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
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.
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”.
You can contact Earl and Karen on their email at: firstname.lastname@example.org