Featured Trucks

1934-36 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton Panel Truck

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

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!

  1. Created during our country’s Great Depression. There was limited money to do repairs or preventive maintenance. Owners just did what was needed to keep them on the road.
  2. Bought as a delivery vehicle. Most did not even have the optional right front seat.
  3. Few small businesses had a garage. Most of these panel trucks were stored outside.
  4. Most were thought of as commercial only. They were seen in the neighborhoods making home deliveries by groceries, laundries, plumbing repairs, painters, etc.
  5. Hot in the summer. Door windows in the rear don’t open to help air flow.
  6. Body construction is sheet metal over a wood frame. This is a recipe for disaster over the long term. Deteriorating wood supports, particularly near the floor began to decay from leaks. Even leaking merchandise add to the demise.
  7. As with most early passenger vehicles the top had a non-metal covering over wood frame in their center. It was not if rain water would leak inside, it was just when.
  8. By 1941 our country was in World War II. Factories were converted to make defense products, not these neighborhood panel trucks. The 1934-36 panel trucks just kept working. Wood repairs and top patches gave them just a little more life.
  9. When the original owner put it up for sale or trade for a new vehicle, there were few takers. Not many second owners were looking for a one passenger well-worn panel truck.
  10. When they finally did reach the salvage yard, their weather protection advantage saved some a few extra years. Their bodies became storage. They were set aside to keep more vehicle parts such as mechanicals, gauges, tires, upholstery in a scrap yard! Can you imagine the amount of house roofing tar was used to keep the tops from leaking?

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.

1934-36 Chevrolet ½ ton Panel Truck

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

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!

  1. Created during our country’s Great Depression. There was limited money to do repairs or preventive maintenance. Owners just did what was needed to keep them on the road.
  2. Bought as a delivery vehicle. Most did not even have the optional right front seat.
  3. Few small businesses had a garage. Most of these panel trucks were stored outside.
  4. Most were thought of as commercial only. They were seen in the neighborhoods making home deliveries by groceries, laundries, plumbing repairs, painters, etc.
  5. Hot in the summer. Door windows in the rear don’t open to help air flow.
  6. Body construction is sheet metal over a wood frame. This is a recipe for disaster over the long term. Deteriorating wood supports, particularly near the floor began to decay from leaks. Even leaking merchandise add to the demise.
  7. As with most early passenger vehicles the top had a non-metal covering over wood frame in their center. It was not if rain water would leak inside, it was just when.
  8. By 1941 our country was in World War II. Factories were converted to make defense products, not these neighborhood panel trucks. The 1934-36 panel trucks just kept working. Wood repairs and top patches gave them just a little more life.
  9. When the original owner put it up for sale or trade for a new vehicle, there were few takers. Not many second owners were looking for a one passenger well-worn panel truck.
  10. When they finally did reach the salvage yard, their weather protection advantage saved some a few extra years. Their bodies became storage. They were set aside to keep more vehicle parts such as mechanicals, gauges, tires, upholstery in a scrap yard! Can you imagine the amount of house roofing tar was used to keep the tops from leaking?

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.

1947 Chevrolet 1 1/2 ton Pickup-Open Express

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

After featuring a truck of the month on our website for 15 years from over the world, we decided to do something a little different. For March we are featuring one of our own trucks! Sometimes, it’s fun to “blow your own horn”.

It was 25 years ago and our growing GM truck parts business had been progressing nicely for 10 years. About then we received a tip from a customer on a very unusual tired pickup seen stored in a midtown Kansas City, Missouri back yard. He said it was a step side bed pickup but it was so large! I decided to take a look to see what homemade truck was in that yard.

WOW! It was a real factory built pickup but was so oversized it looked gangly. It was pure 1946-early 1947 because of its updated front bumper, however the Chevrolet Salesman Data Book for that year did not recognize this model. Strange! We looked back to the 1941 data book and there it was. A 134 ½ wheel base pickup with a 108” long bed, on a 1 ½ ton chassis.

The back yard truck was totally unrestored and certainly had been used for work duties as GM had made it. Grill gone, little paint, no seats, bed wood missing. It would not be allowed to be in many neighborhoods without a garage to hide it.

Because it was so unusual (maybe the only one to survive) I sure wanted it in our collection. Yes, the restoration would be expensive but to have about the only one remaining would make it worthwhile.

A note hung on the home’s front door fortunately got a call. The owner had found it a few years before near Dodge City, Kansas and was told it was a harvest truck used annually during wheat and corn hauling. This may be correct because it had been given an aftermarket tilt assembly (now removed) for raising the bed to dump the contents much easier. He kept postponing the restoration because of the expense and the lack of an extra garage.

Because of these obstacles we reached an agreeable price and it was hauled to our shop the next day. Within several months, the total restoration began when its bare frame was setting on buckets.

The mechanics of this truck are totally 1 ½ ton. The engine has the extra horsepower of an original low oil pressure 235 six cylinder engine with standard 4 speed non-synchronized transmission, single speed differential, and 20 inch split rim wheels. NOTE: The silver zinc plating on the wheel’s lock rings. GM did this to help prevent rust from sticking the ring to the wheel.

Color: Boatswain blue with black fenders. Brown vinyl non-pleated seats. No accessories. The title shows 1947. Thus, produced somewhere in the final 4 months of this Open Express body design. It is the last of the 12 year production of this special bed style.


      • 1. This design was first introduced in 1934 and referred to as an Open Express.
      • 2. Used on both a 1 and 1 ½ ton chassis in the final years
      • 3. 4 stake pockets on each side
      • 4. 4 inches wider than a conventional 1946 ½ and ¾ ton.
      • a. Thus a totally different width tailgate and front bed panel
      • 5. Bed length 108 inches
      • 6. Narrow wheel width and very low body mounting requires narrow “tubs” on inner bedsides.

Page 157 in the 1941 Salesman’s Data Book Sales is the only reference to the dual rear fender 1 ½ ton pickup but no Photo! The 1942 sales brochure shows the drawing of this “Open Express” with single rear wheels. The dual pickup is an option. The term rear dual wheels also are only in the text.

Why did GM offer a 1 ½ ton pickup? Why not?

They already had their very popular 1 ½ chassis with many different beds. The 9 foot box was first offered in 1934 so the chassis and bed were both available. No new tooling! No gamble! If it found owners, then more sales would be created for the Chevrolet Division and their dealers.

Setting on a 1 ½ ton chassis, it would have been difficult to overload this long 9 foot bed. With the manufacture’s gross weight of about 13,000 pounds, some very heavy merchandise would be needed to ever overload it.

INTERESTING ON REAR FENDERS. Because this duel rear fender pickup was such a slow seller, GM did not change these wide fenders after 1938. Our 1947 feature truck still uses the early fenders. The ridge around the wheel well opening is 1937-38 and match the 1937-38 front fenders. They do not match the non-ridge front fenders of the 1939-46! Just a matter of economics. These were truly work trucks. Owners has no interest if the rear fenders were 1938 or 1946.

NOTE: What happens when wide rear fenders are added to cover the 1 ½ ton dual rear wheels?

Now is where it becomes “very” interesting! The long narrow running boards required with single rear wheels will not reach to full width of the dual fender. Therefore, GM made a special running board extension just for the dual rear fenders.

They are connected to a stock 1 ½ ton running board that extends to the back edge of the cab. This extension widens to connect to the rear dual fender. No doubt, this was a big investment even for General Motors considering the low sales volume that was anticipated.

However, this extension was a must. It must be there for a person to stand on them and reach into the bed. The attached photos will make the configuration easier to understand.

SLOW SALES! No doubt retail sales were always extremely slow. The dealer price would have been slightly above the flat bed with wood sides and it could not carry more volume. Gross weight limits would have been the same when both used the same rear leaf springs.


If the Kansas City owner was correct and it was used near Dodge City, Kansas during the harvest season. Why? A farmer could add greater volume using a flat bed with sides so why buy a truck with the same gross volume that would carry less? It will always be a mystery! Maybe an over enthusiastic dealer wanted an attention getter for his showroom. (The open express would have been well suited for small heavy loads such as bricks and masonry related products)

RARETY. As this pickup was built just for work, almost none exist 70 years later. If you paid the extra 1 ½ ton price, then you worked it to justify the price. None got stored in a barn or garage like a ½ ton! When they finally reached a salvage yard, their value in pure weight made them a first line candidate for recycling at the crusher. Are there any other survivors? We have never seen even one!!

YEARS AVAILABLE. This bed introduced in 1934 (also on a 1 ton chassis toward the later production years). Referred to as an “Open Express” because of its exceptional low body mounting and heavier gauge steel bed sides. So low that tubs in the bedside must be provided to protect it from the inner tires

Pictured is some data we had available on the early and late Open Express series.





Ready for Hauling!

Not as Fast as it Looks!

Sitting High on 20″ Wheels

Dual Rears Require Wide Fenders

The Retired Worker

Much Different Bed Construction than a 1/2 or 3/4 Ton Pickup



In storage 5 years! Pardon the dust on the sheet metal.

Running Board Extensions at Rear

Portions of the Complete Board at Front

Correct Dash

Hammered Paint on Interior

Done as GM Made it

It’s all There as When New

Like GM Did it!

Even Cotton Covered Wiring

A Better View of Boatswain Blue

Dual or Single Wheel Fenders Connect to the Bed Lip

Correctly Restored

You can contact Jim Carter at jcarter@oldchevytrucks.com

1946 Chevrolet Ice Cream Truck

Monday, February 2nd, 2015


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.

test 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

New Restoration

Restoration Complete

Restoration Completed

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

Body Dismantling

Starting Back

1953 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014


It was over 4 years ago when Vernon Buskirk of Webster, Wisconsin saw an ad on Craig’s list for a restorable 1953 Chevrolet ½ ton. He had been considering a truck like this for rebuilding and when he saw the photos it looked just right!

The all-day project included pulling a flatbed trailer 400 miles and bringing the little ½ ton home that same day. The truck appeared to have everything in place as GM made it so Vernon would have to do no major alterations. Vern said “It was very tired and had not run since 1970”.

The original owner and later the son-in-law had used it for the normal duties on their Iowa farm. When Vernon bought it the original 216 six cylinder engine was badly worn and the valve lifters were frozen in the head. A later model 235 engine was located and fit just right. This gave it that extra horsepower to better move with local traffic.

It was placed in Vern’s garage for 6 months before the total restoration began. He knew he would not be satisfied just making it run and giving it new paint so this was the time to do it all.
Then the big surprise occurred! The more Vern began to disassemble the cab, the more he discovered just how rusty the cab had become. It was not practical to restore. It would be much less expensive to locate another 1953 cab! Even the fenders could not economically be saved.

Once the cab and bed was removed he could more easily restore the frame and all the mechanicals. Reaching these items from the top saves so much effort than doing most of the restoration on the garage floor.

Everything was disassembled to the bare frame and the mechanicals were given a new life. The sheet metal was taken apart down to the rivets.
Norm hired a local body shop to handle the metal repairs and final paint on the replacement cab. Of course, now came the hard part. After the chassis was restored piece by piece and the sheet metal was complete, the very careful assembly begun.

Everything must fit together as when it left the assembly line. What a project! No scratching the metal and all new rubber must lay in the proper place.

The project required 3 ½ years. It is now Vern’s pride and joy. During the final days of last summer this became his drive on nice days. Vern is an example to the neighbors as they saw the parts spread over and around the garage and gradually emerge into a work of art. This little show stopper catches attention everywhere it goes!

For questions on the restorations you can call Vern Buskirk at 1-715-349-7305.



The Replacement Cab Arrives

A Beautiful Dash Restored Just Right

Under Construction

Secured to the new Motor Mounts

Front Fenders in Place

1962 Chevrolet 1/2 ton 4×4

Monday, December 1st, 2014


Imagine having 53 year old Chevrolet ½ ton driven only 20,000 miles. Almost unheard of! The proud owner is Nelson Good of Stanley, Virginia.

The pickup is a 1962 Chevy 4×4. It’s very unique features are a 261 cubic inch inline six cylinder (the last year for this large six), a 3 speed on the column, and deluxe cab! What an unusual configuration. It certainly had to be a special dealer order from the factory. We doubt very few that year ever left the factory with this combination.

Nelson, the third owner, knows this trucks history. Reasons for this unusual combination fall into place after hearing his description.

Grafton Lee Ogden purchased this 1962 truck from the B and M Chevrolet Co. in Winchester, Virginia in December 1961. He, his wife and a young nephew, Robert Prangle, lived on a small nearby livestock farm. When Mr. Ogden decided to purchase a new 4×4 pickup, young Robert quickly requested it have a V-8 and a 4 speed transmission. The wall posters in the dealership showed some high performance new Chevrolet cars with very fast V-8’s and 4 speeds.

It appears Mr. Ogden did not understand that a truck 4 speed and car 4 speed were totally different. He told young Robert he could help pick the new truck options but no V-8 engine or 4 speed transmission.
Therefore, the 4×4 came with a full deluxe package, red paint, a 261 six cylinder engine, and the standard 3 speed column shift transmission (somehow Robert got Mr. Ogden to order the big six cylinder and not the standard 235 six cylinder).

Now enters the third and current owner of this special 4×4, Nelson Good. He bought it from young Robert, the second owner, who obtained it from Mr. Ogden’s widow in 1988. At that time the odometer registered 19,410 miles.

Ten years later when Nelson became its new owner it was a 19,856 mile ½ ton. In 10 years, now middle age, Robert had driven it only 446 miles! Nelson is protecting it with the same limited use. In the 6 years of his ownership the odometer has turned just 314 miles.

The truck is stored in Nelson’s large home 36×50 garage with his other collector vehicles such as 1956 Chevy 210 sedan, 1967 Pontiac Grand Ville convertible and 1966 Chevrolet ½ ton short bed.
The truck has required little to make it one of the best. The tailgate had two dents and these were repaired with the gate repainted. New tires and Chevrolet chrome hub caps were added.
A set of Fenton Headers and a warming kit plus seat belts are accessories that seemed just right for this larger 261 six cylinder engine and for safety.

The bed was given another coat of black paint. Nelson left the paint chips in the wheel well as a remembrance to the many pigs, sheep and caves that were once carried to and from the market by the original owner with the white wood stock racks that were used for that purpose. Note the Photo.

Just look at this untouched interior. It is a guide for a 1962 purist. The anodized aluminum trim and grill are like the day the truck left the dealership. The sound from the AM radio is perfect. Mr. Ogden’s 1962 truck is now in good hands, much better than when it was carefully used on the farm.

This is one of the few older vehicles that should never be restored. It is so pure, it is an example of how Chevrolet sold it over 50 years ago.

All original paint and trim

Only the tailgate has been repainted!

Pure original four wheel drive!

Out of garage for the photo

The original farm racks installed for a photo

The bed with a new coat of paint

Nothing changed on this 1962 interior


20,167 Miles!

Chevrolet’s largest six cylinder, a 261.

Only the Fenton headers are aftermarket

Deluxe cab has large back windows

1941 Chevrolet COE

Friday, October 31st, 2014


It was show time at the 2014 American Truck Historical Society national convention. This year it was held in Springfield, Missouri. The Ozark 4-State Chapter was the host. Over 713 large and small trucks from across the US and Canada were registered and on display! So many more were in the parking lot outside of the gates.

Of all these examples of trucking history, several stood out just a bit higher in popularity with not only the crowd but by the officers of the ATHS as well as the local chapter.

Our feature truck of the month is one of those vehicles that was special even before the show began.

This “one of a kind” show stopping small big truck is a 1941 Chevrolet Cab Over Engine (COE) with optional dump bed. The shortest COE offered that year, its wheel base is only 109”. It can fit comfortable in a parking spot at a shopping mall! After all, its massive size extends vertically not in width or length.

The proud owners are Earl and Karen Burk of Ozark, Missouri. It has been their family’s prize position for many years. When they bought it 21 years ago their three young children quickly bonded with it. Karen made decorations for the truck to fit the holiday’s shows and parades such as Christmas, St. Patrick’s Day, and Independence Day.

While the children were young, they would ride on the dump bed extension over the cab during parades with decorations of gifts and Santa and Mrs. Clause likenesses in Christmas local parades.

During these parades when onlookers are admiring this special COE they get a double surprise! It was Karen’s idea to decorate their son Trevor’s toy dump truck also with seasonal trim. It is now towed by the big guy! What a pair and a crowd pleaser of the parade! From 1 to 95 the looks of delight and hilarity come across their faces.

The COE appeared on the official poster announcing the ATHS Convention so it received so much press coverage over the country. The small brass souvenir plate, given to all show entries, is made from Burk’s COE. It was found on a few very large banners used to advertise the convention in earlier local shows. The compliment of all was it being on the cover of the ATHS Showtime Magazine sent to club members around the world. It shows data and photos of all convention truck participants. See photos.

NOTE: If you want to know even more about the details of the Burk’s COE check out this part of our Feature Truck of the Month.

The wheels began turning several years before Earl purchased this COE. A nice article on this truck appeared in the Wheels of Time, the official magazine of the American Truck Historical Society (ATHS). The article showed this blue COE at its best and described it as a very special truck. To Earl’s surprise about a year later in this same magazine there was a small classified ad offering this identical truck for sale.

At that time it was owned by Joe Fuller in New Cumberland, West Virginia. Joe is known for building quality early large trucks. Earl made several calls and Joe sent some photos showing more details. Earl became convinced, this will probably be the type of truck he had hoped to find. Its short wheel base and tall height would be great fun for his young growing family.

He purchased a ticket on an Express Greyhound bus in Springfield, Missouri and in about 18 hours arrived in Pittsburg, PA. Joe picked him up at the bus station and they were off to New Cumberland.

When Earl saw this beautifully restored blue 1941 COE, he knew the long bus trip was worth every hour! Joe had personally restored this special COE in 1986 with the help of two parts trucks. The best of these three trucks made this COE one of a kind.

When Joe built this COE in 1986, he kept it mostly original with a few exceptions. This was adding a Chevy small block V-8 engine, a 1948-66 synchronized 4 speed transmission, a “Brownie” auxiliary 3 speed attached to the rear of this transmission (to add extra highway speed), and a 2 speed electric operated differential from the 1950’s. Also added were extra leafs in all springs to raise the truck 4 inches. It is now equipped with 9.00 x 20 tires and heavy duty more deluxe non-original split rim wheels. The gas tank on the left has been cut in half horizontally and now serves as a tool box. Creative idea!!

