Endless Possibilities! 1937 Chevrolet Flatbed Truck

I don’t know what line of work Mr. J.J. Schuman was in but it obviously required a pretty stout flatbed truck. Though probably worked hard, this truck does not appear to have lost its original bearing or purpose in life. In fact this 1937 Chevrolet flatbed, 1.5-ton truck looks like it could show up for work tomorrow and handle whatever task Mr. Schuman, or anyone else for that matter, wanted to throw at it. Certainly not a time-capsule, but a nice tribute to its bygone era, this Chevy is located in Murdock, Minnesota, and available here on eBay for a current bid of  $3,050, seven bids tendered so far. Thanks to Ikey H. for this tip!

Chevrolet had all the truck bases covered in 1937 with commercial pickups, The Carry-All Suburban, 1.5-ton stake flatbeds, sedan deliveries, car-based coupe pickups, and single axle cabs for trailer transport. New streamlined styling and a consistent use grille helped with brand identity recognition.

This example has been off the road since 1974 and is promoted as a “real” barn find. Unfortunately, somewhere over the years, the title disappeared so that’s one matter that will need to be managed. While this Chevy is a Minnesota based vehicle now, as well as back in Mr. Schuman’s day, it has a southwest blasted look about it – lot’s of time in the sun. The body has rust, both surface and otherwise, but the otherwise part isn’t major. The seller advises that he does have the original, re-chromed front bumper included with the sale. Unfortunately, the distinctive grille has been dinked.

The flatbed deck is constructed of rugged wood and though worn, it shows as being sound and very serviceable. There are stake pockets present so the cargo bed lends itself to flexibility whether it is stakes, fences, or chains that are necessary for load securement.

The 216 CI, in-line, six-cylinder, 85 HP engine is intact but non-running. While all of the parts are in place, and the engine looks original, the seller states that its condition is unknown. The truck does, however, roll and steer on its own so that’s encouraging. Gear changes are accomplished via a four-speed manual transmission.

Inside is an interesting environment. First up, in keeping with the era, the fuel tank is under the front seat and there are new seat cushions that cover it and provide for the driver’s perch. Can you imagine the NHTSA allowing a design like that today? It’s like driving a Molotov cocktail. The seller mentions that this Chevy has very “clean” instrument panel gauges; they may be but they’re covered in so much dust that they’re not legible. The interior, all-in-all is very weathered, though admittedly, it was a spartan affair to start with long before the ravages of 83 years took over. The circa 1937 A/C apparently works! The seller claims that the crank-out windshield is solid and “operates nice and smooth”.

So now, it’s the, “What to do with it?” part of the show. The seller suggests that his flatbed would, “make a killer chassis swap, rat rod or a restoration project the possibilities are endless!” A rat rod coming from a 1.5 ton dually seems like a stretch in the wrong direction. Maybe a parade vehicle or a sales prop for a going business concern? I do agree, the possibilities are endless. How about you, what are your suggestions?

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Comments

  1. geomechs geomechs Member

    This is a nice truck! Out west there were more of these than pickups. One local farmer ran a ’38 1 1/2 ton until the late 70s when he finally retired. Definitely not a speed demon. You’ll have to consider 40 mph pretty good. That old Babbitt-Pounder won’t give you more but will give 40 to the moon and back. Full restoration is the ONLY way to go with this. So many have sacrificed their front sheet metal for a modern chassis that I would like to slap the builders up alongside the head, with a shovel. Now some guys have installed a 261 in these, along with a higher speed (or 2-speed) axle. Only problem with that is the water pump on the 261 will run interference with the radiator. A shorter version is available but not all that common. Some have gone to an electric fan in front of the rad but that puts them in the same category as the conformists. Myself, the 216 will do everything I want it to do. Oh, that passing lane…

    Like 19
  2. Howard A Member

    J.J. Schuman was more than likely a farmer. Farmers always hand lettered their own trucks. It was more a sense of pride, as this truck only went to the feed mill 9 miles down the road. J.J. was a smoker, looks like an ash receptacle on the dash, the other clamp on the steering column probably had a fan. I don’t know what to do with it. Too bad the grill is dinged. Ol’ J.J. was pretty upset when “the kid” let it roll into a wagon. Useless for any modern travel, and probably just remain a toy for around the yard, and nothing wrong with that. Cool find.

