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:
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!
Mike Odom – Kingston, Illinois – email: email@example.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.
|2019 ARTICLES||MODEL YEAR||MODEL MAKE||OWNERS|
|November/December 2019||1951||Chevrolet Suburban||Tim Plake|
|October 2019||1942||GMC 1½ ton Flatbed||Bob Combe|
|September 2019||1947||Chevrolet Deluxe ½ ton Pickup||John Welsh|
|August 2019||1961||GMC Suburban||Joe Disanti|
|July 2019||1954||Chevrolet Deluxe ½ ton Pickup||Byron & Eleze Fuller|
|June 2019||1957||GMC Palomino and More!||Ralph Wescott|
|May 2019||1972||Chevrolet Cheyenne Super||Dave & Donna Field|
|April 2019||1946||Chevrolet 1/2 Ton||Stephen Caudill|
|March 2019||1955||GMC Suburban Carrier||Larry Koochel|
|February 2019||1935||Chevy 1/2 Ton||Jim McCoy|
|January 2019||1951||Chevy Suburban||Mike & Tyler Chance|
|2018 ARTICLES||MODEL YEAR||MODEL MAKE||OWNERS|
|December 2018||1957||Chevy Cameo||Louie Hinojosa|
|November 2018||1961||GMC 3/4 Ton||Jan & Ross Gale|
|October 2018||1937||GMC T-14 ½ Ton||Larry Shisler|
|September 2018||1958||Chevrolet ½ Ton Short Bed||Dick & Dolores Diestel|
|August 2018||1949||GMC ½ Ton Long Bed||Steve & Patty Briand|
|July 2018||1948||Chevrolet 1/2 Ton Funeral Hearse||Rob Webster|
|June 2018||1956||Chevrolet Cameo plus Topper||Bill Steeley|
|May 2018||1951||Chevrolet ¾ ton pickup||Dr. Fred Young|
|April 2018||1969||Chevrolet Short Fleetside||David Griffin|
|March 2018||1939||Chevrolet ½ Ton (Australia)||Colin Carvolth|
|February 2018||1942||Chevrolet ½ Ton||Bill Sanders|
|January 2018 – 18 years!||1966||GMC||Ed Snyder|
|2017 ARTICLES||MODEL YEAR||MODEL MAKE||OWNERS|
|December 2017||1942||Chevrolet 3/4 Ton||Roger Dunford|
|November 2017||1957||Chevrolet Cameo||John Wazorick|
|October 2017||1939||Chevrolet 1/2 Ton||Robert Bratcher|
|September 2017||1965||Chevrolet 1/2 Ton||Vinny Tumminia|
|August 2017||1941||Chevrolet 1/2 Ton||Jim Shaw|
|July 2017||1953||GMC Long Bed 1/2 Ton||Bill Miles|
|June 2017||1939||Chevrolet COE 108″ WB||John & Lisa Milton|
|May 2017||1948||GMC COE Deluxe Crew Cab||Cholly Nachman|
|April 2017||1937||Chevrolet Panel Truck||Burt Fulmore|
|March 2017||1948||Chevrolet 1/2 Ton Deluxe Pickup||Dave and Julie McBee|
|February 2017||1951||Chevrolet Suburban||Jeff & Brenda Kuhn|
|January 2017||1967||Chevrolet 1/2 Ton Step Bed||John Toon|
|2016 ARTICLES||MODEL YEAR||MODEL MAKE||OWNERS|
|Dec 2016 / Jan 2017||1967||Chevrolet 1/2 Ton Step Bed||John Toon|
|November 2016||1936||Chevrolet 1 1/2 Ton||Mike Russell|
|October 2016||1959||Chevrolet Spartan 100||Scott Phaneuf|
|September 2016||1951||Chevrolet COE Tow Truck||Jim Carter|
|August 2016||1947||Early Chevy 1/2 Ton||Joe Haney|
|July 2016||1953||GMC Deluxe Panel Truck||Max & Margaret Davis|
|June 2016||1949||GMC 3/4 Ton||Dale Jacobs|
|May 2016||1959||Chevrolet 1/2 Ton||Sam Caudle|
|April 2016||1938||GMC Cab Over, Roll-Back||Glenn Garrison|
|March 2016||1951||Chevrolet 1/2 Ton Pickup||Gerald Cooper|
|February 2016||1953||Chevrolet Canopy Express||Greg Fanning|
|January 2016||1953||Chevrolet 1 Ton Pickup||Greg Fanning|
|2015 ARTICLES||MODEL YEAR||MODEL MAKE||OWNERS|
|December 2015||1952||Chevrolet Tanker Truck||Charles Shook|
|November 2015||1952||Chevrolet 2 Ton Caravan||Richard Howe|
|October 2015||1953||GMC 3/4 Ton||Possum Holler Garage|
|September 2015||1946||GMC 1/2 Ton EC101||Larry Dessenberger|
|August 2015||1957||GMC Napco 1/2 Ton||David & Julie Bailey|
|July 2015||1936||Chevrolet Low Cab 1/2 Ton||Bryan and Beth Frogue|
|June 2015||1935||American Doodlebug||Mr. & Mrs. Steve Mosley & Family|
|April/May 2015||1934-36||Chevrolet 1/2 Ton Panel Truck||Unknown|
|March 2015||1947||Chevrolet 1 1/2 Ton Pickup-Open Express||Jim Carter|
|February 2015||1946||Chevrolet Ice Cream Truck||Don Ranville|
|January 2015||1953||Chevrolet 1/2 Ton||Vernon Buskirk|
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.
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.:
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.
|2014 ARTICLES||MODEL YEAR||MODEL MAKE||OWNERS|
|December 2014||1962||Chevrolet 1/2 Ton 4×4||Nelson Good|
|November 2014||1941||Chevrolet COE||Earl Burk|
|October 2014||1952||Chevrolet UTE||John Smith|
|September 2014||1950||GMC 1 Ton Pickup||John Lesmeister|
|August 2014||1954||Chevrolet 3/4 Ton||Terry Millsap|
|July 2014||1950||COE||Kent Zimmerman|
|June 2014||1946||Chevrolet Panel Truck||Jim Winters|
|May 2014||1935||Chevrolet ½ Ton||Richard Wright|
|April 2014||1942||Chevrolet 1½ Ton||Herman Pfauter|
|March 2014||1949||Chevrolet ½ Ton||Randy Priebe|
|February 2014||1948||Chevrolet ½ Ton||Tad Shadid|
|January 2014||1946||Chevrolet ½ Ton||Paul Owsley|
|2013 ARTICLES||MODEL YEAR||MODEL MAKE||OWNERS|
|December 2013||1950’s||Cars of Cuba||Anonymous|
|November 2013||1958||Chevrolet Cameo||Anonymous|
|October 2013||1969||C-10 Pickup||Mitch Jarvis|
|September 2013||1936||GMC||Pat Kroeger|
|August 2013||1946||Chevrolet 2 ton with Thornton Drive||Howard Jones|
|July 2013||1947||GMC||Joe Miller|
|June 2013||1939||Chevrolet ½ Ton||Steve Jones, New Zealand|
|May 2013||1946||COE Pickup||Bill Knoernschild|
|April 2013||1961||GMC Suburban||Clyde McKaba|
|March 2013||1939||Chevrolet 1 ½ Ton Pickup||John H. Sheally II|
|February 2013||1961||Deluxe Chevrolet||Paul Bremer|
|January 2013||1934||Chevrolet Canopy Express||Kevin Koch|
|2012 ARTICLES||MODEL YEAR||MODEL MAKE||OWNERS|
|December 2012||1951||Chevrolet School Bus||Butch Voigt|
|November 2012||1958||Chevrolet Cameo||Scott Phaneuf|
|October 2012||1935||Chevrolet Suburban||Ed Brouillet|
|September 2012||1951||Chevrolet 3/4 Ton Pickup||Richard and Delores Diestler|
|August 2012||1940||GMC 1 1/2 Ton Truck||Mike Reese|
|July 2012||1953||Chevrolet Canopy Express||John and Michele Dunkirk|
|June 2012||1937||Chevrolet Canopy Express||Roger and Ginny Schuyler|
|May 2012||1947-55||Chevrolet Panel/Pickup||Rod Lentz|
|April 2012||1957||Chevrolet Suburban||Norman Smith|
|March 2012||1953||Chevrolet ½ Ton||Unknown, Chile, South America|
|February 2012||1971||Chevrolet Blazer||Russell Penniston|
|January 2012||1948||Chevrolet “Heartbeat of America”||Luke Stefanovsky|
|2011 ARTICLES||MODEL YEAR||MODEL MAKE||OWNERS|
|December 2011||1937||GMC T-16 Cab Over Engine||Gary Witmer|
|November 2011||1959||Chevrolet ½ Ton||Cecil White, South Africa|
|October 2011||1935||Chevrolet ½ Ton||Roger Sorenson|
|September 2011||1954||Chevrolet Deluxe ½ Ton||Pat Jackson|
|August 2011||1936||Chevrolet ½ Ton||Pat O’Brien|
|July 2011||1942||Chevrolet Canopy Express||Scott & Betty Golding|
|June 2011||1945||Chevrolet 1 ½ Ton||Dirk Spence|
|May 2011||1946||Chevrolet ½ Ton||John Thompson|
|April 2011||1953||Chevrolet ½ Ton||Dave & Pat Moore|
|February/March 2011||1936||Chevrolet ½ Ton Pickup||Don Shew|
|January 2011||1950||Chevrolet Truckstell Overdrive||Jim Brallier|
|2010 ARTICLES||MODEL YEAR||MODEL MAKE||OWNERS|
|December 2010||1956||Opel||Jan van Bohemen, Belgium|
|November 2010||1946||Chevrolet ½ Ton||Dennis Odell|
|October 2010||1955||Chevrolet Suburban NAPCO||George VanOrden|
|September 2010||1948||Chevrolet Suburban||Jerry Rivers|
|August 2010||1946||Chevrolet ½ Ton||Jim Adams|
|July 2010||1953||Chevrolet ½ Ton||Colin Murphy|
|June 2010||1938||GMC COE||Jim Raeder|
|May 2010||1949||Chevrolet Suburban||Roy Asbahr|
|April 2010||1949||Chevrolet Panel||Udi Cain, Israel|
|March 2010||1964||Chevrolet ½ Ton||Mike Light|
|February 2010||1948||Chevrolet Suburban||Unknown|
|January 2010||1967||Chevrolet 1 Ton Pickup||Dan Kosteiny|
|2009 ARTICLES||MODEL YEAR||MODEL MAKE||OWNERS|
|December 2009||1946||Chevrolet ½ Ton||Tommie Jones|
|November 2009||1938||Chevrolet ½ Ton||Don Cotrona|
|October 2009||1952||Chevrolet ½ Ton||Jim Swing|
|September 2009||1967||Chevrolet ½ Ton||Dennis Wegemer|
|August 2009||1951||Chevrolet ½ Ton||Jim Streeby|
|July 2009||1947||Chevrolet Suburban Woody||Don Bryant|
|June 2009||1957||GMC Panel NAPCO||Ralph Wescott|
|May 2009||1946||GMC 1 ½ Ton||Charlie|
|April 2009||1948- 49||COE & Chevrolet ½ Ton||Ken Wedelaar|
|March 2009||1939||Chevrolet Model XHJC||Brian Robinson|
|February 2009||1951||GMC ½ Ton||Tom Pryor|
|January 2009||1948||Chevrolet 3100||Scott Scheibner|
|2008 ARTICLES||MODEL YEAR||MODEL MAKE||OWNERS|
|December 2008||1937||GMC Trailabout||Ron Loos|
|November 2008||1972||Chevrolet ¾ Ton||Edward Eckel|
|October 2008||1948||Chevrolet ½ Ton||Roger Darrow|
|September 2008||1940||Chevrolet ½ Ton||John Buhr|
|August 2008||1949||Chevrolet ½ Ton||Steve Jones|
|July 2008||1953||GMC ½ Ton||Jerry Willis|
|June 2008||1957||Chevrolet Cameo||Ken McCarty|
|March/April/May 2008||1954||Chevrolet ½ Ton||Angus McDougald and Linda Challand|
|February 2008||1941||Chevrolet ½ Ton||Jeff Lewis|
|January 2008||1955||Chevrolet ½ Ton||Marty Bozek|
|2006 ARTICLES||MODEL YEAR||MODEL MAKE||OWNERS|
|December 2006||1946||Chevrolet COE||Jim Fassler|
|November 2006||1935||Chevrolet Suburban||Ed Brouillet|
|October 2006||1964||Chevrolet ½ Ton||Gene Satterfield|
|September 2006||1955||Chevrolet ½ Ton||Tim Etes|
|August 2006||1951||GMC ¾ Ton Ton||Thomas Albers|
|July 2006||1941||Chevrolet ½ Ton||Jim Arrabito|
|June 2006||1972||GMC||Johnny Patterson|
|May 2006||1954||Chevrolet ¾ Ton||Richard and Lorie Baranek|
|April 2006||1936||GMC ½ Ton||Pat Kroeger|
|March 2006||1955||Chevrolet Deluxe ½ Ton||Travis Goggans|
|January 2006||1949||Chevrolet Panel||Mark Esposito|
|2005 ARTICLES||MODEL YEAR||MODEL MAKE||OWNERS|
|December 2005||1940||Chevrolet ¾ Ton||Clyde Johnson|
|November 2005||1934||Chevrolet 1 ½ Ton||Steve Sickler|
|Sept/Oct 2005||1969||Chevrolet ¾ Ton||Glenn Sexton|
|August 2005||1939||Chevrolet 1 Ton||Will Perterson|
|July 2005||1938||Chevrolet||Dan Sauter|
|June 2005||1928||Chevrolet Panel||Spike and Donalda|
|May 2005||1955||Chevrolet||John Carlton|
|March/April 2005||1954||Chevrolet ½ Ton||Dale Current|
|February 2005||1939||Chevrolet ¾ Ton||Sergies Lucas|
|January 2005||1950||Chevrolet||Tim Kane|
|2004 ARTICLES||MODEL YEAR||MODEL MAKE||OWNERS|
|December 2004||1955||Chevrolet Cameo||James Whalen|
|November 2004||1954||Chevrolet ½ Ton||Chuck Sanchez|
|October 2004||1950||Chevrolet ½ Ton||Paul Frey|
|September 2004||1959||Chevrolet Apache ½ Ton||Don Wyatt|
|August 2004||1968||Chevrolet ½ Ton||Terry Green|
|July 2004||1955||Chevrolet ½ Ton||Kim Cooke|
|June 2004||1950||GMC ¾ Ton||Roger Uttecht|
|May 2004||1953||GMC 2 Ton||Rob English|
|April 2004||1957||Chevrolet ½ Ton||Eric Davis|
|March 2004||1954||Chevrolet ½ Ton||Steve Daily|
|February 2004||1956||Chevrolet ½ Ton||Denny & Bonnie Wegemer|
|January 2004||1946||Chevrolet ½ Ton||Denny & Bonnie Wegemer|
|2003 ARTICLES||MODEL YEAR||MODEL MAKE||OWNERS|
|December 2003||1955||Chevrolet ½ Ton||Ismael Perez|
|November 2003||1956||Chevrolet ½ Ton||Greg Sanders|
|October 2003||1946||Chevrolet Suburban||John Hart|
|September 2003||1937||Chevrolet ½ Ton||Al Lopez|
|July/August 2003||1950||Chevrolet ¾ Ton||Dusty Destler|
|June 2003||1952||Chevrolet Panel||Dirk Van den Bergh|
|May 2003||1948||Chevrolet ½ Ton||Mike Klepp|
|April 2003||1955||Chevrolet ½ Ton||Bud Jones|
|March 2003||1953||Chevrolet Panel||Jack Minton|
|February 2003||1955||Chevrolet ½ Ton||Mike Harness|
|January 2003||1955||Chevrolet ½ Ton||Mike Cargill|
|2002 ARTICLES||MODEL YEAR||MODEL MAKE||OWNERS|
|December 2002||1955||Chevrolet ½ Ton||Keith Gunn|
|Oct/Nov 2002||1963||GMC ½ Ton||Gary Ameling|
|September 2002||1953||GMC ½ Ton||Clyde Treser|
|August 2002||1951||Chevrolet ½ Ton||Dave Hinegardner & Billie Heaton|
|July 2002||1935||Chevrolet ½ Ton||Jim Johnston|
|June 2002||1953||Chevrolet ¾ Ton||Dennis Oland|
|May 2002||1954||Chevrolet ½ Ton||Rudy Parmenter|
|April 2002||1950||Chevrolet ½ Ton||Mark DeMonaco|
|March 2002||1941||Chevrolet ½ Ton||Tom Bollinger|
|February 2002||1969||Chevrolet ½ Ton||Danny Curran|
|January 2002||1954||Chevrolet ½ Ton||J.A. Ceschin|
|2001 ARTICLES||MODEL YEAR||MODEL MAKE||OWNERS|
|Nov/Dec 2001||1951||GMC ½ Ton||Paul McGarr|
|Sept/Oct 2001||1959||Chevrolet ½ Ton||Olan Moore|
|July/Aug 2001||1950||Chevrolet ½ Ton||Joe Clark|
|May/June 2001||1950||Chevrolet ½ Ton||Don Forbes|
|March/April 2001||1946||GMC ½ Ton||Eugene Von Gunten|
|Jan/Feb 2001||1946||Chevrolet ½ Ton||Bruce Pile|
|2000 ARTICLES||MODEL YEAR||MODEL MAKE||OWNERS|
|Nov/Dec 2000||1953||Chevrole ½ Ton||Bob Tucker|
|Sept/Oct 2000||1951||GMC ½ Ton||Rob English|
|July/Aug 2000||1966||GMC ½ Ton||Ed Snyder|
There are two electric wires to the intake manifold mounted horn in the mid-1930’s. They are protected by a zinc plated conduit between the two horn contacts and where they connect to the main wiring harness beside the six cylinder Chevy engine.
