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Posts Tagged ‘1953’

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:


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”.

1953 GMC Long Bed 1/2 Ton

Friday, June 30th, 2017

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.


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.

You can contact Bill Miles @ bd97@comcast.net

Loaded and ready for travel

Nice Phrase

First year for the optional side mount

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

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

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

The 302 looks new!

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

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.

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

A day at the Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky

Beside a small local church in West Virginia

3.5 more diameter

1953 GMC Deluxe Panel Truck

Thursday, June 30th, 2016

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.


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

As they bought it


Disassembly Begins

Media-blasing the Insides

Body Complete (What a clean shop)

After Body Painting


Near Completion

Fenders Installed

Detail Work

Checking Door Alignment

Almost Complete

Look at that Trim!

Making it ready for fenders and grill

Front vocal point

One of the best in the Country!

1953 Chevrolet Canopy Express

Friday, February 5th, 2016

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


“Side Canvas Up” with display boxes

Greg’s boxes filled with NOS Chevy Parts

Chevy parts on display

New floor wood


Accessory sun visor

A 235 Chevy six cylinder


Under Construction

Down to the Bare Bones

Tailgate, etc. removed

New Burgundy Maroon Paint



test test
New Floors

Optional Passenger Seat Tipped Up. Note: Tool Box and Nearby Black Lid.

1953 GMC 1 Ton Pickup

Monday, January 4th, 2016

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


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!








Greg’s Collection


1953 GMC 3/4 Ton

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

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

The Feature Truck with Seven Others in Process

Chassis Completed

Just Before the Tailgate and Lights

The Finished Product

As Purchased in Colorado

1953 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

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.



The Replacement Cab Arrives

A Beautiful Dash Restored Just Right

Under Construction

Secured to the new Motor Mounts

Front Fenders in Place

Suburban Rear Quarter Panel Holes

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

The full rear quarter panels for the 1947-55 Chevy/GMC Suburban were made all the same at the metal stamping manufacturer.  To save money these panels were not made different if the Suburban was to have the double doors or the tailgate style opening in the rear.

Thus, when the Suburban was provided with a lift and tailgate combination the 4 holes for the “double barn door” hinges in the quarter panels were filled with rectangular rubber plugs.  This was not just for appearance but prevent rain water from reaching the body interior.

These photos show the plugs painted in body color; however it is questioned if this is correct.  By 1950, Suburban buyers had the choice of the 12 pickup colors.  It would have been more economical for all to have black rubber plugs instead of 12 boxes with the optional color prepainted plugs on the assembly line.

The other thought:  These plugs were painted when the full body was given its final color.  This would mean GM planned on the enamel body paint being of the quality that would successfully adhere to rubber over the years.  We don’t usually see this combination in other GM vehicles.  Special paint for rubber only is used!

Comments on how it really occurred:  Email us at jcarter@oldchevytrucks.com

1953 Advanced Design Canopy Express

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

Owners: John and Michele Dunkirk1953 Advanced Design Canopy Express

We have always assumed that less than 100 Advance Design Canopy Express trucks remain. If you ever see one restored or not restored, you should stop and take note. They are a part of our nation’s history. They carried groceries in neighborhoods with one car families during the years they were built. The husbands drove the family car to work and the ladies were housewives. Grocers knew if they were to stay in business they must drive their Canopy Express to housing areas displaying and delivering food. Our feature truck is probably the most complete and perfect restored example in existence!

It is owned and has been restored by John and Michele Dunkirk of Southampton, New York. His desire to have a Canopy Express was because his first vehicle was this body style. In the 1960’s few people had an interest in this unique older body design as a used vehicle! Thus, it was the least expensive vehicle John could buy during his later high school years. After 2 years of use he sold it to an auto junk yard for $15.00.

After completing restoration on a beautiful 1954 Chevrolet ½ ton about 15 years ago, (they still have it) John continued to think about his first vehicle in high school. The restoration bug had now bitten John and he wanted to do another Advance Design truck. Yes, he decided it had to be a 1947-53 Canopy Express. The problem, there were none! They were built for work and a first owner wanted them to look their very best doing neighborhood grocery marketing. Sad but true, there was almost no interest in a second hand Canopy Express. Within 5 years the wood and canvas side curtains began deteriorating. The wooden rear floor now stayed wet from rain and snow and mechanical maintenance requirements were beginning. The Canopy Express had reached the end of a short life.

John’s several year hunt ended in Florida from a small magazine advertisement. The way the owner described it, made the truck sound like a real one! He drove almost 800 miles one way to see it. A great surprise, it was the real thing and a 1953. As he looked at the total package, it seemed so deteriorated! It would need it all and a little more. At the time, John thought this must be about the only one left in the world so the damage from age and abuse was overlooked.

The restoration went “full steam ahead”. No nut or bolt would be left untouched. It was like building a large model kit after the parts were restored. They soon realized what a big project they were into, however there was no turning back. Otherwise only a pile of parts would remain for salvage.

After almost 5 years including 500 hours in bodywork and painting plus another 1,000 hours in all the other parts of the restoration, the 1953 Canopy is now a “Work of Art”. It is one of the top attractions at all shows! The finished vehicle is now basically as it was when new. A great inline six cylinder motor is just broke in. Of course, the 4 speed transmission was a necessity on a Canopy Express. The low speed first gear was for slow moving through the neighborhood while displaying grocery products. The paint is a correct 1953-55 Chevrolet truck color, Transport Blue. John added one change to the restoration, it originally had a single bucket seat. He used a full pickup seat, so he and Michele could attend distant shows together. The white wall tires were a non-GM accessory but local tire shops could have installed them after the canopy was bought. This would make the truck more of an attention getter when selling merchandise in the neighborhoods.

