Advertising Age: 1951 Chevrolet Panel Truck

Panel trucks make really fun projects and are great for advertising purposes.  You’ve probably seen all sorts of panel trucks restored and/or hot-rodded with all sorts of advertising painted on the side.  This specific truck is a 1951 Chevrolet and is for sale here on Craigslist near Bremerton, Washington with an asking price of $5,500. Even though this truck comes from rainy Washington, it looks fairly solid.  Read on to see if this may be the perfect project for you.

According to the ad, the previous owner has the truck for 45 years.  It has an older Cadillac V8 engine with automatic transmission.  It was said to have been driven “all over the country” for several years until the carburetor went bad.  It was removed and the engine sat and is now stuck.  There is no mention of the classic Cadillac air cleaner being with the truck still, bummer.

There is some rust on the driver’s side, however, the frame is said to be solid along with the floorboards.  The glass also appears to be good.  You can see the passenger door handle has been removed.  There’s also quite a crease below the passenger side taillight.  As you can see above, the passenger and back side of the truck appear much different than the driver’s side.  It almost appears that it was painted green at some point, perhaps with a thick coat of enamel paint?  The positive side is that Chevrolets of this era are strongly supported by the aftermarket.  Some new chrome bumpers, grille, headlight surrounds and trim will quickly make this truck look much better.

The interior seems mostly intact and stock.  The passenger seat may be missing, but that would make sense if this was some sort of delivery vehicle in its previous life where every square inch of cargo space was a premium.  This truck will certainly be a mechanical, body and paint challenge, but the finished product has a lot of potential.  There may also be possibilities for tax deductions if you use it for business advertising (consult your tax professional). How would you restore this truck?

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  1. Classix Steel

    Throw the boat anchor engine away and go with late model GM salvage for drive train . The Chevrolet engine will look cleaner and drive smoother too!

    Please no more mixed brands in the truck!

    I see a push button start smartkey with a sub frame weld into the car and the new rear end making a instant cruiser :-).

    • Ronald G Bajorek jr

      the cadillac motor is cool,

  2. chad

    I like all of these “pre vans” (3 major brands all made em, was it 1960 – 2009?). Friend had 1 in the 1970s (big 50s Dodge ?).

    This model could be traced from the original vehicles (’90s – that’s 1890s) all the way up to the late 50s when the ‘van’ evolved (C Dodge Corey Camper below). Course Europe had a different story…

  3. Ken Carney

    I agree with you, steel classix, a 350 V-8 and 700R4 auto tranny would be
    just right for me. Sure, this ‘un will need almost everything, but oh what
    fun you’d when all that hard work was done! BTW, my nephew saw one of
    these for sale at Old Town in Kissemee, Fl. That particular truck was
    already finished and the owner was asking $40K for it this past Saturday
    evening. For all you wives and sugnificant others out there, this would make
    a great Christmas gift!! Merry Christmas folks!!


    Many of these old panels survived in the the older yards for decades as they were kings of storage. I visited a lot of yards in the 70’s and 80’s and all had some. One truck may have had all hubcaps, transmissions to all lenses.

    I was always amazed to see them. Many would have the front sheet metal and associated parts stripped away but from the doors back was a safe. Sadly those old yards are all gone.

    This panel needs everything. The build was cool when it was done before it was left to rot. Now the motor and drive line is antiquated by today’s standards. The original frame I would bet is notched and cut to make room for the big V8. Most would want to hack off the front frame rails anyway and install a Nogo sub. Popular in the 1990’s and still doing it today. Plan on A/C as you will shake and bake in this oven when done…….if it ever gets that far!

  5. Madmatt

    I have always loved these old panel vans from the
    40’s to the late 60’s,They make fantastic resto rods,
    and can be very handy after a swap meet trip,or car show.
    Definitely a worthwhile project,as the article stated,”repro”
    parts/updates are widely available,and that alone can be a blessing!
    Although I would want a Ford or Dodge or something even
    stranger,….but they can all be so cool when done,…back
    when things were meant for working people to use,…not
    for the garage or grocery store… Though there is a
    shortage of people who will work.?!……but plenty of garages and stores….?

  6. JW

    I like the 50’s panel trucks but prefer the Ford brand. The featured one is OK but going to need everything.

  7. Barry Klotz

    Love those oldies. Sure were built to last better than today’s.

  8. Loco Mikado

    I had 2 panels, a ’57 Chevrolet no window and a rare ’55 GMC window panel. I should have never sold either but that is life.

  9. sluggo

    Price seems a little steep for essentially a donor for a full rebuild,
    But the cool factor is undeniable.. If it wasnt how did they sell so many PT cruisers? I have too many projects, but I would love to have this. I would update the chassis and powertrain, Retain the classic looks. Make a matching tear drop trailer to go with it.

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