Clear Coat Bandit Strikes Again: 1949 Chevrolet Pickup

By Jeff Bennett

Try as I might, I just cannot understand the clear coating phenomenon. While I am of the opinion that saving any collectible car or truck and getting it back on the road is a noble and worthwhile undertaking, there are very few times where my gut instinct says “clear coat this.” I had never even heard of it until I saw it done on TV, but I must have been watching too much Chasing Classic Cars to notice its ascendancy. Behold the latest example of clear coating madness, which has spent nearly all of its life as a faithful farm truck. While there are many spots on this truck where the farm life added some charm, it remains stunningly original. This 1949 Chevrolet Pickup, found here on eBay in Waukon, Iowa, has been bid up to just a hair over $3,700 as of this writing. It is a good honest truck, and it represents an excellent chance to see if clear coating added, subtracted, or had no influence on the sale price.

The story on this truck is the usual farm truck story.  The farmer had the truck for 37 years, and used it around the farm and for occasional trips into town.  It was used frequently throughout its life, and is in driving condition still.  The seller purchased it from the farmer’s estate, and has since done a tune up, and replaced the master cylinder and rear wheel cylinders.  It has been driven at up to 45 miles per hour, and it reportedly drove well with no play in the steering and proper shifting.  It is almost completely original down to the wood in the bed, and the seller feels that it could be a daily driver with a little TLC.  While I am sure there are a lot of parts that are pretty worn out on this truck, a vehicle in constant use tends to fare better than one left to sit for long periods of time.

Considering how rough farm life can be, especially in a state north of the snow belt, this truck’s body is in pretty good condition.  The cab corners and the metal trim seem to be in excellent shape, which is a rarity for trucks of this vintage.  As you can imagine, these trucks see a lot of heavy work, and are rarely protected from the elements.  This one obviously has the scars to prove it was used as a truck, but its overall shape after this abuse is remarkable.

The bed should be an area where this truck is completely decrepit, but this one is still in useable shape.  In restored trucks, you often see presentation grade oak or walnut, completely hand finished, between chromed bed strips.  It happens so much that we tend to think it was how they come from the factory, but not so.  The Antique Automobile Club of America will dock you several points during judging for this sin. Usually the metal was painted and the wood had no protective finish at all.  If I restored a truck, I could live without the chrome bed strips, but I would like some nice wood with some type of finish to protect it.  While the truck’s bed does look a little rough, especially with the moss growing in it, it is rare to see an example of how they were from the factory.

On the passenger side, the cab corner and the paint look pretty good.  You can also see that the truck was fitted with a bed side mounted spare tire.  Speaking of tires, the seller warns us in the ad that the tires hold air, but they should be replaced due to age.  If you purchased the truck and intended to drive it without hauling anything too heavy, a less truck like set of tires would go a long way toward smoothing out the ride.  People buy these types of trucks and expect them to ride and handle like a grandpa version of their new Silverado.  Often, they are unpleasantly surprised by the kidney pounding ride an empty bed provides.  Depending on the tonnage rating, these things can ride very hard, and are punishing over long trips.  Adding a modern set of radials, mounted black wall out, would be cheaper than vintage style tires, and would contribute to better handling and ride.  A newer and lighter set of springs could help as well.

Inside, it appears that the clear coat bandit thought that the dash needed to be shiny too.  I guess it is a simian instinct for humans to like shiny things, but this is the first time I have seen a dash fall victim to this treatment.  Otherwise, some new seat covers and a headliner would make the interior much more livable.  The truck is equipped with a heater, and a few extra dash switches and buttons than it had when it left the factory.  It is also equipped with a manual transmission shifted by the old “three on the tree” setup.  This type of shifting is a good litmus test on how old one is, or how experienced they are with automobiles.  I have a car equipped like this, but I’d prefer a floor shifter in every case.  Newer buyers may have to get a lesson before they load this one up on the trailer.

Finally, we come to the last sign that the clear coat bandit was thorough in the quest to put their mark on this truck.  As you can see, even the engine got drenched with the stuff, hoses and all.  Otherwise, this is the standard “stovebolt” six cylinder that Chevrolet produced from 1929 through the last made in Mexico engine rolled off the production line in 2001.  Yes, that engine design was produced for 72 years!  Needless to say, parts will not be a problem.  Not that you will likely need them anyway, as these engines are very durable and will last for thousands of miles with proper maintenance.  The only drawback, if this is the original engine, is that the main bearings were a poured babbitt style until 1953 instead of the more conventional bearings seen on modern engines.  If you keep the oil clean and don’t spend your driving time with your foot to the floor in 1st gear, then you will never know the difference.

