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Posts Tagged ‘COE’

1939 Chevrolet COE, 108″ WB

Monday, June 5th, 2017

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 @ jmilton@stny.rr.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

1951 Chevrolet COE Tow Truck

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

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!

Hood up!

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.


Monday, June 30th, 2014


During the recent 2014 annual convention of the American Truck Historical Society in Springfield, Missouri, hundreds of large and small trucks from over the US were in sight! This number is only found at this once a year convention in a different city each year.
As people walked through rows of so many older trucks several seemed to be at the top for getting the most attention. With several there was just something more special. Colors, workmanship and a unique body style combined to create these more popular trucks.
From this top group, it was easy to pick our Feature Truck of the Month for July – a pristine 1950 Chevrolet Cab Over Engine (COE) with optional power lift grain bed. Wheel base 158”, (see the 5700 emblems on the hood) and the factory color of mariner blue. The proud owner and restorer is Kent Zimmerman of Mesa, Arizona.
Kent retired 5 months before as a 30 year career pathologist in a local medical facility. His retirement gift to himself was to transport his now new COE to the largest truck convention in the world.
As an outlet from his sometimes strenuous job, Kent has enjoyed collecting and repairing older trucks. During his career, he has obtained: 1942 Chevy ½ ton, 1947 Diamond T and 1951 Chevrolet ½ ton.
The more he became involved with trucks the more his attention moved to Chevrolet COE trucks. Their appearance and good parts availability convinced him. He wanted one! His two year hunt was for an all original COE that had very few modifications. He looked at so many either personally or in photos.
His discovery was in western Minnesota near Fargo, South Dakota (a long way from home in Arizona). It had been a grain farm truck used mostly at harvest time each year in Eastern South Dakota.
When Kent saw the COE for sale it was love at first sight! He not only wanted to own it but made a decision to turn it into a new 65 year old. It would not be work but rather relaxation from a very responsible position as a pathologist. One of the attached photos show it on its way home to Arizona.
Once it was home, the planning for the restoration began. Parts were gathered, rebuilding contacts were found and more detailed studying was done to help lessen mistakes.
Piece by piece the disassembly occurred. Most of the COE was pure untouched. As a seasonal harvest truck most of its life had been in the owner’s barn off season. Much wear was certainly showing but most items were still in place as they left the factory in 1950. The more Kent got into the project, the more he enjoyed his first full restoration project. Of course, his workshop became covered with COE parts as the project continued. Even some items were hanging from the building rafters.

To restore the Load King Grain bed just as it had been since new, Kent was in luck. The metal black band around the wood floor was mostly repairable but any part that moved needed to be refabricated such as the hinges that are part of the bed tilting. There was enough wood still there for patterns. It could be replaced just like it was produced 60 years ago! One change: He made it 8” shorter so he could then use a center factory rear view mirror in the cab.
The bed decals showed just enough lettering and color to make perfect new ones. See the before and after photos. The Load King Co. of Sioux City, Iowa would be proud!
The bed also had a lift powered by a 1950 Lundell hydraulic cylinder. Kent’s surprise was that it operated perfectly even after setting in the Arizona desert heat for 3 years until it was checked. The exterior cylinder assembly was totally restored and special made Lundell decals were created.
Yes, this grain truck even came with the General Motors 2 speed vacuum operated differential for more hauling capacity. Unfortunately, it gives the truck a lower speed gear for work and not a higher speed for the road.
The interior. WOW! Look what a professional pathologist can do on his time off. It is a rare Advance Design truck interior that is restored with such perfection. Even the handle on the hand brake lever has been re-chromed. The horizontal ridges on the radio speaker grill and glove box door blend together perfectly. The seats are covered with the proper Spanish Grain Maroon Vinyl.
Looking deeper into the mechanicals, Kent discovered the 235 low oil pressure engine in an original COE had been replaced in prior years with an upper power range 235 cubic inch high pressure engine from a 1958 Chevrolet. It appears to have been professionally rebuilt by someone earlier. Kent tested the compression, vacuum and plastigaged the bearings. All were found to be within specs, therefore with a reassembly plus a major cleanup and detailing it was almost new. The ease of exchange requires no motor mount altering. He used a short shaft water pump and eliminated the cutting of the upper air dam. Kent is very satisfied finding a larger six cylinder engine that gives this COE the power and the additional speed it needs on most of today’s better roads. On the level it can reach 55 mph. This truck even retains its 6 volt system. With the proper 6 volt extra grounding, it starts just like in 1950. (With no effort)
A unique upgrade are the wheels. Kent chose to replace the factory split rims with non-splits. He sent the truck’s wheels to a specialized California Company. To the original centers they attached 22.5 inch outer rims. Low profile Goodyear radial tires gave the COE the same height as GM’s 20” split rims. A perfect equivalent! The result is much better road handling.
Because of limited room in the engine compartment, GM was forced to place the oil bath air filter to the lower rear. There is an air tube from the carburetor to this oil bath air filter. Look at the orange decal. Very unusual. Yes, Kent also had these made! Also changed from a conventional truck is the location of the horns, oil filter, hand brake lever, and wiper motor. See Photos!
During our several discussions with Kent, his opinion on restoration was very important. He was very serious when he said “As I sat behind a desk for 30 years and did this major 4 year restoration after hours, it was nothing anyone else couldn’t do. I am an amateur and hope to inspire others to do this”.
Kent feels there are several points should exist for an individual restoration to be successful.
– Most Important! You must really enjoy the restoration process.
– Don’t do it just to get away from your daily routine. You may get tired of the project.
– Remember this is a hobby. If it gets to be a job you should stop and just think about it for a few days.
– Get to know locals that are specialized in different segments of your restoration needs. They are the experts in what will be very difficult for the inexperienced.
– If this fits you’re personally, go for it, and make great memories.