So the sale was made with Earl having no hesitations. He filled the tank and headed west out of West Virginia, through Ohio, and spent the night in a motel in Indiana. On the road again the next morning and back home in Springfield that evening. Total drive was 800 miles with no mechanical problems.

At every stop for gas it was the focal point and would draw a crowd. It was equipped with a CB radio and Earl grinned all the way home as truckers talked about this COE driving down the highway.

Earl and Karen Burk. Great examples of using a special truck for helping bond their family together. What a major change from the “work only” use this truck was designed for! We salute the two of you for being great parents as well as keeping your special truck before the public. Your interest in early trucks will encourage others to follow in your footsteps.

This is in your rear view mirror


Left gas tank opens as the tool box

Class Act

Radiator Repair Day

Grab Handle and Step to get Inside

Show Banner still used after the ATHS Show

Two Dump Trucks in the Parade

Bed Tipped Up

Levers for the 4 Speed, Brownie and PTO.

Nicely Done!


Brass Souvenir Plate given to entries at the ATHS Show

An artist admirer recently sent the Burk’s this pin and ink drawing. Titled “Old Trucks are Fun”.
Very Impressive!

You can contact Earl and Karen on their email at: erlburk@yahoo.com

1952 Chevrolet UTE

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014


WOW! What is this? It is a car or a truck? Surprise. It is neither.

This is an “American made” 1952 Australian UTE!

It’s probably the only one of its type in the world. The owner and restorer is John Smith of Tonganoxie, Kansas.

We first saw this special vehicle displayed at the Mid-West All Truck Nationals on September 6, 2014. What an attention getter!!

This all began in the 1960’s when John drove a much worn 1952 Chevrolet Sedan for almost 10 years. He was personally involved in all the repairs that were required. He knew all the in’s & outs of the 1952. Now fast forward more than 50 years. John is nearing retirement and keeps thinking about the 1952 he once owned. Wouldn’t it be great to own another 1952?

He could restore it just like the one in his memories of the 1960’s. So he spent much time searching.

And then it happened. In an Australian movie, John saw a 1952 Australian unibody UTE used as their regular transportation. It was love at first sight! The front and mechanicals were all the 1952 Chevy car he remembered but the rear was a pickup truck.

Soon frustration began when he could not find a 1952 UTE imported from Australia. The time and money required to visit that country, buy a UTE, have it delivered to the USA, and change it to left hand drive was beyond consideration. Therefore, the next step is called by many “American Ingenuity”. John would make his own UTE in his own garage in the Heart of America!

Thus, many hours were spent just planning how this could be accomplished. It finally began to come together when he saw an original unrestored 1952 Chevrolet with a US made sedan delivery body and chassis. This is like a Chevy car station wagon without quarter panel windows. They also have a side hinge single rear door for easily loading merchandise. Most were for commercial use.

He said “I think I can make this into an Australian UTE”. It took three years in uncharted waters (not been there before) to create the show truck in the following photos. He started with a 1952 sedan delivery and restored most of it (similar to a sedan). The rear suspension was upgraded and the front mechanicals now have Mustang II suspension which allows for power steering and disc brakes.

The engine is from a 1989 Chevy Camaro I-Rock 350 cubic inch V8. Transmission is the very popular 700-R4 with overdrive. Of course, the UTE now has air conditioning, cruise control and power brakes.

The above updated mechanicals he used are not easy to install however, the availability of these parts are not difficult to locate from street rod suppliers. It was the creation of a UTE from the sedan delivery body that was the automobile challenge of his life! So carefully the body panels had to be cut and welded. No mistakes allowed. Compared to the Model A Fords he had once restored this was over twice the project.

The most difficult project was making the tailgate. Sedan delivery bodies have a single door that opens sideways. This door had to be shortened and hinged at the bottom to the body floor to transform it into a useable tail gate. Even the original wood floor in the sedan delivery (now the truck bed) is a ribbed metal creation. What a project! This would be impossible for most. Here, John received assistance from a very talented body expert, Carey Ditty near his town.

Another very big challenge was to make the back of the cab from the top of the sedan delivery door. The sedan delivery rear window and surrounding metal was moved forward to become the stationary rear cab window used in John’s Australian UTE. Not for the average body person’s talents. John had to have some help on this major project from a very skilled “metal bender”.

To keep it looking 1952 on the outside, John used the original 15” wheels which hold pure Chevrolet hub caps. Note the original factory side trim. It certainly makes it appear like a nice restored 62 year old deluxe Chevrolet.

So there you have a basic overview of three years of major challenges for John Smith. Look and admire a one of a kind 1952 Chevrolet. For our Feature Truck of the Month, we will call it a truck just like the Australians do.

We understand the Aussies made these in their own General Motors assembly plant from 1936 through 1952.



All new chrome!

Nicely Restored Emblem

Correct trim, wheels and hubcaps





The most difficult to make!

Floor mat over new floor


Spare tire behind passenger seat

Power windows and no wing vents (Big Job)



The Beginning!

It’s mostly there except front metal!

You may contact John Smith at nstarrsmith@gmail.com

1950 GMC 1 Ton Pickup

Monday, September 1st, 2014


What a rare pickup! When new the owner paid the extra price to buy a 1 ton pickup, his number one need was a heavy hauler with a larger bed. As the fleet side had not yet been introduced, General Motors made the bed longer and the frame stronger to carry more merchandise.

During the Advance Design years (1947 early 1955) all 1 ton pickups even had the same tailgate, front bed panel dimensions, cab, and fenders as the ½ ton. Their bed length was 9 foot rather than the 6 foot of the top selling ½ tons. Their gross weight was about 6100 pounds instead of the 4600 gross weight ½ tons.

The sad fact is that few 1 tons remain in existence! They were bought for heavy work by their first owner and a second owner would usually have similar needs. When this pickup reached salvage yard status, their heavy weight made them a likely candidate to be sent to the recycler for their money value due to their size.

Our feature truck this month is one of these few remaining 1 ton pickups. It is a 1950 GMC with the same 228 inline 6 cylinder and 4 speed transmission that was in it at the factory. The owner and restorer is John Lesmeister of Bolivar, Missouri.

John bought it 25 years ago because of its unusual appearance. “It’s like being in an overgrown ½ ton”. He followed the prior owner home when he first saw it while driving down the highway. “What is that he thought”? With some negotiations it was brought home the next day to add to John’s collection of 13 older special interest vehicles.

Over the years John has sold most of his early vehicle collection but not the 1 ton. It is so unusual it became the one he wanted as his brand new pickup! The last five years has been the time of the most serious restoration on this unusual truck.

John’s son Brian has known the 1 ton most of his life. Lucky for John, Brian not only has strong feelings for the truck but has become a vehicle body shop technician. His talents have made the 1 ton’s sheet metal near perfect and then he gave it a show winning paint job in the correct Ferrara Blue.

The pickup has received its restoration beginning with the bare frame. John went by the rules to make a “new” 1 ton pickup as it looked at the dealership in 1950. A few points of interest are:
Correct painted all black bed wood and strips
The second year the engine was orange.
Wheels are correct 17” split rims.
NOTE: the small ring near the outer edge. They are the correct zinc plated to prevent them from rusting metal to metal between tire changes. (An attractive touch!)
The 250 hood side emblem always relates to a GMC 1 ton.
Due to the 9 foot bed length, there are 4 stake pockets per side.

John used the correct Spanish grain maroon seat and door panel upholstery with metallic brown metal paint on interior panels.
The front bed panel has a horizontal stiffener to prevent bending when hit by a heavy load on a stop.

John’s talents with Brian’s help have made this a true show truck. It stands beside the best at all shows. John’s “new” truck is a part of U.S. Truck History.

The Day of Purchase

25 Years Later

An Ant’s View

Body by Brian

The View from Behind

Bed Splash Apron – Sooo Long

Just like GM Sold Them

New Cab Floor

250 – Only GMC 1 Ton

Pure GMC 17″ Wheels with Zinc Plated Ring

Being Assembled

Fender Finish: Glass Smooth

The Real Spanish Grain Door Panel

Original Data Plate

Regulator and Fuse Box

You can reach John at bluegoose37@windstream.net


What a surprise! During the recent large 2014 Midwest All Truck Nationals in Riverside Missouri, there were three Advance Design 1 ton pickups. We doubt if there has been that many 1 tons pickups in one place in 50 years.
This unusual event required photo shots. Several attached. They are owned by:

1947 GMC Joe Miller of Smithville, Missouri
(See our July 2013 Feature Truck of the Month)

1949 Chevrolet John & Peggy Milliman of Mechanicsville, Maryland

1949 Chevrolet Jim Carter of Independence, Missouri



1954 Chevrolet 3/4 Ton

Friday, August 1st, 2014


WOW! Look what you can do with a 1954 Chevy ¾ ton. How impressive. It can stand right alongside of all the short beds and receive equal or more attention.
Terry Millsap of Independence, Missouri bought this pickup in 1999 with the intension of a major restoration. With the encouragement of Jerry Willis, a 1953 GMC owner near his home, the project began the next year. Jerry had completed a major rebuilding of his GMC a few years before (see the Feature Truck of the Month for July 2008) and with his knowledge and experience the two retired friends began the project. They would get together every day to restore the 1954 for driving to events at the local organization, the Genuine Chevrolet / GMC Truck Club of Kansas City.
It was a team project, about 8 hours per day 5 days per week. In almost record time, they finished the pickup in five months! We call it a very mild custom. Though it looks original from a distance Terry added just a few “creature comforts”.
A pre-upholstered more modern seat has storage pockets on back cushions and more room above the in-cab gas tank. The high oil pressure 235 engine remains. The 5.14 ratio ring and pinion differential has been exchanged with higher speed 4.10 gearing. A 15% improvement in speed with lower engine RPM. Yes, the 3 speed column shift transmission was correct on a ¾ ton. (You paid extra for a 4 speed floor shift transmission)
An interesting feature on a 1954 8” bed: The short third stake pocket is hidden just above the rear fender. Not like the 1953 ¾ older pickups. Look at the stamped arches inside the bed sides. This was on 1954 pickups through early 1955 and allow the early rear fenders to drop into place. No road dirt will seep out of the wheel well from the tires driving in dust!
Most of the engine compartment looks stock until your eyes catch the right side of the firewall. There is what looks like a factory accessory. Terry calls it his Jack in the Box!! With the more modern seat cushions his bottle jack could not be kept under the seat.
The final touch to his 8 bolt drums are these very special sport wheels with modern radial tires. What nice steering this makes! Check the optional left side spare tire position. This was an extra cost option at the factory. With the 8” bed it does not require a cut-out in the left fender as on a 6” bed ½ ton.
You will often see Terry and Jerry running together in their two pickups in the Kansas City area heading to a local truck show. Of course, driving our trucks is what it is all about! You can contact Terry Millsap at terrymillsap@att.net

Nice Grill

Red Verticals. 1954 Only

Pure 3/4 Ton

Running Boards with Bed Liner Material

Correct Yellow Pure Bed

Factory Accessory Side Mount. See Center Stake Pocket

Sport Wheels

3/4 Ton Column Shift, etc.

Jack in the Box

Correct Right Mirror Arm

Lots of Room in Seat Back


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

1946 Chevrolet Panel Truck

Monday, June 2nd, 2014


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

Closed Doors
Open Doors
Under Construction
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.

test test test
Original Right Seat             2 Motor Heater-Front / Side
Dip in Rear Bumper and Rare Right Taillight
Bumper Guard

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 @ jimw71@juno.com

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.

1935 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton

Thursday, May 1st, 2014


This month we feature one of the nicest 1935 Chevrolet 1/2 ton pickups in the country. At 69 years old, the owner attends his first 12 car shows.
All are in upstate New York during 2013.

His 1935 received no less than first place in every one in the commercial class. In five of these events he also was awarded “Best of Show” Those attending
stand and admire. Quality parts, good workmanship, its rarity, and the owner that is always there for questions at shows is important. Here is how a ½ ton
pickup receive this much attention.

The Westtown NY newspaper sponsors a classic car and truck display each month in their city which awards a trophy for the “Best of Show”. At the end of 12 months of shows the public then picks the best of all the prior 12 winners. Yes, you are correct. Richard’s little 1935 was voted the 2013 “Ride of the Year”! They don’t get much better than this.

This is its story

Its 1965 in upstate Westtown, New York. A young Richard Wright notices a 1935 Chevy ½ ton in a local salvage yard. He can see it every day as he passes the yard. One afternoon he finally stops and asked about it. What a surprise! He can own it for $100.00 and then tow it home. The next day it sits in his back yard!

At 21 years old, you usually don’t consider restoration. It soon received a V-8 engine and related mechanicals to make it go fast and sound like it could even go faster.
And then comes life changes. Marriage, children and a home with all the usual expenses on a limited income. The little truck was put aside for the other higher priorities. When Richard received an offer to sell it and make a good profit, he knew he had to let it go.

In looking back, Richard remembers being unhappy for 44 years whenever he thought of selling that little truck. He had not seen another since.
Now enters Richard’s brother in about 2009 when he noticed an unrestored 1935 advertised in the next county. He demands they go together to see it. Though very badly worn most all parts were there. It was said to have been used in a New York apple orchard during its earlier years.

Richard decided it would be a great retirement project for himself (he was 65 years old) and his brother. He just had to own it! It would be much like reliving their early years when he had his first 1935. Only this time, it would be mostly just like GM made it.

Sadly, soon after the restoration started, his brother developed an incurable disease and then the rebuilding begin feverously. Richard worked continually with some help from the brother so at least the truck could look near new and it would be drivable for both. Only a surface restoration was done but it looked good if you did not get too close.

Sometime after his brother passed away, Richard decided it was time to restore the pickup even better. Now it went down to the bare frame. Each part was restored or replaced. Four years were required to make it what it is today.

He went out of his way to find original GM parts when possible so it could be very close to a new 1935. Every nut and bolt was removed, cleaned, painted or replaced. Being a retired Chevrolet mechanic gave him experience to help carry the project to completion.
Even the cab was disassembled completely. The top unbolts from the cab sides. All the mechanicals were rebuilt to make it like new, no exceptions. It still has the correct 207 six cylinder and 3 speed transmission. Richard wanted no problems once the pickup was completed.

One special extra that always separates the “men from the boys” in a show is the addition of a correct cotton covered braided wiring harness. This looks so special in a 1935 vehicle in comparison to modern day PVC coated wiring!

About 3 years into this major 4 year restoration another bad thing occurred in Richard’s life. It was necessary that he have open heart surgery! This really slowed his progress on the little 1935 ½ ton. “I could not do things like I used to”.

To help with the final 20% of the restoration his good friend Glenn Adams owner of Star Collision and Body Shop came to Richard’s rescue. He took care of sheet metal straightening and painting in their special paint booth. Richard helped with the body assembly while in the later stages of his heart surgery healing. It was Glenn that made the final stages of the restoration possible!

Important! When you rebuild a pickup cab (or a car) with a wood body frame, a new set of rules are introduced. The ash wood must be cut to “exact” specifications. No errors allowed! Following photos show the cab wood frame prior to the sheet metal being attached.

Once the cab wood frame is assembled the metal panels are temporarily attached. If the panels do not fit perfectly, they are removed and wood carving is required. It is back and forth until all metal is aligned perfectly. Only then is the exterior sheet metal painting done (off the truck). Of course, the metal panels have to be straightened exactly right at the very beginning.

For example: Richard explains there was many hours getting the wood to fit perfectly inside just one metal door skin so that the latching would operate correctly! It is difficult to imagine that in 1935 a new pickup came off the assemble-line every 10 or 15 minutes!
Only two major changes exist in the restoration: the brakes and the dash.

The brakes are 1936, one year newer. Thus, the pickup has hydraulic brakes and not the cable system as in 1935. Richard explains “I have so much time and money in this restoration, it needed an improved brake system to help avoid an accident”.

The burl walnut coating on the dash gives the interior a more deluxe appearance.
The following photos are divided into before, during and after the major restoration.

The Beginning!

                    Richard Wright’s first 1935, bought about 1965

At Home


The Fun Begins


The Second Beginning

                               The 2009 New Purchase


Trailered Home

Incomplete Engine

A Tired 1/2 Ton

Most is There

                         1936 Axles Give Hydraulic Brakes




                           Down to the Frame


Almost Apart

On Edge

                       Mechanicals Await Installation


Engine Ready

3 Speed Completed


All Together

                            Sheet Metal Ready



Waiting Assembly

                       Sizing Metal Before Paint


Panels Tested

Wood & Door Mating

Bed Check for Fit

Fenders Ready

More Sizing

                                  Assembly Begins

The Floor Frame
Cab Frame
Roof in Place
Window Panel

Getting Close


                                  Assembly After Paint


Corners & Back

Almost There

Looking Good

Fenders in Place


The Focal Point
Richard’s New Wheel

The Finished Product!
Hood Down
Hood Up
Right Side
Engine in Place
Back View
New Headliner

You can contact Richard Wright at char63@optimum.net.
For even more data on why the 1935 Chevy ½ ton is so rare, click on the web site of Jim Carters Truck Parts. http://www.oldchevytrucks.com, then technical articles, next 1934-46 catalog, and finally cabs. This will lead you to: The Demise of 1935 High Cab Pickups. You will get an even more update on why these pickups are so unusual in today’s world.





1942 Chevrolet 1 1/2 ton (Military) Herman Pfauter

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Our feature truck for April represents a very interesting extension from the usually seen 1941-1946 Chevrolet and GMC.  Our featured 1942 Chevrolet 1 ½ ton Model 7117 was made in America in a truck factory assembly line.  Look Closely!  This cab’s tooling also produced the familiar civilian Chevrolets and GMC’s used before and after WWII.

The owner and restorer is Herman Pfauter of Santa Barbara, California.  He is a member of the Military Vehicle Preservation Association, a world-wide club of military vehicle collectors and restorers. Headquartered in Independence, Missouri.  He has eleven WWII vehicles in his collection.  This feature truck is one of the fully restored vehicles in his collection.  After purchasing it in the Los Angles area Herman discovered that it needed a lot of work.  Because this US Navy 1 ½ ton is very rare, the decision was finally made to make it a new truck and spend the time and money required to make at close to as it was in WWII.  It needed so much work!  Fortunately Herman found a good friend that offered his assistance.  The two of them worked together for almost 3 years to get the finished product.  Most parts were removed to expose the complete frame.  Then it was re-assembled piece by piece.  It was two men assembling it like a big model kit.  When finally completed it was so nice!  Only a few hidden modifications made it better for performance and safety.

