star Collision and Body Shop came to Richard’s rescue. He took care of sheet metal straightening and painting in their special paint booth. Richard helped with the body assembly while in the later stages of his heart surgery healing. It was Glenn that made the final stages of the restoration possible!

Important! When you rebuild a pickup cab (or a car) with a wood body frame, a new set of rules are introduced. The ash wood must be cut to “exact” specifications. No errors allowed! Following photos show the cab wood frame prior to the sheet metal being attached.

Once the cab wood frame is assembled the metal panels are temporarily attached. If the panels do not fit perfectly, they are removed and wood carving is required. It is back and forth until all metal is aligned perfectly. Only then is the exterior sheet metal painting done (off the truck). Of course, the metal panels have to be straightened exactly right at the very beginning.

For example: Richard explains there was many hours getting the wood to fit perfectly inside just one metal door skin so that the latching would operate correctly! It is difficult to imagine that in 1935 a new pickup came off the assemble-line every 10 or 15 minutes!
Only two major changes exist in the restoration: the brakes and the dash.

The brakes are 1936, one year newer. Thus, the pickup has hydraulic brakes and not the cable system as in 1935. Richard explains “I have so much time and money in this restoration, it needed an improved brake system to help avoid an accident”.

The burl walnut coating on the dash gives the interior a more deluxe appearance.
The following photos are divided into before, during and after the major restoration.

The Beginning!

                    Richard Wright’s first 1935, bought about 1965

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In Memoriam

Richard Wright passed away

in late August 2108.

We are keeping this article posted

as a memorial to a really nice

person whom added so much to

those trying to make their rare

1935 as nice as his.

 

 

 

 

At Home

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The Fun Begins

 

The Second Beginning

                               The 2009 New Purchase

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Trailered Home

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Incomplete Engine
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A Tired 1/2 Ton

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Most is There

                         1936 Axles Give Hydraulic Brakes

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Front

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Rear

                           Down to the Frame

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Almost Apart

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On Edge

                       Mechanicals Await Installation

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Engine Ready

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3 Speed Completed
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Differential

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All Together

                            Sheet Metal Ready

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Cowl

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Waiting Assembly

                       Sizing Metal Before Paint

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Panels Tested

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Wood & Door Mating
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Bed Check for Fit

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Fenders Ready

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More Sizing

                                  Assembly Begins

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The Floor Frame
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Cab Frame
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Roof in Place
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Window Panel
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Getting Close

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Complete

                                  Assembly After Paint

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Corners & Back

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Almost There
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Looking Good

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Fenders in Place
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Interior

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The Focal Point
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Richard’s New Wheel

The Finished Product!
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Hood Down
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Hood Up
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Right Side
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Engine in Place
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Back View
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New Headliner

You can contact Richard Wright at char63@optimum.net.
For even more data on why the 1935 Chevy ½ ton is so rare, click on the web site of Jim Carters Truck Parts. http://www.oldchevytrucks.com, then technical articles, next 1934-46 catalog, and finally cabs. This will lead you to: The Demise of 1935 High Cab Pickups. You will get an even more update on why these pickups are so unusual in today’s world.

 

 

 

 

1942 Chevrolet 1 1/2 ton (Military) Herman Pfauter

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Our feature truck for April represents a very interesting extension from the usually seen 1941-1946 Chevrolet and GMC.  Our featured 1942 Chevrolet 1 ½ ton Model 7117 was made in America in a truck factory assembly line.  Look Closely!  This cab’s tooling also produced the familiar civilian Chevrolets and GMC’s used before and after WWII.

The owner and restorer is Herman Pfauter of Santa Barbara, California.  He is a member of the Military Vehicle Preservation Association, a world-wide club of military vehicle collectors and restorers. Headquartered in Independence, Missouri.  He has eleven WWII vehicles in his collection.  This feature truck is one of the fully restored vehicles in his collection.  After purchasing it in the Los Angles area Herman discovered that it needed a lot of work.  Because this US Navy 1 ½ ton is very rare, the decision was finally made to make it a new truck and spend the time and money required to make at close to as it was in WWII.  It needed so much work!  Fortunately Herman found a good friend that offered his assistance.  The two of them worked together for almost 3 years to get the finished product.  Most parts were removed to expose the complete frame.  Then it was re-assembled piece by piece.  It was two men assembling it like a big model kit.  When finally completed it was so nice!  Only a few hidden modifications made it better for performance and safety.

These included the replacement of the original “Babbitt-Pounder” 235 CID engine with the larger 1954 261 CID Chevrolet inline six cylinder.  He added the Clark 5 speed overdrive transmission that was used in the GMC models.  A more updated hydrovac booster from the 1970’s greatly adds to emergency

stopping.  A 10,000 lbs. winch was added in front.  Oh yes, it was time to add the heater that GM did not include.  Of course, it is pure mid 1940’s vintage.

Yes, the US Government made big changes on the civilian 1 ½ ton trucks when WWII began.  Few of the civilian items were adequate for front line battle duty.  Even the cab, about all that was still that used, was given numerous changes to increase its dependability on the battlefield.  A few changes are shown in the following photos.  Note: These are not from Herman’s truck but these modifications are just like those on his.

No locking glove box door.  They did not need one of several drivers leaving the truck with the only key.

The rear window has a heavy screen screwed to the cab.  This lessened the chance of a broken rear window,  especially bad in winter. (The cabs had no heaters).

No windshield crank-out assembly!  The military did not want this assembly breaking in winter and staying open.  No heater.  Look at the pull down bracket that holds the windshield frame closed.  A thumb screw holds the frame open in hot weather much like a 1934-36 Chevrolet truck or a Model A Ford.  See Photos

The windshield is secured to the top of the cab with two outside hinges.  Easy to service.

The hood hinges are secured to the cab to prevent damage to a butterfly opening design on civilian trucks.

The hood side panels are removed with a basic tool that all mechanics have. Note: The Chevrolet letters were removed about mid-1942. The military provided no advertising.

Herman states his 1 ½ ton is referred today in Europe among collectors as a “Baby GMC” because it had only one rear axle. The GMC 2 ½ ton was similar but basically a much stronger truck with the GMC 270 CID 6-cylinder engine with full-pressure lubrication and dual axles in rear making it a 6×6 while the Chevrolet was a 4×4.
Herman spends almost every summer in Europe where a lot of liberation commemorations take place all over France, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, Italy and elsewhere to remember the Allies and their efforts to free Europe from Nazi occupation.
When the liberation began in Normandy on D-day in the north and 2 month later in southern France each community regained their freedom of prior years. Herman loves being a part of the parades and WWII displays at the many events in Europe each year. To be more a part of this Herman had his “new” restored 1942 US Navy 1 ½ ton placed in a container and shipped by ocean freight to France. The container was then purchased and it now serves as a safe garage when Herman is home in California.
During the last decade, he has driven his truck in so many European countries (even Germany). Twice it has been over the high elevation passes in the Alps (much like the Continental Divide in the US). Total mileage so far approximately 30,000-at 8 MGP!
The following photos were taken in France.
Note: Our feature photo! This is Herman at a French Liberation show beside his beautiful WWII truck. Just as impressive: Even with a few gray hairs showing he still wears size 34 navy dress blues as when he was in high school – even though he never served in the Navy!

The Chevy door says “Naval Reserve Center, Santa Barbara, California”

Herman and his Chevy in front of the famous church in Ste Mere Eglise, one of the first villages liberated by US paratroopers on June 6, 1944.
NOTE: The parachute on the roof with a paratrooper dummy – this actually happened!

1949 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton

Friday, February 28th, 2014

Owner: Randy Priebe

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Randy: First show, First Trophy.

Here is a little 1949 ½ ton that looks and performs as it left the factory in Janesville Wisconsin. Mariner Blue with the correct 216 six cylinder engine, 3 speed column shift transmission and 6 volt electrical system.
It had been used on nearby farm during its first 50 years. The third owner and ground up restorer is Randy Priebe of Appleton, Wisconsin. He saw it for sale in front of a rural local home about 16 years ago. Randy just had to stop and look. The price was about $1,500.00. He walked away but continued to wonder if he made a mistake. Then two years later it happened! Driving down the road he saw it in the back yard of the same house. As the owner now felt it was un-restorable due to much sheet metal rust, it did not run and the bed floor was almost gone. Thus, the price would be $850.00! This time Randy didn’t hesitate. He was the new owner and his goal was to make it a new pickup no matter what the prior owner said about it being just for parts.
The restoration began after a complete dis-assembly and rebuilding that lasted almost 14 years with $12,000.00 invested. His time at $1.00 / hour would probably be near another $1,000.00. Randy worked on it as money was available but research was always occurring to get it done correctly.

During these restoration years Randy had a minor and then a major heart attack with 4 by-passes. He told his wife he really wanted to continue with the restoration. Not only was it in some ways therapy to help in recovery but it would be a great legacy for his grandson in later years. What a special grandfather!
Since the restoration was completed in early 2013, he attended a few car and truck shows. Several trophies were added to his credit. The attached photo of the proud owner with the ½ ton’s first trophy.
Included are photos of this grandson in the truck cab at 1 and 14 years old. In 1 ½ years he will have a driver’s license. Will Randy allow him to drive this 14 year expensive project? We will see.
And Now A Little Surprise!
During the recuperating from his major heart surgery, a good friend, John Benz of Wautoma, Wisconsin wrote a little poem to compare the 1949 pickup restoration with Randy’s personal repairs! We think you will like it.

First the Truck – Then the Owner

There once was a truck named “Ol Blue”
It sat in a field waiting to get its due
A hardy soul named Randy thought it was time
To fix up “Ol Blue” and put it back in its prime
Little did Randy know while the truck was not restored
His “engine” or heart was rotting to its core
Electrical problems had once plagued “Blue” and now also its owner
Spark plugs mis-fired, fluids no longer provided much power
But oh those docs at A.M.C.
Jacked Randy right up with lots of T.L.C.
They rerouted his oil lines and added new fuel
His recovery was swift, now wasn’t that cool
Man and his truck are again re-united
They’re both good as new, on the road a-righted
So here’s to old trucks and guys that fix’em
They both have been gone through from stern to stem
Come next spring they’ll be back on the road
Ready to fire up and haul the next load
Good mechanics and doctors can be hard to find
Thank heaven for both as they’ve become two of a kind
By John Benz – Wautoma WI

You may contact Randy at: r.jpriebe@yahoo.com

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1948 Chevrolet ½Ton

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014
1948 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton Truck

Owner: Tad Shadid

Combine a love for vintage vehicles plus a strong support for the “home team” and you have our Feature Truck of the Month. The pickup is a deluxe 1948 Chevy ½ ton rebuilt on its freshly powder coated frame. The exterior was carefully restored just like it left the factory except it is the official color of the Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, OK. Note the cab interior that is also based on the same color as the university.