The 1936 and earlier 207 engine manifold does not have a connection for the conduct from the horn. Therefore, it leaves the horn and runs beside the engine valve cover forward and down to the main wiring harness. A clip stabilizes the conduit by using a bolt on the water pump.
The first two years of the 216 engine [1937-38], this conduit also extends between the horn and wiring harness. It lays over the intake and then vertically down to the main wiring harness. A clip now secures the conduit to the new manifold horn extension bracket.
If it seems confusing, these photos should make it much easier to understand. In summary, the two different ways the horn mounts to the intake manifold results in the 7/16th conduit protecting the two wires from accidental damage over the years.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com
Few photos of this special truck most like Chevrolet offered it.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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:
Aftermarket extras that could have been added by the owner.
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.)
“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. “
WOW! Look at Mike’s immediate family in and around this older 1940’s Plymouth convertible.
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 email@example.com
V-8 Hood Emblem Just Right!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
He has kept this ½ ton mostly as it left the dealership in 1958 including Cardinal Red paint.
Factory Special order options:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.
– 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.
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.
The normal 216 engine. Oil add position on both draft tube and valve cover. Hmmmm!
Horn may be aftermarket!
Proudly owned by
If you have any questions on this unique hearse contact Rob Webster at : email@example.com
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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:
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 @ firstname.lastname@example.org
Correct six board bed
A personal touch!
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.
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!
All looks good.
Optional V8 engine
Sitting in sunny Florida
Signs on the new side racks
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
A Little Extra
From the Driver’s Seat
261 Engine with Full Flow Oil Filter
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!!
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.
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 @ email@example.com
The real thing!
Don’t look at the flowers!
Waiting for a new bed
Drive line exposed
The massive tall grill
The script says it all
Nice chrome nose
Maybe better than new
one year only interior color
Wish you had one?
No mistakes here
Correct non-pleated seat
Factory accessory re-circulator heater
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!
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!
Oops, Too Far Gone
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”.
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.
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.
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.
Classmates standing in Front of the New Panel Truck
Sitting on “Butter Boxes” for a photo
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?
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
You can contact Burt or Lu @ firstname.lastname@example.org.
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)
Stainless Outside and Inside Door Window Trim
Two Inside Sunvisors
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 email@example.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) firstname.lastname@example.org
Full side view
Deluxe cab window trim
The 1947-48 Hood Emblem. Only years made of Die-cast
From the rear
Light in bed roll for turn signal plus 1948 truck license plate
Last Advance Design pickup under bed tank
All original dash
Fresh air heater works so good
Two words say it all
New old stock door panels
Fog Lights. Nice Accessory
The Power Glide Transmission after its rebuild
Transmission rear on modified 3 speed cradle
The modified rear transmission cross member
Engine, Bellhousing and Power Glide together
Transmission dip stick tube
Lower shift column linkage control
Transmission dip stick tube beside starter
The Car Power Glide Shift indicator fits correctly
Reshaped shift lever
Starter button below headlight knob
Floor mat with no extra holes
The 1954 high oil pressure engine. Fits perfect
Transmission fluid cooler attached to lower radiator hose (beside front of engine)
Jerry Rivers, The early GM car and truck expert!
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 email@example.com.
Engine on display
The trim and spears make it complete!
GM’s idea: Lower the mirror arm to protect it’s glass from an open wing vent
Suburban dealer installed accessory rear turn signal light
Side view of dual Zeniths, manifolds, and filters
Wayne valve cover and side plate
Mounted on firewall instead of intake because of the slope of the Fenton manifold
A photo view of front Fulton sunvisor
The left edge of the front Fenton visor
“Very” rare Fulton side window visor
Dual pipes on an inline six cylinder. Side by side just like they should be!
Accessory GM safety treads to prevent slips when running boards are wet
New Spanish Grain brown seat upholstery
Late 1951 dash. The Tremec 5 speed shifter is just right
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
New bright work sets off the front
Nice Wheels. John painted the orange
All wood parts created in John’s shop
New power brakes
Completed dash and new carpet
Vinyl dye makes seat a new color!
Speakers in space when gas tank was removed
Last year for 1960-67 design armrest!
UNDER CONSTRUCTION – SUMMER 2016
AS JOHN BOUGHT IT
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!
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 @ firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Shortened 1936 No. 2 attached to the Fruehauf. So much better truck than 1936 No. 1 but from a distance they look the same.
Just like Mike found 1936 No.1
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.
Attached Fruehauf Trailer
It was slowly returning to the soil.
This is the trailer tailgate on moving day with everything cleared away.
Front of Fruehauf
Attached 5th wheel on 1936 No. 1
Old one-eye 1936 No. 1 ready to leave the field after Mike’s purchase
1936 No. 2 with 157” wheel base
1936 No. 2 with its 157” frame wheel base at a different angle
1936 No. 2 with door removed for Sam.
Mike taking measurements before frame shortening on 1936 No. 2
The cut is underway
26” of frame rail removed on 1936 No. 2
The differential and rear frame rail after the cut on 1936 No. 2
The 26” frame section removed
Frame shortened to be like 1936 No. 1
Another view of the shortened 1936 No. 2
Rebuilt, cleaned and painted placed in 1936 No. 2
Right Side View
Left Side View
Even has the accessory oil filter
1936 Missouri license below the correct truck taillight
Part of the new exhaust system
Sam and his daughters on the day of the Maiden Voyage. Mike on the fork lift.
Close to getting into the cab
Sam’s big smile sitting by Mike. The first ride begins!
The young ladies ready to ride!
1936 No. 2 first drive around the building
Restoring the 5th wheel from 1936 No. 1
What a job!
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!
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!
You can contact Scott Phaneuf at email@example.com
Chevrolet Accessory Package Tray (behind seat)
1959 Chevy’s Big Block – 348 cu.in. V-8
The compressor for the truck’s air brakes.
The day Scott brought it home!
Only its mother could love!
Page from 1959 Chevrolet Salesman’s Data Book showing Scott’s Spartan 100
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!
The license say it all!
It made the cover of “Pickup ‘n Panels” magazine in August 1996
Split Rims with white painted edges. Looks like whitewalls!
Lay on the ground to get this photo
A close-up of the wrecker body. Even has the “tool box” attached to the floor.
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.
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!
Short and Wide
Lettering Relates to Sam’s Second 1959
Big Back Window
No Tailgate Lettering
Air Bags Require Wide Tubs
Deluxe Rear Bed Side Trim, Very Rare!
Car Seat Forward Allows Extra Space Access
Trimmed Accessory Sunvisor. Nice!
Great Two-Tone Combination!
Cab Steps. Perfect!
Special Seat Upholstery!
Modern Gauges & Steering Wheel
Under Dash Air Outlet Assembly Fits Perfect
More Dash Views & Modern Carpet
The GMC Dash. A Perfect Fit into a Chevrolet Cab
Not One Side of a V-12 Engine. It’s All 6 Cylinder!
Edelbrook Carb on a Clifford Intake
Clifford Valve Cover
All In One Photo
Air Conditioning. The American Way!
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@firstname.lastname@example.org.
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)
Original 1951 tires, 600 x 16. Still no flats!
All original Swifts Red. Note: the GM by-pass oil filter on the intake manifold.
Painted gas cap to match the body. Correct?
The original one left side taillight (as it left the factory)
Maroon door panels to match the seats. Just right!
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
Excellent Maroon vinyl seat covering.
All “bone stock” except the accessory turn signal switch.
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
Down to the Bare Bones
Tailgate, etc. removed
New Burgundy Maroon Paint
Optional Passenger Seat Tipped Up. Note: Tool Box and Nearby Black Lid.
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 email@example.com.
Sitting at a car show. Note New tool box!
A real attention getter!
Accessory oil bath air cleaner and oil filter are just right.
Ground up rebuilt 216 engine.
Measuring wheel shows sale amount.
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!
1952 Cab and Chassis after the frame is extended 4 feet
350 Chevy V-8 replaces the inline six cylinder engine
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!
A 3″ channel is needed to lower carrier bearing due to the lengthen frame.
Hand built new doors before redwood siding
New top almost completed. Just before siding added.
These 5″ redwood planks were on an old construction job and are from trees
1,000 to 2,000 years old.
Lap siding is from the 5″ scrap redwood. 17 operations in each board before
ready to install.
Start of installation of front cab-over windows
Frames for front cab-over finished
Front cab-over almost complete
1/4″ welded steel support brackets on both sides of “cab-over” windows
Corner cab-over brackets in place plus 1,000 to 2,000 year old lap siding
NOTE: The window frames were made from scratch and are to appear as those
from an old hotel transom used in room ventilation.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Color: Like it was Found
Original Photo of the Belfonte Ice Cream Truck
NOTE: Rear Wood Fenders
A Little Extra Original Beyond Original
Logo – Close Up
Don with his New Toy
All Trim Work Done by Tim Bratcher
Close Up Side View After Restoration
Most will be Patterns
Taking it Apart
Patterns in the Making
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.
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.
Nose to Nose
A Restored Floor with Siginaw Transmission Installed
The High Dollar Apron & amp; Doors – PERFECT!
Yes, it’s all 235!
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.
Original Right Seat 2 Motor Heater-Front / Side
Dip in Rear Bumper and Rare Right Taillight
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 @ firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.
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.
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: email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
To keep General Motors truck costs down, Chevrolet and GMC ½ through 2 ton shared many components during the late 1930’s through the 1950’s. However, when it came to the grille, the focal point of the truck, changes had to be very noticeable.
The truck designers were limited in creating a new grille as both makes would still have the same front fenders and hood. For these limitations, the designers actually did quite well. They almost made them able to be exchanged from one make to another. On the 1941-46, only the small filler panel between the grille and fender top had to be slightly modified.
The attached photos show how two grilles can be different and yet fit in almost identical sheet metal areas of the trucks.
Owners: John and Michele Dunkirk
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 : email@example.com
What an ingenious way to keep a tail light in view! General Motors realized that with the tail gate in the lowered position the center tail light still had to be seen by the following traffic. At times the gate will stay lowered when longer freight is carried.
Therefore, the 5” round light is attached to a swing bracket. This bracket is moved by a ¼” vertical rod inside the tailgate. As the gate is lowered, the rod is moved by a hidden attachment on the edge of the body. Thus, the light is always visible!
These photos are of a 1953 Canopy Express owned by John Dunkirk of Southaven, New York.
Owner: Russell Penniston
A one family owned 4×4 Blazer bought new in 1971! George Penniston purchased it to drive to the various job site locations of his construction company. This go anywhere vehicle was necessary to reach off road job sites through mud and snow.
George bought it at Parrish Chevrolet in Liberty, MO. It lacked only one option he required which was air conditioning. George had this installed a few weeks later. The Blazer served him well for many years and nothing was changed in the appearance or mechanicals. After years in construction, George retired and so did the Blazer. It sat for years in the corner of the large construction business shop, later to be owned by his son Russell.
Russell’s hobby was always large antique trucks which he had collected and often restored to new appearance. Therefore, it was many years before he put the little Blazer in line for restoration. In fact it was when he retired that the Blazer project began. It was so untouched over the years that to complete it, Russell only had to add new trim paint, upholstery, tires, body mounts, and the usual restoration done on 35 year old vehicles. Even a pair of 1971 Missouri license plates are attached. The mechanicals were excellent, so cleaning and painting made them just like it was in 1971. Working on it for several years, it was finished about 2005. It’s now like a magnet with people at auto shows. The awards are many.
It still has the original double stripe white wall spare tire in its correct position. The rubber rear floor mat came with the Blazer when new. The under hood mechanical parts are so original that local restorers have used it as a guide to build their same year trucks.
A few items of interest to the new enthusiast of early Blazers:
The dash has no speaker slots at the top like the conventional trucks. GM knew with a removable top, there would be a chance of it being caught in the rain. This would ruin a speaker. Therefore, GM placed the speaker and a protective grille at the bottom of the dash. With Russell’s Blazer this was moved to the hump in the floor because of the aftermarket air conditioning system.
The in-cab spare tire is secured to a special floor bracket.
The bucket seats are not like those on the more Deluxe pickups of the same years. In fact, the optional right seat totally tips forward to provide access to the optional rear seat.
Without the optional console, the factory seat belt buckle is placed in a non-metal pocket attached to the inner side of the seat.
Yes, the tailgate is also used on the Fleetside pickups; however a narrow horizontal metal strip is screwed to the top to allow for a weather seal on the lift gate of the removable top.
As a non-smoking family, there was never an accessory factory cigarette lighter. Note the black original blank out beside the heater control panel. Very rare!
The first year for disc brakes. GM added a decal only this one year to advertise this feature.
