Segment Five: 1947-1954 Advanced Design Pickups


Author: Don Bunn

Chevrolet's radically different 1947 Advanced Design light-duty trucks represented a sea change in pickup design and appearance. The nation was entering the exciting Post World War II era and after four long years of war the American people, especially the veterans, were looking forward to new opportunities in the world's greatest country. There was no better way to put the past behind and look to the future than with new lines of America's favorite form of transportation - cars and light trucks. Post War automobiles followed a little



The Advanced Design 1947 pickups went on sale on Saturday June 28, 1947. Shown is a 1947 3/4-ton Model ER pickup. Power came from the historic Chevrolet 216.5 cubic-inch Overhead Valve six cylinder engine. This 3/4-ton pickup is rather unusual because it has all the deluxe trim items offered in 1947 - a chrome grille, chrome window trim and rear quarter windows. Usually this equipment is found on half-ton pickups. (Photo: AAMA)

more than a year later than the new trucks. GM was the first manufacturer to release the new-look post War trucks late in the 1947 model year as 1947 models. They were announced at Chevrolet dealer showrooms on Saturday June 28, 1947.

There is so much that could be said about the new Chevrolet pickups that we could fill a small book. For lack of space we will stick to the basics. Truck engineers typically began development work on a new series by surveying truck users. Personal interviews with business owners revealed the number one

concern with trucks was a larger, roomier cab with more comfortable seats and better vision. Please note that owner interviews at that time in history were held with business owners not with individuals who owned pickup trucks for transportation only. The cab of the Advanced Design pickups was eight inches wider and seven inches longer. By pickup standards increases of this magnitude

This 1950 Chevrolet half-ton model HP pickup was photographed in October 1999. It is so typical of collector trucks which are almost, but not quite stock. Note the later model hubcaps, a hood ornament, non-stock yellow paint and the wheels seem to be undersized too. (Photo: Don Bunn)

only happen once in a lifetime. The cab's new size allowed the engineers to fit in with a true three-man seat which was also fully adjustable front and rear on an inclined plane to provide maximum driver vision. The additional cab width and length caused the new pickups to look much bigger than previously.

A new larger windshield and bigger side and rear window glass and optional rear-quarter windows vastly improved safety and driveability. Higher and wider



Chevrolet's largest 1950 pickup was the model 3800 one-ton which was built on a 137-inch chassis. Its cargo box's inside measurements were 108 1/4-inches long by 50-inches wide. A four-speed transmission was standard as was its 216.5 cubic inch Thrift-Master engine. (Photo: Don Bunn)

cab doors made entry and exit easier. Another new feature which further contributed to driver comfort and safety was a fresh-air heater/defroster system which brought fresh outside air into the cab and forced used air out through vents at the rear of the cab.

Chevrolet engineers designed the new cab's construction to be entirely welded, as opposed to partly bolted together as in the past. Consequently the new cab was much stronger and featured a three-point type of suspension, which contributed to a softer ride.

Chevrolet engineers included three pickup truck types in the new Advanced Design Series in three-sizes, half-, 3/4- and one-tons (models 3104, 3604 and 3804 respectively) with cargo boxes 78 inches, 87 inches and 108 inches long.

All three boxes were 50 inches wide, 16 1/4 inches high on the sides and 14 inches high in the ends. Wheelbases were 116, 125 1/4 and 137 inches. For each model the cargo box was shifted forward for better distribution of the load in relation to the rear axle and for better support by the frame rails. All pickups continued to be built with wooden cargo floors covered with steel skid strips.


The door vent windows were new in 1951 and push button door handles in 1952. A 1952 e/3-ton pickup is shown. The 3600 Series trucks were built on a 125 1/4-inch wheelbase chassis. The three-speed synchromesh transmission was standard; the four-speed was an option. This truck was Y2K ready and ready for sale on a used car lot in October 1999. (Photo: Don Bunn)
Advanced Design pickup's engine was the 90 horsepower, 174 ft-lb. of torque, 216.5 cubic inch Thrift Master OHV six cylinder. The half and 3/4-ton pickup's standard transmission was a three speed and a four speed was optional. Only the four speed was available for the one-ton.

In addition to pickups, the Advanced Design light-duty truck's with body line continued to include half- and one-ton panels and canopy expresses; 3/4- and one-ton stake trucks; the Carryall Suburban and the automobile based on the Sedan Delivery.

Advanced Design pickups continued through 1953 with only minor engineering and styling upgrades. For example, in 1948 the four-speed transmission's gear shift lever was moved to the steering column from the floor and the parking brake was changed from a floor mounted lever to a foot actuated pedal on the driver's far left. These changes cleared the floor of obstructions for the convenience and comfort of the passenger seated in the middle. The former four-speed spur-type transmission was changed to a synchromesh unit to eliminate double clutching.

In 1949 the gas tank was moved to inside the cab behind the seat back. In 1950 the 216.5 cubic inch six was tweaked to put out 92 horsepower at 3400 rpm and 176 ft-LB of torque at 1000 to 2000 rpm. In 1951 the left-side cowl vent was eliminated and was replaced by door vent windows. New push-button door handles were a 1952 model year introduction.



This 1954 Chevrolet Series 3100 half-ton pickup is another not-quite stock collector pickup. This was the first year of the Advanced Design series in which extensive styling changes were made. Note the one-piece curved windshield and new grille and parking lights. (Photo: Don Bunn)

The first, and only, major Advanced Design styling and engineering changes occurred with the 1954 models. These models featured a pleasing one-piece windshield, and all-new grille, new parking lights and a new steering wheel and
instrument panel. Engineering advancements included the new standard 235.5 cubic inch OHV six cylinder engine producing 112 horsepower and 200 ft-LB gross torque. The full automatic Hydra-Matic transmission became an option for light-duty trucks. These trucks continued into 1955 and remained on sale until March 25, 1955 when all-new Early V8 pickup trucks were announced by Chevrolet.

This amazing 1954 Chevrolet Series 3800 one-ton pickup looked almost as good as new when photographed in October 1999. These big pickups were worked so hard they usually didn't survive (Photo: Don Bunn)

Chevrolet pickups were number one in sales during every year of the Advanced Design Era.

Next Segment: 1955-1959 Early V8 Pickups