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Perfect Patina: 1953 Chevrolet 3100 Short Bed

Classic vehicles can suffer all sorts of issues over time. Rust is the most common problem, but sometimes fate throws something extra into the mix. That is the case with this 1953 Chevrolet 3100 Short Box. It does have some rust issues but has also been hit with some damage by what was believed to be a tree limb. This old classic now needs someone to breathe new life into it and explore the wealth of possibilities available to them. Located in Brainerd, Minnesota, the Pickup has attracted plenty of interest since it was listed for sale here on eBay. There have been 49 bids submitted at the time of writing. This has pushed the price along to $3,850, and the reserve has been met.

The Juniper Green 3100 looks like it has led an adventurous life. Before considering its rust issues, we do need to take a look at the roof damage that has been inflicted upon it. The owner believes that a tree limb did the damage and that someone “pounded” it back out. Repairing the roof itself shouldn’t be a huge problem, but the top frame has also been damaged. Getting this right is important because it does provide a significant amount of strength in this area. The wrong time to find that this strength has been compromised is if you find yourself upside-down for some reason. However, replacement frames are available for under $100, so replacing it entirely could be a smart move. The body has the usual rust that we associate with these classics, including in the cab corners and the floors. The buyer shouldn’t have any trouble locating replacement corners because there are plenty of companies that stock them. Possibly the biggest issue is going to be the rust that is present in the frame. We’re used to seeing surface corrosion in these cases, but penetrating rust is not that common in examples that present in the state that this one does. It is near the rear spring hangers, and it will need to be cut out if the problem is to be repaired properly. The back window is cracked, but the rest of the glass looks good. I believe that the chrome and trim might respond well to some polish, and I don’t think that much of this will need to be replaced.

The 1953 model year was the last where the 3100 came equipped with the 216.5ci Thriftmaster 6-cylinder engine. This one is backed by a 3-speed manual transmission, and the original 4.11 rear end. This engine should produce 92hp, along with 176 ft/lbs of torque. That doesn’t mean that it would have been a great freeway cruiser, but it should have had no trouble carting a full load. The engine in this Pickup doesn’t run, and it hasn’t done for years. However, it does turn freely. Given how robust these engines are, it might roar back into life with surprisingly little work. This is where the buyer could potentially consider a few options. With this engine running and the frame rust repaired, it could be driven as an original survivor. It could also be restored to factory fresh, which would grab plenty of attention. An upgraded drivetrain would make this the perfect candidate for a custom or a ratrod project.

The Chevy’s interior is a surprise packet, because it does appear to be both relatively complete and serviceable. The outer edge of the seat has split, but this could be covered with a blanket. The painted surfaces show their age, and the trim is missing from the bottom of the windshield. However, the rest of the dash is complete, and the original blanking plate for the radio is still present. Those have a nasty habit of disappearing over time. The same is true of the wheel center, so to find both items intact is a bonus. The wheel itself has plenty of cracks, but there has been no shortage of enthusiasts who have managed to restore these for themselves. It takes a bit of time and an eye for detail, but the result is well worth the effort if done properly.

This 1953 Chevrolet 3100 Short Box is a blank canvas, and it is waiting for the right person to put their own mark on it. I have no problems picturing this old classic returning to active duty with no cosmetic changes, and I believe that it would attract plenty of smiles and admiring looks. That is just one alternative, because there are quite a few to consider. The spirited bidding is indicative of the desirability of classic pickups, so it will be interesting to see what this one ultimately sells for.


  1. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

    This truck has great potential. For me the truck would remain as is with tuning the engine and fuel system, going through the brakes and repairing any or all electrical problems that might exist. Unfortunately for me it’s just to many miles away from home to go after.

    God bless America

    Like 8
  2. DAVID

    too rusty for me, nice bed though..

    Like 0
  3. RexFox Member

    Pretty sure the transmission is a 4 speed with a granny 1st gear. The chrome grill and front bumper add to the appeal of the nice interior. I’d be tempted to fix the rust, install a 235 and drive it.

    Like 0
  4. Glenn Schwass Member

    If I wanted one( prefer the 55-56 GMC or 57 Chevy truck)., I’d go for this. It is sweet…

    Like 0
  5. Chris Londish Member

    Rust in the usual places although that is not problem as most panels are available as replacements, still has the closed tailshaft but the heater has gone awol and price isn’t crazy yet!, would make nice shop truck for local use

    Like 0
  6. Dave

    It’s a 4 speed. Column shift is a 3 speed.

    Like 1
  7. geomechs geomechs Member

    Nice project truck. Maybe even a drive and fix as you go. A driver-quality restoration is the ultimate goal though. There is NO such thing as perfect patina IMHO; there is maybe some TASR: Temporarily Acceptable Surface Rust—maybe.

    Like 2
    • Phlathead Phil 🚗🇺🇸

      Surface rust is acceptable.
      Substructure rust is not.
      Although it is true rust never sleeps, it can be treated. IMHO, body has to come off. It’s like digging up a grave! Price seems right. Happy Hallo-rusto-ween!🎃

      Like 1
  8. Joe Haska

    As a lover of this era of pick-up trucks ,Ford or Cheverolet , I have had both, it is a catch 22 for me. Its is GREAT that these trucks or so popular and the prices are sky rocketing. It SUCKS that these trucks are so popular and the prices are sky rocketing.

    Like 1

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