Russell’s 1971 Blazer continues to be one of the most popular vehicles at local car shows. He still remembers a friendly teasing comment “If your Blazer wasn’t here so often, someone else could have a chance at an award”.
Front w/ 1971 License
Blazer’s are rated K/5
350 V-8 w/ after market air
Original Spare Tire & floor Mat
Tailgate w/Blazer Air Seal Strip
First Year For Disc Brakes
Cigarette Lighter Plug
Unrestored Door Panel
Rear Seat w/ Some Awards
1948 Chevy Truck –“ Heartbeat of America”
Owner: Luke Stefanovsky
This was my 1st project of this sort after dreaming about it for years. I did not start the restoration, but have finished the interior, exterior, the engine bay, and performed some undercarriage work. Once starting the restoration, I was “all in”! It became a great stress-reliever from the daily responsibilities of being a middle school principal in a state hard-hit by the Recession. I spent more time in my waking hours thinking about the truck that I should; it occupied my dreams as well! The truck was back on the road August 2009, and it now has approximately 1600 miles on the completely rebuilt 235 c.i. 6 cylinder engine pulled from a 1955 Chevy. It has a 4-speed stick (floor) with a 4:11 rear. The truck is now my summer daily driver in West Branch, Michigan (approximately 90 miles from my home in Alma, Michigan).
The truck was in the service fleet for the Road Department in Mineral County, Nevada (county seat is in Hawthorne) sometime until the mid/late 1960s. I have corresponded with the man who purchased it from them; it has had multiple owners since then. The truck was originally purchased by the Road Department from the Chevy dealership in Hawthorne, which is no longer in existence. The Mineral County seals on the door sides were compliments of the current Road Department supervisor. I purchased the amber Federal service light and mounted it on a pole in the front-left of the truck bed; the switch is now under the dash. The patched holes from a roof-mounted service light were clearly visible before the headliner was replaced. I’d love to find a rare 1948 Nevada “highway exempt truck” license plate to mount on the front of the truck, which would replace the standard 1948 Nevada truck plate.
Evidence of the truck’s past includes “cleats” of some sort, which can be seen below the tailgate area and the various holes on the side-rails. Holes in various other locations around the truck where unknown items were mounted can be seen. One such set of holes on the upper left of the dashboard were for a small rubber-bladed electric fan. I found a rare N.O.S. Casco rubber-bladed fan and installed it in that very same location! Another hole on the dashboard was where the wiring for the vintage N.O.S. illuminated Hull compass is now located. I completely restored the original Harrison heater that came with the truck, which must have come in handy on cold Nevada mornings/evenings out on the Mineral County roads. IF THESE OLD TRUCKS COULD ONLY TALK!
Amongst a very long list of things done to this truck, I’ve added vintage Guide turn signals, a horn, amber Guide 5-3/4” fog lights, a rear passenger tail light, Guide back-up lights, the side-mounted spare tire, decorative hood ornament, a restored radio/antennae, under hood lamp (a rare accessory), refinished the bed, and added seatbelts (the only way my wife and son were going to ride with me!). A N.O.S. Casco cigar lighter was installed. New wheels were painted/striped and mated to a new set of tires, along with new hubcaps. The cab was striped. The driver’s side inner door panel, the driver’s side upper hinge detents, hinge pins, and the passenger side door latch were replaced. I had to also replace the driver’s side stainless steel window trim. Original “high dome” bumper bolts, along with Marsden nuts, were restored and used on the bumpers. An original jack/handle and complete tool set were also placed under the bench seat. A finishing touch was finding and mounting a GM accessory chrome grille guard. The truck was completely rewired, maintaining the original 6 volt electrical service. Instrument gauges were also restored.
New friends have been made through the project the past few years—some over the phone, others via the Internet, and many in person. The information, help received, and locating miscellaneous parts from the Stovebolt, H.A.M.B., V.C.C.A., and Chevy Bomb forums has been much appreciated. I also found eBay a good place to find parts.
Younger brothers Joe and John were a big help on the project. Joe was a huge help on the electrical side of the project, as well as the body finish. John completed the restoration by building a set of bed racks/rails out of red oak left behind by our deceased Grandpa K.—“the Judge”—who ironically retired from the Bay County, Michigan Road Department.
Driving the “Heartbeat of America” on a regular basis and attending classic car shows has validated for me that completing this restoration was a very worthwhile project to others as well. Attending the 50th V.C.C.A. Anniversary meet in Flint, Michigan July 2011 sure was quite an event! The truck has appeared in two calendars and has been featured in the V.C.C.A.’s Generator and Distributor monthly magazine. A newspaper article was also written on it in the Mineral County Independent-News. The “Heartbeat of America” has come back to life and lives again, 63 years after its creation in Oakland, California. At age 50, I see this restored ’48 Chevy truck as a tribute to the rich auto heritage of our great state of Michigan—which has fallen on hard times recently. Like this truck, we will survive to thrive once more some day again.
If you wish to contact Luke, please send him an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Owner: Pat O’Brien
This rare little ½ ton survived its 75 years mostly because it stayed with one family; it probably never ventured beyond the city limits, and was used mostly by a mechanic that lived in an area of dry air that discouraged metal rust. For the trucks first two years, it was driven by Virginia Swaim to high school each day in Prescott, Arizona. After graduation her father used it as a shop truck in his auto repair business until he retired. Then, Virginia kept it mostly stored in a backyard garage until she passed away in 2002.
The new owner and restorer is Pat O’Brien also of Prescott, Arizona. He discovered it in the same closed garage where it had spent all of its later years. Virginia sold it to Pat several years after he discovered it by accident as he drove by the garage door that was open for a few minutes. Maybe this second ownership was meant to be! Pat was even given the pickups entire history in receipts from the day it was purchased. A box of so many receipts; from tires, gasoline, batteries, radiator hoses, and any other little repairs that needed during so many years.
Of course after all those years as a shop truck and many more sitting in the daughters garage, it was in need of so much more than a surface cleanup. Pat was ready for this challenge. His goal was to have his 1936 look bone stock on the outside with a change to most of the running gears that only the more knowledgeable truck person would recognize. Keeping an inline six cylinder was a must! He added a 292, the larger of the 1963 through 1972 design. The 4 speed was replaced with a Chevy car full synchronized floor shift 4 speed from the 1960’s. This floor shift system was almost a natural for the 1936 pickup.
The differential rear end was a great find. Removed from a 4 x 4 S-10 pickup, it matches the original 6 bolt wheel pattern and the distance between the rear wheels is just right for this 1936 ½ ton. Pat only moved the axle saddles slightly to the side and the original 1 ¾ wide rear leaf springs connected perfectly!
Keeping the 1936 front axle was important. He wanted it to keep the non-lowered original appearance. The front end difference is the hidden 6 bolt disc brake system fitted to his 1936 axle. Yes, the original 1936 lever action shock absorbers were rebuilt. They really are an excellent shock – just expensive!
The real creation was keeping the new dual chambered master cylinder under the floor between the original clutch and brake pedals. Most people give up here on 1936-46 brake modifications and attach swing pedals to the firewall. Not Pat! He did it like the 1936 design. A bracket to support the pedals was attached to the transmission case much like GM did it. The opposite bracket on the original frame rail could then be utilized with the pedal shaft as from the factory. Even the hand brake lever is attached to the newer 4 speed transmission like it was in 1936. It comes through the floor in the correct position.
The 6 hole wire wheels are another eye catcher. To keep it like GM made it, Pat found these new US handmade wires to look original. Not cheap! They really help it keep its 1936 look and hold the radial tires well at any speed.
Pat O’Brien has created a total package that is one of a kind. We call it his little original speed machine! No, we didn’t say inexpensive. People are drawn to it at car shows or just moving in traffic. Virginia Swaim and her father would be proud!!
To contact Pat, email at: email@example.com
At the beginning of the 1941 Chevrolet and GMC truck body style, the parking light assembly was placed on top of the headlight bucket. This was the first time both were placed on the fender as a pair. All worked well together. To save tooling costs, GM chose to add a pre-existing assembly from the year before on the 1940 Pontiac car. No changes were made from this Pontiac park light assembly except its long sheet metal top was now painted and not chromed.
Overseas during World War II, when civilian front fenders were used on GM military trucks (instead of the more famous flat fender ‘army truck’ style) General Motors created a parking light that emitted a small strip of light to be seen at a shorter distance.
Beginning in 1942 and continuing through mid 1947 (when this body design was discontinued), GM used a much less expensive park light housing on civilian trucks. A one piece stamped metal cover was attached to the headlight bucket for a fraction of the cost as in 1941. This also used a smaller less expensive glass lens.
Therefore during this 6 ½ year truck production (1941-Mid 1947) the same headlight buckets were on Chevrolet and GMC trucks. The difference was their hole punching which adapted to changes in parking light assemblies.
NOTE: THE 1941 PHOTO WILL FOLLOW SOON
The next time you can’t find a nut to fit a special bolt, try making your own by filling an oversized nut with epoxy cement and molding the threads. Seat the nut in modeling clay before pouring in the epoxy. Grease the bolt, then screw it down through the epoxy into the clay. Wait a day, unscrew the bolt from the hardened epoxy, and you will have a perfect fitting nut for moderate duty.
Owner: Dirk Spence
A magic show unlike anything you’ve ever seen! Equally important to GM truck people is that all of this has been totally transformed on a 1945 Chevrolet 1 1/2 ton truck.
The truck owner and professional magician is Dirk Spence of Tinley, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago). It all began in 1980 when Dirk was given a dilapidated 1945 Chevy truck with a ruined engine, broken glass, and four flat tires. Since his youth, Dan had a strong interest in magic and with this truck, he quickly envisioned a traveling magic show that would set him apart from all others.
Once completed, this unique, self-contained 1945 Chevrolet ˜Magic House™ contains sound, lights, and a one-of-a-kind museum. Dirk has even rigged his truck to spit flames when he fires up the engine- just for added effect. His one hour magic show has been in the Chicago area for many years.
This has been quite a project considering the truck only has a 134″ wheel-base. Audiences love Dirk’s magic wagon because it is a touch of old Vaudeville with a splash of 1990’s humor. Dirk has definitely found a niche that draws “oohs and ahhs” when he arrives in his in his gypsy green truck with wood shingle sides at festivals, corporate picnics, and schools.
If you would like to contact Dirk or experience “Mr. D’s Magic and Illusion Show”, please call 708.532.0827 or visit his website at www.mrdsmagicshow.com.
Owner: John Thompson
This 1946 Chevy short bed from Pittsburg, Kansas, may look stock, however, it’s anything but! It is a blend of the character of the pre-war vehicles mixed with today’s technology. When I bought the truck it was almost all stock but it was in pieces strewn between 3 garage stalls. The truck is all steel and had virtually no rust on any of the body panels, but it was missing almost every trim, handle, lamp, chrome, interior, etc. Thank goodness for Jim Carter catalogs! The build began in January of 2008 and was completed in June of 2010. Modifications include the front suspension and frame rails from a 1970 Chevelle giving the truck independent front suspension, power steering, power disc brakes, sway bar, etc. The engine, transmission, rear differential, fuel tank, gauge cluster, seats, and more are all from a 1995 Camaro Z28. Several thousand hours went into the build with a lot of custom work including shaved drip rails, smoothed and reshaped lower grille panel, shaved front turn signals, rear roll pan, fuel tank relocated behind the rear axle and fuel door added to the left rear fender, custom door panels, console (with cupholders), customized yet original looking dash panel, and many other subtle mods. The paint finish is Dupont base coat/clearcoat and the interior is finished with genuine leather.
Other features include: power steering with tilt column, Hotrod Air Conditioning system, power windows, keyless power locks, 8-way power driver seat, 4 wheel disc brakes, rear air shocks, in-dash JVC with DVD player, power antenna, billet & leather steering wheel, composite headlights with integral turn signals, 3rd brake light, Haywire engine management and body wiring harnesses (all wiring was soldered and heat shrink wrapped), 17 inch aluminum wheels, one-piece V-glass windshield, billet drivers wiper, dual electric fans that turn on at 185o or when the a/c is on, and more. The interior was lined with Dynamat before finished and features full instrumentation including tachometer, and seatbelts. The bed is white oak with 10 coats of varnish.
It is very important where to drill the hole for the new radio antenna. The results of making a slight mistake will stay in your mind for many years to come!
Radios during these 1947-54 Advance Design years were never installed at the factory. This was done by the authorized GM Dealer. In the box that contained the new radio was a paper template that prevented mistakes when drilling the antenna hole. This hole in the cowl was so close to the belt line that the body to the antenna seal gasket even lacked an edge where it touched this body belt. Even with GM moving the antenna so close to the belt line there is still only about 1/2″ clearance to the hood when it is open. See photo.
The sad realization occurs later when a new radio antenna is installed by an amateur. He drills the hole in the cowl (correctly on the driver’s side) about another 3/4′ forward. He smiles as the radio works great. He doesn’t smile a week later when he tries to raise the hood to check the oil. It won’t raise! The rear hood edge hits the antenna. A rubber plug later put in the new hole is always a reminder of what a 1/2′ can do.
|Hood Closed||Hood Open||Hood Open|
Year/Make 1953 Chevrolet
Owner: Dave and Pat Moore
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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)
WILLY THE 36 CHEVY
I found my 36 Chevy pickup in the 1980’s on highway 41 somewhere south of Chicago. It was running but had a big crack in the block, so to drive it I had to carry a bucket of water with me.
My love of the 36 pickup goes back to 1948 when I was four and my dad (just home from the Navy and WW2) was working as a tenant farmer in east central Illinois. The owner of the farm had a 1936 Chevy pickup which my dad was allowed to drive back and forth from our house to the main farm. It was the “first” pickup I remember riding in and the fascination I had for that old truck stayed with me. Needles to say, when I saw old “Willy” (named after my dad) sitting ‘for sale’ along Hwy 41 many years later, I had to have him.
At that time I lived in Terre Haute, Indiana and had a concrete block company and an excavating business. My intention from the beginning was to restore old “Willy”. However as some of you “old timers” might remember, the early 80’s were tough years for the building industry and a lot of old “Willy” projects got delayed.
In 1986 I packed up my family, a few pieces of equipment, old “Willy” and moved to the Charlotte, NC area. The economy was much better there and by 1988 I started an auto detail and wreck recovery business. Old “Willy” finally was getting some attention. When the work crew had some extra time, we took old “Willy” to the frame.
Another hick-up in the 1989 economy put the project back on hold and old “Willy” was destined to become a “pile of parts”. We had to shut the shop down. A sluggish economy, a divorce and two daughters in college paved the way for old “Willy” to remain a pile of parts for several years.
Not until 1999 did I seriously get back on the project. All the chassis parts were examined and many were rebuilt. New brake lines were installed, king pins, bushings, spring pins; any part worn was replaced. The passing of time and moving things around caused a number of parts to get lost. We found a parts truck in Wisconsin and had it shipped to North Carolina. This provided an engine, transmission and a few other needed chassis parts.
In 2005 I contracted with a small paint and body shop to start painting the sheet metal and body parts. There were some real challenges to return a fairly rough and rugged bed, cab, fenders, doors, hood, etc. to “like new” condition.
In 2009 I was finally able to again open my own shop and begin the reassembly of old “Willy”. After all those years “Willy” was about to be complete. I thank our crew, Chuck (manager), Whit (mechanic) and Steven (painter) for doing a super job getting our beautiful ’36 in show condition.