These included the replacement of the original “Babbitt-Pounder” 235 CID engine with the larger 1954 261 CID Chevrolet inline six cylinder.  He added the Clark 5 speed overdrive transmission that was used in the GMC models.  A more updated hydrovac booster from the 1970’s greatly adds to emergency

stopping.  A 10,000 lbs. winch was added in front.  Oh yes, it was time to add the heater that GM did not include.  Of course, it is pure mid 1940’s vintage.

Yes, the US Government made big changes on the civilian 1 ½ ton trucks when WWII began.  Few of the civilian items were adequate for front line battle duty.  Even the cab, about all that was still that used, was given numerous changes to increase its dependability on the battlefield.  A few changes are shown in the following photos.  Note: These are not from Herman’s truck but these modifications are just like those on his.

No locking glove box door.  They did not need one of several drivers leaving the truck with the only key.

The rear window has a heavy screen screwed to the cab.  This lessened the chance of a broken rear window,  especially bad in winter. (The cabs had no heaters).

No windshield crank-out assembly!  The military did not want this assembly breaking in winter and staying open.  No heater.  Look at the pull down bracket that holds the windshield frame closed.  A thumb screw holds the frame open in hot weather much like a 1934-36 Chevrolet truck or a Model A Ford.  See Photos

The windshield is secured to the top of the cab with two outside hinges.  Easy to service.

The hood hinges are secured to the cab to prevent damage to a butterfly opening design on civilian trucks.

The hood side panels are removed with a basic tool that all mechanics have. Note: The Chevrolet letters were removed about mid-1942. The military provided no advertising.

Herman states his 1 ½ ton is referred today in Europe among collectors as a “Baby GMC” because it had only one rear axle. The GMC 2 ½ ton was similar but basically a much stronger truck with the GMC 270 CID 6-cylinder engine with full-pressure lubrication and dual axles in rear making it a 6×6 while the Chevrolet was a 4×4.
Herman spends almost every summer in Europe where a lot of liberation commemorations take place all over France, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, Italy and elsewhere to remember the Allies and their efforts to free Europe from Nazi occupation.
When the liberation began in Normandy on D-day in the north and 2 month later in southern France each community regained their freedom of prior years. Herman loves being a part of the parades and WWII displays at the many events in Europe each year. To be more a part of this Herman had his “new” restored 1942 US Navy 1 ½ ton placed in a container and shipped by ocean freight to France. The container was then purchased and it now serves as a safe garage when Herman is home in California.
During the last decade, he has driven his truck in so many European countries (even Germany). Twice it has been over the high elevation passes in the Alps (much like the Continental Divide in the US). Total mileage so far approximately 30,000-at 8 MGP!
The following photos were taken in France.
Note: Our feature photo! This is Herman at a French Liberation show beside his beautiful WWII truck. Just as impressive: Even with a few gray hairs showing he still wears size 34 navy dress blues as when he was in high school – even though he never served in the Navy!

The Chevy door says “Naval Reserve Center, Santa Barbara, California”

Herman and his Chevy in front of the famous church in Ste Mere Eglise, one of the first villages liberated by US paratroopers on June 6, 1944.
NOTE: The parachute on the roof with a paratrooper dummy – this actually happened!

1949 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton Randy Priebe

Friday, February 28th, 2014

Randy: First show, First Trophy.

Here is a little 1949 ½ ton that looks and performs as it left the factory in Janesville Wisconsin. Mariner Blue with the correct 216 six cylinder engine, 3 speed column shift transmission and 6 volt electrical system.
It had been used on nearby farm during its first 50 years. The third owner and ground up restorer is Randy Priebe of Appleton, Wisconsin. He saw it for sale in front of a rural local home about 16 years ago. Randy just had to stop and look. The price was about $1,500.00. He walked away but continued to wonder if he made a mistake. Then two years later it happened! Driving down the road he saw it in the back yard of the same house. As the owner now felt it was un-restorable due to much sheet metal rust, it did not run and the bed floor was almost gone. Thus, the price would be $850.00! This time Randy didn’t hesitate. He was the new owner and his goal was to make it a new pickup no matter what the prior owner said about it being just for parts.
The restoration began after a complete dis-assembly and rebuilding that lasted almost 14 years with $12,000.00 invested. His time at $1.00 / hour would probably be near another $1,000.00. Randy worked on it as money was available but research was always occurring to get it done correctly.

During these restoration years Randy had a minor and then a major heart attack with 4 by-passes. He told his wife he really wanted to continue with the restoration. Not only was it in some ways therapy to help in recovery but it would be a great legacy for his grandson in later years. What a special grandfather!
Since the restoration was completed in early 2013, he attended a few car and truck shows. Several trophies were added to his credit. The attached photo of the proud owner with the ½ ton’s first trophy.
Included are photos of this grandson in the truck cab at 1 and 14 years old. In 1 ½ years he will have a driver’s license. Will Randy allow him to drive this 14 year expensive project? We will see.
And Now A Little Surprise!
During the recuperating from his major heart surgery, a good friend, John Benz of Wautoma, Wisconsin wrote a little poem to compare the 1949 pickup restoration with Randy’s personal repairs! We think you will like it.

First the Truck – Then the Owner

There once was a truck named “Ol Blue”
It sat in a field waiting to get its due
A hardy soul named Randy thought it was time
To fix up “Ol Blue” and put it back in its prime
Little did Randy know while the truck was not restored
His “engine” or heart was rotting to its core
Electrical problems had once plagued “Blue” and now also its owner
Spark plugs mis-fired, fluids no longer provided much power
But oh those docs at A.M.C.
Jacked Randy right up with lots of T.L.C.
They rerouted his oil lines and added new fuel
His recovery was swift, now wasn’t that cool
Man and his truck are again re-united
They’re both good as new, on the road a-righted
So here’s to old trucks and guys that fix’em
They both have been gone through from stern to stem
Come next spring they’ll be back on the road
Ready to fire up and haul the next load
Good mechanics and doctors can be hard to find
Thank heaven for both as they’ve become two of a kind
By John Benz – Wautoma WI

You may contact Randy at: r.jpriebe@yahoo.com

test test

test test

test test

1948 Chevrolet ½Ton

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

Qwner: Tad Shadid

1948 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton Truck

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.

1948 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton Truck

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.

1948 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton Truck

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: tad@actionliquor.com

1948 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton Truck

1948 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton Truck

1948 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton Truck

1948 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton Truck

1948 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton Truck

1948 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton Truck

1948 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton Truck

1948 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton Truck

1948 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton Truck

1948 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton Truck

1948 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton Truck

1946 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

Owner: Paul Owsley

The first thing that catches most people’s attention is this nicely restored 1946 Chevy 1/2 ton is the Apple Green paint, an original color on this over 70 year old little pickup.

Its owner is Paul Owsley of Independence, Missouri (a lifelong driver for the Greyhound Bus Co.). For many years he has been the owner of Model A Fords, however, the appearance of the Chevy 1941-46 truck body style had been growing on him in recent years. About 2 years ago he saw an EBay ad that showed a ground up restored 1946 Chevrolet ½ ton about 800 miles away. That description and the photos created “love at first sight”. In 2 weeks it was delivered from Michigan and sitting in his driveway.

He was still impressed but soon realized photos don’t always tell the true story. There would still be many hours of work to make it roadworthy and to correct the mistakes of a fast restoration. It appears the owner had only resale in mind during the resent restoration!

The first project was the mechanicals. The kingpins, spindles and the rod ends may have never been replaced! It could not be safely driven. The engine block had a very small casting hole in the side that always leaked oil on a driveway. The sales person could not have ever driven the pickup but he sure knew how to clean and paint.

The fenders all lacked half their attaching bolts. The big shock was a small hole in the roof with a piece of tape inside to stop water leaks (until sold). The drill bit must have been pressed too hard when they tried to make the one piece 1941 headliner into a 1946 with two pieces.

The cab roof hole was repaired and the orange peel paint surface was corrected when the body was painted again. Surprise: The terminal blocks on the inner fenders that connect the main wiring harness to the head light harness were never installed. Someone had just wired all together as one! All tires needed replacing as they were oversized. They were more like you might see on a full size late model pickup.

The bed was held to the frame with about 2 bolts. Not the required six. The quarter inch bolts in the bed strips had almost no fasteners under the wood. Gravity held them in place.

Finally, a year has passed and this little ½ ton’s “updated restoration” is complete. Several people had jumped into the project to make corrections. Paul really likes it now! It was often seen this past fall at local car shows where the public attention it received relates to its top quality. It is beautiful even when you get close. You can contact Paul Owsley on his email at: owsleyathome@aol.com

Cars in Cuba

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

Since the year 2000, we have posted almost 150 “Feature Trucks of the Month” articles from 1934 to 1972 Chevrolet and GMC. These remain in our website archives on oldchevytrucks.com.

This month we are going out of the loop and for this one time only are featuring some special cars of the 1950’s in the mystery country of Cuba. We thought this might be of interest to so many that have only heard stories of this nearby country.

During a recent US Government approved tour of Cuba (90 miles south of Florida) so many American cars of the 1950’s were seen operating daily. About 20% of their very low car population is still 1950’s vintage. These “Yank Tanks” (slang for American post war cars) continue to be important for the islands transportation.

When the US began the still existing Embargo in 1961, Cuba auto dealers could no longer offer US cars or their repair parts. They were out of business! However, the cars they once sold are still on the island. Replacement parts are almost non available.  Their repair items are limited to several well picked over salvage yards, are homemade, or late model car parts are forced to be modified to “fit close”.

Looking original is not even a factor. Most just want their car to get them from point A to point B. One exception has recently surfaced due to the increase in tourist trade from so many non US countries. Cubans have found the interest in “Yank Tanks” so strong some cars are being used as taxis to transport visitors, in the capitol city of Havana.  They are everywhere in the small towns just being family carts.

The following photo gallery will give examples of how people with little income have kept their 50 year old cars on the road. We attempted to divide them as per the manufacturer and hope there is not too many mistakes. Beginning with the more basic taxis used by a few of the Cuban people, we move up to the larger 50 year olds.


These 4 taxis wait at an intersection for a fare.

No horses in the big city of Havana. Thus the driver uses ‘pedal power’.

Here comes more ‘pedal power’.

Looking at the back of the big city ‘pedal power’.

Modern one cylinder taxis can seat 4 people.
The Ultimate! Modified big car for hauling customers!
Home made top and rear door from something!
This white 1959 convertible is his pride and joy.

This about 1950 is the best the owner can do with the parts available.

His 1955 just keeps rolling.

Their 1959 Revolution Hero. Che Guevari is on the hood.

Nice Straight body on this 1955.

Being a taxi helps with expenses.

An ornament on the ornament.

Roll and Pleat Upholstery.

We wondered if a top was under the boot.

83 year old Model A Ford. Uses a recycled 4 cylinder volkswagen engine.

1948 Sedan, not too bad!
This owner was so proud of his little 1954 sedan.

Truck Trim

Wing vent plastic is all cracks!

Nice Dash.

Re-do Upholstery.
1957 One of the better cars. Chevy hood ornament? One wiper!.

1957 Ford has been cared for.

Keys got lost. A screwdriver works!

A lens from where?

Not a bad re-do job.

This 1946 has a straight body.

As good as most US originals.

This 1952 Pontiac has a very straight
original grill.

A Silver Streak, probably US made, with unusual tail light lenses.

Column Shaft wore out. It now has a nice floor shift.

A 6 bolt wheel and drum on a 5 bolt car! What is this? 1/2 ton pickup?

The hood opens in reverse.

Look at that bumper!
Chrysler Products
They love their little Plymouth.

a “Yank Tank” with fins is the ultimate!

An Ornament on a Ornament.

Cuban’s love these!
Willy’s Jeep

Straight front fenders date this little people hauler.
Only a few early Europeans are on the roads.

Nice 1953 convertible.

If you need a steering column try this late model.

WOW! A real column shift! (1958)

Almost no column shifts remain. Worn out, they have been replaced by floor shifters.

A better 1951 with Cuban rear turn signals.

Trying to make a little money with his 1950.
More Chevrolets!

Extra cooling fan. Whats under the hood?

1952 with 6 bolt wheels and 1/2 straight axile. Now that was a project!

Maybe a trip is coming!

1953 – Not bad..

Wish he had more 1951 parts!

“Whiskey dent” on a 1953

This 1951 owner wanted a Vacuum gauge bad.

1953 good looking dash!
More Chevrolets!

This clean 1954 is ready to carry tourists.

The famous 235 six cylinder engine. They’re almost bullet proof!

A very straight 1951 front end! Silver paint covers poor chrome.

How could they have ever dented the heavy center floor hump?

Needs new upholster never stops. (See new floor shift.)

Could this be!
The inner and outer door panels are separating.

More “whiskey dents” with hammer repairs.
Miscellaneous Do-Dads

What make is this?

Modified to haul many people face to face.

Get the most from Upholstery.

Two screws save the trunk lid hinge.

Carved Wooden Armrest.

Cuban rear turn signals.
Togetherness at the taxi stand each morning.
The street vendor’s truck is the only pickup we found.
Remember paper mache.

1958 Chevrolet Cameo

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

It is a clear September weekend in Pierce, Nebraska.  Over 7,000 people have gathered to be a part of the most unique car auctions in our country’s history.  They had come from most all US States and several countries to be in an open field at the edge of the town between the community golf course and a major size corn field.  No spring crops planted here in anticipation of this large auction!  Even the bare ground has been leveled to bare dirt for a smooth walking surface.  Yes, mud was an issue as it rained the night before.  Most of us walked with a large amount of mud attached to our shoe soles.

Here in many long even rows are 496 old collectable cars and trucks that were the remaining vehicles of the Lambrecht Chevrolet Dealership of 50 years(1946-1996)plus another 17 years when they were a used auto dealer.   When the dealership closed, 30 of the new untitled 50 year old Chevrolets were stored.  Some alongside of the building and inside the dealership; most used and some new vehicles were on the family farm.  There they remained for many, many years until this special weekend – September 28th and 29th, 2013.  Ray & Mildred Lambrecht the founders, now in their 90’s, decided it was time to share their collection with other hobbyist and enthusiasts.

Videos were shown weeks before the sale of the lengthy process it took for dozers and chain saws to remove the 25 year old trees and brush that had grown around the hundreds of stored vehicles on the farm.  Then they had to be individually hauled to the auction site after it had been prepared for the crowd.

The over 450 of cars and trucks had a hard life in the growing forest that surrounded them for over 35 years.  Most people were not aware they existed.  A few that did years ago, had removed all the radiators for the extra salvage value of brass.

Lambrecht Chevrolet

The Beginning

Lambrecht Chevrolet in background, 1953

Doors remained locked, 2013

Vehicle storage, Cameo in the back

After vehicles taken to the auction

Prior workshop

Original lobby
Ray and Mildred Lambrecht’s children in a new Corvette peddle car (about 1959)
Less than 36 Corvette peddle cars were produced! Sold at the auction for $13,000.)

Our Feature Truck for November 2013 was one of the more special vehicles in this world famous auction, a 1958 Chevrolet Cameo pickup with 1.3 miles on the odometer! Color: Dawn Blue and Jet Black.  As it is the lowest mile Cameo in the world, it will now set the future judging standards as to what is correct in 1958 total restorations.  The interior was so new it had the original thin clear plastic temporary covers over the seats that were added at the factory 55 years ago.  As originally added by the factory, the rubber floor mat was still rolled behind the seat cushion to protect it from the feet of delivery employees in 1958.  The factory window sticker remained in place.

As is correct for all early GM pickups, the bed wood is painted.   It is never given a clear coating to show off the wood grain.  In all GM pickups after about 1940, the wood of choice was hard yellow pine from the factory.

A few other facts that should be of interest on this special 1958 Cameo:

  • The dual headlight rings are painted white not chromed.
  • Hood hinge assembles are zinc plated, not painted black.
  • The 235 six cylinder engine is gray, not blue.
  • The steering wheel and column is black, not interior color.
  • The latch receiver plate in the hood is zinc plated, not painted black.
  • Hub caps are the base painted units, but are chrome.
  • The bow-tie emblem on the bed sides is black, red on the tailgate.
  • The same material placed on the seats also covers the door panels.
  • To lessen light reflection, the top of the dash is flat black, not interior color.
  • Outside mirror arms are black, not chrome.

In viewing the Cameo the day before the auction we could see it had been left outside (probably beside the closed dealership) about 5 years before placed inside.  It was nice but certainly not perfect for the 1.3 odometer miles. The chrome in places was now showing some dull weak areas.  Bed boards were beginning to raise and separate near the front bed panel. Signs of standing rain water in the bed (maybe with long periods of tree leaves) had certainly taken its toll.  The two top bedside chrome plated strips showed pitting from outside storage.

Unfortunately when inside the building something very heavy had dropped on its top many years ago with major damage that also broke the windshield. Another small dent was on the right rear. How could that happen?

Its 235 six cylinder engine appears to have been sprayed with light oil to protect it from rusting in the dampness outside. Of course, this also attracts quantities of dust over many years. All easy to remove but did not give a good first impression at the sale.

Why did it not get sold at the Lambrecht dealership in the early years?  We suspect paying 25% more for a Cameo that would not carry any more merchandise than a Standard ½ ton greatly limited its interest to buyers. In 1958, small farming communities considered a pickup for work only. There was no enthusiasm for a “Boulevard Pickup” in Pierce, Nebraska. It didn’t even have a 4 speed which was the transmission of choice when you hauled local merchandise or farm products.  Why was it not wholesaled to a larger city Chevrolet dealer that year?  Possibly the more expensive Cameo with a six cylinder engine, 3 speed column shift transmission and no radio was not in their interest and Ray Lambrecht refused to sell below his cost. It is suspected this Cameo had no place to go!


This Cameo was the first to be placed in the auction of 496 vehicles. Most of the 7,000 people stood very close to this Cameo and a moveable flatbed auctioneer trailer. There was little room to turn beyond the exact area each observer was standing. There was no exiting by uninterested persons!

A person there said “If you have a heart attack here, you can’t fall sideways, only drop down. Then how could an ambulance find you?”

On sale day, if you had not looked at the vehicles the day before; you were out of luck. The size of the crowd prevented close viewing of the vehicles before the auctioneers flatbed trailer came even near a soon to be sold truck or car.

