Year/Make 1946 Chevrolet COE
Owner: Billy Marlow
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