We also want to thank Jim Carter’s Old Chevy Trucks for helping us with several technical questions we had in the reassembly. We were able to get a number of new and used parts from the Jim Carter catalog.
PS: Over all these years, old “Willy” has finally successfully evolved from a truck in a box to a beauty back on the highway of pride.
During the early years, most roads were not paved and the quality of tires was far from that of today. Thus, tire repair was very big business. It was necessary for vehicle manufacturers to provide the easiest access to the often needed spare tire. Part of driving a car or truck was knowing how to change a tire.
On the 1936 and older pickups, the tire storage space was limited. GM chose to place a dip in the front fender and a 29″ vertical rod from the frame rail to the cowl for the tire and wheel support clamp. A long nut is threaded to the top of the rod and tightens a curved metal over the tire. No the pickup did not use the chrome “T” handle on the car.
In viewing restored ½ ton pickups at shows it is amazing that most use the chrome die-cast “T” handle that came new on passenger cars. Not correct! The pickup uses a hexagon securing nut. It is designed to be turned by the lug nut tire tool usually stored under the seat cushion.
Why the difference is unknown. We assume the “T” handle nut is more convenience to turn. The car driver would get less dirt or grease on clothes or hands during a tire change, plus the car was usually on smoother roads, not on the rough surfaces of a farm field or back roads that might loosen the securing nut.
Replacement hard parts for most of this side mount system are not being reproduced. Originals usually must be restored. The rubber grommet that protects the cowl and fender metal from the side mount hardware the securing nut and 29″ support rod are available from Jim Carter Truck Parts along with a few other older GM truck full stocking dealers.
INTERESTING: The Chevrolet 1/2 ton (1934-1936) placed the support well in the right front fender. The 1936 GMC (first year for their 1/2 ton) it was in the left front fender. The support hardware is the same. Just another way of the two marquis showing their individuality with limited expense.
Pickup inside view. Not quite like a Chevy car.
The 29″ vertical rod is at an angle, too far through the cab mounted support. Shown is the top dark threads where this retaining nut fits.
Manufactured by Trico for just this truck, it fits above the windshield frame on the left side of cab. A dealer accessory for the right side.
They have sometimes been called a “sweetheart” wiper motor due to their strange appearance.
This month we feature a pick up that is used just the way GM intended. It is still a work truck and at 65 years old it is used daily in the greater Kansas City, Missouri, area. The owner is
Dennis Odell of Independence, MO. The truck is a 1946 Chevrolet half ton.
Dennis now stays busier than on prior career job with the telephone company. He can repair most anything ( including his 46) and thus is a natural with home repairs. His little half ton is his daily work truck and hauls materials and himself for his many remodeling projects.
Dennis found it for sale 25 years ago beside a country road at the edge of town and had to have it! He then personally did the restoration including the painting. Dennis said he made it above average but not for shows. After all, he planned on driving it to work daily. About 12 years ago he retired and now he and his 46 keep busier than past full time job.
The drive train is a 1977 250 cylinder engine with a modern floor shift 3 speed and a 1955-56 Nomad rear end. All wheels are 5 bolt. An under dash radio is his entertainment and the heater is from a 1950 car. The body is all GM as are the seats, grill, bumpers, and bedstrips. Yes, he did replace the bedwood.
With it being used so often in all its years Dennis says it has to have over 250 thousand miles and is still going strong!!
Year/Make 1955 Chevrolet NAPCO Suburban
During the recent Mid-West All Truck National’s in Riverside, Missouri, a very special truck was on display. It had been brought to the show in an enclosed trailer from Virginia.The owner is George VanOrden of Fulks Run, Virginia and the vehicle is a 1955 Chevrolet Suburban with a NAPCO 4×4 system. His personal history, leading to this restored Suburban, is a story by itself. He spent his youth in this mountain section of Virginia only 10 miles from his current home. The interest in 4×4 trucks was early in life as these type trucks were regularly seen on the rough mountain roads in his county. It is not surprising George decided to restore a 4×4 after his retirement after 20 years in the U.S. Marines.
The first candidate he bought to restore was a late 50’s GM 4×4 pickup. His high hopes slowly dropped as his wife explained “Where will you put the whole family in a truck cab as the children grow?”
A new hunt began for a 4×4 Suburban which would just “fill the bill” for a medium size family hauler. This want proved a very difficult task. Few 4×4 Suburbans were sold in the 1950’s and most were later junked or used beyond restoration by off road owners.
A year of patience and a continued search finally met success. George’s wife found an ad from a Colorado owner that described a very used but not abused 1955 Suburban 4×4. It was first owned by the Colorado Forest Service and George was to become its third private owner. Rust was limited and all mechanicals could be rebuilt or replaced.
Once back in Virginia, the surface restoration began but soon went further than new paint and a clean-up. Each part to be restored opened even deeper needs. Suddenly, George was down to the frame rails. After all, with whole family to ride in the Suburban, he needed no future problems.
A nearby professional restoration shop was hired to lift the body from the frame and restore the sheet metal. George took the chassis home. That would be his project, however the 4×4 system proved to be a real challenge. As he slowly found new NAPCO parts to make the system perfect, the remainder of the chassis needed equal treatment. Then it became a must to make it all new! He just could not go this far and not make it all perfect.
The restoration shop was contacted, “Don’t just fix the dents and paint the body. I want it new!”. Compromises were not acceptable. George’s passion became research on what the 1955 was like the day it left the Chevrolet factory. Hours of collecting literature, talking to collectors, and using his computer brought out the answers and this was followed “to the letter”. There was no turning back. The Suburban was in hundreds of pieces. Even the grain, color, and seams of the new seat material came from the samples that was on the original seat upholstery.
A set of 5 bias ply 17.5 tires was the real challenge (does any factory still make them?). George located a truck for sale that had been in storage many, many years. It had new tires with even the dimples on the tread. He bought the truck just to get the tires.
George rebuilt the Suburban’s original 235 cubic inch six cylinder engine. All parts had to be new GM. Another hunt. The differential and 4 speed transmission received the same treatment.
The above is the “tip of the iceberg” of what George did to create a new 1955 Chevrolet Suburban. The restoration time was three years, completed September 2008. It is now how it came from the factory: 235 engine, 4 speed, fresh air heater, no radio, dealer added turn signals and the NAPCO installed 4×4. Ocean green paint was found under the mirror arms so George knew the correct color.
A new enclosed car trailer was a necessity. (Even more money in the project!) As a member of the Antique Auto Club of America -AACA, George thought he would see how the Suburban would do in serious judging competition. It started in the world famous Hershey PA. Fall Show. Surprise, it received a “Junior” award, the highest for a first timer. The next spring, it won the “Senior” award at the Charlotte, NC AACA show. The same year it was given a second at the AACA “Grand Nationals” in Newburn, NC.
George’s finished product has certainly attracted the attention of even the most qualified judges. He and his Suburban can’t receive honors much higher than this!
And what happened to the thought of having a clean Suburban for the family? Well, that will be the next project.
Note: Only if you are a real “die hard” NAPCO fan should you read this part of our month’s feature truck.
The 4×4 system was made by the Northwestern Auto Parts Co. of Minneapolis, MN. -NAPCO-. Of the many 4×4 add-on companies at that time, this was by far the most popular. Most medium size hill and mountain country cities had a NAPCO dealer. (GM’s factory assembled 4×4 trucks were not available until 1957).
George’s NAPCO was the last year for the Rockwell transfer case (pumpkin on the left of center). By 1956 NAPCO transfer case was made by Spicer (pumpkin on the right of center).
The Chevrolet GMC 1/2 tons were never given a 4×4 prior to 1955. Their closed drive shaft prevented a position for a transfer case. Thus, NAPCO in the early models began with a 3/4 ton which had enough of the drive shaft open to make room for this case.
When GM introduced the open drive shaft 1/2 ton in 1955, NAPCO jumped at the opportunity to offer a 4×4 for the light trucks. A redesigned 1/2 ton NAPCO system was not ready until 1956 and would include the Spicer transfer case. Therefore, the 1955 1/2 ton like George’s Suburban, plus 1/2 ton pickups were provided with the currently used 3/4 ton front end with 8 bolt wheels but internally used the 1/2 ton ring and pinion. This gave the higher speed 1/2 ton, 3.90 ratio. On the rear, 6 bolt axle spacers adapters allowed 8 bolt wheels to match the front. Very unusual but it got NAPCO quickly into the 1/2 ton 4×4 market. The 1955 1/2 ton NAPCO’s are one year only design. They really stand all with their 17.5 tires that were actually used on most 3/4 tons.
It’s a great day for a car show! This is one of those rare Saturday cruise shows when the temperature, a light breeze, and no rain make it a picture perfect day. A few hundred vehicles, antique and street rods, fill the parking spots gather around the old city square.
The display overflow extends onto connecting side streets. Vehicle owners have gathered to enjoy a common interest, a love of special interest and restored cars and trucks.
As the day continues spectators are outnumbering the vehicle owners 3 to 1 as they stroll among the special cars of all early ages and marquis. However, it is obvious that one vehicle is attracting more than the usual passing interest. A constant flow of onlookers are staring at a large blue car or is it a truck. We wait for a place to get a better view of this “large people hauler”. It’s a beautifully rebuilt 1948 Chevrolet Suburban! The color, workmanship and engine bring most people to a stop as they are walking by this display.
The owner is Jerry Rivers of Independence, Missouri. The interest from the crowds prevent our questions but Jerry agrees to allow us a later interview for pictures and questions.
In a week we are at his small antique Chevrolet parts store with all his attention. The more we looked and discovered the truck’s special features, the more it was important to place this vehicle as our monthly truck of the month section.
Jerry bought this Suburban 13 years ago from the original owner in North Missouri. A friend was hunting and noticed the tired body in a back field along a fence row. Rusted out floors, broken glass, and a totaled engine was the package. Jerry saw the great potential plus he had always wanted an old Suburban. He is a retired body man, so to him the challenge was not so threatening. He began the rebuilding after a total disassembly. His parts business requires much time but he allowed himself one night each week for Suburban duties. Thus, thirteen years for restoration! It’s unveiling was June 2010.
He wanted an original appearing 60 year old vehicle but added many special accessories plus additions to make it freeway friendly. Jerry has no concerns about driving a long distance. It’s built as a driver but, of course, it gets extra care as one would with a collector vehicle purchased from a new car dealer.
Jerry provided us two pages of extras he carefully added during the 13 year rebuilding. These are items you may not notice as you view the final product. We list them here as he did for us.
New Old Stock Parts
We should note three very special extras that make the Suburban even more of a real show stopper.
The Tailgate opens to the side and operates as if GM did it. (This is a Jerry Rivers Creation). No leaning over in the rear just to reach the body.
Its Power Plant is a pure 261 six cylinder from 1954. They were originally in school buses and 2 tons only. It was a drop-in and moves the Suburban easily to 70 mph. (Of course the high speed 3.55 ring and pinion helps too) Many don’t know this 261 engine even existed. It really steps out in today’s traffic!
Cold Air Conditioning? Certainly. The custom made system is for the 1947-53 Chevy truck with a 261 engine. No cutting on the body. Note the concealed two control levers in what was once slots for the original factory radio speaker. Yes, it keeps the large body Suburban comfortable during Missouri days of high humidity and temperatures.
Jerry has had the Suburban completed and at car shows for only three months. Two trophies and so much public interest! It attracts so many he calls it his “Magnet”. His last show required a 400 mile drive. Did he have any mechanical problems? Of course not! He made it to be a new 60 year old Suburban.
|Here He Comes!||Custom Tailgate||Accessory Back-Up Light||Jerry’s Grand Daughters|
|Factory Dash||Smooth Headliner||Accessory Taillamp||Prism|
|261 Engine||Power Plant||A/C Items||Bucket Seats with New Covering|
|Pickup Dome Light||New Carpeting||Interior||There He Goes!|
This little 1/2 ton spent its early life in Hayward, CA as a fruit and vegetable delivery truck. Jim, about the fourth owner, bought it six years ago in a storage lot mostly as a cab and chassis. The tired bed nearby had numerous removed parts of questionable value.
At the beginning of the restoration, stock and reproduction parts were not too difficult to find. It was the high performance equipment that was the real challenge. They were gradually found with much time researching.
A few era additions used during the complete rebuilding are: A 3″ dropped front axle, Edmonds water warmed intake manifold, Fenton headers, 1957 Chevy 235 engine with 1/4 race camshaft, chrome valve cover, two Carter YF carbs, and a high speed ring and pinion. Jim went modern on the brakes using disc on the front as well as a vacuum power brake booster under the floor. Even the seats are in a black vinyl roll and pleat design with a correct rubber floor mat.
The completed package is just right., an excellent restoration, early year high performance, and modern stopping ability. If it was in the 1950’s this little pickup would surely not take second place among any 6 cylinder or flathead V-8 cars or trucks.
When in any car and truck show, this truck is the one that gets the crowds! It is so unusual in these days of modern V-8’s and high tech add-ons.
|A recently restored 1953 Chevrolet 1/2 ton! This is a perfect example of a “good old truck”, brought back from the dead. The owner is Colin Murphy of Summerset, South Dakota. he had an interest to restore an older GM pickup for years. It all came together when a friend offered Colin this little 1/2 ton that was setting behind a storage building in Cheyenne WY.Because of the dry air in Wyoming, even an older vehicle never in a garage has limited body rust. The picture of when he found his truck, six years ago, shows it disassembled but its solid cab had great potential. Colin says he still found two other pickups to use as parts donors. We might say three made one!
His many, many hours in the evenings paid off. It really turns heads in his town. The original 216 engine, 4 speed transmission, and closed driveshaft rear end, makes it perform just like GM designed. Colin comments are ” I think it is pretty well done, so here it is. After six years and a gazillion dollars, I have a truck that tops out at 50 miles per hour. I have enjoyed working with Jim Carter Truck Parts on this project. Now, all I have to do is find another one…”.
One of Roy Asbahr’s most special and unique vehicles is a just completed 1949 Chevrolet Suburban. After a 1 1/2 year restoration, it looks showroom new. Roy is a perfectionist in vehicle restoration and this is one of his best yet! The body and paint work was performed by Larry Swiggart.
This Suburban brings special childhood memories to Roy as it is like the 1949 his father bought-same year, color and accessories. It was the family car for many years and was even driven a few times on fishing trips to Canada and the Yukon.
Roy watched for many years for a restorable Suburban that could be made like the original family vehicle. He discovered this Suburban several years ago in Sioux City, Iowa. The prior owner had reached the age of 92. Little had been changed from the factory except a bargain paint job years before. Amazingly it was rock solid, rust free, and only 55,000 original miles.
Nothing was spared in the body off restoration. The factory exterior colors for Chevrolet Suburban’s, 1947-1949 was Channel Green-lower body and Fathom Green- upper body. This is just the colors of Roy’s father’s Suburban when new in 1949.
The seat upholstery is the ‘real thing’. It was carefully removed from the cushions, dyed, given new padding, and then put back in its original place. The seats now look as though they are just out of the factory!
Lucky for Roy the windlace surrounding the two doors was in excellent condition. He very carefully removed it, dyed it the color of the back side (never exposed to daylight) and placed it in its correct position. It appears new and with the unique Suburban only color. No tears or cracks!
The five piece headliner was not torn but had sagged and faded. This too was removed, re-dyed, and contacted to a piece of formica on the back side for strength. All were put in place with a new appearance.