The owner is Tad Shadid a lifelong vehicle enthusiast and a graduate of OSU. He is a retired veterinarian but now is the owner with his brother of another business in his home town of Oklahoma City. Tad is a perfect example of the old saying – If you want to get something done, give it to a busy person!

He has always been an old car enthusiast. Tad bought his first vehicle (a 1929 Chevy 1 ton) at 14 years old. He did major repairs so it would be ready to drive at 16 when the state allowed a driver’s license. After graduating from veterinarian school he completed a major restoration of a 1931 Ford Model A Coupe which became his second car for about 10 years.

The current 1948 Chevy ½ ton entered Tad’s life about 3 ½ years ago when we found an advertisement for his life dream, a 1956 Chevrolet convertible. The little ½ ton was setting beside the convertible. It was “love at first site” for both vehicles and Tad soon had them home. The convertible still sets in the same corner of his garage untouched. It is the little pickup that made him more excited! He personally rebuilt the truck in 2 ½ years.

1948 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton Truck

Except for the color, the 1948 deluxe ½ ton is “bone stock” on the outside. The mechanicals probably look very original to most but several major upgrading makes the pickup very special. A rebuilt 261 cubic inch Chevrolet six cylinder engine was a drop-in after removing the original 216. The extra performance was not only for the highway but, it easily supports the air conditioning system.

Tad kept the original 4 speed transmission and the bullet-proof closed drive shaft system. To get 20% better highway speed he changed the differential gears from the original 4.11 ratio to a 3.55. The front disc brakes are hidden from view but Tad feels much safer with this upgrade. The electronic ignition system plus a 6 volt starter and flywheel causes the engine to start before every one engine revolution.

As is correct for only the 1947 and 1948 GM pickups, it has retained the under bed gas tank location. It remains on the inside of the right frame rail and is well protected from most all accidents.

1948 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton Truck

For easier steering he replaced the drag link and third arm from a 1953 ½ ton (a GM improvement that year).  The two tie rods are now of the modern design introduced in the 1960’s. There is no necessity for power steering!

This beautiful pickup couldn’t be more ready for an across the country trip or just being a part of OSU’s many sports events.  Our feature photo shows the college mascot, Pistol Pete beside this pick up with Tad.  How great Tad has spent so much time and money to remain connected to the student body and their sport activities.

To contact Tad email at: tad@actionliquor.com

1948 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton Truck
1948 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton Truck
1948 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton Truck
1948 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton Truck
1948 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton Truck
1948 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton Truck
1948 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton Truck
1948 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton Truck
1948 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton Truck
1948 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton Truck
1948 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton Truck

1946 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

Owner: Paul Owsley

The first thing that catches most people’s attention is this nicely restored 1946 Chevy 1/2 ton is the Apple Green paint, an original color on this over 70 year old little pickup.

 

Its owner is Paul Owsley of Independence, Missouri (a lifelong driver for the Greyhound Bus Co.). For many years he has been the owner of Model A Fords, however, the appearance of the Chevy 1941-46 truck body style had been growing on him in recent years. About 2 years ago he saw an EBay ad that showed a ground up restored 1946 Chevrolet ½ ton about 800 miles away. That description and the photos created “love at first sight”. In 2 weeks it was delivered from Michigan and sitting in his driveway.

He was still impressed but soon realized photos don’t always tell the true story. There would still be many hours of work to make it roadworthy and to correct the mistakes of a fast restoration. It appears the owner had only resale in mind during the resent restoration!

The first project was the mechanicals. The kingpins, spindles and the rod ends may have never been replaced! It could not be safely driven. The engine block had a very small casting hole in the side that always leaked oil on a driveway. The sales person could not have ever driven the pickup but he sure knew how to clean and paint.

The fenders all lacked half their attaching bolts. The big shock was a small hole in the roof with a piece of tape inside to stop water leaks (until sold). The drill bit must have been pressed too hard when they tried to make the one piece 1941 headliner into a 1946 with two pieces.

The cab roof hole was repaired and the orange peel paint surface was corrected when the body was painted again. Surprise: The terminal blocks on the inner fenders that connect the main wiring harness to the head light harness were never installed. Someone had just wired all together as one! All tires needed replacing as they were oversized. They were more like you might see on a full size late model pickup.

The bed was held to the frame with about 2 bolts. Not the required six. The quarter inch bolts in the bed strips had almost no fasteners under the wood. Gravity held them in place.

Finally, a year has passed and this little ½ ton’s “updated restoration” is complete. Several people had jumped into the project to make corrections. Paul really likes it now! It was often seen this past fall at local car shows where the public attention it received relates to its top quality. It is beautiful even when you get close. You can contact Paul Owsley on his email at: owsleyathome@aol.com

Cars in Cuba

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

Since the year 2000, we have posted almost 150 “Feature Trucks of the Month” articles from 1934 to 1972 Chevrolet and GMC. These remain in our website archives on oldchevytrucks.com.

This month we are going out of the loop and for this one time only are featuring some special cars of the 1950’s in the mystery country of Cuba. We thought this might be of interest to so many that have only heard stories of this nearby country.


During a recent US Government approved tour of Cuba (90 miles south of Florida) so many American cars of the 1950’s were seen operating daily. About 20% of their very low car population is still 1950’s vintage. These “Yank Tanks” (slang for American post war cars) continue to be important for the islands transportation.

When the US began the still existing Embargo in 1961, Cuba auto dealers could no longer offer US cars or their repair parts. They were out of business! However, the cars they once sold are still on the island. Replacement parts are almost non available.  Their repair items are limited to several well picked over salvage yards, are homemade, or late model car parts are forced to be modified to “fit close”.

Looking original is not even a factor. Most just want their car to get them from point A to point B. One exception has recently surfaced due to the increase in tourist trade from so many non US countries. Cubans have found the interest in “Yank Tanks” so strong some cars are being used as taxis to transport visitors, in the capitol city of Havana.  They are everywhere in the small towns just being family carts.

The following photo gallery will give examples of how people with little income have kept their 50 year old cars on the road. We attempted to divide them as per the manufacturer and hope there is not too many mistakes. Beginning with the more basic taxis used by a few of the Cuban people, we move up to the larger 50 year olds.

 


These 4 taxis wait at an intersection for a fare.

No horses in the big city of Havana. Thus the driver uses ‘pedal power’.

Here comes more ‘pedal power’.

Looking at the back of the big city ‘pedal power’.

Modern one cylinder taxis can seat 4 people.
Cadillac
The Ultimate! Modified big car for hauling customers!
Home made top and rear door from something!
Buick
This white 1959 convertible is his pride and joy.

This about 1950 is the best the owner can do with the parts available.

His 1955 just keeps rolling.
Oldsmobile

Their 1959 Revolution Hero. Che Guevari is on the hood.

Nice Straight body on this 1955.

Being a taxi helps with expenses.

An ornament on the ornament.

Roll and Pleat Upholstery.

We wondered if a top was under the boot.
Ford

83 year old Model A Ford. Uses a recycled 4 cylinder volkswagen engine.

1948 Sedan, not too bad!
This owner was so proud of his little 1954 sedan.

Truck Trim

Wing vent plastic is all cracks!

Nice Dash.

Re-do Upholstery.
1957 One of the better cars. Chevy hood ornament? One wiper!.

1957 Ford has been cared for.

Keys got lost. A screwdriver works!

A lens from where?

Not a bad re-do job.
Pontiac

This 1946 has a straight body.

As good as most US originals.

This 1952 Pontiac has a very straight
original grill.

A Silver Streak, probably US made, with unusual tail light lenses.

Column Shaft wore out. It now has a nice floor shift.

A 6 bolt wheel and drum on a 5 bolt car! What is this? 1/2 ton pickup?
Mercury

The hood opens in reverse.

Look at that bumper!
Chrysler Products
They love their little Plymouth.

a “Yank Tank” with fins is the ultimate!

An Ornament on a Ornament.

Cuban’s love these!
Willy’s Jeep

Straight front fenders date this little people hauler.
Austin
Only a few early Europeans are on the roads.
Chevrolet

Nice 1953 convertible.

If you need a steering column try this late model.

WOW! A real column shift! (1958)

Almost no column shifts remain. Worn out, they have been replaced by floor shifters.

A better 1951 with Cuban rear turn signals.

Trying to make a little money with his 1950.
More Chevrolets!

Extra cooling fan. Whats under the hood?

1952 with 6 bolt wheels and 1/2 straight axile. Now that was a project!

Maybe a trip is coming!

1953 – Not bad..

Wish he had more 1951 parts!

“Whiskey dent” on a 1953

This 1951 owner wanted a Vacuum gauge bad.

1953 good looking dash!
More Chevrolets!

This clean 1954 is ready to carry tourists.

The famous 235 six cylinder engine. They’re almost bullet proof!

A very straight 1951 front end! Silver paint covers poor chrome.

How could they have ever dented the heavy center floor hump?

Needs new upholster never stops. (See new floor shift.)

Could this be!
The inner and outer door panels are separating.

More “whiskey dents” with hammer repairs.
Miscellaneous Do-Dads

What make is this?

Modified to haul many people face to face.

Get the most from Upholstery.

Two screws save the trunk lid hinge.

Carved Wooden Armrest.

Cuban rear turn signals.
Togetherness at the taxi stand each morning.
The street vendor’s truck is the only pickup we found.
Remember paper mache.

