1939 Chevrolet 1 1/2 Ton Pickup

Year/Make 1939 Chevrolet
Owner: John H. Sheally II

1939 Chevrolet Tow truck

What do you tow your Morgan with ?

Year/Make 1939 Chevrolet
Owner: John H. Sheally II

What do you tow your Morgan with ?

Story and Photographs by John H. Sheally II

There is something special about driving a 74-year-old truck, built with purpose and pride four years before I was born.

My 1939 Chevrolet, grain bed, ton and a half tow truck 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 are no plastic parts or paper fender wells held in place with paper clips in this machine. Plenty of nickel was used in the steel bodies thus they did not rust out. 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 an ugly faded green (original color) and had been worked hard all its years on that farm, It was an 80% restoration for me, starting 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 three decades ago , I have do some 10,000 miles plus  a year with it,  towing my competition cars to  competition events annually as well as meets and concours. I have competed with several different Morgan models over these years as well as a Cobra, Saab Sonnet and two formula cars – all towed with this dependable machine for the last 68,883 miles.

I often enter the truck in shows and it 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 models, big pickup bed trucks with the beds built to haul grain without spillage. 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 rebuilt it two years ago I realized that I’d like to have a few more ponies coming out of it  because when I hit the mountains with it I had  to really  work the four speed gearbox to pull up the steeper slopes. So I rebuilt it to a 261 stroker which amounted to a larger bore and. longer rods, I drilled a couple of extra weep holes in the head for more cooling. The final package ended up as 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 put Carbon-Kevlar brake shoes on four corners and it stops when I ask it too very well.

I cruise at 55 mph all day long and can hit 75 on a downhill run. It’s a great truck with great working ability and a smooth ride “when loaded”.

This black beauty is also a movie star, making her film debut in the Steven King feature ‘Hearts in Atlantis’, which is produced by Dreamworks.

You can email John at:  Morgandude@Verizon.net

1939 Chevrolet Tow truck 1939 Chevrolet Tow truck
1939 Chevrolet Tow truck 1939 Chevrolet Tow truck
1939 Chevrolet Tow truck 1939 Chevrolet Tow truck
1939 Chevrolet Tow truck 1939 Chevrolet Tow truck
1939 Chevrolet Tow truck
1939 Chevrolet Tow truck 1939 Chevrolet Tow truck
1939 Chevrolet Tow truck

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