There is gloss black paint on the inner fenders and upper radiator sheet metal. The shine in this area is often debated during a complete restoration. Roy remembers cleaning his father’s new 1949 regularly and has no doubt that it was gloss black, not flat or semi-gloss. However, all other items painted black are semi-flat black.
A final decision was made to add two hidden changes during restoration. To increase the speed on modern highways, Roy replaced the 4.11 ratio ring and pinion with a 3.55 gear ratio. All outside appearance is unchanged, except radial tires.
To also give extra highway speed, Roy installed a 1958 Canadian Pontiac inline 261 six cylinder which has hydraulic lifters and the 848 higher compression head. It is an excellent fit and even uses the same motor mounts. The original 216 valve cover is added on top to give an authentic look and an adapter was used to enable an early style 1954 water pump to be installed. The engine is the correct grey color and even the spark plug wires have the unprotected metal ends.
Little was ignored in this ground up restoration. Dealer installed accessories include fresh air heater, grill guard, radio, and rear turn signals lights, running board step plates and a GM locking gas cap.
This Suburban is an excellent addition to Roy’s fine collection of restored vehicles.
This is a very unique one of a kind 1951 Chevrolet Tilt A Whirl style Carnival Amusement ride. This vehicle was used back in the day to go around the streets of New York to give rides for 5 cents to the kids who could not afford to go to a regular carnival or amusement park. Unbelievable history for what this truck represents. Basically it rode around and stopped for kids just like the ice cream trucks of today do.
This is a very rare vehicle that less than a handful were produced with only two that I know of, exist today. This is the true collectors vehicle. A one of a kind!!! Based on a 1951 Chevy Chassis with a 15,000lb GVWR this truck was built to be safe. Powered by a 6cyl straight engine and a manual shift transmission. The truck is in non running condition. This truck was stored for years and never started. The drivetrain will need to be completely gone through. The Ride portion is an actual amusement type Tilt A Whirl style ride with 6 cars a canopy, fence with an entrance and exit. This unit is 100% intact and fully operationable once the truck is running again to engage the PTO. The ride portion is in great shape and will need painting to put it back into shape. The truck itself will need to be restored to its former condition. The truck itself is very solid but will need some patches, repairs and mechanical work. The time, effort and money spent on this investment will pay off.
This truck is a true part of American history and is a sure bet high dollar collectable when completed. A true one of a kind….Everything is complete with the truck it will just need totally redone. The tires are all new, balanced and sealed holding air with no issues. If you are in the market for a rare one of a kind collectable look no further…A real head turner…
I believe the right person or Company could restore this vehicle relatively inexpensive. It will be more labor than anything. A very solid truck that is all there. Seems this could be a heck of a vehicle going across the Barrett Jackson Block…I truly had full intentions of redoing this vehicle. It could only bring fond meemories, smiles and happiness when completed and that is all few and far between today. The sky is truly the limit with this truck….In the right hands, redone this really could be the buy of the century!!! It would be impossible to measure the exact value of this collectors vehicle when completed. I have seen nothing like this to date. I believe restoration should be relatively easy, just bulky. Once the ride portion is removed you are looking at a cab and chassis to redo. the ride is 100% and will needs some repairs to the outside construction but the ride itself is all there and ready to function. It truly would be wonderful to see this vehicle up and operating once again….This world does need some joy and hapiness and nothing is like old times!!! This vehicle is 9’2″ tall 8′ wide and 24’10” wide.
1946 Ownerd by Billy Marlow Dayton, MD
By Billy Marlow
Although my family was in the coal business in Washington,D.C. for many years, and for a brief time I drove a tow truck for a living, my truck passion didn’t bloom until after I restored my 1946 Chevrolet Cab-Over (COE) and joined ATHS (American Truck Historical Society).
Always a bit of a gear-head and into anything with a motor, I saw the 1946 Cab Over in a truck trader publication in September 2000 and fell in love with its Art Deco grill. The truck reportedly spent much of it’s life on a farm in Oklahoma, most likely with a grain body on it. I bought the truck sight unseen and had it shipped to Maryland with the intention of fixing it up a little and having fun with it.
As many of these stories go, the next thing you know the truck was in a million pieces and a complete restoration had begun. I felt that it would be kind of nice to see this truck restored to near original condition. In doing so, however, I knew this would limit travel speed and distance. The chevy has the famous 235 inline stove bolt 6 cylinder engine. It is a 2 ton truck with a two speed vacuum rear, with 6.03 and 7.99 ratios, which means it tops out comfortably around 43 miles an hour.
I’m not exactly sure how I came up with the color combination, but I knew that is what it was going to be before I even took delivery of the truck. The paint scheme is definitely not stock, but folks seem to approve of my choice.
I am a building engineer at a country club near my home in Dayton, MD. and have worked there for 28 years. A lot of what I do from day to day helped in my first attempt at truck restoration. I did a lot of restoration myself, but had a hand with the engine, paint and body work. I spent many hours in front of the sand blast cabinet. Some of my best memories of the restoration were the days like the first time we started the engine, the day we set the cab back on the frame and the best of all, the first time I eased the clutch out and drove the truck out of the barn.
Right after the truck came home I realized I was going to need every resource I could to learn about my new project and to locate parts. One of my first tools I bought was a computer, and without the internet I don’t think I could have finished the truck. There are some great websites out there and folks who are more than willing to help.
I quickly learned that there are many parts on a cab-over that are shared with a conventional truck. After a little time on the keyboard, I was finding parts and pieces all over the country. Finding the grill bars proved a challenge. It took about two years to find enough to make a fairly straight set.
The truck was almost done around the summer of 2003-and six years later it is still “almost done” – when John Milliman twisted my arm to get me to come to an ATHS Baltimore-Washington Chapter truck show in Waldorf, Maryland. It was my very first time out with the truck and I had a great time. I filled out my ATHS membership application that day and also joined the chapter. I felt a little out of place at first among all the bigger trucks, but all that changed after our chapter hosted the ATHS National Convention in Baltimore in 2006. That was the first really big truck show I ever attended and it left a lasting mark on me.
I have had a wonderful time taking my truck to many shows, and have even brought two more trucks that I am working on now: a 1972 GMC 9500 and a 1964 B-61 Mack. My wife, Jennifer, is a huge supporter of my truck hobby, and I couldn’t enjoy all these fun events without her.
Jennifer brought her mother to the convention in 2006, and she was overwhelmed by the passion that the truck owners had for their beautiful vehicles. My mother-in-law is also a big supporter of my little hobby, and is responsible for having the beautiful signs made for the truck. The signs were made from the original Marlow Coal Company logo and letterhead, and its history is very dear to my heart.
People always ask me if my truck is for sale. After all the fun I had restoring it, all the fun I have had taking it to different events, and all the great people I have met becuase of it, I don’t think I could ever sell it. I guess there are some things you just can’t put a price tag on.
Billy Marlow’s 1946 Chevrolet Cab Over is almost unrecognizable from the rusty hulk that he bought in 2001. A member of the Baltimore-Washington Chapter, Marlow brought his truck to the ATHS national show in Huntsville this past May.
What started as something to fix up a little and have some fun with soon turned into a complete restoration. Billy Marlow saw the 1946 Chevrolet Cab-Over truck for sale in a trucker trader magazine and fell in love with its Art Deco grill. He used his skills as a building engineer to do much of the restoration work himself. (photo above by John Milliman, photo below by Kurt Lengfield)
Wheels of Time July/August 2009
American Truck Historical Society
I am Udi Cain, a war veteran from Israel. I love the USA and feel that Israel and USA are like one.
I was born in 1949 and loved drawing cars since age almost zero.
I bought a 1949 Ford F1, renewed it and drove it daily until the head of the Tel Aviv museum bagged me to donate it to the “Post Museum” in Tel Aviv museum, as it was used as the first post car in Israel. http://www.eretzmuseum.org.il/main/site/index.php3?page=24
After giving the vehicle to the museum I searched for another nice car to use daily.
I found the 1949 Chevy Panel that someone in the past had opened windows in it to make it function like a suburban and it was red which I didn’t like.
It took few months to renew it, and I’ve ordered many parts from the US through eBay; until I bought few parts from Jim, and here I am.
Strange but true! This 1964 Chevy 1/2 ton is a rolling autograph book. Due a patriotic feeling, owner Mike Light of Independence, MO decided to use his primered truck to collect the signatures of war veterans and active military.
He currently has the names personally signed of 151 veterans from WWII through the Iraq conflict. A few businesses help fill in some open spaces. Mike has gathered this data in only three months.
What an eye catcher when you see this truck beside your vehicle at a stop light!
The 1967-1972 – What’s That Noise? Gaining speed after you turn onto the highway, your GM truck (1967-1972), moves toward a cruising speed equal to the surrounding traffic. As your engine reaches about 2,000 rpm you suddenly hear a low hum up front. It does not stop as the truck speed increases. If you lower the windows, play the radio, or turn up the fan blower, this hum is not so noticeable but it is still there. How will you locate this noise source when the truck is stopped?
No problem. Others have researched this mystery noise, discovered the source, and stopped it. Who would have thought the culprit is the hood springs? It appears that on many GM trucks of this body style, the two coil hood springs develop this hum (like a tuning fork) as surrounding air speed increases. The sound becomes magnified as it transfers to the large sheet metal hood.
This noise is easily stopped by filling the coils of the hood springs with a towel or carved piece of foam. To produce what a difference this makes, tap your hood spring with a hand tool and listen to the echo. It does not occur when the coil is filled with material.
Who said automotive engineers walk on water?
The debut of the famous 4×4 Chevrolet Blazer was in 1969. It had little competition and stood alone as a combination off-road and daily driver utility vehicle. Chevrolet truck dealers were taken by surprise! Waiting lines soon occurred requesting this new and unique car/truck vehicle.
By 1970, production was in full swing. GMC also entered the project this second year by replacing the Chevrolet and Blazer insignias with GMC letters and a “Jimmy” emblem. A major addition in 1970 was the introduction of the two wheel drive Blazer and Jimmy. This was partially due to commitments by the U.S. Postal Service. Fewer than 1,000 of these were produced or less than 10% of overall production. Most government orders were in six cylinders though some V-8 two wheel drive models found buyers in the private sector.
Sales of this unique vehicle spiraled. By 1972, production had increased the volume of the introduction year. It was named, Motor Trend’s “Utility Vehicle of the Year.” In the April 1970 issue of Car and Driver magazine, they said “The drivetrain pieces are well designed, rugged, and long proved by use in Chevy’s light trucks.” GM referred to it as their do anything, go anywhere vehicle.
The demand for these car/truck vehicles today is stronger than ever. Its short 107″ wheel base, ease of handling, and many parts interchanging with pickups, make it an excellent investment vehicle to drive daily or keep in storage.
During the late 1970’s, trucks accelerated their change from a more commercial work vehicle to one desired by the family as their everyday transportation. During 1967-1972, Chevrolet and GMC introduced names such as CST, Cheyenne and Sierra Grande to show buyers that their trucks were no longer just for work. Options that rivaled cars could now be ordered for their vehicles.
Surprisingly, the Suburban was held back as the trend toward very deluxe trucks continued. This vehicle was not given the top of the line appointments as the trucks. The middle series in the pickup line was the ‘best’ in the Suburban. Though this was changed in the new 1973 body style, the 1972 Suburban lacked wood grain trim, bucket seats, and the more deluxe door panels. The rubber floor mats were colored to match the interior but carpet was not an option.
The following pictures are of a totally original 1971 deluxe Suburban. Note the door panels. They are almost identical to the Cheyenne pickup but lack the horizontal wood grain strip at the top. Outside lower moldings have satin black inserts, not wood grain. The seat covering is the Custom Deluxe style found on middle series pickups. The blue floor mats are rubber, not carpet. There is, however, a unique upper trim molding used only on Suburbans when you ordered the more deluxe unit.
To get the most sales from the special Scottish Tweed used in the 1972 Highlander, GM used it in two other applications. The special Highlander seat covering could also be obtained with the 1972 Suburban and pickup. It, like the Highlander truck, had lower side trim with satin black inserts. The special wheel covers were not used on this Suburban body.
Mr. Lynes also furnished the two photos of the Hawaiian blue Suburban showing a great color view of the Scottish Tweed. (Frederick Lynes can be contacted at email@example.com)
The enclosed pictures are from Frederick Lynes who has these pictures of his 1972 avocado green and white Suburban the day it was bought new. Note the Highlander seat coverings.
In recent years seeing the unusual Chevrolet Longhorn or similar GMC Custom Camper (1968-1972) has become a very rare occurrence. These oversize pickups, with 8 1/2 ft. bed floors, were built for work and thus there is a very limited survival rate. Most seen today started life as they were advertised carrying a vacation camper. They were usually more taken care of during their beginning years and the camper protected their wood bed from weather. Later in life, their heavier rear suspension caused them to be used more as a work truck.
The creation of this large pickup relates to GM’s trend of keeping down costs on what they suspect will be a low volume vehicle. With limited parts investment and by using pre-existing components, this new model was born in mid 1968.
The chassis had already been in existence since the beginning of the body style in 1967. It’s 133″ wheelbase was used under the 1967-1968 1 ton stepside pickup with leaf springs. Most of the components of this new Longhorn fleetside box had also been used on the earlier pickups. To create this new longer fleetside bed, GM simply produced a pair of six inch vertical bed extensions to place between the pre-existing sides and front bed panel. This filled the gap created in front of the bedsides when the 127′ wheelbase chassis was extended to 133 inches.
An expensive metal floor was not a part of this new longer fleetside pickup. A traditional wood plank floor with metal bed strips kept GM’s cost at a minimum.
To draw attention to this larger pickup, the Chevrolet division included ‘Longhorn’ die cast chrome letters secured at the rear of the sides. GMC’s designation was ‘Custom Camper’ and these letters are on each door above the chrome handle, not on the bedsides. To make it a little confusing, GMC also used these Custom Camper emblems in the same location on their heavier 3/4 ton, 127″ wheelbase pickup, with leaf springs. This shorter long bed could be obtained with either a wood or metal bottom bed.
When the optional deluxe upper trim was ordered on this long bed, it’s new six inch extension was placed to the rear of the bed. The resulting trim joining point was therefore not in line with the vertical bed extension joint at the front.
By altering suspension components both the Chevrolet and GMC 133 inch wheel base pickup could be ordered with either a ¾ or 1 ton rating. These special trucks were available from mid year 1968 through 1972. They were not continued with the introduction of the new 1973 body style.
Upper trim joint at rear of bedside. (above)
Article byV. Lee Oertle
Why would anyone lay down $4,549.45 for a slick-looking pickup truck, even if they do call it the Longhorn? That kind of money will buy a Chevrolet station wagon, or an Impala or an SS Chevelle. That question nagged me the day a Chevrolet official handed me the keys and turned me loose in a new Longhorn pickup. When I asked a Chevrolet truck salesman the same question a few days later, he replied:
‘You’re talking about a window-sticker price, buddy. The actual base of a Longhorn pickup is $2,738 plus destination charges. The rest of it is locked up in accessories and quite a bit of optional equipment. Look at the list ‘ air conditioner alone is $392.75. Then the Turbo Hydra-Matic adds another $242.10, and the Custom Sport Truck package jacks it up another $247.50. And then; At that point, I waved him away, ‘Yeah, yeah ‘ I got eyes. I just didn’t read the fine print.’ I said, testily.