The bid started at almost $55,000 for the Cameo due to the online bids that had been occurring the past week. Within 2minutes the bidding had reached $100,000. Then bids continued on a slower pace. Within 10 minutes a new owner had the 1958 Cameo at $140,000! The all-time record for any 1955-58 Cameo to date. (Did Ray Lambrecht get the last laugh?)

The buyer is a New Hampshire hobbyist. He is a serious collector of very low mileage US vehicles.  We were told he plans on keeping it just the way he bought it. The price of shipping to New Hampshire will be insignificant in comparison to the purchase price. And then there is the sales tax on the purchase price.  In most states this will be near $10,000!

The following pictures as well as those of the auction day will give some idea of the (conservatively said) congestion in this farm field at the edge of town. The attached photos of the Cameo were after it was pulled from the retired dealership a few days before the auction.

Before Sale Day — Breathing Room
Auction Day – The crowd is all there!

Pushed back for the Cameo auction
Our Feature Truck — 1958 Chevrolet Cameo with 1.3 Miles
Front Parts

Cameo Rings are white.

Zinc Plated hinge.

3 speed shift box.

Correct Gray 235 Six

Model B Rochester
Interior, It’s New Inside!!!

Yes, it’s 1.3 mile


Cameo material design

Still covered in plastic

Seat material on door panel

Left door

Right door, no armrest

Two stickers on glove box

Floor mat, still rolled-up

Dome light

All black headliner

Very few options
Cameo Bed
Cab damage

1969 C-10 Pickup

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Owner: Mitch Jarvis

This little 1969 C-10 pickup drove off the assembly line in Janesville, Wisconsin, sometime in May of that year.  It appears to have been bought for work duties.  Possibly for a government due to almost no options and the orange color.  Its history is a mystery but for sure no upgrades had occurred during its 44 years.  Someone welded in a few new body panels but that was all.  It was just used and used until the deteriorated wiring stopped the engine even starting. And then it was put aside for either a later buyer or the crusher.

Now enters Mitch Jarvis of Independence, Missouri. A well placed ad caught his attention.  He had been looking for a 1969 Chevy truck (year he was born) for a restoration project but wanted no part of a pickup restored. To get one just the way he wanted he knew he must start from the frame up.  Just like a big model kit! This ½ ton had even lost its bed along the way but the deciding feature was its short 115’ wheel base. This is what Mitch wanted to make it a short wide fleet side pickup.

The before and after photos give no question to the start and finish that he made a clean classic short bed ½ ton.  Mitch did almost all the work himself in 2 ½ years except for the painting.  What a project!  Considering he had not restored another vehicle in the past, this is amazing!

The following is Mitch’s story of creating a pickup that most enthusiasts would be proud to own.

When I bought the truck (eBay) in 2009 it was pretty much stripped and the wiring was a mess (I assume there had been an electrical fire at some point as many wires were melted together). There were several boxes of pieces and a pile of oddball parts to sort out. There was no bed that came with the truck.  The previous owner had welded in several replacement pieces on the cab floor, replaced corners and the rocker panels too, so some of the heavy welding was already done.

The biggest challenge to get it up and running was trying to figure out the wiring.  Every wire seemed to have melted, or it had been spliced multiple times, or it had been cut.  The column was also a mess and I had to cannibalize from an extra column I had.  I worked the cab over and got it in primer, added a duel muffler set up and drove it as a “half truck” for about 18 months while I collected parts for the bed (the tail lights, which were really boat trailer lights, were mounted hillbilly style on a 2×6 board bolted to the frame).

I bought a used steel bed floor and wheel-wells for the bed, had them sand-blasted and covered with Line-X bed liner. The sides, front bed panel and tailgate all are after-market pieces bought from Jim Carter Trucks.  I thought it’d be unique and coat the floor and wheel wells with the bed liner but paint the inside of the bed. I do like how it looks, but I’ve since scratched the paint in several places (after all the pickup was built to use).  The truck required new cab mounts all the way around to get everything lined up and new bushings in the doors (they were plastic… I couldn’t believe that, plastic!).

When it was time to paint I knew I wanted green, but I couldn’t find the “Lime Green” that was offered that year except in an economy grade.  So, I went with the very similar “Frost Green” which is original in 1969, but on Chevelles, not the C-10’s. The top and door panels are Antique White.  Creative Classics in Independence, Missouri did the finish body work and paint.

I built the truck as a daily driver, not a show vehicle.  I wanted it to have a clean and classic look, so I didn’t add trim or a lot of extra chrome.  I wasn’t too concerned with having everything exactly original, (the headlight bezels in 1969 were black to match the grill, but I liked the chrome better) and the truck has numerous aftermarket parts.

It’s been great fun to build (still not 100% finished) and the truck gets lots of comments at stop lights and in parking lots.  When I admire some guy’s new Silverado, I like to ask them if he it will be on the road 45 years from now; they mostly just grin.

Jim Carter Trucks has been a great local resource for me as I’ve required both new and used parts, they’re real professionals and have been a lot of help.

During Paint Removal

During the Disassembly

Finally Completed

Look, No Radio!

Nice Bed Liner Combo

Clean Tailgate

Fancy Wheels

1936 GMC

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

Owner:  Pat Kroeger

The United States was experiencing the bad economic years of the 1930’s Great Depression. GMC, the leader of big truck sales, is feeling a market drop with no end in sight. Many of their dealers have either gone out of business or are trying to survive on customer mechanical repairs and selling other products.

The GMC Truck Division must do something soon to save their dealers and themselves. A solution was to enter into the small truck business in 1936. No doubt the GMC engineers had been under much pressure to create a light truck that would save this truck division of General Motors. The result: a very attractive truck that they hoped would be a step above the competition.

This finished product had more engine power for a light pickup, attractive trim and eye catching colors. The ½ was referred to as the T-14. It came only in a long 126” wheel base. The short bed GMC ½ ton 112” wheel base was not introduced until 1937.

GMC was so proud of their new little ½ ton, they even added an emblem with four fasteners on the lower right side cowl panel.

This month’s featured truck is one of these first pickups, a 1936 GMC T-14. Very few have survived. The proud owner and restorer is Pat Kroeger of Palm Harbor, Florida. His GMC has attracted so much attention it has been chosen as the Hallmark All-American Truck Keepsake Series Christmas tree ornament for 2013.

Here is Pat Kroeger’s personal story on his 1936 GMC T-14:

When I retired from the Fire Dept. in 2003, I started to look for another truck to have fun with. I had previously restored a 1922 American LaFrance Fire Engine for the Department that I worked for, but wanted something smaller.

I was looking for a late 40’s to early 50’s Chevrolet truck since a friend of mine had a 1953 Ford F-100 and I wanted to a bit competitive with him. While searching the
Internet I found my current truck, a 1936 GMC T-14 in Queens Creek AZ. My father in law lived part time close by in Phoenix AZ so he went and looked at it for me.
After his inspection, I decided to buy the truck and had it shipped back to Fla. I found out from the buyer that he was the second owner of the truck and that the original owner had bought it new in June of 1936 for $695 and it had been registered in Pinal County since new. The original owner restored the truck in 1989 and the second owner had done a few repairs.

The paint and body work was very good when I got the truck, but mechanically it was in poor condition. Every seal and gasket leaked, the brakes were shot, the head had a crack, the tires were dry rotted and the wood in the bed was dried beyond recognition.

In the last 10 years that I have owned it I have taken care of the above items plus have rebuilt all of the gauges, replaced the tail gate, rechromed the radiator ornament, repainted the wheels, rebuilt the carburetor, rebuilt the fuel pump, replaced the rear glass and surround, added the passenger side mirror, rewired the tank sending unit, replaced the 8 volt battery with a 6 volt Optima battery with new battery cables, replaced the bed wood and strips, replaced the clutch and rebuilt the pressure plate and reupholstered the seat. I have plans to disassemble the bed, fenders and grill and refresh the paint, since 20 years of nicks, bumps and scraps need to be taken care of and install four single action shocks.

Most of the mechanical items I have taken care of myself, but have farmed out the paint and chrome work.

I had no idea of the significance of this truck until I got it and started to research more about it. GMC offered this truck in two versions, Standard and Deluxe with the Deluxe version having chrome headlights and stands, chrome center grill gars, radiator ornament, polished stainless hood louvers and chrome hood handles. In addition to that, GMC also offered a Deluxe Cab option that included a chrome inside rearview mirror, arm rest on driver side, chrome windshield frame, sun glare shield, dome light and chrome wiper arm. The chrome front bumper was an added cost accessory, also. The standard color was Green Murant with black fenders, but eleven other colors were offered either as a single color or two tone.

From what the original owner told me, mine is the original color combination.

I also found out after getting this truck, that 1936 was a very bad year for GM due to a labor strike that lasted for months. Production of this model GMC was limited to 11,250 of which mine is the 3229 in the production run. 1936 was also, for the most part, a single year design for GMC. Few items came from 1935 and few items transferred to 1937.
I attempted to do a decent job of restoring this truck and although not a daily driver, I do put around 100 miles a month driving around to cruise ins and on weekends. I have thoroughly enjoyed working on this truck and like the fact that it is somewhat of a unique truck.

Patrick Kroeger, Palm Harbor, FL

Radiator Cap – a work of art

Hallmark 2013 Christmas ornament

A farmer could haul one horse!


1946 Chevrolet 2 ton with Thornton Drive

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

Owner: Howard Jones

Wow!  They cannot get any rarer than this 1946 Chevrolet 2 ton with Thornton Drive.  Of several thousand produced, this appears to be the only one remaining.  This 1946 Chevrolet 2 ton has two rear axles turning 8 wheels and tires.  The rear axle assembly was produced by the Thornton Tandem Company of Detroit, Michigan.

It was seen sitting among the 825 specialty trucks at the 2013 annual convention of the American Truck Historical Society in Yakima, Washington.  The owner and restorer is Howard Jones of Corvallis, Oregon.  He found it near his home about 1989 and quickly realized its rarity.

No doubt Howard saved it from the usual death of the rest of the Thornton’s.  Their heavy weight made them a top candidate for the crusher once they found their way to a salvage yard.  The price per pound in one vehicle spelled extra income to scrap dealers that had no sales for the heavy iron parts of a Thornton.

Howard Jones is responsible for the almost ground up restoration in the mid 1990’s.  All facets of the restoration was done except for the Thornton duel differential drive system.  Because it operated correctly he did not disturb the inner workings of these differentials.  Fluid change, cleaning, and relining the brake shoes were the limit.  The fear was breaking an internal part and not finding a replacement.

The original horizontal Thornton side plates were restored and placed back on the hood.  A damaged round Thornton plate above the differentials was made again with a non-metal material.  It looks like the original and no one realizes it is not the pure thing!

Because of working outside much of its 65 years, the cab was loaded with rust problems in all the important places.  Howard finally found a replacement 1946 cab with its share of dents; however, it was certainly an improvement of what he had.

All is now black again on the outside and it has the correct tan hammered paint on the interior.  Howard made it as close to its first day in the field as possible.  Note the heavy front bumper.  This is the first year the Chevy 2 tons were given this extra heavy steel unit.  Howard removed a large accessory grille guard from the bumper during the restoration.  It had probably been in place since it was new. The odometer showed almost 16,000 original miles on the truck.

As this Thornton is only for display, Howard created a large opening in the flat bed.  This allows the curious to see much of the differential that would normally be out of view.

Since its restoration was completed almost 10 years ago, Howard has taken it to three larger shows:  Spokane, WA, Reno, NV, and now Yakima, WA.  The weight, long wheel base, and low gearing makes it much more difficult to be moved like a light weight truck.  It now has its own 6 wheel special trailer!

The Thornton is so long that Howard added 5 feet to his garage to keep it out of the Oregon rainy season.  Having the only one remaining relates to the need to protect it from all types of weather!

Howard’s Chevrolet Thornton uses its original 235 low oil pressure six cylinder engine.  The multi-speed low geared differential allows for easy starting even in third gear on the flat land and no load.

Additional Thornton Data:

The Thornton Tandem Company home office was Detroit, Michigan.  Its non-GM accessory was provided to authorized Thornton dealers in the United States.  The components were produced for trucks manufactured by General Motors, Dodge, Studebaker, Ford, etc.  The “kit” consisted of 2 identical pre-existing complete Eaton differentials.  The Eaton differentials were a standard among many large truck manufacturers.  The Thornton assembly consists of a 2 speed high/low splitter into the pair of 2 speed Eaton differentials.  These differentials were installed as mirror images (one forward and the other reversed).  Very unique!  Add this to the optional “No Spin” assembly inside each differential (full driving power to all rear wheels).  Of course, the 2 ton started with the original non-synchronized 4 speed transmission.  Thus Howard’s 2 ton has 16 forward gears and a reported top speed of about 40mph.

In this case, the Chevrolet Thornton required a 3 piece custom drive shaft with two carrier bearings and long frame rail extensions.  These rails made the frame 1 ½ foot longer at the rear than factory and extended inside the original frame to about the rear motor mounts.  This gave the frame over twice the strength!   The wheel base then increased to 230 inches.  Howard’s Thornton gross weight capacity changed from factory 15,000 pounds to almost 46,000 pounds with 8 pulling wheels.  These frame extensions made it practical to move very heavy loads off-road in rough terrain.  Even carrying a large water tank in the back country for fire fighting was a natural for a Thornton!

In the case of Howard’s Thornton, its first owner used it to carry a large tree removing D6 Caterpillar for making a path in native timber for installing Oregon electrical lines for the first time.  The Thornton was just right for carrying the heavy Caterpillar into the woods with no roads.

Years later the next use for this Thornton was carrying a large water tank.  The water with a sprayer was used to keep down road dust that was created in the back country by logging trucks.

Later, before Howard found the truck, it was owned by a person clearing his large acreage of maple trees.  They could load so many logs and make one trip each day to a nearby mill for processing.  This person is the only owner known that actually kept the Thornton in a barn out of the weather when not in use!

If you would like to contact Howard Jones email hjonesmts@gmail.com.

Other examples of Thornton’s uses:

Hauling coal from mines.  See photo.

Carrying water to rural fires by Fire Departments.

Transporting ready mix concrete to job sites.  See photo.

Hauling sand and gravel.

Moving tanks of gasoline and oil.

Carrying loads at harvest times from larger farms.

Howard has heard about 100’s of Thornton’s that were exported overseas after World War II.  They were great help in clearing the after war rubble from cities due to many bombings.  The large volume they carried helped shorten the time of rebuilding.

Unfortunately, when these large rubble removing jobs were complete, the Thornton’s were too large for most overseas farm work or other commercial uses.  The expense of keeping these large now well used Thornton’s was not useable by the local people.  Once again the heavy weight and operating expense of these trucks was what resulted in their demise!  War torn countries could not afford them or need them once the US contractors had completed their jobs.  They went to steel recyclers.

30 spring leafs

1947 GMC

Monday, July 1st, 2013

Owner: Joe Miller

We are proud to have this very rare 1947 GMC as our feature truck of the month. Manufactured in Pontiac, Michigan from only April through about November 1947, this GMC is one of the few survivors of a 1 ton 9 foot bed pickup. They were bought new for work duties! After years of heavy use and limited money by most owners through the 1950’s, most of these models were used until they were not financially repairable. Their heavy weight made them a good candidate for the crusher once they hit a salvage yard.

Joe Miller of Smithville, MO is the person responsible for saving this unusual GMC and making it into a piece of artwork. Most from the 2 year restoration is just like it was when it left the factory. Even the Brewster Green with Apple Green stripe and wheels is how GMC made most. It is suspected this long pickup was even an eye catcher in its early years!

An advertisement on EBay led Joe to this special pickup in Central Minnesota. It not only was what he was wanting but it had no motor or transmission. This reduced the price as well as the buying competition. Joe had a rebuilt 302 GMC six cylinder waiting at home and correct 4 speed transmissions were not difficult to find. After the sale, Joe found he was the only person that had shown an interest in the truck. He has kept it from the salvage yard and later a worse fate!

This big 1947 was totally disassembled and then carefully put together so there were no worn parts. All had to equal new truck quality. A nice blend of new and used are in the final show package. As a retired airline pilot for US Airways, Joe made this his daily hobby (work) project for 2 years. At one time he had restored a 1931 Model A Ford and later a 1967 Corvette but this was a totally different animal. Everything was heavy duty. Many one ton parts are not being reproduced and hunting is the only way.

The following are 4 things Joe added during the restoration to improve driving quality of his 1 ton: They made the 1 ton a pleasure to drive rather than the opposite.

The 5.14 ratio ring and pinion assembly (pumpkin) was exchanged with the highest ratio available in a 4.10 ring and pinion from a 1967-72 3/4 ton improved the highway speed almost 20% with no visual appearance changes.

The original GMC 228 inline six cylinder engine was not used. It was replaced with a 302 cubic inch later year GMC. This is the largest of the 1939 to 1959 GMC inline engines and is an exact fit. It greatly changed the truck’s performance personality! Originally, they were used in the late 1950’s school buses and 2 ton trucks. The larger cubic inch displacement even requires a 2-barrel Stromberg WW carburetor to provide the correct amount of fuel and air to the combustion chamber.

As much as Joe was comfortable with the 17” factory split rim wheels, there was a concern with being in distant locations and not finding a garage with the experience in change tires with this wheel design. Therefore, he found 5 new 8 bolt 16” wheels that would not rub the tie rod ends. Though the wheels each had 4 bumps to hold a modern hub cap, Joe made a modification. With his skill he added inside 1/2 ton spring clips and the original 1947 3/4 ton hub caps fit just right.

Big Trip!

Because it was finally a go anywhere new 1947, Joe decided he would drive to the next annual convention of the American Truck Historical Society. In 2013, it was in Yakima, Washington. It couldn’t have been any further from his mid-America home in Missouri. The trip would be almost 2,000 miles one way and touch 10 states. But why not! It was new and he needed a break from the 2 year daily restoration project.

Joe and Co-pilot Bob Dyck of Vassar, Kansas (also a truck restoration enthusiast) began the drive leaving Smithville a week before the convention started. It became a vacation between friends. A few stops along the way included the South Dakota Badlands, Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills, and Yellowstone National Park. The attached photo shows Joe at Powder Pass in Wyoming with 9,666’ elevation and also parked in front of the original 100 year old hotel in Yellowstone Park.

The GMC cruised at 60 to 65 mph on flat lands. Most surprising, it drove up to Powder Pass and stayed in 4th gear. Now that’s pulling power!