1958 Chevrolet Cameo

Thursday, October 24th, 2013


It is a clear September weekend in Pierce, Nebraska.  Over 7,000 people have gathered to be a part of the most unique car auctions in our country’s history.  They had come from most all US States and several countries to be in an open field at the edge of the town between the community golf course and a major size corn field.  No spring crops planted here in anticipation of this large auction!  Even the bare ground has been leveled to bare dirt for a smooth walking surface.  Yes, mud was an issue as it rained the night before.  Most of us walked with a large amount of mud attached to our shoe soles.

Here in many long even rows are 496 old collectable cars and trucks that were the remaining vehicles of the Lambrecht Chevrolet Dealership of 50 years(1946-1996)plus another 17 years when they were a used auto dealer.   When the dealership closed, 30 of the new untitled 50 year old Chevrolets were stored.  Some alongside of the building and inside the dealership; most used and some new vehicles were on the family farm.  There they remained for many, many years until this special weekend – September 28th and 29th, 2013.  Ray & Mildred Lambrecht the founders, now in their 90’s, decided it was time to share their collection with other hobbyist and enthusiasts.

Videos were shown weeks before the sale of the lengthy process it took for dozers and chain saws to remove the 25 year old trees and brush that had grown around the hundreds of stored vehicles on the farm.  Then they had to be individually hauled to the auction site after it had been prepared for the crowd.

The over 450 of cars and trucks had a hard life in the growing forest that surrounded them for over 35 years.  Most people were not aware they existed.  A few that did years ago, had removed all the radiators for the extra salvage value of brass.

Lambrecht Chevrolet


The Beginning

Lambrecht Chevrolet in background, 1953

Doors remained locked, 2013

Vehicle storage, Cameo in the back

After vehicles taken to the auction

Prior workshop

Original lobby
Ray and Mildred Lambrecht’s children in a new Corvette peddle car (about 1959)
Less than 36 Corvette peddle cars were produced! Sold at the auction for $13,000.)

Our Feature Truck for November 2013 was one of the more special vehicles in this world famous auction, a 1958 Chevrolet Cameo pickup with 1.3 miles on the odometer! Color: Dawn Blue and Jet Black.  As it is the lowest mile Cameo in the world, it will now set the future judging standards as to what is correct in 1958 total restorations.  The interior was so new it had the original thin clear plastic temporary covers over the seats that were added at the factory 55 years ago.  As originally added by the factory, the rubber floor mat was still rolled behind the seat cushion to protect it from the feet of delivery employees in 1958.  The factory window sticker remained in place.

As is correct for all early GM pickups, the bed wood is painted.   It is never given a clear coating to show off the wood grain.  In all GM pickups after about 1940, the wood of choice was hard yellow pine from the factory.

A few other facts that should be of interest on this special 1958 Cameo:

  • The dual headlight rings are painted white not chromed.
  • Hood hinge assembles are zinc plated, not painted black.
  • The 235 six cylinder engine is gray, not blue.
  • The steering wheel and column is black, not interior color.
  • The latch receiver plate in the hood is zinc plated, not painted black.
  • Hub caps are the base painted units, but are chrome.
  • The bow-tie emblem on the bed sides is black, red on the tailgate.
  • The same material placed on the seats also covers the door panels.
  • To lessen light reflection, the top of the dash is flat black, not interior color.
  • Outside mirror arms are black, not chrome.

In viewing the Cameo the day before the auction we could see it had been left outside (probably beside the closed dealership) about 5 years before placed inside.  It was nice but certainly not perfect for the 1.3 odometer miles. The chrome in places was now showing some dull weak areas.  Bed boards were beginning to raise and separate near the front bed panel. Signs of standing rain water in the bed (maybe with long periods of tree leaves) had certainly taken its toll.  The two top bedside chrome plated strips showed pitting from outside storage.

Unfortunately when inside the building something very heavy had dropped on its top many years ago with major damage that also broke the windshield. Another small dent was on the right rear. How could that happen?

Its 235 six cylinder engine appears to have been sprayed with light oil to protect it from rusting in the dampness outside. Of course, this also attracts quantities of dust over many years. All easy to remove but did not give a good first impression at the sale.

Why did it not get sold at the Lambrecht dealership in the early years?  We suspect paying 25% more for a Cameo that would not carry any more merchandise than a Standard ½ ton greatly limited its interest to buyers. In 1958, small farming communities considered a pickup for work only. There was no enthusiasm for a “Boulevard Pickup” in Pierce, Nebraska. It didn’t even have a 4 speed which was the transmission of choice when you hauled local merchandise or farm products.  Why was it not wholesaled to a larger city Chevrolet dealer that year?  Possibly the more expensive Cameo with a six cylinder engine, 3 speed column shift transmission and no radio was not in their interest and Ray Lambrecht refused to sell below his cost. It is suspected this Cameo had no place to go!

 

THE AUCTION DAY:

This Cameo was the first to be placed in the auction of 496 vehicles. Most of the 7,000 people stood very close to this Cameo and a moveable flatbed auctioneer trailer. There was little room to turn beyond the exact area each observer was standing. There was no exiting by uninterested persons!

A person there said “If you have a heart attack here, you can’t fall sideways, only drop down. Then how could an ambulance find you?”

On sale day, if you had not looked at the vehicles the day before; you were out of luck. The size of the crowd prevented close viewing of the vehicles before the auctioneers flatbed trailer came even near a soon to be sold truck or car.

The bid started at almost $55,000 for the Cameo due to the online bids that had been occurring the past week. Within 2minutes the bidding had reached $100,000. Then bids continued on a slower pace. Within 10 minutes a new owner had the 1958 Cameo at $140,000! The all-time record for any 1955-58 Cameo to date. (Did Ray Lambrecht get the last laugh?)

The buyer is a New Hampshire hobbyist. He is a serious collector of very low mileage US vehicles.  We were told he plans on keeping it just the way he bought it. The price of shipping to New Hampshire will be insignificant in comparison to the purchase price. And then there is the sales tax on the purchase price.  In most states this will be near $10,000!

The following pictures as well as those of the auction day will give some idea of the (conservatively said) congestion in this farm field at the edge of town. The attached photos of the Cameo were after it was pulled from the retired dealership a few days before the auction.

Before Sale Day — Breathing Room
Auction Day – The crowd is all there!

Pushed back for the Cameo auction
Our Feature Truck — 1958 Chevrolet Cameo with 1.3 Miles
Front Parts

Cameo Rings are Bombay ivory.

Zinc Plated hinge.

3 speed shift box.
Mechanical

Correct Gray 235 Six

Model B Rochester
Interior, It’s New Inside!!!

Yes, it’s 1.3 mile

Untouched

Cameo material design

Still covered in plastic

Seat material on door panel

Left door

Right door, no armrest

Two stickers on glove box

Floor mat, still rolled-up

Dome light

All black headliner

Very few options
Cameo Bed
Cab damage

1969 C-10 Pickup

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Owner: Mitch Jarvis

This little 1969 C-10 pickup drove off the assembly line in Janesville, Wisconsin, sometime in May of that year.  It appears to have been bought for work duties.  Possibly for a government due to almost no options and the orange color.  Its history is a mystery but for sure no upgrades had occurred during its 44 years.  Someone welded in a few new body panels but that was all.  It was just used and used until the deteriorated wiring stopped the engine even starting. And then it was put aside for either a later buyer or the crusher.

Now enters Mitch Jarvis of Independence, Missouri. A well placed ad caught his attention.  He had been looking for a 1969 Chevy truck (year he was born) for a restoration project but wanted no part of a pickup restored. To get one just the way he wanted he knew he must start from the frame up.  Just like a big model kit! This ½ ton had even lost its bed along the way but the deciding feature was its short 115’ wheel base. This is what Mitch wanted to make it a short wide fleet side pickup.

The before and after photos give no question to the start and finish that he made a clean classic short bed ½ ton.  Mitch did almost all the work himself in 2 ½ years except for the painting.  What a project!  Considering he had not restored another vehicle in the past, this is amazing!

The following is Mitch’s story of creating a pickup that most enthusiasts would be proud to own.

When I bought the truck (eBay) in 2009 it was pretty much stripped and the wiring was a mess (I assume there had been an electrical fire at some point as many wires were melted together). There were several boxes of pieces and a pile of oddball parts to sort out. There was no bed that came with the truck.  The previous owner had welded in several replacement pieces on the cab floor, replaced corners and the rocker panels too, so some of the heavy welding was already done.

The biggest challenge to get it up and running was trying to figure out the wiring.  Every wire seemed to have melted, or it had been spliced multiple times, or it had been cut.  The column was also a mess and I had to cannibalize from an extra column I had.  I worked the cab over and got it in primer, added a duel muffler set up and drove it as a “half truck” for about 18 months while I collected parts for the bed (the tail lights, which were really boat trailer lights, were mounted hillbilly style on a 2×6 board bolted to the frame).

I bought a used steel bed floor and wheel-wells for the bed, had them sand-blasted and covered with Line-X bed liner. The sides, front bed panel and tailgate all are after-market pieces bought from Jim Carter Trucks.  I thought it’d be unique and coat the floor and wheel wells with the bed liner but paint the inside of the bed. I do like how it looks, but I’ve since scratched the paint in several places (after all the pickup was built to use).  The truck required new cab mounts all the way around to get everything lined up and new bushings in the doors (they were plastic… I couldn’t believe that, plastic!).

When it was time to paint I knew I wanted green, but I couldn’t find the “Lime Green” that was offered that year except in an economy grade.  So, I went with the very similar “Frost Green” which is original in 1969, but on Chevelles, not the C-10’s. The top and door panels are Antique White.  Creative Classics in Independence, Missouri did the finish body work and paint.

I built the truck as a daily driver, not a show vehicle.  I wanted it to have a clean and classic look, so I didn’t add trim or a lot of extra chrome.  I wasn’t too concerned with having everything exactly original, (the headlight bezels in 1969 were black to match the grill, but I liked the chrome better) and the truck has numerous aftermarket parts.

It’s been great fun to build (still not 100% finished) and the truck gets lots of comments at stop lights and in parking lots.  When I admire some guy’s new Silverado, I like to ask them if he it will be on the road 45 years from now; they mostly just grin.

Jim Carter Trucks has been a great local resource for me as I’ve required both new and used parts, they’re real professionals and have been a lot of help.