The salesman’s lips tightened a little. ‘The time to read fine print is before you buy ‘ not after.’
Good advise. Further down the sticker price list I noted that power steering on the Longhorn was $113.50. Another stopper was the $80.40 for a spare tire and wheel. On a deluxe pickup, I sort of, well, expected that a spare tire and wheel would be standard equipment. But then, I hadn’t really done my arithmetic. A quick refresher course proved that of the original sticker price of $4,549.45, a staggering $1,811.45 of it covered extras, accessories and options. Freight, license, sales taxes, carrying charges on the loan and insurance might easily push the final tally over the brink of $5,000. That’s an expensive neighborhood no matter where you live, and if anyone is tired of reading about the prices before he hears about the performance, he’ll know how I felt when I finally got behind the steering wheel.
As I rolled off the Chevrolet lot, the salesman parted with the words, ‘who buys the sticker price, anyway?’ I suppose that’s true.
From the moment a shopper takes his first walk around a Longhorn, he’ll know it’s not just another pickup. As a matter of fact, he’ll notice that it’s a longer walk. The wheelbase is up to 133 inches on this model and the cargo box is a full 8 ½ feet in length. For those not familiar with pickups, the standard pickup (any brand) has an eight-foot cargo box. The extra half-foot was added by shoving the regular cargo box along the frame ‘ and then by inserting a short panel at the forward end of the box where it intersects with the cab.
Why all the noise over a slightly larger pickup? In order to understand the significance of this, remember that any change to basic dimensions on a truck involves tremendous expense and/or ingenuity on the part of cost-cutting engineers. It’s bigger, yes, but the clever way the job was done probably hasn’t increased its construction cost very much. The next logical question would be, why? Why a longer wheelbase, for example? Anyone knows that the longer the wheelbase trucks require more turn-around space.
But, looking at it from the Chevrolet viewpoint, a longer wheelbase also improves the ride, offers a more stable platform, and makes a much better carrier for all kinds of loads. This obviously affected Chevrolet’s judgment. For instance, a suburban home owner will like the big cargo box for hauling a variety of material. The tailgate drops down to provide about 10 ½ feet of load length platform.
In case anyone wonders about how the suspension system can handle the extra length, here is the message printed in Chevrolet literature on the subject: ‘Because it’ll be carrying larger loads than other pickups, it’s been especially engineered for extra support and better balance all along its 133 inch wheelbase. Its rear suspension, for instance, is built around tough two stage leaf springs for steadier going and surer handling.’ (Coil spring front suspension teams with the rear leaf springs.)
The Longhorn is available with five different engines and several different transmissions. Our test truck was equipped with a 396 cubic inch V-8 rated at 325 horsepower. (the other engines include the standard 250 cubic inch 6, a 292 cubic inch 6, a 307 cubic inch V-8 and a 350 cubic inch V-8.)
The Longhorn bench seat is a firm, comfortable, non-slip type that gives the driver a feeling of command. It is neither too high for comfort nor so low that shorty-drivers have to stretch their necks. The instrument panel includes a tachometer, speedometer and functional oil and temperature gauges.
Start the engine and a muffled growl, low and strong, comes lightly through heavy cab insulation. Step on the accelerator and the Longhorn instantly takes hold. While 325 horsepower doesn’t sound too exciting in a passenger car, in a pickup it can be hairy under a lead foot driver. Lightly loaded, the Longhorn still hangs on tight right up through the gears. Surprisingly, there was little wheelspin except on wet streets after a rain.
I had no stop-watch with me but I know that the Longhorn will probably be the first pickup up a steep hill. Meant more for power than speed, the 4700-pound Longhorn nevertheless comes on strong in situations where it really counts. A pickup with a smaller engine, for example, often has a difficult time entering freeways. But the Longhorn gets right out there despite a ton of hay riding the cargo deck. In the hands of an amateur an empty pickup would be a handful. Crank it on too fast, too often, and the rear wheels will chirp or slip-grab as they try to deliver traction faster than the lightly-loaded rear tires can bite the pavement.
Our particular test truck had the optional three speed Turbo Hydra-Matic transmission. As far as I’m concerned, no other transmission makes sense with this combination of truck, engine and load ability. Shoving a stick-shift unit into the Longhorn makes about as much sense as hitching up an elephant to a pony cart.
Underneath, our test unit was wearing a Maximum Traction differential and an axle ratio of 3.07:1. Chevy rates this combo good up to about 7000 pounds. For loads over 7000 pounds, they suggest the optional ratio of 3.54:1. Though we didn’t tote anything exceptionally heavy, we found the 3.07:1 ratio an excellent choice for normal driving.
In this department, the Longhorn gets unusually high marks. It has a square-cornering ability few sedans can match and a sure-footed stance that keeps it straight when braking or lane-changing. By adding just 200 or 300 pounds of weight near the rear of the box, the pickup handles even better. )Extra weight cuts down on wheelspin.) Overall, the Longhorn is a solid-feeling pickup that any driver will appreciate.
There’s more than enough power for any load situation. The 396 is currently the largest engine available in a factory pickup (in any brand). The Longhorn should make a great carrier for a half-dozen trail bikes, for towing a boat, or for hauling a rented coach now and then. The luxury interior and comfortable cab will probably lure many new buyers away from station wagons and sedans. If you haven’t tried the new breed of pickups, you’re missing a most versatile family vehicle. The Longhorn is a smooth newcomer that undoubtedly will spark a host of imitations. It offers the longest wheelbase and largest cargo box of any two-door pickup, plus larger engines than competitors. As for the price? Well, like the man said: ‘Who pays sticker price, these days?’
Lest anyone suspect that I’ve been on the Chevy payroll, I have a few reservations about the Longhorn. For one thing, window glass on the driver’s side liked to slip sideways and climb up outside the channels every now and then. My guess is that the glass is a little too small for the track, or the channels were misaligned. On cold mornings, I’d climb into the cab and then, with one breath, all the windows frosted over. The longhorn is one of the few truck-cabs I’ve tested that would not clear up with the vent-windows cracked open. Steamy vapor clung stubbornly to the inside of the windshield. The only way to clear it away was to turn on the defroster full force, roll down one window, or both. On a cold morning, neither method pleased us very much.
From a purely personal viewpoint, I found it strange that Chevrolet would spend so much on interior design, but so little on panel coverings. The cab ceiling and much of the door panel areas were bare metal. Now, in a work-duty pickup that might be practical. Metal is more durable than plastic coverings, obviously. But in a class-type pickup, which the Longhorn most definitely tried to be, I found it objectionable. (There, it’s off my chest.)
We hope the following information on Axle, Transmission and Model identification will help many of you with your questions. Accuracy was a concern as we compiled this information. Because GM made so many scheduled as well as unscheduled changes, there is much discussion about these changes.
The following is used by permission from Pickups and Panels Magazine and artist Bryant J. Stewart
|13380||115||½ ton El Camino (6 cylinder)|
|13480||115||½ ton El Camino (V-8)|
|13580||115||½ ton Custom El Camino (6 cylinder)|
|13680||115||½ ton Custom El Camino (V-8)|
|C10||115||½ ton shortbed step/fleetside pickup|
|C10||127||½ ton longbed step/fleetside pickup|
|C20||127||¾ ton longbed step/fleetside pickup, panel, Suburban, 8′ stake|
|C30||133||1 ton longbed step/fleetside pickup, 9′ stake rack|
|K10||115||½ ton shortbed step/fleetside pickup|
|K10||127||½ ton longbed step/fleetside pickup, panel, Suburban|
|K20||127||¾ ton longbed step/fleetside pickup, panel, Suburban|
|13380||115||½ ton El Camino (6 cylinder)|
|13480||115||½ ton El Camino (V-8)|
|13580||115||½ ton Custom El Camino (6 cylinder)|
|13680||115||½ ton Custom El Camino (V-8)|
|C5||104||½ ton Blazer 4×2 (1970 only)|
|C10||115||½ ton shortbed step/fleetside pickup|
|C10||127||½ ton longbed step/fleetside pickup, panel, Suburban|
|C20||127||¾ ton longbed step/fleetside pickup, panel, Suburban, 8′ stake|
|C30||133||1 ton longbed step/fleetside pickup, 9′ stake rack|
|K5||104||½ ton Blazer 4×4|
|K10||115||½ ton shortbed step/fleetside pickup|
|K10||127||½ ton longbed step/fleetside pickup, panel, Suburban|
|K20||127||¾ ton longbed step/fleetside pickup, Suburban|
|13380||115||½ ton El Camino (6 cylinder)|
|13480||115||½ ton El Camino (V-8)|
|13680||115||½ ton Custom El Camino (V-8)|
|C5||104||½ ton Blazer 4×2|
|C10||115||½ ton shortbed step/fleetside pickup|
|C10||127||½ ton longbed step/fleetside pickup|
|C20||127||¾ ton longbed step/fleetside pickup, Suburban, 8′ stake|
|C30||133||1 ton longbed step/fleetside pickup, 9′ stake rack|
|K5||104||½ ton Blazer 4×4|
|K10||115||½ ton shortbed step/fleetside pickup|
|K10||127||½ ton longbed step/fleetside pickup, Suburban|
|K20||127||¾ ton longbed step/fleetside pickup, Suburban|
Disclaimer: This truck I. D. information is correct and complete to the best of our knowledge and is only to be used as a guide. Pickups ‘n panels and/or the National Chevy/GMC Truck Association, and Jim Carter Truck Parts, make no guarantee of accuracy, and disclaim any liability incurred in the use of this information.
These years are the ‘last of the breed’! Due to the increasing popularity of the new G-series van, panel truck sales had continued to suffer since the mid 1960’s. By 1970, General Motors panel truck production came to a halt. GM did not even wait until the end of the body series in 1972! This ‘enclosed body on a pickup truck chassis’ (used over 50 years) was now history.
If you ever see a 1967-1970 Chevrolet or GM panel truck, tip your hat. You are looking at one of the few survivors that were once seen everyday in residential neighborhoods making deliveries.
GM step beds during 1955-1966 are almost the same. They even use identical tailgates. Thus GM did not find it necessary to change the rear bumper stamping during these 12 years. However, there is one important difference which distinguishes the 1955-1959 from 1960-1966 rear stepbed bumpers.
During 1960-1966 GM placed two stamped square holes (not in 1955 through 1959) on either side of the center dip below the license plate. This is because the later series had their license plate bracket attached to this bumper, not to the rear bed cross sill as in the earlier 1955-1959
Though fleetside pickups are the common style today, they certainly had a unique appearance in the late 1950’s. Until then, the stepside body style with outside rear fenders was the norm. With smaller horsepower from available engines, the limited hauling capacity in the stepside box was well matched to the existing power plants.
If the customer required a pickup with more hauling volume, the stepside was simply made longer. To compensate for the extra gross weight, the manufacturer lowered the differential gearing. Thus the small engines continued to serve well but the result was a slower highway speed.
With the introduction of the Chevrolet high oil pressure 235 six and 265 small block V-8 engine, power was now available to allow for a radical new bed change. Pickup bed dimensions would be increased side to side in addition to length. Extra hauling capacity on the same wheelbase could be now handled by the additional horsepower. With the same wheelbase, an approximately 50% increase in bed capacity was created with GM’s new fleetside.
Both Chevrolet and GMC introduced the same fleetside in 1958. It came in both six and eight foot lengths on the 1/2 ton chassis. The eight foot box could also be ordered on the 3/4 ton frame. (If you needed a 1 ton pickup the prior long stepbed model still remained the only choice.) No doubt, these new fleetsides created much notoriety in a world of stepside pickups. To draw even more attention GM placed chrome die cast “Fleetside” lettered emblems toward the rear of each bed side.
This first GM fleetside box style was offered only two years until a redesigned side was introduced in 1960. The early bed 1958-1959 sides can be easily recognized due to their long 5″ wide horizontal spear stamped in the middle. These terminate at a unique round rear taillight which is also special to just this bedside.
A very deluxe optional model of this new fleetside was introduced in 1959. Some feel it was to replace the recently discontinued Cameo Carrier. It featured additional bed trim, stainless window moldings, chrome grill and bumper, plus a nicer interior. Its sides came with long stainless steel strips and die-cast ends beside the horizontal bed spears. This bed trim is very rare today! Unfortunately, the few original beds remaining make reproducing these horizontal trim strips financially impractical.
The featured early fleetside for this article is a 1959 Chevrolet short bed. Its owner is Olen Moore of Odessa, Missouri. He recently completed a three year ground up restoration to exact factory specifications. Olen even used the correct Galway Green, a very popular color during that era. Notice the stamped side spears and upper rear fleetside chrome emblems.
We hope the following information on Axle, Transmission and Model identification will help many of you with your questions. Accuracy was a concern as we compiled this information. Because GM made so many scheduled as well as unscheduled changes, there is much discussion about these changes.