There are several large expenses “not” mentioned that aren’t included in the 1,500 hours restoration time. The most costly expense was the acquisition of a Canopy Express tailgate. John’s Canopy Express came with the tailgate missing! How could he spend so much time and money on this project and then be stopped without a tailgate? He had no idea this part would be so difficult to locate. He continued with the restoration assuming the gate would be found by the end of the project. It wasn’t. The Dunkirk’s hauled it to New England shows for 2 years after completion with no tailgate! No matter how hard he researched, there was no gate to be found. They even took it to Stowe, Vermont twice for the most attended antique car and truck show of the summer. It received second place in the commercial class for both years. Still no tailgate!

On one summer weekend it was taken to the large monthly Hemming’s Car Show in Bennington, Vermont were it was placed in the top ten vehicles.

Numerous local shows on Long Island, NY also saw this little canopy for the evening. Actually, part of the reason for many of the shows was to try to get a lead on a tailgate.

Finally, a few years later another small magazine advertisement led to a tailgate. An un-restored complete Canopy Express with a tailgate was for sale in Southern California. The problem: John and his wife, Michele were in Southampton, New York. There was no choice. They flew across the country to see it! It was found to be well worn as John’s had been but it had a tailgate. As they arranged commercial transportation to New York, we assume John remembered he sold his first canopy to a salvage yard for $15.00. When it reached New York a few weeks later, John and his body man finally agreed and accepted the bad news. The inner tailgate panel had been beat so bad that the dings, tears, and holes made it un-restorable. Without this inner panel, there could be no tailgate. What a disappointment! What happens next?

One day a lucky thing happened! With research John discovered the tailgate from a 1947-55 Suburban is the same in the lower 2/3 as a Canopy Express. With almost as much effort as finding the Canopy gate, John finally traded for a damaged Suburban tailgate. A restorable inner panel was now in his possession. He could cut it shorter and make a new inside gate panel for his Canopy. The truck could be completed!

Next project; Finding the artificial fruit and vegetables to display were the easy part. Locating mint condition grocery boxes of the 1950’s was another story. John and Michele attended many flea markets and garage sales. The boxes had to be of wood of the 1950’s and their colorful paper labels perfect. They soon found the best sources were estate sales. Most wood boxes and labels had survived because they had been put in attics and basements 50 years and used for storing merchandise. At these sales, John and Michele bought the boxes when they could and not the miscellaneous items they contained.

Now that the total restoration is completed a big appreciation for help go to Trevor and Stephanie Mercer that worked side by side with the Dunkirk’s during the 500 hours spent. Gene “The Tool Guy”, handmade the many panels (body, tailgate repairs, and floor) to replace those so badly rusted. Reproductions were not available.

During the 3 years it has been totally restored the Dunkirk’s are occasionally asked “What does it take to build a truck like this”. They quickly say “Just the money invested is over $50,000. This does not include the tailgate trip to California with return truck line freight, the drive to Florida to find the Suburban,  plus finding the many distant flea markets while on a “grocery box hunt”. Then we come to the value of their time in the 5 year ground up restoration. Just make a guess of the investment! It all started with John’s first truck in high school.

You can contact John and Michele at : micheleant@hotmail.com

1953 Advanced Design Canopy Express 1953 Advanced Design Canopy Express 1953 Advanced Design Canopy Express
1953 Advanced Design Canopy Express 1953 Advanced Design Canopy Express 1953 Advanced Design Canopy Express

Aftermarket Dual Rear Wheels

Monday, April 18th, 2011

What a unique invention. When you have a 1947 through 1959 single rear wheel 3/4 or 1 ton GM truck and need more pulling power, this is the answer. American ingenuity at its best!

This new steel center hub extension includes eight long bolts to reach the original wheel studs. This holds the factory wheel in place and then provides a threaded end for the original eight lug nuts which are holding another matching wheel.

The buyer of this aftermarket kit just had to be sure his new outer tire was the same height as the original inner tire.

Pictures and data from Scott Golding, Stratton, NE.
email: scottandbetty@hotmail.com

1953 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Year/Make 1953 Chevrolet
Owner: Dave and Pat Moore

1953 Chevrolet

This month’s feature truck is a 1953 Chevy ½ ton by Dave and Pat Moore of
Kansas City, KS. Dave is our company technical advisor and talks to hundreds of
people each week helping with the many questions that come his way.

Dave is a ‘hands-on’ person and has personally done repairs and upgrades on
many mid-50’s GM trucks.  His own pickup is a prime example.  He and
his wife, Pat, have owned this little ½ ton 43 years (is that a record?) and
have continued to add upgrades over the years.  It is now better than ever
and ready for another 43 years

It all began in 1968, when Dave traded a 1961 Chevy “409” Impala for this
1953 pickup.  It had an Oldsmobile drivetrain and it became a driver for
his wife, Pat for several months.  While talking to Dave about this ½ ton,
he recalled the many mechanical changes in the 43 years.  This has included
5 engines, 7 transmissions, and 5 rear ends.  It is now in the last stages
of its current frame off upgrade.