During Paint Removal

During the Disassembly

Finally Completed

Look, No Radio!

Nice Bed Liner Combo

Clean Tailgate

Fancy Wheels

1936 GMC

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

Owner:  Pat Kroeger

The United States was experiencing the bad economic years of the 1930’s Great Depression. GMC, the leader of big truck sales, is feeling a market drop with no end in sight. Many of their dealers have either gone out of business or are trying to survive on customer mechanical repairs and selling other products.

The GMC Truck Division must do something soon to save their dealers and themselves. A solution was to enter into the small truck business in 1936. No doubt the GMC engineers had been under much pressure to create a light truck that would save this truck division of General Motors. The result: a very attractive truck that they hoped would be a step above the competition.

This finished product had more engine power for a light pickup, attractive trim and eye catching colors. The ½ was referred to as the T-14. It came only in a long 126” wheel base. The short bed GMC ½ ton 112” wheel base was not introduced until 1937.

GMC was so proud of their new little ½ ton, they even added an emblem with four fasteners on the lower right side cowl panel.

This month’s featured truck is one of these first pickups, a 1936 GMC T-14. Very few have survived. The proud owner and restorer is Pat Kroeger of Palm Harbor, Florida. His GMC has attracted so much attention it has been chosen as the Hallmark All-American Truck Keepsake Series Christmas tree ornament for 2013.

Here is Pat Kroeger’s personal story on his 1936 GMC T-14:

When I retired from the Fire Dept. in 2003, I started to look for another truck to have fun with. I had previously restored a 1922 American LaFrance Fire Engine for the Department that I worked for, but wanted something smaller.

I was looking for a late 40’s to early 50’s Chevrolet truck since a friend of mine had a 1953 Ford F-100 and I wanted to a bit competitive with him. While searching the
Internet I found my current truck, a 1936 GMC T-14 in Queens Creek AZ. My father in law lived part time close by in Phoenix AZ so he went and looked at it for me.
After his inspection, I decided to buy the truck and had it shipped back to Fla. I found out from the buyer that he was the second owner of the truck and that the original owner had bought it new in June of 1936 for $695 and it had been registered in Pinal County since new. The original owner restored the truck in 1989 and the second owner had done a few repairs.

The paint and body work was very good when I got the truck, but mechanically it was in poor condition. Every seal and gasket leaked, the brakes were shot, the head had a crack, the tires were dry rotted and the wood in the bed was dried beyond recognition.

In the last 10 years that I have owned it I have taken care of the above items plus have rebuilt all of the gauges, replaced the tail gate, rechromed the radiator ornament, repainted the wheels, rebuilt the carburetor, rebuilt the fuel pump, replaced the rear glass and surround, added the passenger side mirror, rewired the tank sending unit, replaced the 8 volt battery with a 6 volt Optima battery with new battery cables, replaced the bed wood and strips, replaced the clutch and rebuilt the pressure plate and reupholstered the seat. I have plans to disassemble the bed, fenders and grill and refresh the paint, since 20 years of nicks, bumps and scraps need to be taken care of and install four single action shocks.

Most of the mechanical items I have taken care of myself, but have farmed out the paint and chrome work.

I had no idea of the significance of this truck until I got it and started to research more about it. GMC offered this truck in two versions, Standard and Deluxe with the Deluxe version having chrome headlights and stands, chrome center grill gars, radiator ornament, polished stainless hood louvers and chrome hood handles. In addition to that, GMC also offered a Deluxe Cab option that included a chrome inside rearview mirror, arm rest on driver side, chrome windshield frame, sun glare shield, dome light and chrome wiper arm. The chrome front bumper was an added cost accessory, also. The standard color was Green Murant with black fenders, but eleven other colors were offered either as a single color or two tone.

From what the original owner told me, mine is the original color combination.

I also found out after getting this truck, that 1936 was a very bad year for GM due to a labor strike that lasted for months. Production of this model GMC was limited to 11,250 of which mine is the 3229 in the production run. 1936 was also, for the most part, a single year design for GMC. Few items came from 1935 and few items transferred to 1937.
I attempted to do a decent job of restoring this truck and although not a daily driver, I do put around 100 miles a month driving around to cruise ins and on weekends. I have thoroughly enjoyed working on this truck and like the fact that it is somewhat of a unique truck.

Patrick Kroeger, Palm Harbor, FL


Radiator Cap – a work of art

Hallmark 2013 Christmas ornament

A farmer could haul one horse!
   

1953 Chevrolet 1/2 Canadian Ton Panel Truck

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

Owner: Don Welsh

What a rare find!  Don Welsh of Kansas City, Kansas is the proud new owner of a 1953 Chevrolet 1/2 ton panel truck used by the Canadian Army to transport troops.  Its data plate even is stamped “Army” as well as “Made in Canada”.  By its appearance inside, it was used to haul soldiers and the long bench seat is on both sides of the interior.  Now that’s really close quarters!

Note:  The 1300 emblem on the hood side.  This is the Canadian designation for a 1/2 ton.

1946 Chevrolet 2 ton with Thornton Drive

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013


Owner: Howard Jones

Wow!  They cannot get any rarer than this 1946 Chevrolet 2 ton with Thornton Drive.  Of several thousand produced, this appears to be the only one remaining.  This 1946 Chevrolet 2 ton has two rear axles turning 8 wheels and tires.  The rear axle assembly was produced by the Thornton Tandem Company of Detroit, Michigan.

It was seen sitting among the 825 specialty trucks at the 2013 annual convention of the American Truck Historical Society in Yakima, Washington.  The owner and restorer is Howard Jones of Corvallis, Oregon.  He found it near his home about 1989 and quickly realized its rarity.

No doubt Howard saved it from the usual death of the rest of the Thornton’s.  Their heavy weight made them a top candidate for the crusher once they found their way to a salvage yard.  The price per pound in one vehicle spelled extra income to scrap dealers that had no sales for the heavy iron parts of a Thornton.

Howard Jones is responsible for the almost ground up restoration in the mid 1990’s.  All facets of the restoration was done except for the Thornton duel differential drive system.  Because it operated correctly he did not disturb the inner workings of these differentials.  Fluid change, cleaning, and relining the brake shoes were the limit.  The fear was breaking an internal part and not finding a replacement.

The original horizontal Thornton side plates were restored and placed back on the hood.  A damaged round Thornton plate above the differentials was made again with a non-metal material.  It looks like the original and no one realizes it is not the pure thing!

Because of working outside much of its 65 years, the cab was loaded with rust problems in all the important places.  Howard finally found a replacement 1946 cab with its share of dents; however, it was certainly an improvement of what he had.

All is now black again on the outside and it has the correct tan hammered paint on the interior.  Howard made it as close to its first day in the field as possible.  Note the heavy front bumper.  This is the first year the Chevy 2 tons were given this extra heavy steel unit.  Howard removed a large accessory grille guard from the bumper during the restoration.  It had probably been in place since it was new. The odometer showed almost 16,000 original miles on the truck.

As this Thornton is only for display, Howard created a large opening in the flat bed.  This allows the curious to see much of the differential that would normally be out of view.

Since its restoration was completed almost 10 years ago, Howard has taken it to three larger shows:  Spokane, WA, Reno, NV, and now Yakima, WA.  The weight, long wheel base, and low gearing makes it much more difficult to be moved like a light weight truck.  It now has its own 6 wheel special trailer!

The Thornton is so long that Howard added 5 feet to his garage to keep it out of the Oregon rainy season.  Having the only one remaining relates to the need to protect it from all types of weather!

Howard’s Chevrolet Thornton uses its original 235 low oil pressure six cylinder engine.  The multi-speed low geared differential allows for easy starting even in third gear on the flat land and no load.

Additional Thornton Data:

The Thornton Tandem Company home office was Detroit, Michigan.  Its non-GM accessory was provided to authorized Thornton dealers in the United States.  The components were produced for trucks manufactured by General Motors, Dodge, Studebaker, Ford, etc.  The “kit” consisted of 2 identical pre-existing complete Eaton differentials.  The Eaton differentials were a standard among many large truck manufacturers.  The Thornton assembly consists of a 2 speed high/low splitter into the pair of 2 speed Eaton differentials.  These differentials were installed as mirror images (one forward and the other reversed).  Very unique!  Add this to the optional “No Spin” assembly inside each differential (full driving power to all rear wheels).  Of course, the 2 ton started with the original non-synchronized 4 speed transmission.  Thus Howard’s 2 ton has 16 forward gears and a reported top speed of about 40mph.

In this case, the Chevrolet Thornton required a 3 piece custom drive shaft with two carrier bearings and long frame rail extensions.  These rails made the frame 1 ½ foot longer at the rear than factory and extended inside the original frame to about the rear motor mounts.  This gave the frame over twice the strength!   The wheel base then increased to 230 inches.  Howard’s Thornton gross weight capacity changed from factory 15,000 pounds to almost 46,000 pounds with 8 pulling wheels.  These frame extensions made it practical to move very heavy loads off-road in rough terrain.  Even carrying a large water tank in the back country for fire fighting was a natural for a Thornton!

In the case of Howard’s Thornton, its first owner used it to carry a large tree removing D6 Caterpillar for making a path in native timber for installing Oregon electrical lines for the first time.  The Thornton was just right for carrying the heavy Caterpillar into the woods with no roads.

Years later the next use for this Thornton was carrying a large water tank.  The water with a sprayer was used to keep down road dust that was created in the back country by logging trucks.

Later, before Howard found the truck, it was owned by a person clearing his large acreage of maple trees.  They could load so many logs and make one trip each day to a nearby mill for processing.  This person is the only owner known that actually kept the Thornton in a barn out of the weather when not in use!

If you would like to contact Howard Jones email hjonesmts@gmail.com.

Other examples of Thornton’s uses:

Hauling coal from mines.  See photo.

Carrying water to rural fires by Fire Departments.

Transporting ready mix concrete to job sites.  See photo.

Hauling sand and gravel.

Moving tanks of gasoline and oil.

Carrying loads at harvest times from larger farms.

Howard has heard about 100’s of Thornton’s that were exported overseas after World War II.  They were great help in clearing the after war rubble from cities due to many bombings.  The large volume they carried helped shorten the time of rebuilding.

