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1958 Chevrolet Apache 3100 With NAPCO 4WD!

Before all truck manufacturers offered four-wheel-drive, NAPCO (Northwestern Auto Parts COmpany) of Minneapolis Minnesota sold kits to convert many two-wheel-drive trucks to 4WD using factory and OEM-quality components. By the time this 1958 Chevrolet Apache 3100 in Spring Grove, Pennsylvania came along, General Motors had actually begun development of its own 4WD offerings, and fully endorsed the NAPCO kits in the interim, according to OldChevyTrucks. At 75% the cost of a typical truck, the NAPCO kit typically appealed to commercial buyers and those with more than hunting and fishing in mind. This price leap may explain why, in my youth, nearly all farm trucks were RWD, and usually fitted with extremely deep-lugged tires. This 21st-century build features components from a rusted Pennsylvania NAPCO rig and a dry-bodied Texas 2WD pickup. Put it together with care and you’ve got a well-constructed vintage NAPCO truck that’s got a second life and looks ready to go anywhere. Lively bidding here on eBay has driven the market value above $11,000, which should cover the parts that went into the truck plus a handsome $0.20 / hour for the seller. Can you say “Labor of love?”

As seen on many builds in recent years, the inside is completely done while the outside wears its original weathered body and paint. The seller describes a truckload of new parts on this Apache. While Chevy cars moved away from this “V” style instrument panel after 1956, it remained in the trucks through 1959. The 1960 Chevrolet trucks were all new including dashboard and availability of four-wheel-drive from the factory.

The NAPCO-correct 17.5″ wheels lift the mechanical bits for additional ground clearance. In contrast, a “Lift Kit” leaves ground clearance unchanged; axles and differentials are only elevated by larger wheels and tires. Combine that ground clearance with the extra drive axle and you’ll reach places in this Apache that no 2WD could visit. These days some drivers engage four-wheel-drive as soon as they venture off-road, but that’s because we’re all spoiled! I’ve driven down a stream bed a mile or more and back in a 2WD Chevy pickup, and drove far afield while hunting and camping in unlikely vehicles like a 1973 Mercury Capri. Start with that realization and you begin to comprehend how the NAPCO gear extends a truck’s usefulness far beyond what most modern drivers would attempt. Nobody paid NAPCO $1000 to upgrade their $1600 truck because they were uncomfortable driving for groceries on snow!

GM did not offer a V8 with the NAPCO system, though some were fitted by dealers. Therefore it’s 100% appropriate to find the rebuilt 235 cid (3.9L) inline six-cylinder engine here. The I6 makes a great truck motor, building more torque than a comparable V8, enjoying a smooth idle thanks to its inherent balance, and offering the simplicity of a single head and 25% fewer cylinders. This truck features an all-new wiring harness and a long list of new and replacement parts to make a reliable driver that differs from original only in ways that an expert would notice.

A wood bed kit is only part of the parts cache that comes with the sale, a gracious offer that speaks highly of the seller. The Texas metal looks correct and solid, and I’d be tempted to weather the bed kit accordingly. Once you bring everything up to show quality, most buyers wouldn’t want to explore the off-road destinations this mechanical tool was designed to reach. What’s the most extreme location you’ve reached in a stock vehicle?


  1. Howard A Member

    It seems the word “NAPCO” has become one of those buzz words, and trucks that had them have become more of a novelty, than for their 4 wheel drive capabilities. Like Dodge, M-H, or Jeep, they were for slogging through the woods, at 10 mph, certainly not for any highway travel. While this is a nice truck, the seller, it seems, wants to keep that original charm, and has newer bias-ply tires, a very poor choice, as radials are the only thing that makes these even remotely driveable today. Don’t think so? When was the last time you drove something with leaf springs and bias-ply tires? And with the simplicity of 4 wheel drive today, I bet some don’t even know what a lockout is. Jim tore me a new corn chute about comparing older 4 wheel drives to present models, not my intent, but we’ve come a long way in 4 wheel drive compared to these pioneers. I have driven lots of these types, when there wasn’t anything better to compare them to, and they are a handful to steer, stop, and maneuver and unless something was done to the gearing, 45 will be about it with the hammer down. It just wasn’t designed for today’s travel. I don’t think the price is too far out of line, considering it’s rarity, but one ride, as is, will have the next owner searching to make it more user friendly, and that won’t come cheap either.

