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Barn Find Panel Wagon Showdown


For the most part, work vans aren’t all that exciting or fun, but for whatever reason classic panel vans have been grabbing our attention lately. These work wagons were commonly used as delivery vehicles during the ’40s and ’50s, but because of their hard lives few remain today. As with most American classics, the debate of whether a Ford or a Chevy is better continues, even among the panel van community. It just happens that there are two barn find panel vans on eBay, one a Ford, the other a Chevrolet, so it seemed fitting we do a comparison. The Ford can be found here and the Chevrolet here on eBay.


This 1948 Chevrolet Panel Van was found in an old warehouse, where it has been for the past 34 years. Both of these trucks are in rough shape, but it appears the Chevrolet isn’t as rusty or missing as many pieces. However, the Chevrolet is also 8 years younger than the Ford and was stored in a warehouse.


Now we are sure there are those of you that thinking this isn’t a fair comparison, as there is a huge difference in a truck built in 1940 and one built in 1948. And you would be correct in this thinking, but this 1940 Ford has a lot going for it, including great Pre-War styling and a Flathead V8. The Chevrolet on the other hand has fantastic looks, but is powered by a straight six, albeit a more modern engine with similar performance specs.


It’s obvious that both these trucks are going to be massive projects, but we think both are worth saving. Making a comparison is difficult given the age difference, but it really boils down to styling preferences and which brand you have stronger allegiances too. All things considered, which one would you like to have parked in your garage?


  1. Peter R

    I’ve always been a Chevy guy – I even used to own part of a Chev-Olds store in Montreal in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Even so, I like the 1940 Fords – they really are special for their era. But in this case, the Chevy seems like a much more complete and easier restoration. Also given the BIN price on the Ford as of this moment the Chev is a much better buy. It has my vote.

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  2. cprofomogo

    Except neither one of these is a truck, or truck-based. They’re both cars, essentially two-door wagons without windows. This type of vehicle was called a Sedan Delivery, not a panel van (which is, in fact, a truck derived vehicle) in the era they were built.

    Not to be pedantic, but the more you know…

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  3. Dan Farrell

    The grill on the ford looks like a 39 not a 40.

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    • scot c

      ~ @ Dan,
      . i think the ’39 grille became the ’40 Standard grille whereas the ’40 Deluxe grille grew short horizontal louvers on each side.

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    • Mark

      That would be true if if were a car, not a truck. That would be true if this were a sedan delivery.

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    • scot

      ~ so is it a ’40 with ’39 grille? a ’39 with ’40 paperwork? without more information we really can’t know.
      i like the proportions of the sedan delivery over the panel delivery, but neither will fit my situation as things stand..

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  4. Dolphin Member

    The ’39 & ’40 Fords have a great look, especially the unique grille, which always appealed to me ever since I saw my first ’40 Ford rod decades ago. So altho both of these panel deliveries are pretty rare and should be saved, I would go for the Ford for personal reasons.

    They will both need a lot of work, so it would help to combine some basic body and mechanical skills and expectations of less than perfection to make these projects feasible. Better to make them good drivers than go overboard trying for perfection and end upside down for years, or maybe forever.

    One way to help keep costs lower would be to keep the bullet holes in the Ford!

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  5. Robert J

    For me, the Ford wins by a nose…literally. That front end is perfection.

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  6. hollywood car guy

    How weird that they are not just that rare but also both in Florida

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  7. scot c

    ~ tumbling dice, i would not hurl either to the scrap crusher of history. in reality if retaining a semblance of originality is an important issue the Flathead seems to have better support than the Stovebolt. my preference would ordinarily be for the Chevrolet but a ’40 Ford panel? what a fantastic find! either/or.

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  8. Rene

    I would go with the Ford. I think, that the chevy would to easily be mistaken for a Volvo here in Denmark. I mean if I own an american car, I would want it to show!

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  9. Mark

    This Chevy is a sedan delivery, based on a car. This Ford is a Panel based on a truck. The 1940 Ford sedan delivery is a very pretty car and would win a beauty contest against the Chevy, in this case I would choose the Chevy over the Ford because the end result would make a better street rod.

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  10. paul

    Normally I am more of a Chevy guy but a 40 Ford is the one to have, however the Chevy looks to be in a bit better shape. The 40 Ford will be worth more when done.

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  11. FRED


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  12. Jim Mosley

    Dan, I think the grill on the Ford is a ’39 also. My preference is the Chevy, but 40 Fords were a favorite back then too.

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  13. Kurt Spengler

    As stated above,The sedan delivery is car based..The panel delivery is truck based..That said, the 40 Fords,’truck or car’ had very similar grills..These were shared with the ’39 Ford Deluxe’Car’..as well as the ’40 Ford Standard’.Also,the ’40 and ’41 trucks shared the same grille.Confused? In 1938 Ford had 2 trim levels for the cars,Standard and Deluxe..The Standard taking the previous year Deluxe’s face.Many people concider the ’40 Deluxe the pinnacle of this body design which first appeared in ’37.The ’40 Mercury had very similar grills but the bars were horizontal vs. the Fords vertical except for the ’40 Deluxe..
    The Chevy’s body first showed up in late ’41 as a ’42 and was used until ’48 with minor grille changes between the years..

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  14. Kurt Spengler

    I forgot to mention..I’m a chevy fan myself having owned both a ’47 4 dr and a ’48 2dr Aerosedan.However! I humbly concider the ’40 Ford Deluxe, One of the past centuries most beautifull designs right next to the ’40 Merc 2 door and the ’38-’39 Lincoln Zephyrs..

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  15. Kurt Spengler

    Sorry,one more thing..The Ford is a truck..A panel delivery by the way..The ford sedan delivery had a much flatter arc in the area of the drip rail like the chevy..The trucks had a higher roof because it was,after all a truck.The easiest way to tell the difference is the Panels had 2 rear doors..The sedan delivery had one..A feature shared by both Ford and Chevy till the end of the wood sided ‘Woodie’ Station wagons.Wagons had a tailgate that dropped and split at the beltline with the upper half lifting up..Sedan deliveries were all steel..When the demise of the woodies heralded the all steel station wagons the sedan deliveries shared the wagond tailgate..’55 for chevy even earlier for the ford..

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  16. Chris H.

    The ford would make a cooler looking rod, but I wouldn’t kick either one out of bed.

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  17. tom

    Ford I`ll take.love the 39-40 style

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  18. Bob T.

    Very hard call, even though I’m a big fan of those ’47/48 Chevs….(& I mean factory stock too!) But in the end Chevrolet was always better quality overall. How about buy both, then sell the Ford to help finance work needed on the Chev? Ha! That’s a win win😉

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