Unfortunately, when these large rubble removing jobs were complete, the Thornton’s were too large for most overseas farm work or other commercial uses.  The expense of keeping these large now well used Thornton’s was not useable by the local people.  Once again the heavy weight and operating expense of these trucks was what resulted in their demise!  War torn countries could not afford them or need them once the US contractors had completed their jobs.  They went to steel recyclers.


30 spring leafs

1947 GMC

Monday, July 1st, 2013

Owner: Joe Miller

We are proud to have this very rare 1947 GMC as our feature truck of the month. Manufactured in Pontiac, Michigan from only April through about November 1947, this GMC is one of the few survivors of a 1 ton 9 foot bed pickup. They were bought new for work duties! After years of heavy use and limited money by most owners through the 1950’s, most of these models were used until they were not financially repairable. Their heavy weight made them a good candidate for the crusher once they hit a salvage yard.

Joe Miller of Smithville, MO is the person responsible for saving this unusual GMC and making it into a piece of artwork. Most from the 2 year restoration is just like it was when it left the factory. Even the Brewster Green with Apple Green stripe and wheels is how GMC made most. It is suspected this long pickup was even an eye catcher in its early years!

An advertisement on EBay led Joe to this special pickup in Central Minnesota. It not only was what he was wanting but it had no motor or transmission. This reduced the price as well as the buying competition. Joe had a rebuilt 302 GMC six cylinder waiting at home and correct 4 speed transmissions were not difficult to find. After the sale, Joe found he was the only person that had shown an interest in the truck. He has kept it from the salvage yard and later a worse fate!

This big 1947 was totally disassembled and then carefully put together so there were no worn parts. All had to equal new truck quality. A nice blend of new and used are in the final show package. As a retired airline pilot for US Airways, Joe made this his daily hobby (work) project for 2 years. At one time he had restored a 1931 Model A Ford and later a 1967 Corvette but this was a totally different animal. Everything was heavy duty. Many one ton parts are not being reproduced and hunting is the only way.

The following are 4 things Joe added during the restoration to improve driving quality of his 1 ton: They made the 1 ton a pleasure to drive rather than the opposite.

The 5.14 ratio ring and pinion assembly (pumpkin) was exchanged with the highest ratio available in a 4.10 ring and pinion from a 1967-72 3/4 ton improved the highway speed almost 20% with no visual appearance changes.

The original GMC 228 inline six cylinder engine was not used. It was replaced with a 302 cubic inch later year GMC. This is the largest of the 1939 to 1959 GMC inline engines and is an exact fit. It greatly changed the truck’s performance personality! Originally, they were used in the late 1950’s school buses and 2 ton trucks. The larger cubic inch displacement even requires a 2-barrel Stromberg WW carburetor to provide the correct amount of fuel and air to the combustion chamber.

As much as Joe was comfortable with the 17” factory split rim wheels, there was a concern with being in distant locations and not finding a garage with the experience in change tires with this wheel design. Therefore, he found 5 new 8 bolt 16” wheels that would not rub the tie rod ends. Though the wheels each had 4 bumps to hold a modern hub cap, Joe made a modification. With his skill he added inside 1/2 ton spring clips and the original 1947 3/4 ton hub caps fit just right.

Big Trip!

Because it was finally a go anywhere new 1947, Joe decided he would drive to the next annual convention of the American Truck Historical Society. In 2013, it was in Yakima, Washington. It couldn’t have been any further from his mid-America home in Missouri. The trip would be almost 2,000 miles one way and touch 10 states. But why not! It was new and he needed a break from the 2 year daily restoration project.

Joe and Co-pilot Bob Dyck of Vassar, Kansas (also a truck restoration enthusiast) began the drive leaving Smithville a week before the convention started. It became a vacation between friends. A few stops along the way included the South Dakota Badlands, Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills, and Yellowstone National Park. The attached photo shows Joe at Powder Pass in Wyoming with 9,666’ elevation and also parked in front of the original 100 year old hotel in Yellowstone Park.

The GMC cruised at 60 to 65 mph on flat lands. Most surprising, it drove up to Powder Pass and stayed in 4th gear. Now that’s pulling power!

At the ATHS convention, even with 825 early trucks on display, this big pickup was obviously a little above most in workmanship and was a one of a kind. The surprise to most was that it did not arrive in an enclosed trailer. It was back in Missouri in a few weeks after the long driving vacation of 3,906 miles. Stops from mechanical malfunctions, flat tires, or restoration mistakes, zero! Of course it was a new 66 year old.

Extra items on Joe’s 1 ton that may be of interest:

He protected the bedwood with black paint just like the factory. He was well aware that no General Motors truck would have left the factory with a smooth finish varnished bed.

Note a very unique feature of a 1947-48 GMC truck; the pickups, 1/2 , 3/4, and 1 ton have a 3 bar grille just like the 1 1/2 and 2 ton plus the Cab-Over-Engine trucks. It is assumed the one size fits all idea was to save production costs, is why this was done. Beginning in 1949 the smaller GMC pickup used a lighter weight 4 bar grille.

In addition, the 1947-48 1/2, 3/4, and 1 ton GMC’s used a different front splash apron and bumper (nothing like Chevrolet). It is slightly curved on the top and bottom and each far side has 3 holes to support stronger bracing. The center grille guard appears to be standard equipment. Look at the strong grille bracing in the attached photo of another 1947-48 GMC.

Yes, you can make a 5 window deluxe cab from a standard 3 window cab. Joe, with the help of a very skilled body shop, found a badly damaged deluxe cab and used the 2 corner windows. They look like they were installed by GM.

Check out the tall gas spout on the un-restored truck. On a 1947-48 GMC 1 ton pickup it is between the bed and cab and connects to an under bed tank.

A little more padding in the seat plus pleating to hold it in place would make it more comfortable for long rides on more rough roads.

Joe’s new daily driver is now quickly recognized in his town. It is a pleasure for him to drive and it is said he doesn’t even miss not having air conditioning in the Missouri summer.

You can contact Joe at: joemiller3@flica.net


Completed

Joe’s work of art

Correct bed floor color

It’s a 302 with a 2-barrel

Inside

During restoration

Almost finished

Close to completion

Note the factory under bed gas tank

100 year old lodge in Yellowstone Park

Along the way

As high as it gets!

The condition when he found his 1947

Bought with no tailgate

View from a different truck, 1947-48 grille reinforcement

1939 Chevy Half Ton

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

Owner: Steve Jones

If you ever consider restoring a Pre-WWII GM truck, this data should quickly get you in the mood. Just look at what was done to a tired 1939 Chevy 1/2 ton that was bought from a newspaper advertisement. Its many pieces were brought home after years of abuse. It was no longer a usable vehicle.

Even more incredible is that it all happened in the country of New Zealand where most restoration parts must be imported. The owner and rebuilder is Steve Jones on the North Island of New Zealand. In past years he had owned a 1939 Chevy coupe but having an old Chevrolet pickup had been a developing dream and this very rare 1939 was just what he had in mind. Thanks to the internet and his computer, Steve realized the potential of this little pickup. The goal would be to make it very close to what you could buy from a New Zealand Chevrolet dealer in 1939.

Yes, of course it was a frame off project. Several years work and many orders from the US allowed it to finally come together. The only noticeable differences from its 1939 beginning are the addition of a non-New Zealand GM bed with sides and its whitewalls. Steve even painted it an optional US factory color, Armour Yellow.

The photos will give some readers another surprise. New Zealand, like many other countries in the world, is a right hand drive nation! The dash is totally reversed. The starter and accelerator pedal linkage has been re-engineered to reach their different place in the cab. The taillight is moved to the right side. A connection on the steering connection to the front suspension requires a very unique “third arm” beside the right king pin assembly.

Steve is a total GM truck enthusiast, so he has since completed the same treatment on a 1949 Chevy ½ ton and it is used as a more daily driver. His “biggest of all” project is his current challenge. This is rebuilding a 1957 GMC cab over engine (COE) Model 370 truck. This will be a frame off project that will surely require 2 or 3 years to complete. We can only imagine the cost and personal work this will require. We assume this will be the “only” example of this unusual truck in the country of New Zealand.

His enthusiasm continues! Steve is now forming the “All American Truck Club”. It will be open to all New Zealand truck enthusiasts and at least for now no membership charge. He would love to get the many New Zealand truck owners together and help improve knowledge, have truck gatherings and drives, plus help develop a better parts exchange.

You can contact Steve Jones at: chevytrucks49@e3.net.nz.

More data on Pre-WWII GM New Zealand trucks:

General Motors right hand drive trucks, though unusual in the United States, have always been very popular in specific countries such as Britain, New Zealand, South Africa, and Australia. These vehicles were not produced in the U.S. but came from GM’s large assembly plant in Oshawa, Ontario. Due to reversed dash boards, the change in steering components, differences in starter linkages, and tail light locations, etc., the lower numbers of right hand drive production was kept at this one Canadian assembly plant.

In New Zealand, special marketing laws required at least 25% of each new truck had to be assembled or produced in that country. This was mostly to help provide more local jobs. Thus for many years the GM Canadian facility exported truck parts only to the New Zealand assembly plant in Petone near the capital city of Wellington. Hundreds of freight containers supplying GM truck parts regularly arrived at this New Zealand assembly plant. The specialized parts from Canada were engines, frames, suspension components, disassembled cabs and front sheet metal. The New Zealand plant then assembled the truck and furnished parts they could provide locally. This included (at least in the 1940′s) the wiring harnesses, window glass, a wood cab floor, rubber parts, gas tank, an optional flat wood deck, etc.

To keep within the 25% government parts and labor requirement, a truck bed with sides as supplied on U.S. vehicles was not included. A locally made wood deck could be added during assembly. Either with or without this deck, the two rear pickup metal rear fenders from the Canadian plant were wired or otherwise secured at the rear of the cab. The finished vehicle was delivered this way to local New Zealand GM dealers. The lack of a bed would also allow the budget minded buyer to construct his own deck or hauling platform and better afford the new truck.

A New Zealand trailer manufacturer during these early years used these pickup rear fenders on their finished product. Their small general purpose trailers were usually equipped with these new metal pickup fenders. A retired 88 year old manager of this company remembers having standing orders with all New Zealand pickup dealers (not just GM) to purchase their extras. This saved additional expense on their completed trailers.