Dave actually bought a complete, not wrecked, 1986, C-4 Corvette several
years ago to get straight suspension parts for this upgrade including the total
front end and rear end.  A 700R4 transmission from an Astro Van and has
been rebuilt.  The engine is a ’93 350c.i. Chevy crate motor using Jim’s
motor and trans. mounts.  The body work and custom paint was done in
’97 and still looks great!  Two other major changes have been the addition
of a powder coated 1954 frame and the deeper 1954 bed that matches these lower
frame rails.  The truck is so dependable that Dave and Pat have been part
of the “Long Haul Gang” on the Hot Rod Power Tour 7 times where it has averaged

In the first photo, note the new Peterbilt tractor beside Dave and Pat’s
1953.  The owner said surprise me on the paint; Clint (Dave’s son) who
works selling new Peterbilt’s had the factory paint the truck the same special
green!   If you would like to contact Dave about his 1953, his email
address is dmoore5356@aol.com

1953 Chevrolet
1953 Chevrolet

1953 Chevrolet

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Year/Make 1953 Chevrolet
Owner: Richard & Lorie Baranek

On my side of the story! from “Broadway Bob” at Auto Rehab. It was a project that took almost 1 1/2 years to complete. I started working on it from in a small 20×20 garage attached to my house . I was in the process of building a new 40×50 garage ! Most of the first few months were doing the work on it in my driveway, including disassembly, paint stripping, metal finishing, some bodywork and painting parts, etc. Due to no room in garage for the whole truck, it was quite a juggling show. The truck was in good restorable condition and thanks to Jim Carter parts! the job was possible to complete with new replacement parts. It was a complete frame off restoration. I reconditioned most of the parts that were in good shape and replaced everything that wasn’t. I made parts that weren’t available yet !! Every nut, bolt, screw, was reconditioned or replaced if bad ! I think it was my most enjoyable restoration in the past 5 years. Everything was taken apart, refinished and reassembled back to new. I was amazed at the quality of the vehicle construction when new . GM did an excellent job on design of this model truck. I think “that made it a thrill to work on”!! it was simple and effective, not cluttered like cars today!!

This truck was bought back in 1955 by the Baranek family in Crivitz Wis. This is the third generation of Baranek’s to own it and it has been in the family for 50 years along with the history and war stories told by son, grandson & great grandson, The truck was in good restorable condition considering it spent all its life in Wisconsin. I have had it for 1 1/2 years doing an extensive restoration of the vehicle and it was a pure joy to work on. It is currently owned by Richard & Lorie Baranek of Crivitz, Wisconsin, who are the 3rd generation owners of this restored 1953 Chevrolet 3600.

Submitted by Bob Thompson
Auto Rehab & Restoration
Wabeno, Wisconsin.
Additional comments from the owners:

Sorry we haven’t gotten back to you in so long. We have a daughter getting married tomorrow so things have been a little hectic. Our truck is a 53 Chevy I remember riding in it with my grandfather as a chilled. When my grandfather passed away the truck was handed down to my uncle who took over the farm . I thought he sold the truck until one day I discovered it in his barn and there it was sitting for 45 years. Now my uncle is 80 years old and it took me a whole year to try to convince him to let me buy it from him. I bought the truck for 100.00 dollars we got it running and used it just to bomb around in the back 40. After we were all done having fun the truck sat in the shed for 3 years and we finally found Bob to restore it. He worked on that truck for 2 years, then we went to see it. It was immaculate we’ve never seen something more beautiful. Bob did a great job on the truck!!!!!

Rich and Lorie written by son (Brad)

1953 chevrolet pick up truck 1953 chevrolet pick up truck 1953 chevrolet pick up truck
1953 chevrolet pick up truck 1953 chevrolet pick up truck 1953 chevrolet pick up truck
1953 chevrolet pick up truck 1953 chevrolet pick up truck 1953 chevrolet pick up truck

1953 Chevrolet 2 Ton Moving Van

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

Year/Make 1953 Chevrolet 2 Ton
Owner: Unkown

1953 chevrolet 2 ton

1953 chevrolet 2 ton

New Cigarette Lighter

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Purchasing a 1947-1953 optional cigarette lighter assembly from some vendors provides reproduction that is far from original in appearance. A manufacturer recently offered the optional lighter assembly but used a knob from the headlight of a 1947-1953. There is no similarity to the real lighter!

Don’t be embarrassed at a show where your vehicle is being judged.

new cigarette lighter 1

Reproduction (above)

new cigarette lighter 2

Image of original (above)

1953-1955 Fresh Air Heater

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

With the introduction of the Advance Design Cab in 1947, a new dealer installed heater also became available. When used together this new body was referred to as The Cab That Breathes.

All U.S. manufactured Advance Design Cabs had a row of louvers on the right outer cowl which allowed air to enter the cab interior with the help of the new optional fresh air heater. It was a great improvement over prior years!

As air was brought in from the outside it passed through the heater core. This warmed air usually held less humidity than air inside the cab due to the breath of passengers. The fresh, dryer, air helped prevent the inside of the windows from fogging during very cold days, thus GM said the cab breathed.

This excellent heating system was made even better in 1953 with the introduction of the revised airflow heater. By pulling a knob, at the left of the steering column, a door inside the heater would cover the outside air intake. Now the heater was of the recirculator design. It pulled air from inside the cab so that inside air was re-warmed. Yes, humidity did accumulate quicker and windows could fog but heating the air inside was faster on a cold morning.

Note these pictures of the improved 1953-55 fresh air heater. The driver operated cable was pulled and a door inside the heater shut off outside air. At the same time, a one inch wide door on the case opened to allow recirculation of air to occur. A non-related lever on the case directs the heated air to the floor or above through the defroster ducts.

This ingenious idea by GM engineers now allowed the driver to have a cab that breathed or one that did not.