    Like 10
    • Spridget

      I fully agree, Howard . . . I’m not sure I totally understand the buzz about vintage 4x4s from a practical perspective. For $11k+, you’re certainly not going off-road or working the farm with this thing; not only would you damage it, but you can get a more trail-capable vehicle for less. As far as cruising goes, these are basically tractors, and aren’t too fun to drive down the road. It seems all of the value for these (and Ford Highboys, and Broncos, and FJs, and Scouts) comes more from nostalgia and image than from any practical intent. I guess I personally don’t have that nostalgic connection to these, or I’m not image-conscious enough to buy one.

      Like 2
  2. geomechs geomechs Member

    I definitely like what I see here. But I still look at a project like this as being half-done. All the work to combine two trucks and still leave the original paint. Sorry but that old ‘Indian word’ and its definition echoes off the walls. Paint the daggoned truck! Please! It at least deserves a coat of Hardware Store Massey Ferguson Red. I’ve seen way too much surface rust and please don’t try to soften it up with the P-word. Sorry, I haven’t reached my target heart rate for the day–yet!

    As far as driving these trucks is concerned, Howard has got a point. But one of the things you really have to consider is that they’re top-heavy; they won’t round a 55 mph corner at 70; they’ll have a problem rounding it at 55. But driving them smart isn’t all that bad. We had 4×4 trucks on the ranch since 1956 and they pounded down that rock road (the county couldn’t be bothered with crushed gravel) for ever, and many times well over 50 mph. They’re rough and they’re somewhat crude but what a thrill to blast through that first snow bank…

    Like 5
  3. Had Two

    I think is is a short-bed but cannot be sure as there is
    no full side pic. Nice interior! Where did owner find
    the full rubber floor mat replacement?

    Like 1
  4. Tom Bell

    A great creation–glad to see it hasn’t been butchered into someone’s idea of a “resto-mod”. I agree with Geomechs–paint it and also install a correct fir bed floor painted body color as intended, no polyurethaned oak.

    Like 4
  5. robt

    Original paint doesn’t bother me at all. I’ve always been of a mind to make a vehicle run better, handle better, work better etc. before paint.
    Nice truck. And as stated in earlier comments these aren’t great road machines compared to what’s available today.

    Like 0
  6. Michael Ziolkowski

    Pulled out on the beach in OC, MD in a friends ’74, 2 WD, Ford pickup because there was a fishing tournament going on and other trucks were doing the same. Got stuck in the sand. With $2 between the two of us, and the tide coming in, our options of getting unstuck were few. An old-timer told us how to get unstuck for just a laugh at our predicament. Have shared this advise on numerous occasions since. Lower the tire pressure to a few pounds on each tire and drive right out. Then go buy a cheap tire pump to get to a gas station to pump up the rest of the way. Thanks to the old-timer and my best friend who still reminisces about this story 50 years later. Guess we are the old-timers now with great memories.

    Like 1
  7. steve

    Apparently nobody has priced 4WD trucks recently. 11 grand? Heck yes I’d use in on the farm! Beats the heck out of 65K for something that won’t haul any more or pull any better than this will. Yeah, sure, a new “Stupid Duty” pick up of some kind is a better CAR, but if you need a truck and a truck only? Well here it is!
    Im “restoring” (new frame, rebuilt mechanicals) a 1965 Land Rover as I need something to skid logs and run to the dump once a week or so. It, like this, is a road-going tractor which still can earn its keep. Yeah, paint it but hold off on the clearcoat.

    Like 6
  8. David Wayne Krum

    I had a 59 Apache napco that I loved to death did a full resto on it yes paint too. 350 crate engine.
    The only reason I had to sell it was to pay lawyers in my divorce years ago. Saddest day of my life. It was a beautiful perfect truck.

    Like 2
  9. Slickimp

    Extremely cool truck looks good just the way it is,of course with the bed finished. Had a 63 f 250 4×4 in my 20s it was a fun truck

    Like 0
  10. Digger

    This truck is awesome. Also when the day comes that skynet starts turning off everyone’s plastic internet of everything $100K SUV’s of today this thing will still be running.

    Like 0

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