    Like 12
    • geomechs geomechs Member

      During the war it was required to have your name/company name on the doors of your commercial vehicles. You could get into a lot of trouble if you didn’t…

      Like 13
      • Paolo

        Did not know that!

  3. TimM

    Really sweet truck that I could see restored to its bright shinny self and the band playing on the back while driving in the parade on the Fourth of July!!! Why oh why did they ever do away with the crank out front window???? That’s just so cool and makes the truck!!!! The heck with A/C!!!!

    Like 8
    • Howard A Member

      Bugs,,,probably best with them “murder hornets” on the way. Murder hornets, pfft, my arch nemesis anyway. Hornets, like us, love old trucks, but they hate starting fluid.,,my only defense, a can of starting fluid. Good for bear attacks too, if that’s an issue.

      Like 3
  4. canadainmarkseh Member

    Geomechs I know your going to hate to here this, but I’d be all in for a chassis swap. The flat bed would have to go too. Cover your eyes geomechs because guess what this cab would land on a 1 ton dodge chassis with a cumins diesel and 5 speed. I’d also fabricate a step side period looking truck box too. I’d paint it forest green and fenders black. I’d put in a modern seat in it too I need my comfort, what’s the point of having this if you can’t really use it that’s why so many are converted. It can be tastefully done to look authentic. And would make great trailer hauler.

    Like 4
    • geomechs geomechs Member

      Not to worry, Mark. The shovel I’d use is likely a highly flexible rubber, the texture of what my grandkids used when they were teething. I have to admit I’ve seen lots of cab swaps that looked really good. Of course, I wouldn’t do it myself; I’m completely satisfied with the old Stovie. Fortunately, we live in a place where we have the right to do whatever the heck we want with our trucks (and cars) and no one is going to put us in front of a firing squad–yet. But that Dodge 1-Ton with a Cummins is a very popular chassis swap. I’ve seen Fords, Chevys, Binders, a Diamond T, and even a Studebaker that are sporting Dodge chassis. I might add that the guy with the Studebaker is currently working on a REO but I think he’s rebuilding that chassis and running a Cat 3126/C12…

      Like 2
      • Howard A Member

        If ANYBODY would know this, it’s you, my friend, but why were trucks called “1 1/2 ton” or “2 ton”, when they clearly hauled more than 2 tons. I can’t find a good answer on that after all these years. And Mark seems to bolster what I said, interest is waning for these original. I’m only hoping in heaven,( if I get there with all my trucking shenanigans) it’s row after row of original trucks for us. Hey,,,it could happen, why not?

        Like 1
      • canadainmarkseh Member

        Speaking of dodge Geomechs I finally finished converting my brakes to front disc, with two stage master cylinder proportioning valve, and power booster. I fabricated my own brake peddle and mounting hardware for the booster/MC. The whole system was pulled out of a dodge caravan which surprisingly weighs 300 lbs more than the 51 dodge Mayfair. So here’s my question to you. Geo is that old flatly going to produce enough vacuum to run the booster or should I install a vacuum pump. Your thoughts are appreciated.

        Like 2
      • geomechs geomechs Member

        Howard, I have no idea why they designated trucks the way they did. I kind of think it parallels a military term (Deuce and a Half, which meant what it could pull, not haul, but maybe the term originally came from what it could haul). On the ranch, the 1/2 ton pickup often hauled a herd bull, sacks of fertilizer, engine out of the Cat, that weighed over a ton. If it fit inside the box it was good to go. Our Binders and GMC 3-ton hauled upwards of 350 bushels of grain. At 60 lbs/bushel for wheat that’s 21K lbs. payload. The trucks handled it all without a whimper. Of course, if the ‘coops’ weren’t exempting farm trucks you got your backside in a rather large sling.