1953-1955 Fresh Air Heater 1

Hand operated defroster lever, cable for intake door, and the water flow adjusting knob (above)

1953-1955 Fresh Air Heater 2

The knob at the left of the steering column for pulling the cable (above)

1953-1955 Fresh Air Heater 3

The main heater attached to the right inner cowl panel (above)

1953-1955 Fresh Air Heater 4

Side view of heater with water control rod in foreground (above)

1953-1955 Fresh Air Heater 5

A close up of the one inch intake cable operated door on the heater case (above)

1953 Chevrolet Ambulance

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Owner: John Heller
South Pasedena, Ca

1953 chevrolet ambulance

Almost unchanged in 45 years! The second owner repainted the two doors to cover the town lettering, then added the “Moblegas” decals. Yes, the hubcaps, bumpers, and grill back splash bars are still the correct gray color due to 1953 Korean War shortages.

An Economical Ambulance

This 1953 Chevrolet Suburban was bought new by the City of Lamont, Illinois and was used as their fire department ambulance. It was for occasional medical emergencies but was usually found inside the town fire department building. This unusual work vehicle was taken out of service five years ago and had logged only 23,000 miles during its 45 years.

The original ambulance conversion in 1953 consisted of painting white over the original Juniper green, removing the middle and rear seats, adding red lights and a siren, plus attaching miscellaneous small extras that are part of ambulance necessities.

The Suburban interior (dash, front seats, side panels, headliner, floor mat, etc.) is probably the finest example of unchanged originality. This is the way General Motors sent it out from the assembly line. Inside storage and limited use has kept the interior colors just right including the maroon plastic handle knobs. Note the original tan floor mat to match the interior. (This colored mat was discontinued by GM’s parts department about two years later.) The dash lacks the stainless glove box door and trim as was normal during the Korean War shortages. Even the inside window frames (painted separately from the body) are a different shade and shine.

In May 2002, this gem was purchased from the second owner by John Heller of South Pasadena, CA. He recently completed the trip to his California home after driving it from Chicago on the famous Route 66.

His plans are to keep the excellent interior and mechanics unchanged. Only the ambulance white color will be removed. John is historian and curator of the once 1,200 mile Pacific Electric Railway Company that served Los Angeles communities in at least the 1940’s and 1950’s. Therefore, he will paint the vehicle railway colors (red with black fenders) and letter the doors just like in company pictures of the 1950’s. It will appear as a work vehicle just like you would have seen during the classic times of the Pacific Electric Railway. You will almost see a work crew being taken to a job-site in the Los Angels area

1953 chevrolet ambulance

Passenger jump seat including original brown floor mat and rear floor linoleum covering.

1953 chevrolet ambulance

Original untouched five piece headliner. Note: Rear dome light is the same as above the drivers seat.

1953 chevrolet ambulance

The 1953 dash! Red brown paint and gray brown steering wheel paint are just right.

1953 chevrolet ambulance

Minor damage for almost 50 years as a work vehicle.

1938-1953 Clutch Disc

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Chevrolet introduced their basic nine inch single disc clutch and corresponding diaphragm pressure plate in 1938. This pair was used in their cars and most 1/2 ton pickups with three speed transmissions through 1953. With about one million of these vehicles sold annually, one can quickly realize the high numbers of this clutch system that was at one time on the highway.

Even in 1954 with the introduction of the larger 10 inch clutch disc and modified pressure plate on the new 235 six cylinder, the original design continued to sell very well as aftermarket replacements. Today, they still have a strong demand even though the majority of these over fifty year old vehicles are history. Most auto part stores now keep a pair in inventory for their walk-in customers.

1938-1953 Clutch

To add even more validity to this clutch’s durability, GM reintroduced it in the late 1960’s. General Motors was a major producer of full size passenger buses and the demand for most having the optional air conditioning was becoming strong. Almost all new buses would now be equipped with the option. The original small nine inch clutch was combined with the newly engineered large bus AC compressor. Once again, this proven clutch was serving automotive needs!

Therefore, if you find a source for new or core clutch assemblies used from the late 1960’s to at least the mid 1970’s in GM buses, they will also fit 1938-53 cars and small trucks.

1947-1953 GMC Parklights

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

A redesigned parklight assembly was started with the introduction of the 1947 GMC advanced body style. It was placed in the front fender 3-1/2 inches below the headlight ring. A 2-5/8 inch diameter bezel held a domed glass lens to its housing by two barrel screws.

1947 gmc parklights 1

1947 gmc parklights 2

The unit was not meant to be a combination turn signal and parklight assembly and held a 3 candle power single filament 6 volt bulb. As with other car and truck parklights prior to 1968, it did not operate when the headlights were on.

This round lens and chrome ring soon found other uses. They were placed on the parklights of Chevrolets new Corvette sportscar between 1953-1962! The ring also held a different lens to the rear of certain GM cars when they had the optional backup light assembly.

1947 gmc parklights 3

1947 gmc parklights 4

During 1952-1953, GMC used an enlarged parklight assembly only different than the 1947-51 unit in size. Dimensions were increased to 3 inches diameter to give more light area. It fit in the same front fender location and the securing ring was now painted white as was most other 1952-53 GMC trim during the Korean War shortages.

This larger glass was shared with several larger GM cars as their parklight lens. The same rings, however, were chromed. These chrome rings were also used to hold a different clear lens on several GM cars for their back up lights.

1947-1953 Dash

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

When observing restored 1947-1953 Advanced Design trucks, we rarely see the removable dash parts painted correctly. Though at least half the owners paint these parts to their personal taste, many truck restorers want the dash appearance as original. Surprisingly, we rarely see two alike even on trucks that are said to be restored just like they left the factory.

The following is factory correct! With a little extra effort your dash can look just like what the original owner saw 50 years ago.