At the ATHS convention, even with 825 early trucks on display, this big pickup was obviously a little above most in workmanship and was a one of a kind. The surprise to most was that it did not arrive in an enclosed trailer. It was back in Missouri in a few weeks after the long driving vacation of 3,906 miles. Stops from mechanical malfunctions, flat tires, or restoration mistakes, zero! Of course it was a new 66 year old.

Extra items on Joe’s 1 ton that may be of interest:

He protected the bedwood with black paint just like the factory. He was well aware that no General Motors truck would have left the factory with a smooth finish varnished bed.

Note a very unique feature of a 1947-48 GMC truck; the pickups, 1/2 , 3/4, and 1 ton have a 3 bar grille just like the 1 1/2 and 2 ton plus the Cab-Over-Engine trucks. It is assumed the one size fits all idea was to save production costs, is why this was done. Beginning in 1949 the smaller GMC pickup used a lighter weight 4 bar grille.

In addition, the 1947-48 1/2, 3/4, and 1 ton GMC’s used a different front splash apron and bumper (nothing like Chevrolet). It is slightly curved on the top and bottom and each far side has 3 holes to support stronger bracing. The center grille guard appears to be standard equipment. Look at the strong grille bracing in the attached photo of another 1947-48 GMC.

Yes, you can make a 5 window deluxe cab from a standard 3 window cab. Joe, with the help of a very skilled body shop, found a badly damaged deluxe cab and used the 2 corner windows. They look like they were installed by GM.

Check out the tall gas spout on the un-restored truck. On a 1947-48 GMC 1 ton pickup it is between the bed and cab and connects to an under bed tank.

A little more padding in the seat plus pleating to hold it in place would make it more comfortable for long rides on more rough roads.

Joe’s new daily driver is now quickly recognized in his town. It is a pleasure for him to drive and it is said he doesn’t even miss not having air conditioning in the Missouri summer.

You can contact Joe at: joemiller3@flica.net


Joe’s work of art

Correct bed floor color

It’s a 302 with a 2-barrel


During restoration

Almost finished

Close to completion

Note the factory under bed gas tank

100 year old lodge in Yellowstone Park

Along the way

As high as it gets!

The condition when he found his 1947

Bought with no tailgate

View from a different truck, 1947-48 grille reinforcement

1939 Chevy Half Ton

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

Owner: Steve Jones

If you ever consider restoring a Pre-WWII GM truck, this data should quickly get you in the mood. Just look at what was done to a tired 1939 Chevy 1/2 ton that was bought from a newspaper advertisement. Its many pieces were brought home after years of abuse. It was no longer a usable vehicle.

Even more incredible is that it all happened in the country of New Zealand where most restoration parts must be imported. The owner and rebuilder is Steve Jones on the North Island of New Zealand. In past years he had owned a 1939 Chevy coupe but having an old Chevrolet pickup had been a developing dream and this very rare 1939 was just what he had in mind. Thanks to the internet and his computer, Steve realized the potential of this little pickup. The goal would be to make it very close to what you could buy from a New Zealand Chevrolet dealer in 1939.

Yes, of course it was a frame off project. Several years work and many orders from the US allowed it to finally come together. The only noticeable differences from its 1939 beginning are the addition of a non-New Zealand GM bed with sides and its whitewalls. Steve even painted it an optional US factory color, Armour Yellow.

The photos will give some readers another surprise. New Zealand, like many other countries in the world, is a right hand drive nation! The dash is totally reversed. The starter and accelerator pedal linkage has been re-engineered to reach their different place in the cab. The taillight is moved to the right side. A connection on the steering connection to the front suspension requires a very unique “third arm” beside the right king pin assembly.

Steve is a total GM truck enthusiast, so he has since completed the same treatment on a 1949 Chevy ½ ton and it is used as a more daily driver. His “biggest of all” project is his current challenge. This is rebuilding a 1957 GMC cab over engine (COE) Model 370 truck. This will be a frame off project that will surely require 2 or 3 years to complete. We can only imagine the cost and personal work this will require. We assume this will be the “only” example of this unusual truck in the country of New Zealand.

His enthusiasm continues! Steve is now forming the “All American Truck Club”. It will be open to all New Zealand truck enthusiasts and at least for now no membership charge. He would love to get the many New Zealand truck owners together and help improve knowledge, have truck gatherings and drives, plus help develop a better parts exchange.

You can contact Steve Jones at: chevytrucks49@e3.net.nz.

More data on Pre-WWII GM New Zealand trucks:

General Motors right hand drive trucks, though unusual in the United States, have always been very popular in specific countries such as Britain, New Zealand, South Africa, and Australia. These vehicles were not produced in the U.S. but came from GM’s large assembly plant in Oshawa, Ontario. Due to reversed dash boards, the change in steering components, differences in starter linkages, and tail light locations, etc., the lower numbers of right hand drive production was kept at this one Canadian assembly plant.

In New Zealand, special marketing laws required at least 25% of each new truck had to be assembled or produced in that country. This was mostly to help provide more local jobs. Thus for many years the GM Canadian facility exported truck parts only to the New Zealand assembly plant in Petone near the capital city of Wellington. Hundreds of freight containers supplying GM truck parts regularly arrived at this New Zealand assembly plant. The specialized parts from Canada were engines, frames, suspension components, disassembled cabs and front sheet metal. The New Zealand plant then assembled the truck and furnished parts they could provide locally. This included (at least in the 1940′s) the wiring harnesses, window glass, a wood cab floor, rubber parts, gas tank, an optional flat wood deck, etc.

To keep within the 25% government parts and labor requirement, a truck bed with sides as supplied on U.S. vehicles was not included. A locally made wood deck could be added during assembly. Either with or without this deck, the two rear pickup metal rear fenders from the Canadian plant were wired or otherwise secured at the rear of the cab. The finished vehicle was delivered this way to local New Zealand GM dealers. The lack of a bed would also allow the budget minded buyer to construct his own deck or hauling platform and better afford the new truck.

A New Zealand trailer manufacturer during these early years used these pickup rear fenders on their finished product. Their small general purpose trailers were usually equipped with these new metal pickup fenders. A retired 88 year old manager of this company remembers having standing orders with all New Zealand pickup dealers (not just GM) to purchase their extras. This saved additional expense on their completed trailers.

Their right hand drive feature is unique to American readers; however, these Chevrolets have another very unusual characteristic. As with most 1939 New Zealand Chevrolet trucks, their cab was assembled in the Petone, New Zealand plant from pre-stamped pieces from the Canadian location, and are a mixture of two types of trucks. The rear of the cabs and door outer sheet metal are of the U.S. 1936-1938 design. The cowl, windshield frame, hood and grill are the 1939-40 style. Yes, they do weld together nicely into a single unit but the outside horizontal door and hood trim lines do not match. Reasons for the GM ‘cab mixture’ are not known at this writing, however, it is assumed keeping New Zealand’s costs low was the main factor. Quantities of older 1936-38 style rear cabs, roofs, and door stampings were either already available or the prior tooling still had much remaining life. The lower cost could then be passed on to the retail truck buyer. Just another way of producing the New Zealand 1939 GM truck at the lowest possible price!

Another theory for this unusual combination cab is due to the beginning of World War II. Because of New Zealand’s connection with Great Britain, they entered the war September 2, 1939 over two years before the United States became formally involved. No doubt being in the war created an immediate demand for all trucks in New Zealand. Rather than lose sales while the cab tooling changeover occurred at the Canadian supply plant (1938 to the new design 1939 body) GM continued with the prior sheet metal for their in demand export truck. Exact new styling was not necessary to overseas buyers when the war demand was so high!

One of Steve’s pictures, with this article, features the inside of the cab top without the headliner. Note: the factory welds where the early and late style sheet metal have been joined.

Factory cab welds show 2 cab designs joined.

Non-US inside door panels

1946 COE Pickup

Monday, April 29th, 2013

Owner: Bill Knoernschild

Look what you can do with an early COE cab and a lot of imagination (an extra supply of money also helps).  This cab sits on a 1984 Chevrolet 1 ton truck chassis, perfectly carries a 1946 ¾ ton pickup bed, and uses 1940-46 rear pickup fenders.  What a nice combination.  We might call it a COE pickup!

The owner and creator is Bill Knoernschild of Cutchogue, New York on Long Island.  This retired enthusiast has done several other specialty vehicles but this is so far, his high point.  Bill does almost all his own restoration work and his skills and workmanship are superb.

This specialty truck is so unusual that even the non-vehicle enthusiasts have to stop and take notice.  Bill’s COE invented the term “Traffic Stopper”.

He found this tired truck several years ago in a back field on Long Island.  It had been at one time a tow truck.  Due to the COE’s rarity he decided to salvage the cab and save it from a certain death (because of a COE’s weight, most went to the crusher).  Bill decided it would be like no one had ever seen.  It became a 2 year project!

A 1984 Chevy chassis was totally rebuilt including V-8 engine, suspension, automatic transmission, and so many modifications to make it fit the almost 60 year old cab.

The “new” truck has all the power options including air conditioning.  It even operates with a computer under the dash just like a late model vehicle.  Modern interior, updated dash gauges, and six new 16” very special chrome wheels add to the package.

Just one example of the intense labor is the front fenders.  The originals were a total loss and replacements seemed to be unobtainable.  Therefore, fiberglass pickup fenders were used but required a special skill to trim the correct 6 inches and reform to create COE fenders.  Now that takes talent!

Would you believe:  The second time out with his restored COE Bill hit a deer near his home!  It was back to the home garage for much more work on at least one fender!  Therefore, Bill says by this time, the money spent on just body work, paint preparation, and two stage paint had reached $28,000.

Looking over all the receipts for the two year build is now close to six figures!  Wow, if Bill ever gets hit by another vehicle, their insurance company will really be crying the blues.

You can contact Bill at:  Plumbcrazyinc@gmail.com.

Note:  The letters COE are the abbreviation for Cab-Over-Engine.  This is what early truck manufacturers called their units that had the cab over the engine.  Without the nose and engine in front of the truck it had a much shorter wheel base.  Thus, it could make short turns in tight spots such as older neighborhoods with narrow streets and still carry the same amount of freight.  Yes, with the engine below, the cab interior was much warmer in the summer.   For the driver it was what he had to tolerate to own a COE.

1961 GMC Suburban

Monday, April 1st, 2013

Owner: Clyde McKaba

Another rare truck for our Feature Truck of the Month series!! A 1961 GMC is unusual in any body style but this style is now almost non-existent. Imagine this; a 1961 GMC Suburban with factory 4×4! It has the original 305 V-6 engine with stand alone transfer case (not attached to the 4 speed transmission).

The owner is Clyde McKaba of Abbeville, South Carolina. His love for GMC’s began in the mid 1970’s while working six years for a dealership in his home state of Massachusetts.

Clyde found his 1961 Suburban about two years ago in Spokane, Washington and had it transported to South Carolina. He has papers on the Suburban’s history including the past three owners and most repairs. Very unusual for all prior owners to have kept all their records. It is said GMC sold about 200 Suburban’s with 4 wheel drive during the early 1960’s. Clyde’s is one of the only survivors due to hard use, abuse, accidents, and the results of rust from damp air in most states.

It was purchased new in Springfield, Missouri with a list price of $4,146.75. Almost a $1,000.00 above the base price of the Chevrolet Suburban. See attached window stickers and invoice. Records show it was then licensed in Colorado, a popular state for 4 wheel drive trucks. As Suburban’s are usually people haulers, this unit was probably used by a family as a driver. The lack of air conditioning was no problem in the high country of Colorado!

Original Invoice

Original Window Sticker

The next owner kept the Suburban in eastern high desert country near Spokane, Washington. Once again it was kept by the owner in dry climate all year.

Clyde says in 2009 it had its one repaint and was kept the factory color; Mediterranean Blue and White. The upholstery now has cloth material on the three original seats. All 4 rear quarter windows slide open. It is difficult to believe the mileage is only 115,000 (about 2,200 miles per year) and records show no major mechanical repairs. The Suburban gets 10 to 12 miles per gallon, which is about usual for these large V-6 engines. No rust so no replacement body panels have been used. Thanks to Clyde, it is being kept in excellent condition and remains a part of history. An excellent example of how they were in 1961.

Clyde McKaba is also a recent proud owner of a near perfect 1966 GMC ½ ton with 351 V-6 engine. This was our company’s first feature truck July 2000. Clyde can be contacted at: cmckaba@centurylink.net.


1939 Chevrolet 1 1/2 Ton Pickup

Monday, February 25th, 2013

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

1961 Deluxe Chevrolet

Friday, February 1st, 2013

Owner: Paul Bremer

It’s 1965 and 10 year old Paul Bremer often rides his bicycle near his home in Seward, Nebraska.  One thing he always admires is the neighbor’s 1961 Deluxe Chevrolet ½ ton.  They had bought it new and wanted the best.  Few 1961 Chevrolet trucks were equipped with this amount of trim and it always caught Paul’s attention.  He often watched them cleaning and waxing this pickup by its garage.

Over 20 years later in 1985, Paul received a call from the local Chrysler dealer.  The owner had heard of his love for older vehicles in this medium size Nebraska town.  They had just received a 1961 Chevy truck as a trade on a new car that week.  They had no interest in keeping a 27 year old pickup in 1988 even if it had only 30,000 miles on the odometer.

What a surprise!  When Paul arrived at this Chrysler dealership, he quickly realized this was the pickup that had once belonged to his neighbors, the truck he had admired during his bicycle years.  In less than an hour he was the new owner.

His project was to bring it back to its glory days.  Some repairs were needed after many years and with great enthusiasm Paul started the transformation.  During the very detailed clean-up he removed two seat cover layers to expose the undamaged deluxe seat.  Shag carpet (popular in 1960 homes) had protected the factory rubber floor mat.  New original Chevy hub caps were finally found and replaced the aftermarket chrome wire wheel covers.  The bumpers were re-chromed.

To remove chips and related paint damage the lower half of the body was sanded and painted the correct Pure White.  The tailgate and wheels were refreshed with the original color Tampico Turquoise.  The correct white wall tires for 1961 were installed.

All the rare deluxe trim is mint condition.  Accessories included the fresh air heater.  At some point in time the original radio was replaced.   A NOS radio will be re-installed.  The original 283 V8, column shift 3 speed transmission, suspension and 8 foot bed are unchanged.

Paul occasionally drives his special truck but only in nice weather.  In fact, during the last 25 years it has only been on the road 10,000 miles.  This was mostly to special interest auto and truck shows in surrounding states.

A special comment on Paul’s love for older vehicles:  In past years he has accumulated about 6 mint condition trucks with extremely low mileage.  Several additional vehicles that have been driven further are also part of his collection.  He also gradually has collected large quantities of very special new and used original parts.  Most will never be reproduced.  Paul knows what to look for!

Where does he keep all these special trucks and parts?  A closed Chevrolet dealership in a small town near Paul’s home came up for sale.  Yes, you’re correct, he bought it!  All his toys and parts can stay inside out of view.

You can contact Paul at:  paulspickupparts@windstream.net.

1934 Chevrolet Canopy Express

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

Owner: Kevin Koch

There may be no other survivors!  If this is the only 1934 Chevrolet Canopy Express remaining, we are all fortunate to see it in this pristine condition.  It is owned by Kevin Koch of Morgantown, PA.  His Grandfather, Jack Crane of Willow Grove, PA bought this little 1934 in 1974 with the hope of someday giving it a major restoration.   As money and replacement parts were very limited, the project remained a dream.  Later, un-restored, it was passed down to his son, George.  Kevin later found several drawings and notes his Grandfather had made many years ago showing how he had hoped to restore it and what it could look like.  He researched the major vehicle restorers at the time and picked Al Pruitt in Glen Rock, PA to do a total rebuild.  Six years later, it was a new truck and just like the drawings.

As a tribute to his grandfather, it now appears as it left the Chevrolet dealership over 78 years ago!  It is on display in the lobby of Kevin’s company, H and K Equipment Company of Coraopolis, PA.  A new larger building was recently constructed around the showroom that is for displaying his grandfather’s one of a kind 1934 Canopy Express.


Why a Canopy Express?

In the days of the one car family (or no car in the family) the Canopy Express was an extension of the retail stores. Products for sale could be brought to the neighborhoods. The lady of the house could even call the store requesting a delivery. The roll-up canvas sides of the Canopy Express were a natural for displaying groceries and related home merchandise in housing developments while protecting it from bad weather. They were equipped with a 4 speed transmission that gave them a very slow speed in first gear while moving through neighborhoods.

In the beginning of the 20th Century more people were moving from multi-story apartment living into stand alone new homes. This was the beginning of urban spread and stores were no longer just a short walk away.

It was difficult for a housewife with a few small children to walk to a distant grocery store, especially in bad weather. The Canopy Express was just what the store owner needed to reach his customers. Often a bell was attached to the cab near the driver’s door. This told the housewife that the Canopy Express was coming. The grocery shopping for the family’s evening meal could be done beside the city street.

Neighborhood deliveries were very important to the many stores that served new neighborhoods with individual homes. A Canopy Express was the vehicle of choice among grocers for over 30 years. The end of this type delivering began in the mid 1950’s. With more disposable income in the USA, a second family car became available. Larger supermarkets in shopping areas now successfully encouraged people to shop away from home.

1951 Chevy Bus

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Owner: Butch Voigt

This month’s Feature Truck certainly follows our trend of finding the more unusual among early Chevrolet and GMC vehicles.  This may be the only survivor of a 1951 Chevrolet 1 ton with a 16 passenger body. Chevrolet provided the 131” wheel base chassis with fenders, hood, grille, etc. See photo. The passenger part was made by the Carpenter Body Works in Mitchell, Indiana. The bus is so narrow it has the usual row of double seats on one side but has a row of single seats on the other side, thus the isle is not centered.  Any school district that asked for a smaller bus would probably have to use a Suburban.

Much of its life was spent hauling rural school children near Mountain Lake, a small town in Southern Minnesota.  Many years later when the bus was retired, the school district used it 20 more years for hauling freight.  With the seats removed it became the schools maintenance department pickup truck!

The next owner surely saved it from the crusher!  Bruce Goldstrand of Stillwater, MN traveled this area occasionally as an outside salesman.  As an old car collector, when he passed a salvage yard near Mountain Lake he always noticed this little bus sitting among the other discarded vehicles.  After a year of seeing it every few months it began to grow on him and he would watch for it on each trip.  One nice day, he could not resist a stop at the yard for a closer view of the bus.  Bruce knew there was space for it in one of his storage buildings but a bus certainly did not fit the image of the other unique cars in his collection.  He looked close at this little bus and was surprised at how complete it was. Yes, all but two seats were missing (it had later been the school district’s truck), there was broken glass, and badly rusted lower body panels but most of the original parts remained.