Their right hand drive feature is unique to American readers; however, these Chevrolets have another very unusual characteristic. As with most 1939 New Zealand Chevrolet trucks, their cab was assembled in the Petone, New Zealand plant from pre-stamped pieces from the Canadian location, and are a mixture of two types of trucks. The rear of the cabs and door outer sheet metal are of the U.S. 1936-1938 design. The cowl, windshield frame, hood and grill are the 1939-40 style. Yes, they do weld together nicely into a single unit but the outside horizontal door and hood trim lines do not match. Reasons for the GM ‘cab mixture’ are not known at this writing, however, it is assumed keeping New Zealand’s costs low was the main factor. Quantities of older 1936-38 style rear cabs, roofs, and door stampings were either already available or the prior tooling still had much remaining life. The lower cost could then be passed on to the retail truck buyer. Just another way of producing the New Zealand 1939 GM truck at the lowest possible price!

Another theory for this unusual combination cab is due to the beginning of World War II. Because of New Zealand’s connection with Great Britain, they entered the war September 2, 1939 over two years before the United States became formally involved. No doubt being in the war created an immediate demand for all trucks in New Zealand. Rather than lose sales while the cab tooling changeover occurred at the Canadian supply plant (1938 to the new design 1939 body) GM continued with the prior sheet metal for their in demand export truck. Exact new styling was not necessary to overseas buyers when the war demand was so high!

One of Steve’s pictures, with this article, features the inside of the cab top without the headliner. Note: the factory welds where the early and late style sheet metal have been joined.


Factory cab welds show 2 cab designs joined.

Non-US inside door panels

1958 GMC Model 350 2-1/2 Ton Stakebed

Friday, May 24th, 2013

Owner:  John “Grizz” Hulbert

This was purchased from an eBay ad, here in Illinois. It spent all of its life under shelter as a farm truck. The old farmer couldn’t start it one day and took it to another, local farmer who does mechanics work. When the mechanic told the owner that the 336 Pontiac engine had sucked a valve, the owner told him to junk it. Not on his watch, the mechanic/farmer found a 316 Pontiac as a replacement. I got in it after I bought it and drove the 300 miles home on back roads and averaging 50 mph. Overall, the truck is exceptionally clean and is definitely a head turner, even though it’s not a hotrod pickup. The dump bed lifts and it runs straight. I just have a fuel gauge, speedometer, and rear seals to work out.

1937 Chevy Car Hauler

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

When you want to transport your rebuilt 1937 Chevy coupe to more distant shows, what do you use?

Barney Hobbs of Damascus, Oregon decided pulling a trailer for this was not acceptable. That feeling along with Barney’s talents in a few restorations resulted in an 18 month project that created this one of a kind car hauler. Just imagine a 213 inch wheel base 1937 Chevy truck for moving his 1937 coupe! It even requires two carrier bearings to keep the long drive shaft in place.

His idea started when he saw a 1986 motor home with an un-repairable body. It still had a good frame with 4 wheel disc brakes and all wheel air bag suspension. The length was more than adequate. This just might work!

Sitting in the background in the photo of his modified 1937 Chevy coupe is the 1937 1 ½ ton truck that he combined with the motor home chassis about 3 years ago. During the creation of this special truck, the original 1937 frame was cut just behind the cab and grafted to the motor home frame side rails. Barney was amazed how nice the 1937 frame rails slid into those of the larger motor home once it was narrowed. The result gives excellent frame support.

The remaining front of the 1937 frame was boxed (reinforced) to hold a Cummins V-8 5.9 diesel engine and automatic transmission from a 1993 Dodge truck. Of course, an updated front cross member was placed in the 1937 frame to hold the inner cooler, radiator, and core support. All these modifications compliment the skills of Barney Hobbs. His experience in mechanical repair, a large fully equipped home garage, lifts and owning the many specialty tools made this job successful and all being done during his retirement years.

We would consider him a genius at what he has been able to create by normally working just by himself. Barney’s comment is: “I did the work myself. This included painting, all electric work, welding, sand blasting parts, installation, etc. I mean, I did it all! Even the aluminum billet grille I created and installed. The only things I did not do were the cab interior and the air to air inner cooler and radiator which were substituted for a more efficient core.”

Other specifications are a 5 speed overdrive transmission and 3.73 ratio differential, 19.5” tires, 14.5” disc brakes.

Two of the more difficult tasks were adding 2 ½ inches width to the front fenders. This increased the size so the large tires could turn under them. The other very big project was adding 11 inches to the back of the cab to make more room because of the additional space for the 5.9 Cummins diesel engine.

You can contact Barney at bthobbs@hevanet.com.

1946 COE Pickup

Monday, April 29th, 2013

Owner: Bill Knoernschild

Look what you can do with an early COE cab and a lot of imagination (an extra supply of money also helps).  This cab sits on a 1984 Chevrolet 1 ton truck chassis, perfectly carries a 1946 ¾ ton pickup bed, and uses 1940-46 rear pickup fenders.  What a nice combination.  We might call it a COE pickup!

The owner and creator is Bill Knoernschild of Cutchogue, New York on Long Island.  This retired enthusiast has done several other specialty vehicles but this is so far, his high point.  Bill does almost all his own restoration work and his skills and workmanship are superb.

This specialty truck is so unusual that even the non-vehicle enthusiasts have to stop and take notice.  Bill’s COE invented the term “Traffic Stopper”.

He found this tired truck several years ago in a back field on Long Island.  It had been at one time a tow truck.  Due to the COE’s rarity he decided to salvage the cab and save it from a certain death (because of a COE’s weight, most went to the crusher).  Bill decided it would be like no one had ever seen.  It became a 2 year project!

A 1984 Chevy chassis was totally rebuilt including V-8 engine, suspension, automatic transmission, and so many modifications to make it fit the almost 60 year old cab.

The “new” truck has all the power options including air conditioning.  It even operates with a computer under the dash just like a late model vehicle.  Modern interior, updated dash gauges, and six new 16” very special chrome wheels add to the package.

Just one example of the intense labor is the front fenders.  The originals were a total loss and replacements seemed to be unobtainable.  Therefore, fiberglass pickup fenders were used but required a special skill to trim the correct 6 inches and reform to create COE fenders.  Now that takes talent!

Would you believe:  The second time out with his restored COE Bill hit a deer near his home!  It was back to the home garage for much more work on at least one fender!  Therefore, Bill says by this time, the money spent on just body work, paint preparation, and two stage paint had reached $28,000.

Looking over all the receipts for the two year build is now close to six figures!  Wow, if Bill ever gets hit by another vehicle, their insurance company will really be crying the blues.

You can contact Bill at:  Plumbcrazyinc@gmail.com.

Note:  The letters COE are the abbreviation for Cab-Over-Engine.  This is what early truck manufacturers called their units that had the cab over the engine.  Without the nose and engine in front of the truck it had a much shorter wheel base.  Thus, it could make short turns in tight spots such as older neighborhoods with narrow streets and still carry the same amount of freight.  Yes, with the engine below, the cab interior was much warmer in the summer.   For the driver it was what he had to tolerate to own a COE.

1961 GMC Suburban

Monday, April 1st, 2013

Owner: Clyde McKaba


Another rare truck for our Feature Truck of the Month series!! A 1961 GMC is unusual in any body style but this style is now almost non-existent. Imagine this; a 1961 GMC Suburban with factory 4×4! It has the original 305 V-6 engine with stand alone transfer case (not attached to the 4 speed transmission).

The owner is Clyde McKaba of Abbeville, South Carolina. His love for GMC’s began in the mid 1970’s while working six years for a dealership in his home state of Massachusetts.

Clyde found his 1961 Suburban about two years ago in Spokane, Washington and had it transported to South Carolina. He has papers on the Suburban’s history including the past three owners and most repairs. Very unusual for all prior owners to have kept all their records. It is said GMC sold about 200 Suburban’s with 4 wheel drive during the early 1960’s. Clyde’s is one of the only survivors due to hard use, abuse, accidents, and the results of rust from damp air in most states.

It was purchased new in Springfield, Missouri with a list price of $4,146.75. Almost a $1,000.00 above the base price of the Chevrolet Suburban. See attached window stickers and invoice. Records show it was then licensed in Colorado, a popular state for 4 wheel drive trucks. As Suburban’s are usually people haulers, this unit was probably used by a family as a driver. The lack of air conditioning was no problem in the high country of Colorado!


Original Invoice

Original Window Sticker

The next owner kept the Suburban in eastern high desert country near Spokane, Washington. Once again it was kept by the owner in dry climate all year.

Clyde says in 2009 it had its one repaint and was kept the factory color; Mediterranean Blue and White. The upholstery now has cloth material on the three original seats. All 4 rear quarter windows slide open. It is difficult to believe the mileage is only 115,000 (about 2,200 miles per year) and records show no major mechanical repairs. The Suburban gets 10 to 12 miles per gallon, which is about usual for these large V-6 engines. No rust so no replacement body panels have been used. Thanks to Clyde, it is being kept in excellent condition and remains a part of history. An excellent example of how they were in 1961.

Clyde McKaba is also a recent proud owner of a near perfect 1966 GMC ½ ton with 351 V-6 engine. This was our company’s first feature truck July 2000. Clyde can be contacted at: cmckaba@centurylink.net.

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1947 GMC Suburban

Thursday, March 21st, 2013



What a rare Suburban! We recently found these photos among some stored papers from 1999. An early 1947 GMC Suburban is rarely seen, so it just had to be placed on our website. This was the last year of the Prewar GMC’s and was carried into the beginning of 1947.

It was owned and restored by Mark DeVries of Bakersfield, California (he may still own it). During its ground up restoration Mark added new leaf springs, wheel cylinders, spindles, a high speed 3.55 ratio ring and pinion, clutch assembly, grille, headlights, fenders and running boards.

Mark even went a step further and black powder coated the frame and axles. The body color is the correct Narva green.

The pair of small accessory taillights were first offered in late 1947, but no doubt the GMC dealer would have added them on this older Suburban. When turn signals became popular, owners often requested these to be placed on their older Suburban’s and Panel trucks.

