Segment Three: 1937-1940 First Modern Pickups Author:
modern pickup era began in 1937 when management filled in the holes
in the model lineups. Prior to 1937 the company produced a Commercial
model (1/2-ton) and a Heavy Truck (1 1/2-ton). The gaps were closed
with the introduction of 3/4- and one-ton models. Actually these new
models came late in the model year in July 1937. Another interesting
development was that the trucks again shared the styling traits of
back in 1921 and 1922 Chevrolet built a 3/4-ton chassis cowl only.
No bodies were offered to say nothing of a pickup. It was not until
1937 that Chevrolet began to offer 3/4- and one-ton models as standard
models -- pickups, chassis cabs, stakes, panels, etc. Shown is a
1937 GC Master 3/4-ton pickup. Wheelbase length was 122 1/4-inches
and its engine was the new 216.5 cubic inch six. (Photo: Arnold
The new 3/4-ton
truck had a wheelbase of 122 1/4-inches, a payload capacity of 1,500
pounds and a GVW of 5,800 pounds. The one-ton differed from the
3/4-ton in that it had larger rear brakes, heavier rear springs
and bigger wheels and tires.
included pickup, stake, and platform. The new pickup body had an
inside length of 78-inches, an inside width of 45 3/4-inches and
an inside height of 14-inches. Its capacity was 32.2 cubic feet
or an increase of 13 percent over the 1/2-ton model.
extremely attractive 1938 Chevrolet HC Master 1/2-ton pickup
had been recently restored when photographed at a car show
in July 1998 (Photo: Don Bunn)
truck engine, for all models, was increased in size to 216.5
cubic inches. Compression ratio was at 6.25:1. Brake horsepower
increased to 85 at 3200rpm and torque was at 170 ft-lbs.
Chevrolet also offered a Commercial Series built on an automobile's
chassis. Included were the
and a Coupe Pickup. The Coupe Pickup was simply the Master Series
coupe with a slide-in pickup body. The trunk lid could be removed
when using the pickup box. The Coupe Pickup dated back to 1936 and
the Sedan Delivery was a modified two-door Chevrolet Sedan. Chevrolet's
exclusive Suburban station wagon was in its third model year in
The 1938 models
carried over with only minor styling changes. Although minor, the
changes to the grille and hood sides greatly enhanced the truck's
appearance. The other styling change of note was a new front bumper.
The 1938 bumper was wider with a recess running down its center
and it was tapered on the ends. New models for 1938 included the
3/4- and one-ton panels.
Chevrolet trucks received a restyled and reengineered cab and front
sheet metal. These new trucks were by far the best looking trucks
in Chevrolet Division's history.
The new cab
was designed for driver comfort and convenience. A more attractive
and functional instrument panel was easier for the driver to use.
Controls like choke and throttle were recessed at the lower edge
of the panel at its center and the instruments were clustered for
in the cabs were made nearly three-inches lower and the cab provided
more headroom. Softer seat springs had about two-inches of "give"
to get the additional headroom. Seats were made three-inches wider,
which enabled three men to sit abreast.
All 1939 models
had longer wheelbases: 113 1/2-inches for the half-ton; 123 3/4-inches
for the 3/4- and one-tons and 133 and 158 1/2-inches for the heavy
1939 Chevrolet Series JC Master half-ton pickup was built on a 113
1/2-inch wheelbase chassis. Chevrolet called it a "Cab and
Box". It sold for only $572 list. Road ready it weighed 2,925
pounds. (Photo: Don Bunn)
surest way to identify a 1940 Chevrolet pickup is to look at its
topmost grille bar. It is higher than that of the 1939 model and
has a large Chevrolet name written in red script letters. The 1940
half-ton pickup was the Series KC Light Delivery model, which sold
for only $572, or the same as the 1939 model. (Photo: Don Bunn)
no additions or deletions to model offerings for 1939. Although
beyond the scope of our interests, Chevrolet did launch its first
factory-built cab-over-engine trucks in 1939.
The 1940 cab
remained the same but the instrument panel was curved with a rectangular
gauge cluster taken from the passenger cars. Sealed beam headlights
were also new for 1940 which caused the designers to give the trucks
a separate parking light mounted on top of the front fenders. The
best styling clue to differentiate a 1939 from a 1940 is to look
at the top of the grille. The 1940's grilled had a wider chrome
strip at the very top with the Chevrolet name written in script