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Posts Tagged ‘panel truck’

1960-66 Suburban / Panel Truck Rear Bumpers

Sunday, September 15th, 2019

Unlike earlier years, the 1960-66 Suburban and Panel Truck rear bumper is not the same as the front on this single body unit.
Two items separate them from the front.

  1. The bumper brace holes are punched in a different place. They have a separation of 16 1/2” on the rear and 19 1/2” on the front. Thus, they cannot be interchanged.
  2. A “dimple” on either side of it’s center is only on the rear of this Suburban and Panel Truck bumper.

Why the dimple exists is not known. The only reason we have heard: It helps employees on the assembly line from from mixing them and slowing production!


1947-1955 GM panel truck seats

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

Attached are some pictures of the correct 1947-1955 GM panel truck seats. The right side was a factory option. This would be special ordered if the owner was planning on two passengers. Though they have been recovered with cloth instead of factory “leatherette”, they are correct in all other ways. What is interesting is how GM made the optional right side seat to fold up against the dash. This was necessary to allow easier access to merchandise up front. No need to unload freight to get to the front storage area. It appears the seat frame and floor is painted the original grey color. A thin sheet of insulation is placed between each of the body supports. This was to lessen road noise and slow some heat from entering the cab on hot days. Another interesting feature on panel trucks; the single horizontal oak board on each side of the interior helps prevent damage to the exterior sheet metal walls. If a stack of transported items tipped while the panel truck was making a corner, there was less chance of dents being placed on the sides. Note the long metal lid over the floor box which is under the factory optional right seat. This is only provided in the panel truck and canopy express bodies.  It kept the driver’s papers in a neat compartment so they did not slide or blow across the floor.

1947-1955 GM panel truck seats 1947-1955 GM panel truck seats

1939 GMC Panel Truck

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

Owner: Paul Flammang

It’s another era in our country. We were just coming out of the Great Depression. Employment was on the upswing and car sales were better than since the 1920’s. Families with a little more income began to move away from the downtown centers and new neighborhoods were developing at the edge of cities.

Public transportation began serving some of these new housing areas; however it was often not convenient for the new residents to walk to the bus line. They would need to ride to the original mid-town, return home with a supply of groceries, clothing, hardware items, etc. There was only so much a person could carry on a bus or street car.

Thus, the large numbers of small family-owned and operated neighborhood stores began to emerge. These quickly became important to the woman of the house. The husband would drive the family car or take the bus to work. The housewife remained at home, usually with the children, and was the purchaser of groceries and related needs. Neighborhood stores soon realized to be successful, they needed to take groceries, and laundry items to the customer.

With the above being said, the following describes one of the best examples of an all original grocery delivery truck of the last century. This little 1939 GMC panel truck was discovered over 16 years ago by the present owner, Paul Flammang.

He found it in a small garage behind what was once the Laura’s Family Grocery Store in Jewell City, Connecticut. The store was typical for the times, a two-story building on the corner. The shopping area was on the first floor and the owner and his family lived upstairs. Over 50 years ago this building was converted to an upper and lower duplex as the growth of large supermarkets put an end to the family-owned grocery stores.

The delivery truck, used by this grocer was locked in a back garage and had remained there over the years. The family still owned the property.

Paul, a local resident and old car enthusiast, had only heard rumors of the stored delivery panel truck. One day he found a family member with access to the garage and he asked if he could see the panel truck. He could not believe his eyes! It was just like when parked there in the 1950’s. The store logos were still readable on the sides and a few unopened grocery items remained inside undelivered. The log book in the glove box showed the last delivery in 1951 as well as addresses of many regular customers in the neighborhood.

A small ice box was still in the back by the double doors. It held meat on customer deliveries. The water from the melting ice ran through a drain hose in the factory hole for the spare tire clamp and then onto the street. Adjacent to this ice box was a small chopping block and scale.

To Paul, it was love at first sight! He owned a handmade furniture business and wanted the panel truck to add to the character of his company. Negotiations were successful and other than removing the ice box equipment, the panel truck was left as is. Our photos taken in 2012 show how it was found 16 years ago and after it was placed in storage in the 1950’s.

Paul immediately used it to deliver his furniture to New York and Boston twice each month, about 100 miles away for many, many years. Yes, a few motor changes occurred but the exterior has never changed.

We recently met Paul Flammang at our Midwest store with his 1939 GMC panel on a drive from Connecticut to Arizona. He is now retired and will spend his winters near Phoenix. It will be his daily driver there.