        Mark, it sounds like you’re getting that Dodge set up pretty good. That flathead six should provide enough vacuum to suck the chrome off a trailer hitch so you shouldn’t fret too much. Like to see it when it’s all done…

        Like 1
      • canadainmarkseh Member

        Thanks for your advice Geomechs I guess I’ll drill the intake and thread tap it for a hose nipple. If could only figure out how to post picture on this format I’d post some of my car.

        Like 2
      • Howard A Member

        Thanks, can’t find much on that. From what I did uncover, early on(20’s, 30’s) it did signify the payload it, could haul, a 2 ton was suppose to carry 2 tons. But as weight increased, apparently, the rating became more of a classification of the truck, rather than how much it could haul.

        Like 1
    • Bellingham Fred

      It is my belief that the tonnage designation was for tax purposes. Back in the day (at least in Washington state) trucks had to display a gross weight sticker on each side of the bed. When I first transferred the title and registered my 1951 Dodge pu in 1980 I was asked how much weight I was going to carry. I didn’t plan on using it for a hauler, just commuting, so asked for the lightest GVW. The clerk relented but she warned me about the fines involved if I exceeded that rating.

      Like 1
  5. art

    Needs to be rescued and restored. What a gem. If this truck could only talk…

  6. Mark S.

    Yes, a full restoration would be in order for this. I would make her pretty, fit her up with a 2-spd rear end, and cruise around split-shifting and double-clutching all day.

    Like 2
    • Howard A Member

      Isatso? J.B. Hunt would love to find you,,,

      Like 2
  7. Gaspumpchas

    Another beauty that worked for a living. Sweet to bring it back, the only thing I might do is swap in a later 235 with insert bearings. Good luck and stay safe.
    Cheers
    GPC

    Like 2
    • geomechs geomechs Member

      I understand that you can actually convert the 216 over to insert bearings. I’ve never followed up on that but I’m sure the time is coming. They still splash-lube the conrods and wrist pins but if you’re concerned about Babbitt and cannot find a 235/261, converting the Stovebolt might work too…

  8. Karl

    I am a true sucker for old trucks and like Geomechs I personally prefer to put them all back into as close as possible to high quality original usually much better than they came out of the factory condition, this also means I spend way to much money on my restorations! I am thankful that my time is still being completely absorbed by my 50 Power Wagon resto it will be beautiful when done and way better than brand new and I have a pile of money and time into it!

    Like 1
  9. Gene

    J.J Schuman is one of the biggest bulk cement haulers in the state of Virginia. I wonder if this is one of his long lost trucks. They been in business for ever.They haul bagged Portland cement too. That truck looks like it could haul a big load of Portland cement. God Bless America!

  10. joseph robinson

    Fix the lights and brakes switch to 12v with a blue flame 235.Bflame spraw with rino liner spray with clear coat drive it y’ll might be surprised.

  11. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry Member

    If you buy it, you do what you want. It’s your money. I like V8 engines in mine. Had a 59 Ford ton and half with 390 and 4 speed. Had a 8 ft. By 12 ft. Bed with cattle racks. Could haul 3 cords of Oak fire wood. Bought it in Provo, Utah drove to Seattle, Washington. Later drive it from Seattle down I-5 to Medera, California over the mountain range to Kingston, Arizona on to Miami, Florida pulling a 5 ft. By 8 ft covered trailer with a woman and three kids. What a trip that was. Had some problems along the way, but nothing that we couldn’t handle.
    You want an adventure take a long road trip in an old truck. You’ll make life long memories.
    God bless America

    Like 2
  12. James A Dubay

    If it was a 1940 I’d be all over it. Have 2/ 235’s and a 292 with a NP/4500 5-speed waiting for the right one.

  13. Dave S.

    I love this truck ! I willing to bet my brother who is on Barn Finds as well is drooling over this …. he loves trucks. He’s likely checking his bank account right now. lol

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