Bruce fell in love with the bus; however there was a big problem!  The salvage yard owner said he had received a down payment on it the week before, so Bruce’s hope for ownership was over. He drove home disappointed but gave the yard owner his phone number. Surprise! Two weeks later the salvage yard owner called. The person had changed his mind and Bruce could own the bus.

He quickly hauled his little bus home and made a space for it in a storage building.

The high hopes of having fun driving the little bus to antique car activities were soon lost. Bruce discovered his antique vehicle insurance company for his other older special interest cars would not insure a bus. It was suspected that the company was concerned about many passengers in one vehicle. Probably some had been used as a “party bus”.  Therefore, except for driving on the back lot it sat in his garage for 19 years.

It was then in 2011 Bruce decided he would not restore it. The bus needed a new home to give him more garage space. It was hauled to a local farm show for display with a sign on the window. An employee of a distant school bus collector saw it and made a phone call.  The bus collector-restorer was immediately interested. After negotiations on price, the bus had a new owner the next week.

This owner, Butch Voigt was a natural for owning this 60 year old bus.  Butch is a second generation owner of his family business since it was founded in 1947 as the Voigt Bus Service near St. Cloud, MN.  He has three of his children active in the business and two grandchildren that work part time that will someday be owners of the company.  Their bus company currently owns 75 newer school buses, 40 coaches and 10 vans that serve 4 school districts in the surrounding area.

His love for older school buses had immediately pulled him to Bruce’s tired little bus.  He has 6 other early school buses of different makes that he has totally restored including the 1948 Flexible Coach in the first photo.  This small 16 passenger would be just right for hauling his grandchildren to local sporting events and to the ice cream shop in the summer.

All was carefully rebuilt and reassembled like an oversize model kit.  Nothing was over looked.  His goal was to have it completed and drive it 70 miles to pickup his two grandsons on their last day of school.  It ran great (but slow) during the long distance to the school and was a real eye catcher to those along the way!  The sight of their grandfather after school waiting for these two children in his new 1951 bus should have been on film!

It is so small compared to regular buses today, yet much larger that an early Suburban.  Butch became very excited about his new little bus as it was nothing like he had ever owned.   Butch had his grandchildren in mind but also knew it would be just right for the many small summer parades in the local area, easy to park and easy to drive.

During the restoration the body was lifted from the frame rails and restored in his company bus barn.  Butch personally restored the chassis at his home.  He was surprised that some of the replaced rusty metal panels of this Carpenter body were put together at the factory with lead securing the seams (an old method) rather than welding.  Butch broke all his records and did a ground up restoration in about 6 months.

The bus has one oversize heater beside the driver and none in the back.  We know the students wanted to sit up front on cold Minnesota winter mornings.  It still has its original 216 six cylinder engine and 4 speed transmission.  The low geared rear differential makes it all possible for its little engine.

Notice the orange color on the bus body.  Butch states that in 1969 Federal regulations required all school buses to be the same yellow as today.  However, prior to this only Minnesota and Alaska used orange as their school bus color.  It was the Carpenter Bus Company that painted the body orange.  The black hood from GM was then also change to their orange.

Thanks to Butch Voigt, one of the few remaining 1951 Chevy 16 passenger Carpenter school buses is alive and well.  In fact it is above museum quality!  It is a great addition to his show quality collection of school buses that represent another era of taking children to Minnesota schools.

You can contact Butch Voigt at 1-218-765-3104

As Butch bought it in 2011.

Ready for school.

New bus seats, never used. Exact original interior color.

The large heater is ready. Sitting between the frame rails.

Cooper Lines to large bus heater.



1951 Chevy Bus cont.

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012
Butch was able to provide many photos during the frame up restoration. The following will show many details of the complete restoration.

Many body repairs

Priming is underway

New paint

Mechanicals are perfect


The ultimate detail!
The inside decal is remade – perfect

1958 Chevrolet Cameo

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

Owner: Scott Phaneuf

It all began over 30 years ago about 60 miles from Boston, Massachusetts. Scott Phaneuf had begun to accumulate a few rental houses. He had started looking for a pickup truck to help move larger remodeling supplies. Nothing fancy was needed, just a less expensive pickup for hauling lumber, sheetrock, trash, etc.

Then it happened! After checking several older trucks in his city he was told of an unusual late 1950’s pickup in the adjacent town. He found it sitting outside behind a neighborhood garage and not running. The owner called it a 1958 Chevrolet Cameo truck. He said it was very rare and almost none had survived.  Scott immediately was interested. After 2  few phone calls and checking the public library he found it was very unusual truck and was produced at the end of its 3 ½ year production run in the mid-1950s. Scott had to have it!

After towing it home, Scott soon decided it was too unusual to leave so deteriorated. Why not turn it into almost new condition, use it for only light hauling, and have something few people in his area had ever seen. Therefore, in about a year Scott personally restored it to look almost new! It became his special hauler for almost 30 years.

Our story actually begins about 25 years after his first Cameo was purchased. Scott or his wife Donna was looking on Ebay when it was just in its beginnings and saw a 1958 Cameo in Georgia. Why not have another 1958? It would be like a “his and hers” pair of 1958 Cameos. They owned a large garage and had the restoration experience from the first Cameo. They made an Ebay bid and owned it!

When they returned from Georgia with their second Cameo, they decided it would be restored as perfect as they could make it and build it as an all original “show truck”.

Thus, this is our Feature Truck of the Month, the second 1958 Chevrolet Cameo owned by Scott and Donna Phaneuf. Yes, they bought it because it was a rare 1958 but it was also equipped with the optional 283 V-8 engine, a rare Hydramatic transmission, and very rare power steering. Later when they removed the body from the frame, a case of “buyer’s remorse” set in. “What did we do”? The rust was so much worse than their first. The cab floors, lower door hinge supports, and sheet metal corners were rusted beyond repair. Most any lower sheet metal panels needed to be replaced. They had no choice but to continue with the restoration. The truck was now in pieces and would have limited value in parts.

Fortunately Scott and Donna didn’t stop the restoration and they did it together. Several years later it became a near new as you can get. It’s considered Donnas’ truck.

The paint is the correct Tartan Turquoise and Bombay Ivory. Accessories on this already loaded Cameo are radio, fresh air heater, behind the seat tool tray and tool kit. It mostly is kept in their garage, but is occasionally seen at local shows. The main show for 2012 was at the American Truck Historical Society’s national meet in West Springfield, Massachusetts where it was displayed among the best in the country.

For most of us having two very nice 1958 Cameo’s would be the limit of our vehicle collection. But not the Phaneuf’s. No, their collection increased when they later discovered another 1958 Cameo they call #3. It is the rarest of all. Only two were made by General Motors and they were for display at 1958 auto shows. These had fuel injection as was offered as on option of the early Chevrolet Corvette’s with a 283 V-8 engine. After a major restoration it’s a real eye catcher with correct Golden Yellow and Jet Black colors.

A few years ago Scott retired so he now has even more time to spend in the restoration hobby. He recently found #4 1958 Cameo for such a good price he could not resist. It is probably the only Kodiak Brown with Bombay Ivory trim 1958 Cameo in existence. With Scott’s experience, it’s very rough condition and many years of outside storage will allow the Cameo to be restored while most would have called it a total loss.

The BIG restoration of all is now also underway including Cameo #4. How do you transport four Cameos to major shows? Well, Scott quickly has the answer. You move them together like they did 50 years ago. In North Carolina he found a 1959 Chevrolet Spartan 100 tractor and later a 50 year old Anchor car hauler trailer. They fit together perfectly! Won’t that be the show of all shows? Stay tuned for a big future article with photos when all is complete.

Who said you were to sit back in your easy chair when you retired?

You can contact Scott by email at: keyman4885@yahoo.com

The First 1935 Suburban

Monday, October 1st, 2012

Owner: Ed Brouillet

It’s 1935! With the encouragement of the US Army, the first Chevrolet Suburban is introduced. The Army wanted an enclosed vehicle to carry officers with a driver at their military bases. Of course, it would be a boost to Chevrolet for people to see they were doing so well during the Great Depression that they could even introduce another body style! Now looking back over 75 years ago there must have been some guarantees by the Army to encourage General Motors to create a new body design in the middle of bad economic times. Sales were down drastically in all brands of automobiles and trucks. Over half of the makes would be gone forever before the end of this disastrous economic downturn.

Trying to boost slow sales and save their dealers, the Chevrolet Division introduces the “standard” car in 1935. It was less expensive than the “master” car which was the full size body. The “standard” was slightly smaller, less appointed, and some mechanical features were less complicated than their full size car.

Sales of the GMC line (big trucks) had dropped so much that many of their dealers were out of business. General Motors attempted to counter this by introducing their first ½ and ¾ ton pickups. They even created the “Trail-a-bout”, a small utility trailer for pulling behind passenger cars using their pre-existing pickup box.

With all this gloom and doom for the auto industry, what a surprise when Chevrolet introduces their new 1935 Suburban.

When you look close you realize this new body is set on the pre-existing ½ ton chassis, a major cost cutting feature. The chassis, doors, front sheet metal, wheels, radiator, bumpers, and cowl are all from the ½ ton. The Suburban was new in body only. This lesser investment probably helped seal the agreement between the US Army request and General Motors.

Our feature truck of the month is owned by Ed Brouillet of Fairfield, Connecticut. Ed states his first year Suburban is one of only 5 remaining of that year. The body’s wood framework covered in sheet metal did not survive well when year’s later water began leaking from the canvas top and began to reach the interior. As the Suburban aged, few owners had the money or interest to make any major repairs. With the large scrap metal drives during WWII, most were donated for their metal value.

Ed proudly mentions his Suburban is not only from the first year but it is the “first” one from the Chevrolet factory! This may be the reason why it was painted Swifts Red in a conservative era. Most vehicles were blue, green, and black. It was driven by a General Motors executive and kept it at its very best during the time it was assigned to him. Being seen driving such a unique shaped body was great advertising.

It is considered the “first” Suburban for two reasons:

There is no rear lift gate and no evidence of a place for hinges or the latch. There is only a roll-up canvas curtain. The other 5 remaining 1935 Suburban’s have these stampings for a metal lift gate.

There are no body tags on the firewall or stamped serial numbers on the engine block. No grinding or filling the holes or stamped numbers can be seen.

We assume the new Suburban was introduced toward the end of the 1935 as only 75 were made that year. Many more were produced in 1936.

Ed bought it over 20 years ago from the second owner, Walter Deck of Illinois, who was also a well known professional auto restorer. This person realized the rarity of owning the first Suburban and completed this ground up restoration just right. Because of being the first, all was done just like it left the factory.

The vehicle has not been in local shows for about 4 years. Because 2012 is Chevrolets 100th Anniversary, it is temporarily on display in the Antique Automobile Club of America Museum in Hershey, PA. For a close up view of the Suburban, visit this museum while in town at the famous Hershey Swapmeet in October 2012.

Note: Ed has hinted he is considering selling this “number one” Suburban. It has been appraised at $150,000.00! Bids are being considered starting at $125,000.00. See it at the museum or contact us for a contact.

1951 Chevrolet 3/4 Ton Pickup

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Owners:  Richard and Delores Diestler

It has become a top Wisconsin show truck in less than 2 years!  Twelve shows and eleven trophies. After that came one of the areas largest car and truck shows in Antigo, Wisconsin. Three hundred vehicles and this truck received first place!  You can’t do much better than this!  This show truck is driven to all shows.  No trailering.

Management of Wisconsin’s largest car show and swap meet in Iola heard about this special truck and invited it to be placed in the “Blue Ribbon” section of this non-judging show during July 2012.  This was certainly a special honor.

The truck is a 1951 Chevrolet 3/4 ton pickup. The owners are Richard and Delores Diestler of Schofield, Wisconsin. Their pickup came from a North Dakota farm about 3 years ago and Richard found it on a local snowmobile dealer’s lot.  Richard had wanted to restore an older truck for many years. It was just finding the correct GM truck for this project. The pickup was brought to their home by a tow truck and two other trucks carried in miscellaneous parts that had been removed. Richard had been restoring antique farm tractors so there was some idea of what was ahead.

It required about 2 years (2,500 hours) to complete this ground up restoration.  Richard is retired so he could devote full time to this project. Of course, to make it just right, all was removed to leave the bare frame. The total rebuild began as each part was replaced or repaired.

The cab required the usual replacement of floor metal and cab corners. Building it was like putting together a large model kit! Almost everything was done just like Chevrolet made it over 60 years ago. Even the Forester green paint and maroon Spanish grain seat covering are just right.

The engine remains the correct gray 216 and 4 speed transmission is what the pickup has always had.  A hidden upgrade changed the 4.57 ratio ring and pinion to a 4.10 ratio from a 1972 3/4 ton. This is an exact drop-in and reduces engine speed almost 20%. All is out of sight.

Richard had questions on using the original 15” split ring wheels. They remained part of his restoration project until he found these 8 bolt chrome wheels. These new wheels perfectly fit his ¾ ton drums so he decided on this one visible item that would not be 1951.

Congratulations to Richard and Delores Diestler for such an excellent restoration. A real eye catcher wherever it goes!

If you’d like to contact Richard, his email address is richarddiestler@charter.net.

Note:  This article is by their granddaughter and appeared in a recent issue of the Schofield newspaper.


“On August 19th 2012 two childhood best friends were reunited at the Antigo Car Show. Dick Diestler and John Phillips were both born and raised in Birnamwood, WI. They spent their childhoods together playing and attending school. However, time passed and as usually happens they went their separate ways and lost touch. But their interests still remained similar.

They both married, raised families and then after retirement they both began restoring trucks. Dick began restoring a 1951 Chevy and John a 1946 Chevy. When they were finished they began showing them at car shows around the state until they both ended up in Antigo together. The perfect ending to their reunion came at the awards show where they were both awarded trophies.

Dick received 1st place in the 1900-1966 stock division for his 1951 Chevy 3600 and John received 1st place in the commercial one ton and overstock division for his 1946 Chevy 1-1/2 ton. They both continue to show their trucks at local car shows and more importantly they are now back in touch. Congratulations to both my Grandpa Dick and his friend John on their beautiful trucks. And thank you for proving that lasting friendship knows no limitations and that includes time.”

1940 GMC 1 1/2 Ton Truck

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Owner: Mike Reese

A 70 Year Old GMC Saved From The Crusher!

1940 GMC 1 1/2 Ton Truck

1940 GMC 1 1/2 Ton Truck

This 1940 GMC 1 ½ ton had been retired along with its original owner, a farmer near Grand Rapids, Michigan for many, many years. It had been placed in a barn with badly damaged fenders, grille and related front items. The bed was beyond repair. If it was not for the sentimental value to family members, years later, it would have been sent to the crusher. A younger family member aware the truck was hidden in a barn began to consider updating it and making it roadworthy. The big plus was a pair of New Old Stock front fenders and running boards stored on the bed. This gave him the incentive to start on grandfather’s farm truck. It was a surface restoration but still became expensive. The bed was rebuilt at almost $900.00. Installing the new front fenders, finding a chrome grille and bumper surely added to the expense.

A second owner purchased the truck about 1993, however, he never did any further restoration. It sat for 10 years. Maybe this is the reason why it went up for sale. The big restoration money was yet to be spent.

The current owner is Mike Reese of Kempton, Pennsylvania. He bought it on-line in 2003 because he loved the appearance of the front end and cab. He became committed to make it look like new!

He already owned a 1951 Chevy fire truck and a 1951 Chevy 2 ton short wheel base dump truck (he still uses it for occasional gravel and dirt hauling) so he was very aware of what was ahead of him. However, he needed a lighter weight less massive older GM truck for driving to more distant truck shows and being more a part of the fun.

Mike did the final steps of the restoration, taking three years of evenings and weekends to complete. Total cleaning, painting the original Pimpernel Scarlet, all new rubber, correct interior, many mechanicals restored, etc. It was all done to exact 70 year old specifications. Finally, it became just like the Michigan farmer saw it when he bought the truck from the GMC dealership in 1940.

It’s now a head turner everywhere Mike takes it. People just stand and stare at the workmanship. They are looking at what they have only seen in black and white photos of the 1940’s.

After the first year of driving it on lesser traveled roads, Mike finally made one hidden change. He replaced the original 228 cubic inch six cylinder with a completely rebuilt 1956 270 engine. The outward appearance is identical. The two engines even used the same overhaul gasket set. Now the truck had a different personality. He could drive it on freeways to distant truck shows. He still keeps it about 60mph as the truck is still held back due to the original 4.56 ratio differential. He has not been able to find a higher ratio ring and pinion without making a major change that requires different wheels and he refuses to have a different design wheel on the front and rear. We offer our congratulations on this thinking.

One of the items that really stands out on this 1940 flat bed at all shows is the original GMC bed. Most display aftermarket beds, however Mike’s is pure General Motors. The two tall curved front panels (like a half barrel) are a true example of a truck that was ordered with the correct GM bed.

Mike Reese and his 1940 are often seen at Pennsylvania weekend truck shows; however his furthest was the American Truck Historical Society 2011 annual convention in South Bend, Indiana. Distance driven: 630 miles one way. This national club’s 2012 convention was in West Springfield, Massachusetts. This was 250 one way miles.

He never misses the world famous annual Macungie, Pennsylvania truck show 30 miles away. This year there were 600 participants on display. No judging, just lots of fun and memories.

Mike’s 1940 is quite an eye catcher at shows. He almost always receives a trophy or at least honorable mention. Yes, a home family room has many awards that prove this statement.

Mike Reese can be contacted by email— ashtonlansford@aol.com

1940 GMC 1 1/2 Ton Truck 1940 GMC 1 1/2 Ton Truck 1940 GMC 1 1/2 Ton Truck
1940 GMC 1 1/2 Ton Truck 1940 GMC 1 1/2 Ton Truck 1940 GMC 1 1/2 Ton Truck

Barn Fresh in April 1984!

1940 GMC 1 1/2 Ton Truck 1940 GMC 1 1/2 Ton Truck 1940 GMC 1 1/2 Ton Truck

1953 Advanced Design Canopy Express

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

Owners: John and Michele Dunkirk

1953 Advanced Design Canopy Express

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 : micheleant@hotmail.com

1953 Advanced Design Canopy Express 1953 Advanced Design Canopy Express 1953 Advanced Design Canopy Express
1953 Advanced Design Canopy Express 1953 Advanced Design Canopy Express 1953 Advanced Design Canopy Express

1937 Chevrolet Canopy Express

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

1937 Chevrolet Canopy Express
While recently sorting through some stored papers we found some older photos of our
un-restored 1937 Chevrolet Canopy Express we once owned. What a surprise! We thought these pictures were lost.