1947 to Late 1951

This is the early years of the series before the Korean War shortages. At this time, chrome and stainless steel trim was used more abundantly.

The glove box door has a stainless outer ribbed skin and the upper and lower speaker grille horizontal trim strips are stainless. To create the original look, polish the speaker grille trim plus top and bottom wide glove door ridges to a mirror finish. Paint the speaker grille, ash tray cover, plus the remainder of glove box door interior cab color.

Now comes the detail work. Cut masking tape the width of the valleys between the smaller ridges. Put in position after placing the tape on your pant leg to reduce the sticky surface. You don’t want to take the paint off when you remove the tape later. Next comes the silver paint. This is placed over the small ridge tops on both the speaker grille and glove box door. The result is similar appearing horizontal ridges nicely running between the two dash items just like GM produced them.

1947 dash 1

Late 1951-1953

These are the years of the Korean War shortages. The glove box door, ash tray cover, and horizontal radio speaker grille trim were stamped from earlier tooling, however, were now changed to painted steel. They are all interior color and there is not even silver paint on the horizontal ridges. Therefore, if you have these years, restoration is easy. Just paint these items cab interior color and your job is done!   NOTE:  The following image is from a 1953 Suburban which has the red and brown interior.  The pickup has the more metallic medium brown interior paint which will be like this Suburban except for the color.

1947 dash 2

Proper 3100 Hood Side Emblem

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

During the Advance Design years no less than four different Chevrolet hood side emblems were used on 1/2 tons. Each of their two mounting pins are in the same place so the punched hood holes were unchanged during these years. All were chromed die cast even during the 1952-1953 Korean war chrome shortage.

The following pictures show the correct emblem for each of the years. Beware, some vendor’s catalogs do not list them correctly.

Note: Between mid-1949 through 1951, a separate small 3100 emblem was placed below the Chevrolet letter plate. Therefore, hoods during these years will have two additional factory punched holes. The longer Chevrolet emblem used between 1949-1952 are the same.

proper 3100 1

1949-1951 3100 Emblem (above)

proper 3100 2

1955 First Series (above)

proper 3100 3

1952 (above)

proper 3100 4

1953-1954 (above)

proper 3100 5

1947-1949 Thriftmaster (above)

1953 Horn

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

In 1953 Chevrolet/GMC trucks adopted the more modern relay activated horn. To keep cost low, GM used the same seashell type horn that had been on Chevrolet cars since 1949. It displays the number “689” in its die cast metal. In the Chevrolet Master Parts Catalog, the number when ordering a replacement was 199687.

Though the 1953 truck used the existing car horn, GM created a special right angle bracket to attach it to the small extension on the iron intake manifold. This bracket has become very rare today. Most people incorrectly think the 1952 and older horn should attach to a 1953.

1953 horn 1













1953 horn 2

1953 horn 3

1953 horn 5









1953 horn 6












1952 and older horn position (above)












Just right on a 1953!

1948-1953 Horn Bracket Location Changes

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

The horn location on the intake manifold of the Chevrolet 216 six cylinder changed position with the addition of the accessory oil filter. This oil filter was attached to the front of the intake manifold. A special shaped horn bracket was necessary to move the horn forward away from the filter. This bracket was included in the box with the new oil filter package.

From 1947 and older, even the 3 speed transmissions shifted on the floor. There was no column shift. Without a shift box on the steering column, the oil filter could be placed on the rear of the intake manifold. Thus, the moving of the horn forward does not apply during these early years.

The attached photos show the two styles of horn brackets used between 1948 and 1953. On 1954 and newer the horn is attached to the radiator support.

1948 horn bracket 1

1948 horn bracket 2

1948 horn bracket 3

1948 horn bracket 4

1953 Accessory Ornament

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

In the 1953 Chevrolet truck accessory book, there is a charging bull head displayed as an optional hood ornament. During my past 20 plus years in this hobby, I have heard reference toward this accessory but have never seen an example or heard of another person seeing one. Does a reader have one? Has anyone seen this option on an original truck? Did this ornament actually make production after the 1953 booklet was printed in late 1952?

1953 accessory ornament 1

Accessory Hood Ornament

11953 accessory hood ornament 2

1947-1953 Chevrolet Grille Restoration Tips

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

1947 1953 grill restoration 1

Between 1947-1953 the Chevrolet 1/2, 3/4, and 1 ton grilles were made from the same tooling. However, the paint colors and some with chrome plating made a difference. For the perfectionist, the following data will help you build a correct grille during your restoration.

Painted Grilles


The standard grille has inner and outer bars the body color. Horizontally, a pin stripe is run on the edge of the five outer bars. It is the same color as the cab stripe.

1949 to Mid 1951

Standard grilles have outer bars the body color without a horizontal stripe. The inner back splash bars are Waldorf white.

Mid 1951-1953  (Korean War Years)

Outer bars on standard grilles are the body color as prior years. The back splash color changes to Thistle Gray (light gray) to match the newly introduced gray hub caps and bumpers due to Korean War shortages.

Chrome Grilles


The deluxe grille has the five outer bars in chrome. The four inner bars remain the cab color.

1949-Mid 1951

Chrome grilles for these years are plated on the outer bars. The back splash color remains the same white as the painted grille.

Mid 1951- 1953

Chrome grille bars were not available due to Korean War copper shortages.  Thus, these grilles are the same on deluxe and standard trucks.

Vertical Bar Supports

1947-1953 Both Painted and Chrome Grilles

The two outer vertical bars touch the fenders and are therefore their color. Unfortunately, the reproduction grilles are easily recognized at shows because the owners have not often painted their outer bars fender color!  The three smaller inner vertical bars are semi-flat black. This prevents them from being easily seen when viewing the vehicle at a distance.

