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.
IT GETS BETTER!
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.
Richard Wright’s first 1935, bought about 1965
The Fun Begins
The Second Beginning
The 2009 New Purchase
A Tired 1/2 Ton
Most is There
1936 Axles Give Hydraulic Brakes
Down to the Frame
Mechanicals Await Installation
3 Speed Completed
Sheet Metal Ready
Sizing Metal Before Paint
Wood & Door Mating
Bed Check for Fit
The Floor Frame
Roof in Place
Assembly After Paint
Corners & Back
Fenders in Place
The Focal Point
Richard’s New Wheel
The Finished Product!
Engine in Place
You can contact Richard Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.