In all, despite the clear coat hose down, this is a refreshingly original and solid truck.  Its farmer caretaker must have taken good care of this truck, and its condition today is a testimony to how a well built machine can last for a long time if it is tended to and not abused.  The low bid that it currently sits at makes me question whether or not clear coating it was a good idea.  Personally, I would be proud to take over as caretaker on a truck like this, and I think it will end up selling at a bargain price.  However, I’d also plan on spending a lot of time trying to get the slime off.  This truck worked to hard and was too well maintained to end up like this.

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  1. BronzeGiant Member

    Like I always say, if you have money for clearcoat, you have money for paint…..

  2. geomechs

    I was never a clear coat fan; in fact, the only clear that was ever any good was Everclear. A little WD-40 went a long way to preserve rusty metal, if a repaint was that far in the distance. Of course, when you DO decide to repaint, the silicone in the penetrating oil tends to make the new paint difficult to deal with, but that’s what they invented Metal Prep for. The truck itself is a very worthwhile truck to own. Drive it, fix it, use it. And get rid of the clear!

    • Bob

      I thought Everclear was the perfect fun solvent. It disolves your work, your marriage, and your life, and you aren’t even aware it is happening.
      I am not a fan of clear coats either, particularly this newest fad of painting over old clapped out paint jobs and rust.
      Love the truck, but I think it is at full value..

  3. Jeffro

    Can’t fix stupid…but obviously, stupid can spray clear coat!

  4. Terry J

    Driven up to 45mph………haw haw …..That’s pretty close to being maximum cruising speed. Most of these have very low gears ( like 4:11 ) and an engine designed for lower rpm use. At 55 mph they are getting wound up. Freeways did not exist in ’49 and country and even winding county roads, 45 mph was enough. Don’t like the clear coat either, but the original patina is so cool I understand the wish to preserve it from deteriorating further. But the shiny clear about ruins it. Is there something else one can do to save the remaining original look? 🙂 Terry J

    • geomechs

      Hi Terry. My ’49 Chevy Styleline has 4:11 gears in it too. It drives quite comfortably at 55. I’ve had it up to 65 a couple of times but that’s asking too much from that babbit-pounder.

      • Dave Wright

        Geo…….you are smart enough, I am sure that you still have the tall tires on your truck. 4.11 isn’t bad with 32″ tires but a lot of people don’t get that.

      • Terry J

        Can’t recall seeing a pic of your Styleline Geo. Got one handy ? 🙂 Terry J

      • geomechs

        Terry J, I can’t seem to post one on this page. Drop me a line to and I’ll E-mail you one.

    • CarNut from Winnipeg

      Maybe scuff down to a satin look?
      So the weird shine i.s gone

  5. Dan

    When the clear starts peeling off, and it will peel, does that add to the “patina”? Do we then clear coat the peeling clear?

  6. jw454

    The wood and metal strips in my 1970 Chevrolet C/10 stepside was painted green, the same color as the truck. It was more of a flat but, it matched the truck’s color.
    Whoever got crazy with the clear on this one needs to have a few coats sprayed on them.

  7. bsur

    Clear coat wouldn’t be bad if they could take the sheen out and just use it as a preservative. But the shine is what kills it for me.

  8. DRV

    More like dipped clear coat.
    So what do you use on a driver that you don’t want to deteriorate any more.
    I have a 544 that has a great thin patina of black. It polished up to show every sin but still from 20 feet looks greAt.
    The problem is it will go dull in a short year and more paint has to be rubbed off.
    Is there a poly that will keep it from dulling again other than a clear coat? I don’t want to paint it a color coat.

    • BMW4RunninTundra Member

      DRV, look into a product called Liquid Glass. It’s a Polymer Coat over your paint. It is supposed to soak/set into the paint and “seal it” so that in the future all you have to do is re apply it about once a year. (that time is based upon the upkeep/useage/storage of the vehicle) I have an old 4Runner that still has its original paint. When I purchased it, the paint was “sunburned” and pretty flat. After going through the process, as outlined on their site, it looks unbelievable!!! I use it on ALL of my vehicles!! They all carry a showroom shine, year round with minimal effort.
      Hope that it works the same for you!

  9. LAB3

    A couple of hours with a scotch brite pad would do wonders for the looks of this rig. As to preserving what’s there, we gotta teach those TV guys what the old school northerners already know. Mineral oil is cheap!