NOTE:  We see no reference to chrome outer bars being offered during the 1947-53 Chevrolet Advanced Design years.

1951-1953 Gauge Cluster Differences

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

1951 1953 guage cluster 1

On first glance, most people assume that both Chevy and GMC gauge clusters are fully interchangeable and are the same except for perhaps the minor difference with Chevy oil gauges topping out at 30 psi versus GMC gauges maxing out at 60 psi. But that’s quite a bit short of what the actual differences were originally! There are actually no less than five distinct differences in the same year gauge clusters when taken from same size trucks. Below you will see two examples of late 1951 to 1953 gauge clusters; one on the left from a Chevy truck, and the one on the right from a GMC truck. Before you start jumping up and down about the tan background brown letter gauges in 1951, realize that the gauge clusters changed in late 1951 and then stayed brown background cream letters up through 1953. The first and most obvious difference is the oil gauge, but upon closer inspection you’ll find twelve distinct differences between them; six on each gauge cluster.

  1. GMC oil gauge reads 60 psi while the Chevy oil gauge tops out at 30 psi
  2. GMC used an Ampere gauge showing 50- | +50 where Chevy used a C | D Charge/Discharge style gauge
  3. The label under the electrical gauge on Chevy clusters says simply “BATTERY” while on the GMC it says “AMPERES”
  4. GMC temperature gauges maxed out at 220F where Chevy temperature gauges stop at 212F until 1953. In 1953 Chevrolet matched GMC with 220F
  5. The GMC fuel gauge was used for both big and small trucks, so it reads “FUEL” where the Chevy gauge reads “GASOLINE” since there were no Chevy diesel trucks at that time
  6. The Chevy gauges all have longer 2/3rds way needles than the GMC gauges with half-way needles

So the next time you’re shopping for gauges, these subtle differences may help you to better understand what you need whether you are driving a Chevy or a GMC.

Rob English


1953 GMC

Tuesday, July 1st, 2008

Owner: Jerry Willis

1953 gmc

This 1953 GMC 1/2 ton is certainly one of the more special trucks we see at today’s shows. It not only is of interest to people now but would have been a definite attention getter in the 1950’s. Jerry Willis of Independence, MO bought this farm truck un-restored in 1995 and is the third owner. He found it in South Missouri so it had not experienced winter road salt. It was a great candidate for restoration.

Jerry personally restored the truck including the body work, final paint, and refinishing of the bed wood. Its many little extras were added to make it look like a more custom truck you would have seen 50 years ago. Therefore, the transmission, brakes, and rear end are just like they left the factory. Even the “bullet-proof” closed drive shaft system that operated so well during its working years is still in place.

The mint green custom color of the 1950’s, louvered hood, Fulton sun visor, carpeting, cloth interior, and deluxe 1950 car steering wheel were also added by Jerry. The new 18″ chrome wheels and radial tires are one of the few items that is more modern.

Soon after the GMC was purchased, a connecting rod of the original 228 engine came loose from the crankshaft and cracked the block! During his hunt for a replacement engine, Jerry discovered that the larger 270 GMC engine of the late 1950’s was an exact fit in his 1/2 ton. The rebuilding cost was about the same but the horse power would be greatly increased. For better engine breathing, a pair of Fenton exhaust headers were also added.

The total package is about what your would have seen in custom auto magazines and in auto shows during the 1950’s and 1960’s. The greater power is also like performance GMC’s were built with 50 years ago.

You can contact Jerry Willis at email: jjwilli5@aol.com

1953 gmc truck 1953 gmc truck 1953 gmc truck

1953 GMC Farm Truck

Saturday, May 1st, 2004

Owner: Rob English

1953 gmc truck

I note the absence of GMC participation on the featured trucks so I though that I’d send in some photos of my current project: a 1953 GMC 400 series with livestock body and twin double telescoping hoist.

I bought this truck on eBay last year and was skeptical that the stated original miles were 5,000. Upon receipt of the truck, I was amazed to find that it was indeed the correct mileage.

This truck was in service as a fire foam truck at American Cyanamid’s chemical plant in Bound Brook New Jersey from it’s original purchase in 1953 until the early 90s when the plant closed up. It was then sold to a local nursery at auction and the new owner pulled the fire apparatus off the back and then installed a livestock body and hoist off a larger 500 series GMC truck that he found in a farmer’s field. The larger 500 series had a shorter body by a few inches and also had a Clark five speed transmission. While GMC did not offer the Clark 5 spd in this model in 1953, the owner found it a lot easier to simply fuse the 500 series transmission, body, and hoist onto the 400 series than to try to make the existing SM420 4 speed and pump work. The result is a truck that will pull down a 300 year old oak and can haul up to 20,000 lbs. of weight but will not win any speed contests.

This truck is set up to carry a big load with 20′ Dayton wheels normally found on larger trucks. The original 270 GMC engine pulls this beast down the road. I use it as a manure mover on my horse farm and for general hauling. It’s been converted to 12 volts which always bothers me because my experience is that people convert to 12V because of slow start cranking, and the problem is battery cables ‘ not the six volts pushing the starter. The ID plate is the key to understanding what your GMC truck is and the serial number is the single most important piece of information a vintage GMC owner can have for identification. I have an extensive GMC serial number decoder on my website at www.oldgmctrucks.com

I have relied on Jim Carter Antique Truck parts for all the needed parts for this truck, as I have in the previous five GMC projects I’ve done over the last 15 years or so. Thanks to Sheba Queen and Jim for being there with those parts that we could never find in a lifetime of searching. I wonder if anyone at Carter has ever tried to calculate how many old GM trucks have been born again thanks to your parts?

