Segment Two: 1929-1936 Early Six Cylinder Pickups

Author: Don Bunn
Chevrolet set a new standard for truck power when it introduced the light-truck industry's first overhead valve six-cylinder engine in 1929. Ford answered with a flat head V-8 in 1932 and Dodge with a flat head six in 1933. Because a truck's purpose is to move the largest possible load in the shortest possible time at the lowest possible cost, Chevrolet engineers hit a bases loaded home run with their new 194 cubic inch, 46 horsepower "cast iron

Chevrolet's engineers shook up the truck industry with the introduction of an OHV six-cylinder engine in 1929. The 194 cubic inch six developed 56 brake horsepower. Shown is a 1929 Chevrolet International Model Series LQ 1 1/2-ton chassis cab with running boards and rear fenders with an aftermarket pickup body. (Photo: Don Bunn)

wonder" engine. The OHV produced a great increase in power and torque over the old four and allowed Chevrolet truck to move or pull more significant loads than in the past. Chevrolet's advertising program was brilliant, in 1929 they begin to promote "A six for the price of four".

Quality features of the new six included overhead valves, cast-iron pistons, an efficient cooling system and a non pressurized engine lubrication system.

The new six enabled Chevrolet to upgrade its one-ton to a 1 1/2-ton model. The 1 1/2-ton Utility LQ models were offered either with or without a cab, but as before no bodies were offered. The Series name for 1929 was changed to International which was the same as the 1929 autos. Maximum GVW rating was increased to 7,000 pounds from 6,000 pounds. The Utility truck's transmission was upgraded to a four-speed.

The new six-cylinder powered half-ton chassis cowl was designated the International Light Delivery Chassis with Cowl. The 107-inch wheelbase Light Delivery was rated for a maximum payload of 1,000 pounds. It was equipped with rear fenders and a spare rim for only $400 list. The sixes higher speeds allowed deliverymen and salesmen to make more stops per day

Shown is the left side of the new 1929 Chevrolet six cylinder engine. Note its updraft carburetor. (Photo: Don Bunn)

The first year for a factory built Chevrolet half-ton pickup was 1931, shown. The Roadster pickup seen here has an aftermarket canopy cover installed. The open cab Series LT pickup sold for only $440 with spare rim included. (Photo: David Russell)

than was possible with the slower four cylinder trucks. A $595 Sedan Delivery with a body by the Geneva Body Company was a new model. All Chevrolet trucks for 1929 featured new steel disc wheels--wooden wheels went the way of the buggy whip.

The Independence Series of 1931 Chevrolet trucks were historically important in that this was the first year for a factory-built Chevrolet pickup and the 1 1/2-ton Utility trucks were offered in two wheelbases-- 131- and 157-inches--with single or dual rear wheels. A new Commercial chassis with open cab and pickup box cost only $440. The Commercial rode on a 109-inch wheelbase (108 9/16) up from 107-inches in 1930. Maximum GVW continued at 4,000 pounds. Chevrolet offered four Commercial bodies in 1931--pickup, panel, sedan delivery and canopy. The cab was redesigned with a one-piece steel roof, at last the former structure of wood and fabric was history. The cab was wider and the seats were also wider and more comfortable; the doors were considerably larger for easier entry and a rubber floor mat was furnished.

The only significant change for the 1932 Confederate Series trucks was the change from an automobile engine to an engine specifically built for trucks. Chevrolet engineers upgraded the basic automobile engine with premium features. Horsepower was up to 53 at 2800 rpm from 50 at 2600 rpm and maximum torque jumped by 7 to 131 foot-pounds at 800 rpm. The truck was easier to drive too because of changing to a three-speed synchromesh transmission from a spur-type (non-synchro) unit. Double clutching was eliminated which increased driver efficiency.

Chevrolet engineers continued to improve the 1933 Series CB Master Commercial models by increasing piston displacement to 207 cubic-inches and thereby increasing horsepower to 56 at 2750 rpm and maximum torque to

Have you seen a prettier pickup than this 1932 Chevrolet Confederate Model Series BB closed cab? This pickup sold for only $440, the open cab pickup sold for $10 less. (Photo: Dale Larrivy)

Chevrolet reached a major milestone in 1933 when it produced its first millionth commercial model. This truck carried over pretty much unchanged from 1932. Note its attractive wire wheels and left front fender spare tire carrier. (Photo: David Russell)

146 lb-ft. from 131 in 1932. Models offered remained at four--pickup, sedan delivery, canopy and panel.

The new 1934 Chevrolet Series DB Master Commercial truck line was completely revised. For the first time trucks featured a unique appearance, no longer did they share front end sheet metal with autos. The half-ton trucks' wheelbase was stretched to 112-inches. Its frame was entirely new, heavier and stronger than the passenger car frames of the past. Subsequently, its GVW rating increased to 4400 pounds from 4100 pounds. Horsepower increased to 60 at 3000 rpm from 56 at 2750 but maximum torque was unchanged. Body offerings remained at four--canopy, panel, pickup, and sedan delivery.

The 1934 trucks became the 1935's Series EB Master Commercial models with very little change except the engineers squeezed more power from the engine. Maximum horsepower increased by 8.5 to 68.5 at 3200 rpm and torque was up by four to 150 LB-ft at 1000 to 1400 rpm.

The 1936 Chevrolet Series FB Master Commercial models featured minor styling and engineering improvements but the basic truck carried over from 1935 pretty much as was. Even though the engine's cubic inch displacement was unchanged maximum horsepower increased by 3 1/2 to 72 at 3200 rpm. and torque was up by five to 155 at 900 to 1500 rpm. Full-length engine water jackets around the cylinders

The wheelbase of this 1934 Series dB Master Commercial closed cab pickup was 112-inches. The standard closed cab half-ton pickup sold for only $465, a spare wheel was included.

This 1936 Chevrolet Series FB Master Commercial half-ton pickup was driven to an old tractor show pulling the heavy trailer shown. Note how the rear of the pickup is squatting under the trailer's weight. This photo was taken in 1986. I saw the same truck again at the 1999 tractor show and it still looks well. (Photo: Don Bunn)

improved engine cooling and a reworked camshaft improved performance. The most important engineering improvement was a change to a full hydraulic brake system for safety.

Next Segment: 1937-1940 First Modern Pickups