You can contact Kent Zimmerman at 1950coe@gmail.com.

Special Photos of Kent’s COE

Coming Home
Before Kent Zimmerman
After Kent Zimmerman
Correct Cotton Cover Wires. Nice!
Most Controls Close Together
Shift Mechanism
Hand Brake at Left of Pedals
Horn on Firewall. No room on engine!
Electric assist wiper motor & oil filter on firewall
Hood Up!
Hood hold open lever
The Lower Door Hinge is Bent by GM to Fit
New oil bath air cleaner decal
Stair Steps to the Cab – Plus New 22.5 Wheel and Tire
Your arm helps pull you up
New Load King Grain Bed
New side view
Authentic New Decal
The bed tilting cylinder is new again
Here’s Looking at You!
Relates to the Long 158″ WB

During mid-September 2015 Kent Zimmerman was at the annual Midwest All Truck National’s in Riverside, Missouri. What made his attendance so unusual was how he got to the show. Being a “real” early Chevy truck enthusiast, he decided to drive there from his home in Mesa, Arizona to the show near Kansas City, Missouri, a distance of 1,200 miles one way.

The decision was made to drive his all original 1951 Chevy ½ ton and come by himself. What a go getter! This little ½ ton has its original 216 cubic inch inline six cylinder engine with Babbitt bearing non-insert rods and close drive shaft. As Kent said “In their day they used these engines and closed drive shafts in cars and trucks all over the USA”. The key is not to push them to freeway speeds. Kent used the back roads, kept speeds to about 55 mph, and enjoyed seeing the countryside. A wonderful adventure!

During a discussion at the Riverside show, Kent had a trouble free trip and had enjoyed every minute of this 2 ½ day drive. The pickup was restored about 25 years ago before Kent bought it. Below are a few photos of this ½ ton setting among the many other trucks at the show.

Pure 1951 in Seacrest Green


Correct 1951-53 taillight bracket that pulls the housing beside stake pocket.
Protects light when bumper is absent.

Left rear fender in Seacrest Green.

1946 Chevrolet COE

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Year/Make 1946 Chevrolet COE
Owner: Billy Marlow

1946 chevrolet coe

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.

1946 Chevy coe

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.

1946 chevrolet coe

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.

1947 chevrolet coe

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


1948-1949 COE & Chevrolet 1/2 ton

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

Owners: Bill and Ken Wedelaar

1948 chevrolet coe 1949 half ton

What a traffic stopping combination! When this pair hits the road, even the non-truck enthusiasts take note. The proud owners are Bill and Ken Wedelaar in Midland Park, New Jersey. Bill and Ken have a local auto electric shop and the restoration of these trucks has been their hobby when time became available.

The little black 1949 1/2 ton is one of the best examples of how they left the factory as it shows only 11,000 miles. Bill has owned it 15 years with almost no repairs needed except cleaning and detailing. It had been repainted when Bill found it and he added the whitewall tires. If you want to know what a pure 1949 was like when new, ask Bill or Ken.

The 1948 Cab-Over-Engine (COE) is a piece of artwork. Bill and Ken even bought another COE to get the best parts and then restored it to almost all authentic specifications. A 1954 Chevrolet 235 six cylinder is about the only update that was added. This 2 ton has been his for 25 years. Before his purchase, it hauled a large dozer to construction job sites.

Bill and Ken are obviously enthusiasts and artists in truck restoration.

They can be contacted by email at: kensautoelectric@gmail.com

1947 GMC COE

Thursday, February 1st, 2007

Owner: Steve Neilsen

1947 gmc coe

Having grown up in a family that always had delivery trucks, usually sedan deliveries I have always loved trucks. The first truck I remember was a black 48 Chevrolet Sedan Delivery. Ten a 50,52,54 and than we went to wagons. Still working for my folks in the 70s I found a 48 Chevrolet like my dads and restored it with the exception of installing a 327 and powerglide I got out of a wreaked 68 Impala .All black with white walls and gold leaf sign. After leaving my folks Florist business I eventually ended up in the remodeling business. I always loved COE’s and finally I decided to replace my new cube van with a truck that didn’t go down in value.

After looking, and running some ads I found my truck in Montana. It spent it life as a wheat truck. It now out of retirement and goes to work with me if its not raining. We’re both semi retired. I mounted the body on a 1980 Chevrolet 1 ton chassis. I installed a Chevrolet 350 crate,350 Turbo and 1990 Chevrolet van steering. The box was off a Ryder Rental truck. The wings on the box I got off a 1947 GM school bus used to store parts in a wrecking yard. I finished it up and after years of building cars this gets the most wows so far.

Happy Trucking, and thanks for the great parts,

Steve Neilsen
Red 47 GMC COE

1947 gmc coe 1947 gmc coe

1946 Chevrolet COE

Friday, December 1st, 2006

Owner: Jim Fassler

1946 chevrolet

I found this truck in Fall City, WA and it is now in Soldotna, Alaska. I shipped the truck From Tacoma Wa to Anchorage Alaska on Totem Ocean Trailer Express (TOTE). I have driven it about 500 miles since I bought it.

Jim Fassler
Soldotna, Alaska

1946 chevrolet truck 1946 chevrolet truck 1946 chevrolet truck