This surely is the only one left!

Friday, March 1st, 2013

A totally restored 1937 COE 1 ½ ton on a 131” wheel base truck with attached Holmes #485 tow body from the late 1920’s. Most unusual about this Holmes #485 is the original hand crank system for lifting the cars for towing. There is no PTO on the transmission. This rig was operated by a driver with more muscle than the average person. It was an unusual operator that could crank this rig beyond 50 years old.

The owner is John Kesey from McMillan, Michigan. Email: keskeyj@yahoo.com

1939 Chevrolet 1 1/2 Ton Pickup

Monday, February 25th, 2013

Year/Make 1939 Chevrolet
Owner: John H. Sheally II

1939 Chevrolet Tow truck

What do you tow your Morgan with ?

Year/Make 1939 Chevrolet
Owner: John H. Sheally II

What do you tow your Morgan with ?

Story and Photographs by John H. Sheally II

There is something special about driving a 74-year-old truck, built with purpose and pride four years before I was born.

My 1939 Chevrolet, grain bed, ton and a half tow truck is what I call a ‘REAL TRUCK’. This baby was built to work and be tough. Quality was important to vehicle builders of the pre-war era – trucks of that period were built to be strong and simple. There are no plastic parts or paper fender wells held in place with paper clips in this machine. Plenty of nickel was used in the steel bodies thus they did not rust out. As a result trucks like mine can be rebuilt, restored or refurbished very easily. Mine was a one owner (same family its whole pre life) from an estate sale in Charlottesville, Virginia. It was an ugly faded green (original color) and had been worked hard all its years on that farm, It was an 80% restoration for me, starting with bodywork, paint, new interior, engine work as well as brakes on all four corners and enclosed drive-shaft joints.

My ‘Heavy Chevy’ has been on the road since that restoration three decades ago , I have do some 10,000 miles plus  a year with it,  towing my competition cars to  competition events annually as well as meets and concours. I have competed with several different Morgan models over these years as well as a Cobra, Saab Sonnet and two formula cars – all towed with this dependable machine for the last 68,883 miles.

I often enter the truck in shows and it wins along with the Morgan being shown for a double header at the show or concours.

The truck is perfect for the job it does. Most of these big Chevy trucks were built as stake body or flat bed models but mine was one of the rare grain bed models, big pickup bed trucks with the beds built to haul grain without spillage. As a result I can carry my tools, spares, tires, air bottles, jacks, generator, etc. The addition of a Tonneau makes it all come together for a nice competition tow package.

The engine was a ‘stove bolt’ straight 216 cubic inch six cylinder referred to as a Thriftmaster Six. When I rebuilt it two years ago I realized that I’d like to have a few more ponies coming out of it  because when I hit the mountains with it I had  to really  work the four speed gearbox to pull up the steeper slopes. So I rebuilt it to a 261 stroker which amounted to a larger bore and. longer rods, I drilled a couple of extra weep holes in the head for more cooling. The final package ended up as a Jobmaster Six with 24 more horses on the bottom end resulting in great torque and I can forget the gearbox when I hit the mountain ranges.

The Chevy is sprung stiff and required no special springs or helper shocks as it was built to handle heavy loads when built by the General Motors factory. I put Carbon-Kevlar brake shoes on four corners and it stops when I ask it too very well.

I cruise at 55 mph all day long and can hit 75 on a downhill run. It’s a great truck with great working ability and a smooth ride “when loaded”.

This black beauty is also a movie star, making her film debut in the Steven King feature ‘Hearts in Atlantis’, which is produced by Dreamworks.

You can email John at:  Morgandude@Verizon.net

1939 Chevrolet Tow truck 1939 Chevrolet Tow truck
1939 Chevrolet Tow truck 1939 Chevrolet Tow truck
1939 Chevrolet Tow truck 1939 Chevrolet Tow truck
1939 Chevrolet Tow truck 1939 Chevrolet Tow truck
1939 Chevrolet Tow truck
1939 Chevrolet Tow truck 1939 Chevrolet Tow truck
1939 Chevrolet Tow truck

1934-35 Australian Chevrolet

Friday, February 15th, 2013
1934-35 Australian Chevrolet 1 ½ ton

These photos might be of interest to US owners of 1934-35 Chevrolet trucks. The Australian design is very similar however there are just enough differences to catch the attention of the close observer.

Examples: The hood sides and doors are quite different. Check the curved door bottoms. Of course, this also makes the cab different.

Probably the most unique feature is the lack of roll-up door windows.  Maybe to help lower the retail price, Chevrolet used “side curtains”!  When the rain came, the curtains with see through inserts were snapped in place on the door exterior to keep the driver and interior just a little dryer!

The wheels, grille emblem and radiator shell are like the US. We suspect the drive train and frame rails are also the same.

Of course, the US ½ and 1 ½ ton use the same cab. No doubt Australia follows the same guidelines.

Photos provided by: Bob Johnson, Melbourne, Australia

  1934-35 Australian Chevrolet 1 ½ ton

1961 Deluxe Chevrolet

Friday, February 1st, 2013

Owner: Paul Bremer


It’s 1965 and 10 year old Paul Bremer often rides his bicycle near his home in Seward, Nebraska.  One thing he always admires is the neighbor’s 1961 Deluxe Chevrolet ½ ton.  They had bought it new and wanted the best.  Few 1961 Chevrolet trucks were equipped with this amount of trim and it always caught Paul’s attention.  He often watched them cleaning and waxing this pickup by its garage.

Over 20 years later in 1985, Paul received a call from the local Chrysler dealer.  The owner had heard of his love for older vehicles in this medium size Nebraska town.  They had just received a 1961 Chevy truck as a trade on a new car that week.  They had no interest in keeping a 27 year old pickup in 1988 even if it had only 30,000 miles on the odometer.

What a surprise!  When Paul arrived at this Chrysler dealership, he quickly realized this was the pickup that had once belonged to his neighbors, the truck he had admired during his bicycle years.  In less than an hour he was the new owner.

His project was to bring it back to its glory days.  Some repairs were needed after many years and with great enthusiasm Paul started the transformation.  During the very detailed clean-up he removed two seat cover layers to expose the undamaged deluxe seat.  Shag carpet (popular in 1960 homes) had protected the factory rubber floor mat.  New original Chevy hub caps were finally found and replaced the aftermarket chrome wire wheel covers.  The bumpers were re-chromed.

To remove chips and related paint damage the lower half of the body was sanded and painted the correct Pure White.  The tailgate and wheels were refreshed with the original color Tampico Turquoise.  The correct white wall tires for 1961 were installed.

All the rare deluxe trim is mint condition.  Accessories included the fresh air heater.  At some point in time the original radio was replaced.   A NOS radio will be re-installed.  The original 283 V8, column shift 3 speed transmission, suspension and 8 foot bed are unchanged.

Paul occasionally drives his special truck but only in nice weather.  In fact, during the last 25 years it has only been on the road 10,000 miles.  This was mostly to special interest auto and truck shows in surrounding states.

A special comment on Paul’s love for older vehicles:  In past years he has accumulated about 6 mint condition trucks with extremely low mileage.  Several additional vehicles that have been driven further are also part of his collection.  He also gradually has collected large quantities of very special new and used original parts.  Most will never be reproduced.  Paul knows what to look for!

Where does he keep all these special trucks and parts?  A closed Chevrolet dealership in a small town near Paul’s home came up for sale.  Yes, you’re correct, he bought it!  All his toys and parts can stay inside out of view.

You can contact Paul at:  paulspickupparts@windstream.net.

1934 Chevrolet Canopy Express

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

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.

1951 Chevy Bus

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Owner: Butch Voigt

This month’s Feature Truck certainly follows our trend of finding the more unusual among early Chevrolet and GMC vehicles.  This may be the only survivor of a 1951 Chevrolet 1 ton with a 16 passenger body. Chevrolet provided the 131” wheel base chassis with fenders, hood, grille, etc. See photo. The passenger part was made by the Carpenter Body Works in Mitchell, Indiana. The bus is so narrow it has the usual row of double seats on one side but has a row of single seats on the other side, thus the isle is not centered.  Any school district that asked for a smaller bus would probably have to use a Suburban.

Much of its life was spent hauling rural school children near Mountain Lake, a small town in Southern Minnesota.  Many years later when the bus was retired, the school district used it 20 more years for hauling freight.  With the seats removed it became the schools maintenance department pickup truck!

The next owner surely saved it from the crusher!  Bruce Goldstrand of Stillwater, MN traveled this area occasionally as an outside salesman.  As an old car collector, when he passed a salvage yard near Mountain Lake he always noticed this little bus sitting among the other discarded vehicles.  After a year of seeing it every few months it began to grow on him and he would watch for it on each trip.  One nice day, he could not resist a stop at the yard for a closer view of the bus.  Bruce knew there was space for it in one of his storage buildings but a bus certainly did not fit the image of the other unique cars in his collection.  He looked close at this little bus and was surprised at how complete it was. Yes, all but two seats were missing (it had later been the school district’s truck), there was broken glass, and badly rusted lower body panels but most of the original parts remained.

Bruce fell in love with the bus; however there was a big problem!  The salvage yard owner said he had received a down payment on it the week before, so Bruce’s hope for ownership was over. He drove home disappointed but gave the yard owner his phone number. Surprise! Two weeks later the salvage yard owner called. The person had changed his mind and Bruce could own the bus.

He quickly hauled his little bus home and made a space for it in a storage building.

The high hopes of having fun driving the little bus to antique car activities were soon lost. Bruce discovered his antique vehicle insurance company for his other older special interest cars would not insure a bus. It was suspected that the company was concerned about many passengers in one vehicle. Probably some had been used as a “party bus”.  Therefore, except for driving on the back lot it sat in his garage for 19 years.

It was then in 2011 Bruce decided he would not restore it. The bus needed a new home to give him more garage space. It was hauled to a local farm show for display with a sign on the window. An employee of a distant school bus collector saw it and made a phone call.  The bus collector-restorer was immediately interested. After negotiations on price, the bus had a new owner the next week.