The current engine is a Chevrolet 216 six cylinder. Who says low oil pressure babbitt bearing engines can’t stand up to long hours of use?

If you wish to contact Paul Flammang by email: flammangwoodwork@gmail.com

1967-1972 Panel Trucks

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

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.

1967 1972 panel trucks





The Final Blow!











Demise of the GM Panel Truck

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

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.

demise panel truck 1

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!

demise panel truck 2

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.

demise panel truck 3

1934 Chevrolet Panel Truck

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Owner: Richard Leier

1934 chevrolet panel truck

What a rare panel truck! This little 1934 Chevrolet is almost a “one of a kind”. With it being under construction, we just had to share these pictures.

You can see it was originally assembled from metal sections. A wood framework secured the metal panels to make a solid usable vehicle. As long as the wood remained strong, it served it’s purpose. Unfortunately, the enemy was leaking canvas top plus rust and wood rot on the lower level. The cost of replacing the canvas top was probably close to the panel truck’s value in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Thus, this panel truck is one of the last of thousands sold that year.

1934 chevrolet panel truck 1934 chevrolet panel truck 1934 chevrolet panel truck

(left-right) Leaning against the left side | The four doors | Hood not yet removed

1934 chevrolet panel truck 1934 chevrolet panel truck 1934 chevrolet panel truck

(left-right) New wood door parts and top support | Wood makes left door complete | The rear floor is started

Panel Truck Tail Light

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

With the introduction of the Advance Design panel truck in mid 1947, it was soon evident that a serious safety hazard existed with a few companies, some night deliveries required the rear double doors to be open. This prevented the taillight from being seen! No doubt this caused some accidents particularly with a fast vehicle coming from behind, with dim older bulb headlights.

The General Motors Product Service Bulletin (issued regularly to dealers) dated May 31, 1948 relates to this condition. Though it is dated over a year after initial panel truck production, it warns dealers and offers an alternative to lessen this unsafe condition.

The following is a copy of the suggested GM modification to correct the problem. As this particular product service bulletin was issued in Canada for their Canadian dealerships, it is not known if the announcement was also made to dealers in the USA .

It may be of interest that this extra light #916877 also used the same number in the Chevrolet Master Parts Catalog as the left 1939 car taillight assembly. (It appears GM used no extra tooling to create this new panel truck extra.) Note: They even requested the dealer to solder the water drain hole in this car light and re-drill because of its different mounting position.

The following is taken from the May 31st, 1948 Product Service Bulletin.

Rear Signal Lamp Released – All Panel Trucks

Some requests have been received for a signal lamp, which would be visible on Panel trucks when the rear doors are open at night. This type of lamp, which will operate in conjunction with the tail lamp, can be mounted on the roof panel, as shown in Fig. 77. The material necessary to make this installation is shown in Fig. 78.

panel truck tail light 1

Fig. 77 (above)

panel truck tail light 2

Fig. 78 (above)

panel truck tail light 3

panel truck tail light 4

Fig. 79 (above)

Of the material listed in the chart, the insulated wire, the metal plate, and the two rubber washers are to be made up locally. The dimensions for the metal plate are shown in Fig. 79 and the dimensions for the rubber washers are given in fig. 80. Assemble the bayonet connection to one end of the insulated wire and the eye terminal to the opposite end. A drain hole will be found in the side of the lamp rim. this should be plugged with solder and the same size hole drilled in the bottom of the rim for drainage.

panel truck tail light 6

Fig. 80 (above)

The installation procedure is as follows.

1. Center the metal plate, Fig. 79, nine inches from the rear drip molding over the center of the rear doors.

2. Using the plate as a template, drill two 7/32″ holes and one 3/4″ hole in the roof panel.

3. Drill a 7/16″ hole in the roof left side rail, “A” Fig. 81, and another 7/16″ hole “B” in the lower side panel behind the left rear door.

4. Place the two rubber washers over the studs in the lamp and the rubber grommet around the wiring. Assemble the metal plate on the inside of the roof panel and install the lamp using the attaching stock supplied.

5. Connect the 6 ft. of insulated wire to the plain wire in the lamp by means of the bayonet connection. Note: A two filament bulb is used in the lamp. One 3 C.P. and the other 32 C.P. The plain wire connects the 3 C.P. filament. Cut of the other wire.

6. Thread the insulated wire through the holes drilled at “A” and “B” Fig. 81. Install one of the wiring clips under one of the screws in the rear door upper striker plate “D” and the other clip under the screw at the rear of the belt strainer “C”. Compress the clips so that they fit snugly around the wire.