    • DRV

      Doesn’t it get sticky and attract dust , dirt, and everything?

      • LAB3

        It does for sure but it also helps keep salt from getting to the metal in winter.

      • DRV

        So mineral oil then would not be an alternative for a driver

      • Dave Wright

        So……..where did the common practice of using high build up undercoat until you can finish the job go? It improves the base while protecting and improving the metal for a final paint job.

      • Dave Wright

        I ment to say primer…..

      • DRV

        Primer is porous and would promote rust.


    Clear coat on the dash and engine too? Wow, they got carried away. I learned to drive in one of these. Still love the foot starter button. Can’t see if this one is still using one … (looking on my phone), but they are great trucks.
    Thanks for the memory

  11. David Cutting

    I guess this “Fauxtina” look is a logical outgrowth of flat black and rat rods, yuck. In this case one of the worst things about it is that it is so obviously fake. The wire wheel and grinder marks cannot be missed. Strip it, paint it, repair the seats, drive it!

  12. Jay E.

    Needs some Fenton headers and glass packs. I love the sound of those.

    • Bob

      Back in the late 50s, I split the manifold on my buddies truck, and he added 2 carbs. It didn’t go any faster, but it sure sounded nice.

  13. Wagon master

    Ass Monkey’s special

  14. Speedo

    I agree with Geomechs. I drove a ’51 Chevy panel truck coast to coast, loaded, at 55-65 mph, all on the interstates. The only problem I had was the oil dump out of the fly wheel cover when I stopped for gas. The rear main seal gave out. I put over 100/k miles on that truck with lots of trip miles.

  15. Terry J

    Hi Geo/Speedo, 🙂 Didn’t say ya couldn’t, but at hwy speed my ’41 Dodge P/U with a 3.90 in the back sure wants me to shift to a higher gear which isn’t there, and it’s got a 440 / 727 in it. Growing up in Eastern Ore, circa 1967 had a pal who went to Arizona to College. His Grandma bought a shiny new 389 4 speed GTO for him and drove it down to surprise him on his birthday. Limped into the dealer down there and had to replace the tranny. She drove it all the way in 3rd gear. Why? That’s all the faster I wanted to go, she said. That was the hardest winding big block Poncho we’d ever seen thereafter. It’s how it was broke in we decided. 🙂 Terry J

  16. 1st Gear

    Clear coat on the motor? Gimme a brake . That’s down right sick. LS restomod is in the making here,done right – looks like a really good base to start.

  17. Daggers

    There is an alternative to Kylon Kristal Klear ,that is
    Kylon Mat Finish . Used in the Art World it makes a
    world of differenice in how a project looks natural as
    opposed to cheesie !

  18. Jeffro

    10W30 would have same effect. Don’t ask me how I know. Just know that I have alot of serious redneck friends.


    since he probably used rattle can ,, just wipe it down with plenty of lacquer thinner it will take that crap right back off and be flat again 🙂

  20. Nrg8

    Looks like a hail Mary play to me. Found a complete truck that most likely looked like the dash and inside cab roof where ever the new black paint is. Pulled it out of the field. Rebuilt the carb, topped up the oil levels, new cap, rotor, points and wires. And got it running. Fixed brakes a bit, made video where you can’t hear it going down the road. Glass is fogging / bubbling in all panes. Guages are hooped but light up, oh yay. Floor has a big kitty-hair glass patch under the heater ( so just think what else he’s hiding) that can be seen cleary on the 2nd floor shot. That’s all the money. You gotta love this truck to want it. Guy probably bought it at scrap vaule and took a gamble. Nothin but a snake oil sales man. I know they aren’t making them any more but geez, way too much

    • Nrg8

      Further to this seller, if you go to actual youtube users page. You will see a whole wack of old farm trucks in field fresh condition that he has ran thru ebay or intends to. All same mo, clear coat and the minimum to get it rolling and stopping. Not a bad gig if you can find em.

  21. Patty

    I could have bought one like this,(running) for $500. back in the early 80’s but unfortunately, I didn’t have the money. This one is awsome except for the dash. I do have one just like it though, minus the clear coat but with a few dents on mine. Mine is a GMC, half ton, three on the tree also. I haven’t driven mine since the 70’s but I did have a lot of fun driving it around town. I took it out one night to pick my mom up from her job, in a snowstorm. I was driving down the road and while other cars were getting stuck, I just went putting by.

  22. Brakeservo

    An awful lot of “patina” is now faked. I suspect much of this was. Perhaps the passenger side looks so good because he got tired and stopped before he went any further.


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