1953 gmc truck 1953 gmc truck 1953 gmc truck

1953 gmc truck 1953 gmc truck 1953 gmc truck

1953 Chevrolet Panel Truck

Saturday, March 1st, 2003

Owner: Jack Minton – Bizmarck, ND

1953 chevrolet panel truck

This panel was purchased by me about three years ago in Calgary, Alberta. It was a Police Paddy Wagon there in its previous life. I’ve added a Mustang II IFS, a Crate Ram Jet 350, 700R4 Transmission and a four bar coil over rear suspension with a 9″ Ford (Auburn Posi – 3:50) rear end. I also have a Lokar shifter and parking brake, an Ididit Steering column and Dakota Digital Guages. The seats came from a 1998 Blazer. I’m looking forward to installing my most recent purchase from Jim Carter, the headliner and arm rests, along with the rest of the upholstery, which I will fabricate.

Jack’s 1953 Chevy Panel Truck

* Body: 1953 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton Panel Truck
* Chassis: 1953 Modified Chevrolet 1/2 Ton Pickup Truck Chassis
* Engine Compartment: Firewall & Inner Fenders Modified
* Engine: Chevy Factory Crate 350 Ram Jet 350+ HP, 400-Ft #’s Torque Small Block V8
* March Pulleys – Goodyear Serpentine Belts
* Fuel Aspiration: Ram Jet Sequential Port Fuel Injection
* Exhaust System: S&S Tuned Headers – 2 1/2 ” Aluminized Tubing – Dynaflow Muffler
* Transmission: Built TS High Performance 700R4 Four-Speed Automatic/Overdrive
* Shifter: Lokar Nostalgia Floor Shifter
* Suspension: Front: Mustang II Independent Front Suspension
* Rear: Heidt’s Four Bar Link Suspension
* Aldan Eagle Coilover Shocks
* Driveshaft: Inland Truck Parts
* Rear End: Ford 9″ – 3:50 Gears – Auburn Posi-track
* Brakes: Master Power Booster with Dual Master Cylinder
* Stainless Steel Brake Lines
* Swing Pedal Assembly
* Power Disc Front (Ford Granada 11″ Rotors with GM Calipers) -Drum Rear
* Lokar Floor Mounted Parking Brake Assembly
* Steering: Mustang II Power Rack & Pinion Steering
* Ididit Tilt Steering Column – Naiser Banjo Steering Wheel
* Wheels & Tires: Rear – American Racing Wheels – Hopster – 16 X 8
* Dunlop Sport 5000 ZR 255/50 16
* Front – American Racing Wheels – Hopster – 16 X 7
* Dunlop Sport 5000 ZR 225/55 16
* Interior: Unfinished except for 1998 Chevrolet Blazer Power Seats – Leather – Heated – Lumbar Supports
* Electronics: Centech Wiring Harness
* Sounds: In Dash Custom Autosound KNW-801 AM/FM – Auto Reverse Cassette
* Under Seat 10 disc CD changer
* Windows: Specialty Power Windows
* Wiper System: Specialty Power Windows Electric Wiper System
* Instrumentation: Dakota Digital Electronic
* Heat & Air: Vintage Air
* Exterior Color: 1996 Chevy Truck Light Autumwood Chromabase Metallic/Clearcoat
* Engineering/Mechanical: Bell Transmission Products (BTP) – Bismarck, NDBody/Paint: Geitzen Autobody – Bismarck, ND

1953 chevrolet panel truck 1953 chevrolet panel truck 1953 chevrolet panel truck

1953 chevrolet panel truck 1953 chevrolet panel truck 1953 chevrolet panel truck

1953 chevrolet panel truck 1953 chevrolet panel truck 1953 chevrolet panel truck

1953 GMC

Sunday, September 1st, 2002

Owner: Clyde Treser

1953 gmc pick up truck

Well this truck has a really long story but I’ll try to make it short and sweet. It all started with a trip to my wife’s cousin’s farm in Kentucky . We were looking at some of his horses when I saw this old truck next to his barn. I thought to myself, “I sure would love to have that old truck”. At the time, I didn’t know what would be involved in restoring it. So I asked him if he ever decided to sell it to let me know. About a year later I got a call from him telling me that he had painted it and was ready to sell. The next weekend we drove four hours to Kentucky from our house in Dayton , Ohio . When we got there and checked the truck out we realized that even though it was painted it still needed painting and restoration. Needless to say he wanted way too much for the truck. Fortunately for me they like to do a lot of trading. And I wanted the truck something awful. We ended up trading cash, shotgun, old video camera, and a old lawnmower for it. A few weeks later we had it hauled to our home.

My first intention was to fix it up a little and drive it every so often. But after I got it home I couldn’t resist taking it apart. One can of worms led to another and before you know it I had a 2 1/2 car garage full of parts with only the frame and cab left intact. Really a rolling chassis with the cab left on. Then I got depressed. What am I going to do with this mess? I had two choices

1. To sell everything and get what I can out of it.
2. Take it as a hobby and restore it myself with no certain time frame.

I kept envisioning what the truck would look like finished. So I decided to restore it. By the way I had never restored a vehicle before. Let alone bodywork or welding.

I bought some books, and used the internet a lot. I bought a wire welder, compressor, and other misc. tools.