7. Connect the wire to the tail lamp switch “E” at the same terminal as the black tracer wire.

panel truck tail light 5

Fig. 81 (above)

Panel Truck Wood Floor Changes

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

The very practical panel truck produced from the early 1920’s through 1970 was an excellent cargo vehicle. Merchandise was protected from the weather and equally important from easy theft. Being a freight hauler, its cargo floor is like the pickup truck. Hard yellow pine and cross sills support the weight and merchandise slides on the metal strips.

Though not obvious, a major floor design occurred in the 1/2 ton panel truck in 1950 of the Advance Design years. Prior to this, the floor consisted of about six wood panels, each separated by 1/4″. Covering this gap was the necessary 1 1/2″ wide metal bed strips. To prevent dust from coming through the wood plank separations, GM changed the bed to a single piece of 3/4″ marine plywood in 1950. It appears this was the same size that was used with the flat floor board Suburban. However, with the panel truck the plywood was grooved for the bed strips. Once installed in the truck it looked like strips between the earlier individual planks.

The reason for the new plywood design was to lessen dust entering the storage area (at least in cool weather).  Most back roads were dirt and gravel.  Thus, owners complained that small amounts of dust would come in between the bed strips and settle on merchandise.

With the change in the bed floor, the length of the strips were reduced from 82′ to 79 1/2″ at least three of the punched holes in the early and late strips are in a different position.

panel truck wood floor changes1

1947-1950 1/2 Ton Deluxe Panel (above)

panel truck wood floor changes 2

1947-1950 1 Ton Deluxe Panel (above)

Early Panel Truck Bumper

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

In designing the panel truck, engineers realized that this vehicle must have a bumper for body protection. This bumper however, created a slight problem! It held the person loading freight further away from the vehicle cargo floor. He was required to lean further forward to reach merchandise.

To help solve this problem, GM modified the standard bumper to come closer to the middle of the body. The bumper was simply given a stamping at the manufacturer and the solution was achieved. Though it gave the worker only a few more inches, it helped increase his reach.

In today’s world, the indented panel truck rear bumper (1946 and older) has become difficult to find. Most panel trucks are restored with a bumper from a pickup truck. Few owners are even aware that this specially formed bumper existed.

early panel bumper 1

early panel bumper 2

early panel bumper 3

early panel bumper

1947-1955 Deluxe Panel Truck

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

For the Perfectionist

During the first half of the Advance Design years (1947-1955), GM offered a special panel truck as an option. This deluxe model was designed for a company wanting to give a more upscale appearance to their retail customers.

During the era of one car families, the lady of the house looked more toward home deliveries for essentials. GM knew there was a demand for this type panel truck in nicer residential neighborhoods. They targeted stores and shops that provided home deliveries. With a relatively small investment GM added a stainless steel trim package that gave their pre-existing panel truck a very special look. The chrome grill and bumpers plus stainless trim around the windshield and side door windows was already being used on the deluxe pickup.

GM then created some extras for their panel. Three horizontal strips at the lower edge of each fender, a long narrow horizontal spear toward the top of the front fenders, and a stainless edging surrounding the two rear door windows added to the panels appearance. Wheels were body colored with three stripes, not black as on the standard model.

The slower selling one ton panel was also available with this deluxe option. This nicely appointed larger panel was right at home in new exclusive suburbs delivering carpet rolls, furniture, carrying pipe for the plumber, etc.

Production of these Advance Design deluxe panel trucks was ceased in mid to late 1951. Korean War shortages and the resulting high cost of stainless steel eliminated this optional package. After the war years this deluxe model with the many horizontal trim strips was introduced again as the 1954 through mid-1955. With limited production, the short lived optional deluxe panel truck is a very rare sight in today’s world. Locating most of the necessary parts to transform a standard panel to a deluxe model is now possible from Jim Carters Truck Parts.

1947-1955 deluxe panel trucks

1947-50 1/2 ton Deluxe Panel (above)

1947-1955 deluxe panel trucks

1947-1955 deluxe panel trucks

1947-1955 deluxe panel trucks
Factory Drawing

For Panel models, this option includes bright metal reveals for side door windows, rear door windows and windshield; garnish moldings for side door windows; arm rest for driver’s side door, bright metal moldings for front and rear fenders, right-hand sun shade and chromium-plated radiator grille. (Not originally available on Canopy Express models or Carryall Suburban’s, however will fit both perfectly.)