Our company, Jim Carter Truck Parts, had bought this very rare vehicle from Walt Kutchler of Anaheim, CA during the early 1990’s. Walt was an avid collector of 1937 Suburban’s and other rare 1930’s Chevrolets.

Our idea was to restore it to new condition. It would then be placed in our company show room for customers to see. We were a relatively new company and restoration funds were limited. We discovered it would probably be years before we could afford to complete this restoration and gather some of the rare missing parts. So when a person in Northern California began to push us into selling it, we finally yielded to the pressure.

After all, he was to keep it looking like a 1937 and also used it in his business for advertising.

Some of the photos you are seeing are when Roger and Ginny Schuyler of Crescent City, CA first received it from us. Yes, much work was ahead of them. When I received his packet in the mail in 1999, I was amazed! The little 1937 Chevrolet Canopy Express was better than new. We had plans to use its original 216 six cylinder engine, however the Schuyler’s choice of a small block V-8 turned out very well. The bright paint, side curtains, and white wall tires make it the eye- catcher at all the shows. Roger told me at its first show, it received a 2nd place out of 500 vehicles! We can see why.

While writing this article, we found the phone number we had for the Schuyler’s was no longer theirs. If anyone knows where the Schuylers or this little 1937 Canopy Express are located, we would sure be interested in reconnecting with them. Email us at jcarter@oldchevytrucks.com.  Please see updated information below the images.

1937 Chevrolet Canopy Express 1937 Chevrolet Canopy Express 1937 Chevrolet Canopy Express
1937 Chevrolet Canopy Express 1937 Chevrolet Canopy Express 1937 Chevrolet Canopy Express 1937 Chevrolet Canopy Express

Update:  June 14, 2012

The new owners have been found!  They are Hap and Karen Volk of southwest Oregon.  The Canopy Express is said to be just as clean as when first restored.  As often occurs with a vehicle this nice, the owners hesitate driving it because of the possibility of scrapes, gravel chips, and related road damages.

They have considered selling it at about their cost of $40,000.  If you are a serious buyer, the owners can be contacted at karen@karenvolkrealty.com or call (541) 672-4444.



1947-55 Chevrolet Panel/Pickup

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

Owner: Rod Lentz

1947 – 1955 Chevrolet
We met the owner, Rod Lentz of Dillsburg, Pennsylvania at the recent Spring Carlisle Event in April 2012. It was a pleasure hearing of his lifelong enjoyment of owning and restoring older vehicles, especially the 1947-55 Chevrolet Advance Design body style. He became talented in most all mechanical and body repairs. However, he gradually began to think the best of both worlds would be a 1947-53 body with more modern street rod components.

Then one day it happened! He saw the first GM ads showing their soon to be released SSR truck in 2004. He was overtaken with interest. It would be so great to own a new Chevy truck that looked much like the 60 year original and have all the options we have today. He had to have one!!

Later in the year at the unveiling of the new SSR, Rod was a little disappointed. It looked much less like the older trucks he grew up with and the price was well, shall we say not reachable. He realized he would not be owning the SSR that he had been building himself up to own. What now? With his many years of experience with older cars and now being a mechanic at a local Chevrolet dealership, why not build one? He would create his own version of an SSR. It would be updated, and still quickly recognizable as an Advance Design truck.

So it’s 6 years later and Rod’s new SSR is placed on the road. It is truly a vehicle that stops traffic and creates crowds at all antique car shows. Nothing has ever been seen like this. GM should have had this vehicle as a guide to build their SSR!

For more details on Rod’s SSR, check the following to learn some of his secrets:

Rod saw a newspaper ad for some stored unlicensed older vehicles about 10 miles from his home. A 1949 deluxe 5 window Chevrolet had some restoration potential, however a nearby 1948 ½ ton panel truck was far from rebuilding. The owner had not yet called a metal recycler to remove the remaining parts. He told Rod if he would buy the pickup, the parts of the panel truck would be free. This offer and Rod’s creative ideas made the deal. The two vehicles could maybe be combined to create a one of a kind truck that looked more like it came from a Chevrolet dealership 60 years ago and definitely resemble the newly introduced SSR truck.

Good luck! As Rod suspected, the pickup cab width is the same as the panel truck. This was important in grafting the sides to the pickup. The floor was too deteriorated in the panel so it was here Rod got even more creative. He found a used metal floor from a newer used pickup and cut the edges to be just right for the panel truck body. The whole package was sandblasted, patched, and primed before attaching it to the pickup. Yes, it also attached to the frame rails! GM made it that way.

Notice the rear of the bed. Do you recognize some of the remains of the two barn doors from the panel truck? Of course, they fit perfectly because they were from the parts Rod received with the panel truck body! He welded the two halves together to make one panel and then made them into a fold down hinged tailgate.

To help create a little more of the SSR proportions, the top was lowered 2” and the doors widened 4”. What a job! The dash of the 1949 was replaced with one from a 1957 Chevy car.

The engine is as unique as the hand crafted body. Rod found a new 292 six cylinder at a nearby Chevrolet dealership. This is the big six for large trucks and school buses from 1963 through the early 1980’s. He added a 4 barrel Offenhouser intake manifold and Edlebrock carburetor plus a dual exhaust system. The appropriate chrome and polished metal give it that special appearance that is so different than a V-8 engine. Just this power plant alone makes it a real “crowd stopper” at any auto show! The highway performance is amazing! A few V-8 engines might be able to keep up with it.

The floor shift transmission is the current popular T-5 five speed from an early S-10 Chevrolet truck. Its overdrive 5th gear gives the panel/pickup the little extra on the highway and helps lower engine RPM. The shift lever comes out of the floor in just the correct factory position.

Rod used a 1980’s aluminum Corvette differential that gives the truck higher highway speed. The front suspension is also all aluminum as removed from a 1984 Corvette. Modern all disc brakes and 5 bolt 16” wheels add to the package.

Look at those unique headlights. The headlight holes in the front fender were slightly enlarged and now they secure the light assemblies from a Volkswagen New Beatle.

By using two mufflers from a US made Victory motorcycle on the dual exhaust system, the sound is just right. There is no comparison to the sound from a V-8 engine.

The photos tell the story. Rob has a SSR that looks like the 1950’s.

You can contact him at: rnclentz@comcast.net

1947 – 1955 Chevrolet 1947 – 1955 Chevrolet 1947 – 1955 Chevrolet
1947 – 1955 Chevrolet 1947 – 1955 Chevrolet 1947 – 1955 Chevrolet

1957 Chevrolet Suburban

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Owner: Norman Smith

1957 Chevrolet Suburban
This month’s feature truck is one of the nation’s finest 1957 Chevrolet Suburbans. We saw it for the first time about 1994, shortly after its total ground-up restoration. It remains in its pristine condition today and still almost looks like the day it left the factory.

The owner is Norman Smith of Denver, Colorado. As a lifelong old car enthusiast, Norm has restored and owned other Chevrolet vehicles but the Suburban is by far the most perfect in his history. He went all out to make it like new.

Found in a local newspaper ad in1983, it was in such poor condition Norm had questions on owning it. But, where do you find a Suburban even in 1983?  Its prior owner had used it to carry products to local flea markets. Thus, two rear seats were gone. Electrical shorts in the old wiring prevented it from starting after the battery lost its charge in about 12 hours. Of course, having been driven daily in Denver winters, the 25 year old vehicle was full of rust. So, the bargain price of $400 may have been correct.

The more Norm looked at it at home, the more he liked it. He had always wanted a Suburban and only he saw the potential of making it look excellent. In fact, Norm soon decided to restore it all the way! He would go down to the bare frame and work to have a new 1957 Chevrolet Suburban. There would be no exceptions to the rule.

First, extensive research would be required to not make mistakes. Norm spent a great deal of time in the library looking over Chevrolet manuals and visiting many salvage yards for answers. Few personal computers existed in the 1980s and digital cameras to keep records did not exist. Norm used the telephone and US mail to gain parts and knowledge. This is just the way it was done before computers.

He had done upgrades on early Chevrolets, but nothing would be like this. Time was not a problem. Getting it right was a challenge.

This nine year project was completed in 1992. His heart and mind had always been on his Suburban restoration. It is doubtful Norm’s employer ever knew they weren’t first in his mind.

The finished product is just like it rolled off the assembly line. The exterior is the correct 1957 truck cardinal red. The gray interior and gray vinyl covered three row seats are just right.

Factory options include; a 265 cubic inch V-8 (the more long-lived 283 was first offered in trucks in 1958), 4-speed transmission, chrome bumpers, grille, hub caps, and dash knobs, plus an electric wiper motor.

Dealer installed Chevrolet accessories are; chrome wheel rings, hood rockets, fresh-air heater, AM radio, spotlight, cigarette lighter, right-side rearview mirror, turn signals, plus passenger side arm rests and sunvisor.  It doesn’t take one’s imagination to realize the trophies and related awards he and his Suburban have received in the Colorado area since 1992.

An example of Norm’s requirement to have a new 1957 Suburban is the long one piece of ribbed, black rubber mat GM used between the middle seat and tailgate. It is not available anywhere! After much thinking on what to do, Norm came up with a theory that turned out to be perfect. He ordered a piece of heavy linoleum that was used on theater stages and dance studios. This is thick and has the same black color all the way through. A professional carpenter was found that was the best at using a wood router. This high-speed cutter made perfect factory grooves in the linoleum. Norm had just enough of the original rubber mat up by the middle seat so he knew his new handmade mat was show quality.

Because of Norm Smith’s strong interest in early American vehicles, he also does restoration work for others.  He operates a small shop that makes customers cars look like new. You can contact Norm Smith at his email address; snecorp@aol.com.

Note: Another example of Norm Smith enjoying the unusual is in storage beside his Suburban. This is his 1956 Chevrolet four-door right-hand drive passenger car he bought many years ago during a visit to Australia. I’m sure this was a significant cost to ship this vehicle from the other side of the world!  We can just imagine the attention this vehicle receives on the streets of Denver, Colorado.

1957 Chevrolet Suburban 1957 Chevrolet Suburban 1957 Chevrolet Suburban
1957 Chevrolet Suburban 1957 Chevrolet Suburban 1957 Chevrolet Suburban

1953 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton, South America

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

1953 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton
It’s the most southern town in the world, Punta Arenas, Chile. During February 2012 we are touring a sheep farm at the edge of the community. The exhibit in an adjacent barn is showing the sheering procedure to remove the one year growth of wool from a large male sheep.

After the demonstration, our attention turns to the back of the barn. As we walk around a partition, what a surprise! There sits a licensed un-restored 1953 Chevrolet ½ ton! This approximately 60 year old truck is said to be used weekly for driving to the town for supplies, church, or just for pleasure. To be honest, during most of their winter (over 60% of the year) it is kept in storage. It still has its original 216 six cylinder engine and 3 speed column shift transmission with closed drive shaft. Can there be any better example of the bullet proof construction of these little Chevrolet trucks?

The pickup has never been restored, but non-GM upgrades have been added over the years to replace worn parts. At the southern tip of Chile, you use what can be found to keep vehicles operating!

The changes are what we have often seen in the US as these trucks were kept roadworthy with limited expense. Our walk around this ½ ton shows the following:

New larger park lights allow for modern turn signals.

12 Volt battery.

A replacement floor mat has been cut from a larger rubber sheet.

In recent years, the red paint was added to freshen up the appearance.

It has chrome spoke wheels; however the originals (two have snow tires) are stored in the bed.

Look at the tail lights. Whatever they are from, they will certainly be seen!

The optional rear bumper has a replacement from some make of car.

A bracket from a 1941-1946 to help hold the hand crank has been welded to the middle of the front bumper.

The shoulder belts appear to be attached to the interior panel with sheet metal lag bolts. You can’t add a nut between the sealed inner and outer metal panels. We question if this bolt would stay in place during a major accident.

Look! A 4 speed shift knob from somewhere on the 3 speed column shift lever.

A 1947-48 Chevrolet car steering wheel. Was this a left over item used at the factory on this import pickup?

The bedwood required replacing. Thus, wood planks with no bed strips.

What unusual pedal pads.

In the most southern town in the world, you use the side mirrors you can find.

A modern third brake light is secured to the rear window.

Look at the unusual inner fender terminal blocks. With new recent wiring something had to be found.

A 1951-52 Chevy car hood emblem fits close but not exact.

All dash gauges are on the metric system.

In the US the Chevrolet original dash oil gauge face reads 0 to 30 pounds because of the low pressure216 engine. Using the metric system the gauge must read 0 to 60 as does our feature truck. Therefore, this is the same gauge face as used in the 1952-53 GMC trucks in the US with the high oil pressure engine. What a coincidence!

The most interesting is a pair of 1951 doors (pull down handles) are on this 1953. It should have push button handles. Of course, this is an export truck, no doubt the assembly line in 1953 used extra parts available to create this pickup to be sold in other countries.

1953 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton

US temp with
metric oil gauge

1953 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton

Metric speedometer

1953 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton

1947-48 Car steering wheel

1953 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton

Hand crank bracket

1953 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton

Aftermarket taillight
and bumper

1953 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton

Modern turn signals

1953 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton
The 1953 side mount
is correct
1953 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton
Modern shoulder belt
1953 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton
A 4 speed knob
1953 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton
The A third brake light
1953 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton
Replacement bed floor
1953 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton
Much like US
1953 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton
This 1953 has a
wide belt water pump
1953 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton
Dress up chrome wheels
1953 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton
Add on mirror brackets
  1953 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton
Unusual terminal blocks

1971 Chevy Blazer

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Owner: Russell Penniston

1971 Chevy Blazer
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”.

1971 Chevy Blazer
Front w/ 1971 License
1971 Chevy Blazer
350 V-8
1971 Chevy Blazer
Blazer’s are rated K/5
1971 Chevy Blazer
350 V-8 w/ after market air
1971 Chevy Blazer
Original Spare Tire & floor Mat
1971 Chevy Blazer
Tailgate w/Blazer Air Seal Strip
1971 Chevy Blazer
Lift Gate
1971 Chevy Blazer
First Year For Disc Brakes
1971 Chevy Blazer
Cigarette Lighter Plug
1971 Chevy Blazer
Unrestored Door Panel
1971 Chevy Blazer
Rear Seat w/ Some Awards

1948 Chevy Truck – Heartbeat of America

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

1948 Chevy Truck –“ Heartbeat of America”
Owner: Luke Stefanovsky
1948 Chevy Truck
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.

1948 Chevy Truck 1948 Chevy Truck
1948 Chevy Truck

If you wish to contact Luke, please send him an email at: lstefanovsky@mtpleasant.edzone.net

1937 GMC T-16 Cab Over Engine

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

1937 GMC T-16 Cab Over Engine
Owner:  Gary Witmer

1937 GMC T-16 Cab Over Engine 1937 GMC T-16 Cab Over Engine

Original Photo Above

In our Feature Truck of the Month series, we try to show the more unusual GM trucks. This is no exception. It falls perfectly into this category.

Purchased new in 1937, this GMC T-16 Cab Over Engine truck has stayed in the same family almost 75 years. Bought in Williamsport, PA by Arthur (Witty) Witmer as a cab and chassis. It soon was changed into the largest and strongest tow truck in the surrounding counties. Its 20,000 pound winch could handle any truck of its day.

Witty hand built the tow bed from steel purchased in town. It became a true one-of-a-kind vehicle. The boom was telescopic and could raise the vehicle being pulled. It looked factory made. The truck was so well built that he had many contracts from over-the-road freight companies to tow their rigs if trouble developed within a 50 mile radius. Nothing in the area could out pull Witty’s GMC.

The 5 Witmer children always remember the big GMC being kept in a building beside the combination family home / Amoco gas station plus repair garage. They grew up during the Great Depression and it was this GMC that provided a little extra income for the large family during such difficult times. This was a time when the family grew strong sharing and working together as a team. Their strong family ties and appreciation of what they had together followed them throughout their lives. Along with all their helping with the service station and repair garage, plus Witty being on call with the GMC tow truck twenty-four hours a day, they survived with the necessities.

Even during WWII when all of Witty’s hired help joined the military, he with the family ran the service station and garage. The big T-16 GMC was the link that provided the family with just a little extra.

The old GMC was retired in the early 1960’s. It had paid its dues. It had received four inline 6 cylinder GMC engines, various clutches, many brake jobs and numerous other repairs that are given to 25 year old work trucks. Of course, the more modern 18 wheelers were so much larger than in the early years. It was more of a chore for the T-16 GMC to pull the largest tractor trailers successfully. It now is stored behind one of Witty’s grandson’s buildings!

And now, the rest of the story! A few years ago one of Witty’s sons, Gary Witmer of Blue Springs, MO noticed a 1:24 scale model of a 1938 GMC T-16 truck on the market. It was made by Danbury Mint in Danbury, CT. It looked so much like dad’s old tow truck! The details were amazing. Of course, the bed was different but the cab and chassis were like the one Gary remembered during his family’s early years in Pennsylvania. As he looked at this new Danbury model the wheels in Gary’s head began to turn. Would it be possible the transform this scale model into a truck like his father used for so many years?

The more he thought about this, the more enthused he became. Yes, it would be a work of love, a tribute to his family and their younger years growing up during the depression and the lean times of WWII.

Gary is more of a perfectionist, just like his father, so the work ahead to build this correct tow truck was not considered impossible. With his memories of the old GMC and the following photos (the family won’t sell it) Gary created the drawings that would be the blueprints for this one-of-a-kind creation.

Small pieces of brass were formed, connected, soldered, and painted into the exact copy of the real thing. He even shortened the frame of the Danbury model.

Gary spent 400 to 450 hours last year to create this Witty GMC T-16. It is truly a work of art and an honor to his family and their strength. It is the reason they survived so well during difficult times.

You can contact Gary Witmer at: glwitty1@aol.com.