The following is used by permission from Pickups and Panels Magazine and artist Bryant J. Stewart
|H 3100||116||½ ton shortbed pickup, panel, Suburban|
|H 3124||116||½ ton Cameo pickup|
|M 3200||123-1/4||½ ton longbed pickup|
|F 3400||104||¾ ton longbed pickup (double duty) (forward control delivery chassis)|
|G 3500||125||¾ ton pickup (double duty) (forward control delivery chassis)|
|J 3600||123-1/4||¾ ton longbed pickup|
|K 3700||137||¾ ton pickup (double duty) (forward control delivery chassis)|
|L 3800||135||1 ton longbed pickup, panel, flatbed, stake|
|N 4100||130||1-½ ton flatbed, stake rack|
|P 4400||154||1-½ ton flatbed, stake rack|
|R 4500||154||1-½ ton school bus chassis|
|S 5100||112-5/8||2 ton low cab forward|
|T 5400||136-5/8||2 ton low cab forward|
|U 5700||160-5/8||2 ton low cab forward|
|V 6100||130||2 ton flatbed, stake rack|
|W 6400||154||2 ton flatbed, stake rack|
|X 6500||172||2 ton truck|
|Y 6700||194||2 ton school bus chassis|
|Z 6800||220||2 ton school bus chassis|
|3A 3100||114||½ ton shortbed pickup, panel, Suburban|
|3A 3124||114||½ ton Cameo pickup|
|3B 3200||123-1/4||½ ton longbed pickup|
|3C 3400||104||¾ ton longbed pickup (double duty) (forward control delivery chassis)|
|3D 3500||125||¾ ton longbed pickup (double duty) (forward control delivery chassis)|
|3E 3600||123-1/4||¾ ton longbed pickup|
|3F 3700||137||¾ ton pickup (double duty) (forward control delivery chassis)|
|3G 3800||135||1 ton pickup, panel, flatbed, stake|
|4A 4100||130||1-½ ton flatbed, stake rack|
|4B 4400||154||1-½ ton flatbed, stake rack|
|4C 4500||154||1-½ ton school bus chassis|
|6A 6100||130||2 ton flatbed, stake rack|
|6B 6400||154||2 ton flatbed, stake rack|
|6C 6500||172||2 ton|
|6D 6700||194||2 ton school bus chassis|
|6E 6800||220||2 ton school bus chassis|
|3A 3100||114||½ ton shortbed pickup, panel, Suburban|
|3A 3124||114||½ ton Cameo pickup|
|3B 3200||123-1/4||½ ton longbed pickup|
|3C 3400||104||¾ ton longbed pickup (double duty) (forward control delivery chassis)|
|3D 3500||125||¾ ton longbed (double duty) (forward control delivery chassis|
|3E 3600||123-1/4||¾ ton longbed pickup|
|3F 3700||137||¾ ton pickup (double duty) (forward control delivery chassis)|
|3G 3800||135||1 ton pickup, flatbed, stake rack|
|4A 4100||132-1/2||1-½ ton truck|
|4B 4400||156-1/2||1-½ ton truck|
|4C 4500||156-1/2||1-½ ton school bus chassis|
|6A 6100||132-1/2||2 ton flatbed, stake rack|
|6J 6200||129-5/8||2 ton truck (forward control chassis)|
|6B 6400||156-1/2||2 ton flatbed, stake rack|
|6C 6500||174-1/2||2 ton truck|
|6K 6600||153-5/8||2 ton truck (forward control chassis)|
|6D 6700||196-1/2||2 ton school bus chassis|
|6E 6800||222-1/2||2 ton school bus chassis|
|3A 3100||114||½ ton shortbed pickup, panel, Suburban|
|3A 3124||114||½ ton cameo pickup|
|3B 3200||123-1/4||½ ton longbed step/fleetside pickup|
|3E 3600||123-1/4||¾ ton longbed step/fleetside pickup, stake|
|3G 3800||135||1 ton stepside pickup, panel, stake rack|
|11/1280||119||El Camino L-6/V-8|
|3A 3100||114||½ ton shortbed step/fleetside pickup, panel, Suburban|
|3B 3200||123-1/4||½ ton longbed step/fleetside pickup|
|3E 3600||123-1/4||¾ ton longbed step/fleetside pickup, stake rack|
|3G 3800||135||1 ton stepside pickup, panel, stake rack|
|11/1280||119||El Camino L-6/V-8|
|C/K14||115||½ ton 4×2/4×4 shortbed step/fleetside pickup, panel, Suburban (Apache 10)|
|C15||127||½ ton longbed step/fleetside pickup (Apache 10)|
|C/K25||127||¾ ton 4×2/4×4 longbed step/fleetside pickup, 8′ stake bed (Apache 20)|
|C36||133||1 ton longbed stepside pickup, panel, 9′ stake bed (Apache 30)|
|C10 1404-34||115||½ ton shortbed step/fleetside pickup, panel, Suburban|
|C15 1504-34||127||½ ton longbed step/fleetside pickup|
|C25||127||¾ ton longbed step/fleetside pickup, Suburban, 8′ stake bed|
|K14* 1404-34||115||½ ton 4×2/4×4 shortbed step/fleetside pickup, panel, Suburban|
|K25* 2504-39||127||¾ ton 4×4 longbed step/fleetside pickup|
|C36 1404-34||133||1 ton longbed stepside pickup, panel, 9′ stake bed|
|A5380||115||½ ton El Camino (6 cylinder)|
|A5480||115||½ ton El Camino (8 cylinder)|
|A5580||115||½ ton El Camino Custom (6 cylinder)|
|A5680||115||½ ton El Camino Custom (8 cylinder)|
|C10||115||½ ton shortbed step/fleetside pickup, panel, Suburban|
|C10||127||½ ton longbed step/fleetside pickup|
|C20||127||¾ ton longbed step/fleetside pickup, Suburban, 8′ stake bed|
|K10||115||½ ton 4×4 shortbed step/fleetside pickup, panel, Suburban|
|K20||127||¾ ton 4×4 longbed step/fleetside pickup|
|C30||133||1 ton longbed stepside pickup, panel, 9′ stake|
Note” The vehicle serial number on 1963 Four Wheel Drive models may be used to determine if the model is a First or Second Series Design. The following chart indicates each assembly plant and the sequence of vehicle serial numbers which apply to First Series or Second series.
|*1st Series up to and including #||*2nd Series including and begining wit #||Assembly Plants|
|118544||118545||S= St. Louis|
Disclaimer: This truck I. D. information is correct and complete to the best of our knowledge and is only to be used as a guide. Pickups ‘n panels and/or the National Chevy/GMC Truck Association, and Jim Carter Truck Parts, make no guarantee of accuracy, and disclaim any liability incurred in the use of this information.
The 1955 year put Chevrolet on top! All stops were removed in announcing and continual advertising of the totally redesigned passenger car and their first V-8 engine. Television, radio, news papers and dealers regularly told the public that Chevrolets best year had arrived.
It was not good timing to also begin an equal advertising campaign for the totally new truck that was ready for manufacturing. A good business decision by GM was to wait about six months until the car ads had slowed, then advertising could begin again for their redesigned trucks. This would hit the customers twice in one year on major changes in the Chevrolet market.
It was unheard of for GM to not introduce a new Chevy vehicle each year, therefore at least something had to happen with trucks at the beginning of the 1955 model year. The answer was later called a “First Series 1955”. Chevrolet would introduce the 1955 truck by making several changes to their pre-existing 1954. With the new “Second Series” only months away, little investment was made to the early 1955 trucks.
The most noticeable change on the popular 1/2 ton was the first open drive shaft in Chevy’s truck history. This was actually created for the later 1955 trucks but with dealer demand it was moved up to be in the early body style. This major drive line change required a different 3 speed transmission, rear leaf springs, shift linkage and shift box.
The outside visual changes were minimum. During the about 5 months production, the 1955 early truck was given totally different hood side emblems. However, to reduce costs the number portion of the emblem could be changed depending on the size of trucks. Example: 3100 on 1/2 ton, 3600 on 3/4 ton and 3800 on the 1 ton.
A no cost difference was changing the vertical stripes on the front hood emblem from red on the 1954 to white on the 1955
The paint arrangement on the non-chrome grill was also a non cost change for Chevrolet. The grill bars were changed from body color to white.
Interior paint (again a no cost change) was slightly modified from a pearl beige color 1954 to a light metallic brown.
Thus, with little extra investment Chevrolet had a new truck for the beginning of 1955. This was the final offering of this body style that began in 1947. GM referred to it as the “Advance Design”. It has become one of Chevrolet’s all time greats. It’s popularity today is as strong with hobbyists as it was with new buyers 50 years ago.
Then came the totally re-designed trucks in mid-year 1955. That will be another story!
Even before the 1920’s, light commercial hauling using panel trucks had found a loyal growing customer base. With increasing numbers of small businesses and the population gradually moving to the cities, the panel truck found a place in our society. By the 1930’s, most all truck manufacturers had designed a panel body to fit on their existing pickup truck chassis.
Advantages of the panel over other trucks for small business are numerous. Their weather-tight body protects cargo from rain, snow, driving wind and summer sun. Very important is the security feature. Merchandise is out of sight and can be locked. They are economical over big trucks and much more maneuverable than the larger commercial vehicles. Panel trucks are just right for moving in crowded streets and narrow alleys.
Retired panel trucks used for storage (above)
Even at the end of the panel truck’s life, auto wrecking yards often kept a few for storage. The bodies were excellent for protecting used parts (starters, generators, bearings, clutches, etc.) from the weather.
During the mid 1960’s, a major drop in panel truck popularity began. The vehicle that was once wanted by most every business in America was now being overlooked because of a ‘new kid on the block.’ The General Motors G-series van had arrived! This new van with short nose, had better turning radius, more cargo space on a like wheelbase, and a side freight door. It was the truck to buy. On most models the price was even lower.
The panel truck could not compete! It’s sales began dropping almost every year. Their popularity became so low that GM discontinued the vehicle even before the end of the 1967-1972 body style. This tells how the sales had dropped. Production was stopped even though the assembly line was operating and the tooling was able to continue stamping the body panels. In 1970, General Motors called it quits. The panel truck was history!
1970 G Series Van (above)
With the major sales decline during the final years, you will see less of the 1967-70 units than of the earlier designs.
Even finding a rough final series panel is a rare occurrence. The newest is now over 30 years old. They were built for work responsibilities. Few were kept out of the weather. Most were owned by companies and driven by their employees.
The Australian 1937-38 Chevrolet trucks are much like those in the U.S., however on close observation, one can certainly see unique differences. This United States relative is obviously GM but not quite the same.
These Down-Under truck’s final assembly point was in the Holden plant in New South Wales, Australia. (Holden is a branch for GM in that country.) Much of the sheet metal was stamped at the GM Canadian plant in Oshawa, Ontario. Most all the GM trucks in the 1930’s and 1940’s that reached overseas assembly plants were from this Canadian location but unassembled.
In Australia and even in nearby New Zealand, local governments required a certain percentage of truck parts to be manufactured in those countries. This provided jobs for the local population. Parts supplied in Australia would be wiring harnesses, glass, tires, seats, a different design bed, etc.
The current photos we have of Australian 1937-38 1/2 tons are these furnished by Luke Randall from auto gatherings in Eastern Australia. He owns a 1938 to be restored so he has an interest in others of this design. You can contact Luke at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Items of special interest on these 1937 and 1938 Australian trucks are:
Luke and passenger
Luke’s 1938 to be restored
It’s finally complete! Luke’s many hours has paid off. What a special “one of a kind” 1938.
As the beds from the Australian factory were usually a flat deck to lower retail costs, Luke added an all wood bed in the shape of a US designed bed. Very nice!
During the great depression of the 1930’s, almost half of the automakers ceased business forever. Most remaining manufacturers modified their vehicles and advertising techniques to appeal to a very conservative buyer. With limited disposable income the few people willing to purchase a car or truck were very careful.
To help boost or at least hold sales steady, the Chevrolet Division introduced a new model in 1936. It was referred to as the Coupe Pickup. With a small corporate investment a dual purpose vehicle was created to appeal to the buyer with a need for both a car and a pickup.
The new model was a standard coupe with a miniature pickup truck bed placed in the trunk area. This small new bed included wood planks, metal strips, sides, and tailgate much like larger ½ ton pickups. It extended out of the trunk about the distance of the rear bumper. To keep out dust and rain water, a custom made canvas snapped in place between the small bed sides and the coupe trunk edges.
To appeal to the conservative new car buyer during the depression years this vehicle even included a painted coupe deck lid wrapped in several coverings of butcher paper. In this way if the mini-bed was removed, the deck lid could be attached and the owner then had a car.
A popular use was by neighborhood grocery stores. The coupe express was excellent to deliver grocery items in the neighborhood. The owner could also use it as his personal car!
This unique model was available each year from 1936 through early 1942 when World War II stopped domestic car production. There is almost no survival of the original coupe pickups. The few that made it even to the 1950’s were almost always given their deck lid to transform them to a pure coupe. Few people wanted an older pickup with such limited hauling capacity when they could have a coupe with a somewhat youthful sporty appearance.
No doubt the major weakness of this model was the canvas between the bed and body. It soon deteriorated when the vehicle set outside leaving the trunk area exposed to rain and snow. This was just the beginning of major rust problems which in time totaled the trunk area and maybe even the complete vehicle!
Today, if one of these beds would appear at an antique auto swap meet, almost no one would remember it’s original application. When the Chevrolet lettering was not on the gate, most would pass by thinking it is probably home made for a forgotten use.
Below is an example of an excellent used insert that made the standard coupe a coupe express. Found in Montana in 2013, it is about as pure as one can find of an almost 75 year old Chevrolet accessory. Almost no rust damage and some original paint! It had to be placed in a storage building when the car was made back into a standard coupe.
We hope the following information on Axle, Transmission and Model identification will help many of you with your questions. Accuracy was a concern as we compiled this information. Because GM made so many scheduled as well as unscheduled changes, there is much discussion about these changes.
The following is used by permission from Pickups and Panels Magazine and artist Bryant J. Stewart
Series 490…Wheelbase 102…1/2 ton light delivery chassis, wagon
Series T…..Wheelbase 125…1 ton worm drive chassis, flare board and curtain top express
Series 490…Wheelbase…102…1/2 ton light delivery chassis, wagon.
Series T…..Wheelbase…125…1 ton worm drive chassis, flare board and curtain top express
Series 490…Wheelbase 102…1/2 ton light delivery chassis, delivery wagon 1 and 3 seat
Series T…..Wheelbase 125…1 ton chassis and cowl, flare board and covered flare express
Series 490…Wheelbase 102…1/2 ton chassis and cowl, open express, covered express 3 seat
Series G…..Wheelbase 120…3/4 ton chassis and cowl, open express, canopy express
Series T…..Wheelbase 125…1 ton chassis, open express, canopy express, canopy express 3 seat
Series 490…Wheelbase 102…1/2 ton panel delivery, station wagon
Series G…..Wheelbase 120…3/4 ton cowl cab chassis, express, canopy express
Series T…..Wheelbase 125…1 ton chassis, open express, canopy express, canopy curtain express
Series A/B…Wheelbase 103…1/2 ton chassis, canopy express, panel, station wagon
Series D…..Wheelbase 120-5..1 ton chassis, stake, utility express, delivery, cattle body
Series B/F…Wheelbase 103…1/2 ton chassis, light delivery, panel
Series D/H…Wheelbase 120…1 ton chassis, stake, flare board express, dump, enclosed cab
Series F…..Wheelbase 103…1/2 ton chassis, light delivery (early 1925)
Series H…..Wheelbase 120…1 ton chassis (earlt 1925)
Series K…..Wheelbase 103…1/2 ton chassis, light delivery (late 1925)
Series M…..Wheelbase 120…1 ton chassis (late 1925)
Series K…..Wheelbase 103…1/2 ton chassis, light delivery (early 1926)
Series R…..Wheelbase 124…1 ton chassis (early 1926)
Series V…..Wheelbase 103…1/2 ton chassis, light delivery (late 1926)
Series X…..Wheelbase 124…1 ton chassis, springfield suburban, screenside, stake rack (late 1926)
Series V…..Wheelbase 103…1/2 ton chassis, light delivery (early 1927)
Series X…..Wheelbase 124…1 ton chassis, springfield suburban, screenside (early 1927)
Series AA….Wheelbase 103…1/2 ton chassis, light delivery (late 1927)
Series LM….Wheelbase 124…1 ton chassis, panel delivery, stake bed (late 1927)
Series AB….Wheelbase 107…1/2 ton chassis, pick up, canopy, panel, screenside and sedan delivery, roadster pick up
Series LO….Wheelbase 124…1 ton panel delivery, stake bed, chassis
Series AC….Wheelbase 107…1/2 ton chassis, pickup, canopy, panel, screenside and sedan delivery
Series LQ….Wheelbase 131…1 and 1 1/2 ton chassis
Series AD….Wheelbase 107…1/2 ton chassis, delivery, canopy, deluxe, panel, roadster, screenside, sedan
Series LR….Wheelbase 131…1 1/2 ton truck 1st half
Series LS….Wheelbase 131…1 1/2 ton truck 2nd half
Series AE….Wheelbase 109…1/2 ton open/closed cab chassis/puickup, panel, canopy express
Series LT….Wheelbase 131-157…1 1/2 ton truck-single and dual wheels 1st half
Series MA/B…Wheelbase 131…1 1/2 ton truck-single and dual wheels 2nd half
Series MC/D…Wheelbase 157…1 1/2 ton truck-single and dual wheels 2nd half
Series BB….Wheelbase 109….1/2 ton closed cab pickup and canopy top pickup, panel,open and closed cab canopy express, spc. sed. delivery/panel/chassis
Series NA/B..Wheelbase 131….1 1/2 ton truck- single/dual wheels
Series NC/D..Wheelbase 157….1 1/2 ton truck – single and dual wheels
Series CB….Wheelbase 109….1/2 ton pickup and canopy top pickup, panel, open and closed cab canopy express, special pickup/panel chassis
Series OA/B..Wheelbase 131….1 1/2 ton truck – single and dual wheels
Series OC/D..Wheelbase 157….1 1/2 ton truck- single and dual wheels
Disclaimer: This truck I. D. information is correct and complete to the best of our knowledge and is only to be used as a guide. Pickups ‘n panels and/or the National Chevy/GMC Truck Association, and Jim Carter Truck Parts, make no guarantee of accuracy, and disclaim any liability incurred in the use of this information.