This owner, Butch Voigt was a natural for owning this 60 year old bus.  Butch is a second generation owner of his family business since it was founded in 1947 as the Voigt Bus Service near St. Cloud, MN.  He has three of his children active in the business and two grandchildren that work part time that will someday be owners of the company.  Their bus company currently owns 75 newer school buses, 40 coaches and 10 vans that serve 4 school districts in the surrounding area.

His love for older school buses had immediately pulled him to Bruce’s tired little bus.  He has 6 other early school buses of different makes that he has totally restored including the 1948 Flexible Coach in the first photo.  This small 16 passenger would be just right for hauling his grandchildren to local sporting events and to the ice cream shop in the summer.

All was carefully rebuilt and reassembled like an oversize model kit.  Nothing was over looked.  His goal was to have it completed and drive it 70 miles to pickup his two grandsons on their last day of school.  It ran great (but slow) during the long distance to the school and was a real eye catcher to those along the way!  The sight of their grandfather after school waiting for these two children in his new 1951 bus should have been on film!

It is so small compared to regular buses today, yet much larger that an early Suburban.  Butch became very excited about his new little bus as it was nothing like he had ever owned.   Butch had his grandchildren in mind but also knew it would be just right for the many small summer parades in the local area, easy to park and easy to drive.

During the restoration the body was lifted from the frame rails and restored in his company bus barn.  Butch personally restored the chassis at his home.  He was surprised that some of the replaced rusty metal panels of this Carpenter body were put together at the factory with lead securing the seams (an old method) rather than welding.  Butch broke all his records and did a ground up restoration in about 6 months.

The bus has one oversize heater beside the driver and none in the back.  We know the students wanted to sit up front on cold Minnesota winter mornings.  It still has its original 216 six cylinder engine and 4 speed transmission.  The low geared rear differential makes it all possible for its little engine.

Notice the orange color on the bus body.  Butch states that in 1969 Federal regulations required all school buses to be the same yellow as today.  However, prior to this only Minnesota and Alaska used orange as their school bus color.  It was the Carpenter Bus Company that painted the body orange.  The black hood from GM was then also change to their orange.

Thanks to Butch Voigt, one of the few remaining 1951 Chevy 16 passenger Carpenter school buses is alive and well.  In fact it is above museum quality!  It is a great addition to his show quality collection of school buses that represent another era of taking children to Minnesota schools.

You can contact Butch Voigt at 1-218-765-3104

As Butch bought it in 2011.

Ready for school.

New bus seats, never used. Exact original interior color.

The large heater is ready. Sitting between the frame rails.

Cooper Lines to large bus heater.

NOTE:  FOR EVEN MORE PHOTOS OF THE ORIGINAL BUS AND THE RESTORATION OF BUTCH’S SPECIAL VEHICLE: CLICK HERE.

1951 Chevy Bus cont.

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012
Butch was able to provide many photos during the frame up restoration. The following will show many details of the complete restoration.
Disassembly

Many body repairs

Priming is underway

New paint

Mechanicals are perfect

Miscellaneous

The ultimate detail!
The inside decal is remade – perfect

1958 Chevrolet Cameo

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

Owner: Scott Phaneuf

It all began over 30 years ago about 60 miles from Boston, Massachusetts. Scott Phaneuf had begun to accumulate a few rental houses. He had started looking for a pickup truck to help move larger remodeling supplies. Nothing fancy was needed, just a less expensive pickup for hauling lumber, sheetrock, trash, etc.

Then it happened! After checking several older trucks in his city he was told of an unusual late 1950’s pickup in the adjacent town. He found it sitting outside behind a neighborhood garage and not running. The owner called it a 1958 Chevrolet Cameo truck. He said it was very rare and almost none had survived.  Scott immediately was interested. After 2  few phone calls and checking the public library he found it was very unusual truck and was produced at the end of its 3 ½ year production run in the mid-1950s. Scott had to have it!

After towing it home, Scott soon decided it was too unusual to leave so deteriorated. Why not turn it into almost new condition, use it for only light hauling, and have something few people in his area had ever seen. Therefore, in about a year Scott personally restored it to look almost new! It became his special hauler for almost 30 years.

Our story actually begins about 25 years after his first Cameo was purchased. Scott or his wife Donna was looking on Ebay when it was just in its beginnings and saw a 1958 Cameo in Georgia. Why not have another 1958? It would be like a “his and hers” pair of 1958 Cameos. They owned a large garage and had the restoration experience from the first Cameo. They made an Ebay bid and owned it!

When they returned from Georgia with their second Cameo, they decided it would be restored as perfect as they could make it and build it as an all original “show truck”.

Thus, this is our Feature Truck of the Month, the second 1958 Chevrolet Cameo owned by Scott and Donna Phaneuf. Yes, they bought it because it was a rare 1958 but it was also equipped with the optional 283 V-8 engine, a rare Hydramatic transmission, and very rare power steering. Later when they removed the body from the frame, a case of “buyer’s remorse” set in. “What did we do”? The rust was so much worse than their first. The cab floors, lower door hinge supports, and sheet metal corners were rusted beyond repair. Most any lower sheet metal panels needed to be replaced. They had no choice but to continue with the restoration. The truck was now in pieces and would have limited value in parts.

Fortunately Scott and Donna didn’t stop the restoration and they did it together. Several years later it became a near new as you can get. It’s considered Donnas’ truck.

The paint is the correct Tartan Turquoise and Bombay Ivory. Accessories on this already loaded Cameo are radio, fresh air heater, behind the seat tool tray and tool kit. It mostly is kept in their garage, but is occasionally seen at local shows. The main show for 2012 was at the American Truck Historical Society’s national meet in West Springfield, Massachusetts where it was displayed among the best in the country.

For most of us having two very nice 1958 Cameo’s would be the limit of our vehicle collection. But not the Phaneuf’s. No, their collection increased when they later discovered another 1958 Cameo they call #3. It is the rarest of all. Only two were made by General Motors and they were for display at 1958 auto shows. These had fuel injection as was offered as on option of the early Chevrolet Corvette’s with a 283 V-8 engine. After a major restoration it’s a real eye catcher with correct Golden Yellow and Jet Black colors.

A few years ago Scott retired so he now has even more time to spend in the restoration hobby. He recently found #4 1958 Cameo for such a good price he could not resist. It is probably the only Kodiak Brown with Bombay Ivory trim 1958 Cameo in existence. With Scott’s experience, it’s very rough condition and many years of outside storage will allow the Cameo to be restored while most would have called it a total loss.

The BIG restoration of all is now also underway including Cameo #4. How do you transport four Cameos to major shows? Well, Scott quickly has the answer. You move them together like they did 50 years ago. In North Carolina he found a 1959 Chevrolet Spartan 100 tractor and later a 50 year old Anchor car hauler trailer. They fit together perfectly! Won’t that be the show of all shows? Stay tuned for a big future article with photos when all is complete.

Who said you were to sit back in your easy chair when you retired?

You can contact Scott by email at: keyman4885@yahoo.com

The First 1935 Suburban

Monday, October 1st, 2012

Owner: Ed Brouillet

It’s 1935! With the encouragement of the US Army, the first Chevrolet Suburban is introduced. The Army wanted an enclosed vehicle to carry officers with a driver at their military bases. Of course, it would be a boost to Chevrolet for people to see they were doing so well during the Great Depression that they could even introduce another body style! Now looking back over 75 years ago there must have been some guarantees by the Army to encourage General Motors to create a new body design in the middle of bad economic times. Sales were down drastically in all brands of automobiles and trucks. Over half of the makes would be gone forever before the end of this disastrous economic downturn.

Trying to boost slow sales and save their dealers, the Chevrolet Division introduces the “standard” car in 1935. It was less expensive than the “master” car which was the full size body. The “standard” was slightly smaller, less appointed, and some mechanical features were less complicated than their full size car.

Sales of the GMC line (big trucks) had dropped so much that many of their dealers were out of business. General Motors attempted to counter this by introducing their first ½ and ¾ ton pickups. They even created the “Trail-a-bout”, a small utility trailer for pulling behind passenger cars using their pre-existing pickup box.

With all this gloom and doom for the auto industry, what a surprise when Chevrolet introduces their new 1935 Suburban.

When you look close you realize this new body is set on the pre-existing ½ ton chassis, a major cost cutting feature. The chassis, doors, front sheet metal, wheels, radiator, bumpers, and cowl are all from the ½ ton. The Suburban was new in body only. This lesser investment probably helped seal the agreement between the US Army request and General Motors.

Our feature truck of the month is owned by Ed Brouillet of Fairfield, Connecticut. Ed states his first year Suburban is one of only 5 remaining of that year. The body’s wood framework covered in sheet metal did not survive well when year’s later water began leaking from the canvas top and began to reach the interior. As the Suburban aged, few owners had the money or interest to make any major repairs. With the large scrap metal drives during WWII, most were donated for their metal value.

Ed proudly mentions his Suburban is not only from the first year but it is the “first” one from the Chevrolet factory! This may be the reason why it was painted Swifts Red in a conservative era. Most vehicles were blue, green, and black. It was driven by a General Motors executive and kept it at its very best during the time it was assigned to him. Being seen driving such a unique shaped body was great advertising.

It is considered the “first” Suburban for two reasons:

There is no rear lift gate and no evidence of a place for hinges or the latch. There is only a roll-up canvas curtain. The other 5 remaining 1935 Suburban’s have these stampings for a metal lift gate.

There are no body tags on the firewall or stamped serial numbers on the engine block. No grinding or filling the holes or stamped numbers can be seen.

We assume the new Suburban was introduced toward the end of the 1935 as only 75 were made that year. Many more were produced in 1936.

Ed bought it over 20 years ago from the second owner, Walter Deck of Illinois, who was also a well known professional auto restorer. This person realized the rarity of owning the first Suburban and completed this ground up restoration just right. Because of being the first, all was done just like it left the factory.

The vehicle has not been in local shows for about 4 years. Because 2012 is Chevrolets 100th Anniversary, it is temporarily on display in the Antique Automobile Club of America Museum in Hershey, PA. For a close up view of the Suburban, visit this museum while in town at the famous Hershey Swapmeet in October 2012.

Note: Ed has hinted he is considering selling this “number one” Suburban. It has been appraised at $150,000.00! Bids are being considered starting at $125,000.00. See it at the museum or contact us for a contact.