1937 GMC T-16 Cab Over Engine 1937 GMC T-16 Cab Over Engine 1937 GMC T-16 Cab Over Engine
1937 GMC T-16 Cab Over Engine 1937 GMC T-16 Cab Over Engine 1937 GMC T-16 Cab Over Engine
1937 GMC T-16 Cab Over Engine 1937 GMC T-16 Cab Over Engine

1959 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton Pickup

Monday, October 31st, 2011

Owner: Cecil White, South Africa

1959 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton Pickup

We always try to find more unusual GM haulers for our Feature Truck of the Month series.  This design of the 1959 Chevrolet 1/2 ton pickup has probably never been seen in the United States.  You would need to travel to Africa to find another!

It was made at the GM assembly plant in Port Elizabeth, South Africa as were thousands of others at that time.  Because the country of South Africa was influenced by England, their vehicles were and still are all right-hand drive to operate perfectly on their roads.

Our feature truck is owned by Cecil White of Rivonia, South Africa.  He is a strong Chevrolet truck enthusiast.  He bought this little 1959 two years ago to drive while his 1941 1/2 ton is being given a ground up restoration.  Cecil states it is about all original except the paint and upholstery.  Its 235 six cylinder engine and three speed column shift operate like new. The 85,500 miles on the speedometer relates to only 1,650 miles per year!

Though much is like the US version, it has several areas that are South Africa only. The stepside bed is a real focal point. The South Africa plant produced them during these years with a ribbed metal bottom and not the wood plank type.  How unique to a US truck owner.

The right-hand drive system is always an attention getter in the US. The dash was redesigned by GM as are some of the steering components. No place provided for a radio or a deluxe fresh air heater. The knobs are the same as US but positioned differently.

Cecil made a special comment on not only the bed floor but the tailgate. This South African tailgate has inside chains and a pair of large hinged handles which latch when the gate is closed.  What an unusual feature on a US truck this would be when an owner wanted his pickup a little different than original!

Several years ago, it was given new paint but was kept the original Dawn Blue.  This is a perfect match for the color of the untouched horn button.

The ID plate remains on the left door post like in the US, but confirms it was assembled in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.  Note the left hand column shift.  Wouldn’t that make the US brain say “Why are you reaching for the left side to shift?”  The clutch and acceleration linkage must be for right-hand drive only.  They required some real engineering to accomplish this feat!

Cecil White is always available for questions at:  whiteadjust@yebo.co.za

1959 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton Pickup 1959 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton Pickup
1959 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton Pickup 1959 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton Pickup
1959 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton Pickup 1959 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton Pickup
1959 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton Pickup

1935 Chevy 1/2 ton

Saturday, October 1st, 2011

Owner:  Roger Sorenson

1935 Chevy 1/2 ton

Such a rare 1/2 ton!  It was made during the “Great Depression” when new vehicle sales were extremely low.  Only a small percentage of the population could buy a new truck or car.  About seven years later when our country became involved in World War II, most all vehicle assembly plants were changed to war material production and there was almost no truck and car manufacturing.  Pickups like this 1935 just kept being used!

After the war they were mostly worn out and had a very “pre-war” appearance.  The large amount of wood that was part of the early cab construction had begun to deteriorate.  The non-hydraulic cable operated brakes were ready for some major upgrades.  Beds, rear fenders, tires, and mechanicals needed much to bring them to useable standards.   Money was in short supply!  The popular choice was to try to drive the old truck until it just couldn’t keep going.  Then it was usually junked for a popular post-war truck.  Financing a new model with more modern upgrades and an updated cab design was often less expensive.  Thus, few of these 75 year old trucks remain.

The owner and restorer of this 1935 Chevrolet 1/2 ton is Roger Sorenson of Lacrosse, Wisconsin.  He found it in pieces December 1999.  The remaining cab wood was not restorable and the mechanicals were locked in place.  Even the bed parts were not repairable.  It lacked a dash, seats, bumpers, braces, and so many small parts that were lost during the years of disassembly.

Roger considered it his challenge in life to make it like a new 1935.    The four years in its restoration consisted of so much research and locating restorable 75 year old GM parts.  He became an expert of 1935 Chevy pickups.  Older books, the computer, talking to others, and even time spent in a library prepared him with the knowledge to do this intensive restoration.  All items except the bed components are original GM, either new or restored used.   Bedsides, wood, tailgate, etc. were reproduced as these items were not obtainable in even fair condition.

Finally this labor of love found Roger the owner of a “new” 1935 1/2 ton.  It’s like it was at the factory and before it even left the dealership or driven on a 1935 road.

Once completed, it was now time to see if it was done correctly by the most professional judges.  The restoration was completed July 2011, just in time for three of the more detailed judging shows in the Midwest.  Roger’s little ½ ton scored as follows in the truck class:

July – Vintage Chevrolet Club America; Gundee, MI, received First Junior.

July — Vintage Chevrolet Club America; Flint, MI, received First Senior.

September – Antique Automobile Club of America; Oak Brook, IL, received First Junior.

Quite an accomplishment for the first three months out.  In each show Roger received the highest award available for a first timer!

Jim Carter’s Truck Parts is proud to have this rare original pickup as our feature truck for October 2011.  In our 30 years we have not had the opportunity to find a 1934-36 high cab Chevrolet truck in this new condition.  Roger states he will be happy to help anyone with their technical questions in the restoration of their early Chevrolet truck.    You may contact him at s5secret@aol.com.

1935 Chevy 1/2 ton 1935 Chevy 1/2 ton
1935 Chevy 1/2 ton 1935 Chevy 1/2 ton
1935 Chevy 1/2 ton

1954 Chevrolet Deluxe

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

Owner:  Pat Jackson

It’s mid 1954 and there is a growing segment of the US that for the first time has some disposable income.

This was part of a post Korean War boom that had never been seen before. General Motors recognized this. More automotive options that were available were selling well!

Thus, a relative inexpensive gamble was made by the Chevrolet truck division of GM. Just maybe some light truck buyers would prefer a pickup with most accessories as standard equipment. For an extra cost you could receive a package of accessories even though they had nothing to do with the work ability of the pickup.

This gave birth to Chevrolet’s Deluxe pickup truck in mid-year 1954. On this pickup, you didn’t order specific accessories. The appearance items all came standard for one price! The new Deluxe pickups are not shown in most 1954 Chevrolet truck brochures. They were introduced in mid-year, long after the dealer brochures were printed for the beginning of the 1954 truck year.

Pat Jackson of Johnstown, Ohio found one of these Deluxe 1954 pickups in a central Texas ad about 2004. He trailered it back over 1,000 miles and thought it would be great to totally restore a pure 1954 Deluxe. Most all was there. It just had been exposed to almost 60 years of weather and regular use. It would be like assembling a big model kit but each part would be carefully restored to be just like it come from the factory. No exceptions. It would even have the correct black painted bedwood. Unfortunately, he later discovered much rust and bondo in the cab but was too late to turn back. Patch panels would be needed.

Chevrolet and Pat Jackson’s Deluxe 1954 pickup includes item that were usually extra cost such as; a chrome grill, stainless steel windshield and side window trim, a right side sunvisor , right taillight, chrome bumpers, and right arm rest.

Only the Deluxe package included the following and are now on this 1954: cloth seat inserts, lower body color on the running boards, a different color interior, matching door panels and headliner, interior color steering wheel and column. One very difficult to find item in this Deluxe package is the colored floor mat. It has not been found. This will be a long hunt but Pat is always on the lookout!

Several Chevrolet options on this truck (not part of the Deluxe package) you could order from the factory during production include side mount spare tire, Shell White cab top, and 4 speed transmission.

Pat was also able to find a few additional accessories that were still extra cost beyond the Deluxe package. Included are the dealer installed fresh air heater, eagle hood ornament, wheel rings, bumper guards, and dash mounted clock.

The photos show the finished product. Pat has a new nearly 60 year old Chevrolet Ocean Green Deluxe ½ ton. Of course, they always take much longer to restore that we expect. This took six years of evenings (2,200 hours) to complete!

His feeling of self satisfaction and pride has made it all seem worthwhile. Pat has begun taking it to various auto and truck shows!  If you’d like to contact Pat, please send an email to red38@embarqmail.com.

Photos by Steve Stoll.

1936 Chevy Half Ton

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

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: professorpat@hotmail.com


1939-46 1/2 Ton Canopy Express “Barn Fresh 1942″

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

Owners: Scott and Betty Golding of Stratton, Nebraska

Is this the rare of the rare?

Just when you think they were all gone, up comes a real Canopy Express of the 1939-46 body design.

Our ‘Feature Truck of the Month’ section usually shows restored GM trucks, but we just had to show this almost forgotten body style even though it is not restored. We might call this 1/2 ton Canopy Express a ‘Barn Fresh 1942′

It is owned by Scott and Betty Golding of Stratton, Nebraska.  They found it near Scott City, Kansas, a small town in the far northwest part of the state.   Here the ground is flat and the air is dry.  Thus, body rust is usually not a problem and metal is preserved with the low humidity.  It has saved this 65 year old and it will now be seen by future generations.

Scott states that there were 182 Canopy Express trucks built in 1942.  Therefore, we suspect the survival rate of this year is less than five.  The limited production in 1942 was due to most assembly plants starting to be used to make war materials after the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.  The Canopy Express had a limited market and with the factories stopping production early, the 182 production number is understandable.  Scott and Betty’s Canopy Express still has a chrome grill which relates to the time before the war shortages.

Though the original black paint is mostly gone from the summer sun, the metal condition shows a very restorable vehicle.  Even the full wood divider is still behind the front seat.  This divider with window was necessary for rear vision as well as to allow passengers more comfort in cold weather when the small dealer installed heater was used.  The wood planks in the bed are tired, but still remain in place.  The roll up canvas curtains were usually gone before the tenth year.  Of course, there is no evidence now they even existed.

The Golding’s should have some good luck with a future restoration as the rare body sets on a 1/2 ton pickup frame.  The parts from the door forward are also the same as a pickup truck.  It is the body restoration that might give some problems because the tailgate is lost.  That will take a real search.

Why did the Canopy Express exist?

In another era of our country’s history (1920’s through 1950’s) extra money was limited.  Those with some disposable income bought one family car.   The man of the house drove it to work and the wife stayed at home with the children.  During World War II, the husbands were often in the military overseas. Therefore, retail stores realized to keep sales or even stay in business; they had to bring their products to the neighborhoods.  The Canopy Express filled that need. They were excellent for carrying and displaying produce and related groceries.  Display trays of food products were taken to the neighborhoods.  Probably a bell told home owners that the grocery truck was coming. Even a scale for weighing produce could be attached to an arm extending from the body.  The Canopy Express canvas sides were easily raised or lowered depending on the weather or when back at the store at the end of the day.  Of course, laundry, bakery and dairy products were also delivered to neighborhoods but this required a different size vehicle.  That is another story!

Scott and Betty’s Canopy Express still has the 216 six cylinder engine.  Most important is its 4 speed transmission.  This allowed the Canopy Express to move very slowly in crowded apartment neighborhoods while ringing the hand-pulled bell.

If you would like to contact Scott and Betty, send email to scottandbetty@hotmail.com.

Can anyone help Scott and Betty find a 1939-46 Canopy Express tailgate?

1945 Chevrolet House of Magic

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

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.

1946 Chevy Short Bed Pickup

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

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.

1953 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Year/Make 1953 Chevrolet
Owner: Dave and Pat Moore
1953 Chevrolet
1953 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton

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 dmoore5356@aol.com

1953 Chevrolet
1953 Chevrolet

1953 Chevrolet

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Year/Make 1953 Chevrolet
Owner: Richard & Lorie Baranek

1953 Chevrolet

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
Wabeno, Wisconsin.
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)

1953 chevrolet pick up truck 1953 chevrolet pick up truck 1953 chevrolet pick up truck
1953 chevrolet pick up truck 1953 chevrolet pick up truck 1953 chevrolet pick up truck
1953 chevrolet pick up truck 1953 chevrolet pick up truck 1953 chevrolet pick up truck

1936 Chevrolet 1/2 ton Pickup

Monday, February 14th, 2011


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.
1936 Chevrolet 1/2 ton Pickup
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.

1936 Chevrolet 1/2 ton pickup 1936 Chevrolet 1/2 ton pickup 1936 Chevrolet 1/2 ton pickup
1936 Chevrolet 1/2 ton pickup 1936 Chevrolet 1/2 ton pickup

1950 Chevrolet Deluxe 1/2 ton

Monday, February 14th, 2011

Owner: Jim Brallier

1950 Chevrolet Truckstell Overdrive

1950 Chevrolet Deluxe 1/2 ton

The total restoration of this 1950 Chevrolet Deluxe 1/2 ton came to be because of a “match made in heaven”. Jim Brallier of Clearville, PA has this special truck because several things came together just right. He always had a desire to restore an older truck. He was retired after a full career specializing in vehicle mechanical repair and welding. His son is a professional auto body repairman and painter. There was now extra time to peruse his long dream and all came together at the right time.

Jim discovered this factory deluxe pickup (with all the trim) only 60 miles away in the rolling hills of South central Pennsylvania. This was known for coal mining many years ago and for some reason the little truck had been stored in a garage 30 years ago and appeared related to the coal mining business in this area. The garage saved it from years of bad weather however the first 20 years of being in the past coal mining area was not kind to the truck and 65 years of summer humidity, even in storage, added to major body rust. But was a more rare deluxe pickup with the extra rear corner windows!

It took Jim Brallier no time to know this was to be the truck he had planned for during his many past working years. It was too deteriorated not to be disassembled down to the frame rails. The motor was locked after its 30 year storage and most body panels were showing rust holes.Jim knew this would be a challenge but he refused to stop when all the pieces were removed. It would have then only been salvage scrap metal! He was retired so this 1 1/2 year project was his challenge. His years as a mechanic and welder could now be placed again to good use on this otherwise total loss rusted little pickup (he even replaced the outer door skins where he discovered an interesting ink pen stored inside*). The attached photos verify the pure deluxe features of this top of the line 5 window model. The Cape Maroon color is correct for 1950. Stainless window trim, chrome grill and bumpers. Jim added chrome mirror arms and taillights. The deeper 6 bolt wheels are about 1969 Blazer that allow for radial tires. Polished stainless steel strips greatly add to the appearance of the 6 foot bed. The results are now appreciated by all that see it. Two local car shows and two trophies!

AND THEN IT HAPPENED! Jim heard about a distant 1952 1/2 ton at the right price. Maybe his experience with his 1950 would make this a much easier second project to be a daily driver. (don’t these old Chevy trucks get in our blood!) The price was so good. It was in an old storage garage and deeply covered with everything on the cab top and along and in the bed. Without seeing little more than the truck front and no accessibility to the side or cab, Jim still bought it. The next week he was back with his trailer and removing the storage to gain access and then hauled it home. Once in his garage the overall condition check was made. What is that? What’s that box in the drive line behind the three speed transmission? It certainly was not like his 1950. He cleaned the grease and dirt from a sheet metal plate on the case. It was a Truckstell Overdrive! Even the operating cable under the dash was there. What a find! Almost unheard of in today’s world and Jim now owned one. Of course, he had to have it in his 1950.

This changeover project was the most exciting in all his restoration. To have this aftermarket option in his show truck would be the ultimate accessory. He totally disassembled the unit and it required only new grease seals. Its problem had been a frozen under dash control cable. The outer metal wire covering and non-metal insulation tube were replaced. The actual inter cable was still ok. The total drive shaft assembly was exchanged with his 1950. It was always necessary to shorten the closed drive shaft torque tube system in the early years to make room for the over-drive gear box. The differential ring and pinion gears came out together but no trade was needed in axle housing, axles or brake system. Jim totally restored the overdrive including cleaning the Truckstell ID plate and painting the case the original orange color found in a few spots.

This overdrive has changed his 1950’s total driving personality! The little 216 engine now cruises 60 MPH on the highway instead of 45 MPH on the slower country roads. The overdrive can be used in all 3 gears and has a “hill holding” feature. It doesn’t roll backwards when starting on a slope at stop signs. Jim feels this is the best thing one can add to a 1/2 ton. Why did GM never offer this option in the early years? It appears the Truckstell Overdrive #101 was available for the Chevrolet passenger cars and 3 speed 1/2 ton pickups from about 1946 through 1955. By then Chevrolet offered their own optional Borg-Warner overdrive with the introduction of the open-drive shaft system. Click below to see the original sales literature offered by Truckstell in the late 1940’s Truckstell Brochure.

When Jim removed the door skin for replacement, he found an ink pen in the bottom. It was lettered U.A.W. United Auto Workers. No doubt, it was placed in the door by an assembly worker during assembly in 1950. this is his souvenir of the restoration. NOTE: If you have an interest in Truckstells, we found another person with a collection and most related literature. Contact KB at his email address telekenfun@ak.net.

1950 Chevrolet Truckstell Overdrive 1950 Chevrolet Truckstell Overdrive 1950 Chevrolet Truckstell Overdrive
1950 Chevrolet Truckstell Overdrive 1950 Chevrolet Truckstell Overdrive 1950 Chevrolet Truckstell Overdrive
1950 Chevrolet Truckstell Overdrive

1956 Opel

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

Owner: Jan van Bohemen

1956 Opel

1956 GMC Opel

We just couldn’t resist placing this approximately 1956 Opel as this month’s feature truck. Did you actually think General Motors discarded the famous Advance Design 1947-55 truck cab tooling? To get a little more use of the tooling, it was modified in the late 1950’s as a German Opel truck.  Remember the small Opel car imported in the 1960’s and sold in Buick dealerships? They displayed the same lightning bolt emblem as the trucks.

Look closely at this pickup.  It has Advance Design all over it!

Its owner is Jan van Bohemen in Germany.  It started as a larger work truck, however he wanted a pickup so he made the bed and rear fenders to get the look he wanted.  Very impressive!

For your information…more data on the later-use of the Advanced Design Tooling.  Not only did they use this tooling in Europe but it was an assembly line produced truck in Brazil. Click here to see Brazil’s version.

1956 Opel 1956 Opel 1956 Opel
1956 Opel 1956 Opel

1946 Chevrolet

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Owner: Dennis Odell

1946 Chevrolet

1946 Chevrolet

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!!


1946 Chevrolet 1946 Chevrolet 1946 Chevrolet
1946 Chevrolet 1946 Chevrolet

A New Truck – 55 Years Old!

Friday, October 1st, 2010

Year/Make 1955 Chevrolet NAPCO Suburban

Owner: George VanOrden

1955 Chevrolet Suburban

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.

1955 Chevrolet Suburban 1955 Chevrolet Suburban 1955 Chevrolet Suburban
Interior Engine
1955 Suburban Taillights