Prior to the 1960’s, trucks were used as work vehicles. On Friday nights, most were parked for the weekend and the family sedan was the transportation vehicle.
It was a conservative era when you bought only basic necessities. A $5.00 grocery purchase was more than most could carry. Finding white wall tires on a truck (even a car) would have been a rare sight, indeed. Very few cars, except for most luxurious models, would have had white walls even as an option. It should be remembered, that most roads, except highways and those in the main part of town were gravel, dirt, or sprayed annually with tar.
Of course, a dealer would have been happy to install aftermarket white wall tires, if the customer made a specific request. For a price, the dealer would provide any option to keep a satisfied customer and make a few dollars.
On GM trucks, white walls became a factory option in mid-1955, partially because of the introduction of the Chevrolet Cameo and GMC Suburban carrier and also due to more roads becoming paved. These very deluxe pickups, as well as several of the other well appointed 1/2 tons justified a white wall tire for those wanting it all!
Almost none of these deluxe models would have been given their second set of white wall tires. By then, the pickup was older and being used more as a hauler, not for appearance.
The 1947-1955 Chevrolet and GMC came from the factory with left mirror arms on left hand drive trucks. This was particularly important if the truck was to have a large bed that covered the rear window.
To keep sale price low, the right mirror arm was an accessory (dealer installed). It was very important that the dealer place the mirror just right so the actual mirror was viewed by the driver through the lower right corner of the windshield.
To prevent dealer mistakes, GM placed an inner panel in all trucks covering the area were the two holes would be placed. This panel had factory holes, showing the mechanic where to drill. Thus, two exterior holes could always be in the proper place. Yes, the glove box liner would be removed to make room for the drilling.
Inner panel guide for drilling (above)
Outer panel before drilling (above)
The Chevrolet and GMC dealer installed recirculator heater was much different in 1947-48. In 1946 and older plus in 1949 through 1957, they sold the traditional round core design but for 1947 and 1948 it was all different.
The attached photos show the 1947-48 GM recirculator heater. Its rectangular core and vertical mounting studs are reserved for just these two years. Except for the logo plate they are the same for GMC and Chevrolet. To be sure the dealers mechanic installed these accessory heaters correctly, holes were placed in the firewall during the trucks construction.
In this photo of a 1948 firewall, arrows point to the factory holes to make sure the heater is installed just right.
An additional point of interest on this 1947-48 heater:
The defroster appears to be an extra cost item. Note the picture of the truck with the side mounted defroster. Also see the separate heater with a round factory plate covering the defroster position. It appears you could order a style of recirculator heater depending on the climate in your area.
Look what a 216 six cylinder can do with a low speed rear end!
Jim Carter, Independence , MO
Life for this 1951 Chevrolet Model 5100 began at the GM assembly plant in Kansas City . Soon after, it was delivered to its new home at a small Chevrolet dealer in Lydon , Kansas . About this time it was also equipped with a new wrecker body (manufactured by W.T. Stringfellow and Co., Nashville , Tennessee ) and made ready for duties as a GM dealership tow truck.
This dealer use is probably why it has survived and remains as a solid example of an original style 1950’s tow truck. Whereas, most wreckers are used continually by tow companies, an auto dealership is more limited in the needs for moving vehicles. Usually they are only needed for bringing in customer’s cars for repairs. They are kept nice to give a good dealer image.
Possibly because of its good condition, it appears that the second and third owners also gave it more respect during its occasional use in towing. It was purchased in 1992 at a swap meet by Jim Carters Antique Truck Parts Co. and is currently their mascot. This rig is sometimes taken to antique auto shows as well as just cruising on a Saturday night. Its short wheelbase allows it to easily maneuver in traffic and park in a standard space.
She is referred to as the ‘Blue Hooker’ and can match the power of any 2 ton wrecker. She has and can ‘Hook’ the best.
Story and Photographs by John H. Sheally II
So you wish to hear about my 1939 Chevrolet, grain bed, ton and a half tow truck. Well folks it 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 is no plastic parts or paper fender wells held in with paper clips in this machine. Plenty of nickel was used in the steel bodies thus they did not rust out and 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 a very ugly faded green (original color) and had been worked hard all its years on that farm thus it was an 80% restoration for me. It started 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 15 years ago, I have done some 10,000 miles a year with it towing to 30 to 40 competition events per year as well as meets and concours. I have competed with several different Morgan Models over these years as well as Cobra, Saab Sonett and two formula cars which have been towed with this dependable machine.
This truck quite often is also entered in shows and 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 model which is like a big pickup bed truck except the beds were built to haul grain and not spill out through openings in the bed. 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 went to rebuild it two years ago I realized that I would like to have a few more ponies coming out of it because when I hit the mountains with it I would have to really work the four speed gearbox to pull up the steeper slopes. As a result I rebuilt it to a 261 stroker which amounted to a larger bore, longer rods and I drilled a couple of extra weep holes in the head for more cooling. The final package ends up being 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 cruise at 55 mph all day long and can hit 75 on a down hill run. I have put Carbon-Kevlar brake shoes on it on four corners and it stops well. It’s a great truck with great working ability and a firm ride.
This black beauty just became a Movie star, making her film debut in the Steven King feature ‘Hearts in Atlantis’, which is produced by Dreamworks.
There is something special about driving a sixty-two year old truck, which was built with purpose and pride four years before I was born.
The truck (a 1936 1/2 Chevy high cab) was the very first truck that Mr. Hess himself drove around Woodbridge, NJ in the early days. In those days it was not gasoline he hauled, it was primarily heating fuel oil. The truck remained in service up into the early fifties at which time it underwent a partial overhaul. When I met the truck it had spent the last twenty something years in the HOVIC (Hess Oil Virgin Islands Corp) plant in the US Virgin Islands being used as a prop. The unit, as a result of being subjected to years of salt air and a hurricane or two (one being Hurricane Hugo), was in EXTREME disrepair to say the least. The engine would run, however the poured rod bearings were knocking very bad. When we pulled the truck into the shop for disassembly the windshield and part of the cab just fell into pieces. This was a complete overhaul right down to cutting the rivets, splitting the frame rails, and hand riveting them back together. I feel this is one of the finest restoration jobs I have ever been involved with and I am very proud of it. The truck (fully functional) is now destined to be displayed at the Hess headquarters in Woodbridge, N.J. and could haul fuel today.
Its early 1947 and the U.S. has been struggling over a year to get factories back to producing domestic goods for the new post World War II economy. Car and truck hungry customers are expecting a year’s wait for each new vehicle ordered.
In Lowell , Mass. , the Centralville Laundry is struggling with the daily use of their seven year old pre-war ½ ton panel truck. Unexpected break downs and parts shortages create havoc with necessary daily pickup and delivery of their customer’s laundry.
The laundry business was good. Since the U.S. entered the war in 1941, a large percentage of housewives entered the job market both for financial reasons and keeping the factories producing. For the Centralville Laundry Company, this was great for business. After working eight hours at the factory and managing a family, the last thing the lady of the house needed was to come home to hours of laundry. Home automatic washers were almost unheard of and most of the clothing was washed by hand.
On a March 1947 Saturday night, Jim Nigzus, the laundry owner, spotted the back of a shiny panel truck through an open door of the town’s Chevrolet dealer’s rear storage building. He called the dealer at his home at 9:30 p.m. ‘What have you got in that building? Is it for sale?’
What a surprise! The local furniture dealer had just rejected this new panel truck because it was a 1 ton and not the ½ ton that had been ordered the year before. Jim Nigzus couldn’t believe his eyes. He not only could buy this panel truck, but it was new. He cared less about it being a large body 1 ton. His company needed a panel truck now. The vehicle was bought verbally on the phone and the Centralville Laundry had a new panel truck the next Monday afternoon.
That day began a relationship with this 1 ton that has lasted 55 years and over 500,000 miles! Jim is now retired but keeps the old company panel looking just like in its working days. A coat of company blue paint, some bodywork and new side business logos have helped slow the rust that is so determined to keep attacking this worker of over 40 years on Lowell, Mass. city streets. The truck has its original 17′ split rim wheels and an optional passenger seat. Extra lights were added 50 years ago to make the panel more visible in the evenings while delivering during the shorter winter New England days.
This one ton has had almost no modification and is powered by the proper low oil pressure 216 cubic inch six cylinder in front of the correct non-synchronized 4 speed transmission. The panel truck’s size and extra hauling capacity proved to be an instant advantage over ½ tons in the needs of the early laundry business. As money was limited during these years, families would save a great deal by having their wash delivered wet! The laundry was then line dried by the customer and ironed at home. The heavy weight of ‘wet wash’ deliveries made a 1 ton a success not only on weight capacity but more stops could be made for each run from the laundry building.
This is my 1948 Chevy 6100 Series, 2 ton short dump truck. I used it for remodeling business in Ledyard, CT. The truck has been in use by me for 8 years. After purchasing it, I have sought to keep her looking as original as possible. This is a long term project. This truck has earned its keep and then some. I love the attention my truck attracts ever where I go. I have purchased many parts from Jim Carter Antique Truck Parts. Thank you for helping me keep this work horse on the road where it belongs.
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.
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
Passenger jump seat including original brown floor mat and rear floor linoleum covering.
Original untouched five piece headliner. Note: Rear dome light is the same as above the drivers seat.
The 1953 dash! Red brown paint and gray brown steering wheel paint are just right.
Minor damage for almost 50 years as a work vehicle.
Wow! Now this is a real work truck. Used almost daily, it was bought from the original owner in 1985. This 1967 Chevrolet 1 ½ ton is a true heavy hauler. It’s original 283 V-8, 4 speed transmission, single speed rear end, and high output heater remains in place.
Home has always been Green Bay, Wisconsin. It’s first owner, a masonry contractor, used it for transporting bulk sand. Garaged in the winter, it stayed out of the snow.
Then 18 years later, it’s current owner, Mark Weidner., bought this 28,000 mile truck to help be part in his earth, rock and snow removal business. The truck was then given some upgrading to add to it’s appearance. This included new 8.25×20 oversize tires, new wheels, a replacement metal bed floor, white ash bedsides and fresh red paint of the original color. It then looked like new and nicely represented his company.
Mark’s company continues to use this 1967 on almost a daily basis. During about 8 months a year it hauls dirt, gravel, old concrete, etc. This truck becomes a snow hauler during the harsh Green Bay winters. The snow from cleaning local parking lots is loaded at night and dumped at a distant location.
The odometer has gone from 28,000 miles in 1985 to the current 156,000. It still looks great after the 22 years with Mark’s company. The secret is maintenance. Every 2 weeks it is water sprayed on the underside. On a 30 day schedule it gets a hot steam cleaning to remove more salt and road dirt. It’s original 283 V-8 has been given one rebuilding.
Our 1942 1 1/2 ton Chevrolet Fire Truck Was delivered to the DeLand Naval Air Station, February, 1942.
Served during WW II as the crash truck during navy pilot training. When the war was over, it was given to the City of DeLand, Florida. It was painted OD green and had about 3,000 miles on the odometer. It ran as a first line truck for City for many years and then was parked at the airport in a an old hanger. It was in pretty bad shape by the time I got evolved. We raised money to have it restored by the auto shop at the local State Prison. They did a beautiful job and is now used in public relations and giving local children rides during the Christmas parade and during the annual Veteran’s Day Parade. The mileage today just topped 11,000 miles. The engine has NEVER been apart and runs just about as well as it did when issued. The system has been converted over to 12 volts. The fire department has maintained ownership and we all try to keep up with the overall maintenance.
After the great fire storm of 1998, my wife and I were invited to the Daytona International Speedway to participate in the appreciation day and make a blazing lap round the 2.5 mile track at 40 MPH.
Thanks for looking.
Dave Sutherland / Captain
City of DeLand Fire Department
Chevrolet’s 1/2 ton and car overdrive 3 speed transmission was optional equipment installed on the assembly line during the 1950’s. The reduction of engine RPM’s in high gear resulted in less wear on the drive train as well as additional speed on level roads. Today, this is still important but of increased importance is better fuel economy.
The standard 3 speed transmission gives a 1 to 1 ratio in high gear. The overdrive is rated .7 to 1. The case and main gears are identical in both transmissions. The difference is in the rear extension tail. Here, the Borg-Warner gears electrically drop the RPM’s in the output shaft. GM’s wisdom created the 3 speed overdrive to be the same overall length as their standard transmission. This makes transmission exchanges very uncomplicated. There is no modification in the shift linkage rods or drive shaft.
With several basic tools a person can remove a standard 3 speed and add his overdrive in an hour! No problem if you don’t have the factory dash levers. Simply connect two insulated wires from the solenoid to a small dual position flip switch you add to the end of the shift lever. (It can be bought tat a local auto parts store and taped in place.) The driver can then shift in and out of overdrive using his thumb.
These overdrives were Chevrolet optional equipment from 1955 through the early 1960’s. Though they are becoming difficult to find, they do surface at swap meets, older salvage yards, and from owners totally modernizing their older vehicle. Find one and give your car or ½ ton a different personality!
Exploded View of GM 1950 Overdrive Transmission…PDF Click Here
This drawing is from the 1955-1959 Chevrolet Factory Assembly Manual. We have added our part number ( FL137 ) with an arrow to show the new floor shift foam collar that is now available at Jim Carter’s Truck Parts.
Click to enlarge
It’s the first year for the successful Chevrolet V-8. (This basic small block design continues even today over 50 years later.) One very unique characteristic of this first year V-8 is the lack of a traditional block connection for a positive flow oil filter. For this one year, this 265 engine carried the by-pass oil filter system much like the standard 235 six cylinder. It was dealer installed!
The filter canister has a welded on right angle bracket that is secured under the thermostat housing at the front of the engine. The supply and drain lines are small like the 235. If the filter becomes clogged and the oil stops flowing into the cartridge, the engine continues to run with good lubrication. These photos show an excellent example of the 265 V-8 accessory oil filter system, with it being a dealer accessory, it probably was placed on few engines when they arrived at the dealership.
Chevrolet linkage-type power steering is now available optionally on Series C10, 20, 30 models. This was formerly a dealer installed item. The equipment consists of a hydraulic pump, power cylinder, control valve, relay rod and hoses.
The power cylinder is mounted to the frame and is connected to the control valve through the hoses. The control valve is mounted on the steering drag link between the knuckle arm and the steering arm and it serves to control the flow of pressurized power steering fluid to either side of the power cylinder piston. This in turn pushes or pulls the tie rod as required for easier steering.
Power steering helps to combat driver fatigue and aids maneuverability. It also dampens road shocks and vibrations at the steering wheel and provides extra comfort and ease of handling.