Now, for what I did to it. First I sent the engine out to Performance Clinic for a rebuild. Put a 72 Nova rear end in it with 3/4 spacers on each side. And 4″ lowering blocks welded to the axle. Kept original front straight axle and removed 2 springs and put poly liners between the rest. The body needed the most work. I cut out a lot of rusted metal and patched it. Did the body work priming and block sanding. I then got every thing ready for paint. I did paint the firewall so I could put my engine in. Oh and in between a lot of the steps I ran out of money. That’s why it took 4 1/2 years to finish. I started it in 1996 and finished spring 2001.

After I got it from the painter I started to put it back together. In 4 1/2 years I had collected a room full of stuff to put on it. The last thing I did was put a new wooden bed in it. I bought some poplar wood, routed the edges, put new bed strips down, and it was finished. Well probably not. I’ll probably always have something to do to it. Well I tried to keep it short. I’m sending a few pictures with this.

Clyde Treser

1953 gmc pick up truck 1953 gmc pick up truck 1953 gmc pick up truck

1953 gmc pick up truck 1953 gmc pick up truck 1953 gmc pick up truck

1953 gmc pick up truck 1953 gmc pick up truck 1953 gmc pick up truck

1953 Chevrolet

Saturday, June 1st, 2002

Owner: Dennis Oland – Saint John, New Brunswick Canada

1953 chevrolet pick up truck

Here is my 1953 Chevrolet 3/4 ton. I have just about completed my restoration and I have been driving it to work everyday. I bought it two years ago for $6500.00. It was very stock and solid with only minimal rust. It was originally green but had been painted burgundy/black over the years. I really liked the colors so I decided to go with a popular Chevy color, Garnet Red Metallic/Black. This truck is 3 speed, 12 volt and has a 261 motor which was swapped at the dealership. Early 50’s Canadian Pontiacs had 261s and there was often demand for these more powerful engines in the Chevy trucks. As long as you could find a willing Pontiac owner (or Dealer) you were able to get the swap (for a little money). Having a 261 is great, this truck has all the power it needs.

I did a fairly extensive restoration, buying all parts from Jim Carter’s and relying on the help of Jim Carter’s staff, Stovebolt and local (older) mechanics. The new bed wood is Juniper which is a hard softwood. I thought about Oak but the Juniper only cost me $50.00, the end result is great so I have no regrets. I don’t know where the sun visor came from but I like it. To finish off the truck I am hoping to tidy up the wiring and the motor and add in a faster pumpkin to the rear end. These older 3/4 tons have a 4.57:1 gear ratio and I want something that would allow me to drive at highway speeds. It is an easy fix (1967-1972 Chevy c20 pumpkin fits right in) so I’ll get at that over the winter. Other than that I think the only thing this truck needs is some tidying up in the interior. I did paint it but I wasn’t happy with the dash so I think I’ll do that again (and get a radio as well). This truck has been restored to reflect its original character and I have added chrome and a few extras that I think help to make this truck a real classic. Although I love this truck it is going up for sale, I have decided that my next project will be either a 1947-1953 Suburban or 1946 GMC 1/2 ton.

Dennis Oland
Saint John, New Brunswick

1953 chevrolet pick up truck 1953 chevrolet pick up truck 1953 chevrolet pick up truck

1953 chevrolet pick up truck 1953 chevrolet pick up truck 1953 chevrolet pick up truck

1953 chevrolet pick up truck 1953 chevrolet pick up truck

1953 Chevrolet

Wednesday, November 1st, 2000
1953 chevy pick up truck

Owner: Bob Tucker

This month we feature a very special truck. It is no doubt one of the few pristine examples of a pure 1952-1953 Chevrolet 1/2 ton in the U.S. today.

Owner Bob Tucker of Prairie Village, Kansas resisted all temptations during restoration and demanded that the body and trim be just like the showroom models in 1953.

What makes this truck stand out in a crowd is Bob’s attention to detail in keeping the trim painted as original and not chromed. During the 1952-53 Korean War years, copper (an important component for quality chrome plating) skyrocketed in price. Even shortages occurred. To keep costs down, GM eliminated most chrome plating on their trucks and the copper that went with it. Thus, this featured truck’s bumpers, hub caps, and grille back splash bars are Thistle gray. Even the front hood emblem is stainless steel and not chrome plated steel as in earlier years.

This truck’s unique appearance is also reflected in the interior. As is proper for 1952-1953, the chrome die cast knobs were replaced with maroon plastic. This includes those on the window cranks, wiper switch, and ash tray. The two radio speaker horizontal dash trim stripes and glove box door are changed from stainless to painted steel.

Today, very few 1952-1953 GM trucks are restored like the almost one million produced during those years. They are given non-original chrome grilles, deluxe wheels, stainless bumpers, varnished bed wood, carpeting, cloth seat covers, etc.

Our featured commercial red truck is a correct example of how we would have bought a new Chevy truck during 1952-1953. GM dealer installed accessories are the radio, fresh air heater, and right taillight. Congratulations to Bob Tucker for recreating a 1953 Chevrolet 1/2 ton “just right”.

Owners Note:
I would like to express my sincerest appreciation to Jim Carter and his staff for their patience and help in walking me through the Chevy parts minefield. Without them and Jerry Rivers, Owner of Body Shop 352, the completion of this project would have been unlikely. Do to the fun I’ve had and overwhelming response to the truck, I’ve decided to offer it for sale and undertake restoration of an earlier model. If interested, feel free to call me at 816-471-1050.

As a side note, the pictures displayed here do not show the visor, which I have and will be installing shortly.

Sincerest Regards and
Good Hunting
A.R. Tucker

1953 chevy pick up truck
1953 chevy pick up truck