First Year V8: 1955 Chevrolet 3600 Wrecker

There was a time when you needed or wanted something specific, you created it from whatever was available. And that’s the case with this 1955 Chevrolet 3600 wrecker. According to the seller, it started life as a 3/4 ton mobile home hauler but a tow truck was more in the cards, so voila, a tow-truck it now is. You can find this home-built conversion in Marshfield, Missouri and it is available, here on eBay for a BIN price of $3,600.

I didn’t pay too much attention to this project truck when first viewed, but then I noticed that it had a first-year, 145 gross HP, 265 CI V8 small-block “Taskmaster” engine, the one that kicked it all off for Chevrolet (note the “V” emblem on both front fenders). Most Chevy finds of this era are powered by a 235 CI, in-line, six-cylinder engine, so this is an exceptional find. This subject truck is, unfortunately, a non-runner but it does have that second-best quality, it “rolls and steers” (I’m finding a lot of steerable rollers these days). The floor shifter, I believe, indicates that this is a four-speed manual transmission equipped truck.

Now the seller states that this 3600 series truck was used to tow a mobile home before his great grandfather took it through a conversion project. That would make one think it was originally a flatbed arrangement that had the bed modified, and fortified, for towing. That’s not known, just assumed – the listing offers no detail. There was a flatbed, dual-rear-wheel model 3600 offered in ’55, designated as a 3604 so that probably served as the basis.  The towing equipment looks like it was made from steel pipe stock with a basic, pinched from something else, winch added, and then steel fabricated toolboxes attached to the sides. My thought is, how do you go about designing something like this that will work? Perhaps it’s that old “sincerest form of flattery” approach; find one that works and copy it. That said, it seems unlikely that anything modern could be safely towed with this design. It was built for the days of steel frames and big steel bumpers, though some rear skids would seem helpful too. No mention if any of it works.

The exterior condition of this Chevy looks like it has time spent in the sunny southwest, that’s some pretty serious sunburn! The body, what little of a cab body there is, is showing signs of rust and cracked body filler. The steel is mostly straight but there is evidence of obscured rot, the kind where once you start digging, you never stop. Unfortunately, the glass will need some attention, no idea how hard it is to procure a windshield for a ’55 3600 series truck.

I am initially surprised every time I get a gander at the inside of a truck of this vintage. And I shouldn’t be. This is how trucks rolled in the ’50s and for many years thereafter – it is a spartan, business-only environment, a far cry from what passes as standard fare today. It’s rusty and some of the switchgear is missing, and as for that seat, you might not want to sit on it while wearing something that you intend to wear again. But all-in-all, it’s really no surprise; at least the floor isn’t falling out. Note the Arvin under dash heater. At one-time, Arvin was a very common brand, making portable heaters for many applications including home and office too. A quick on-line search refers to Arvin products as “vintage” so that’s indicative of them being a former manufacturer of heaters.

The seller suggests that this truck would be a “Great truck for rat rod, patina truck, or restoration project“. I don’t know about a rat-rod, does that mean leaving the towing mechanism in place and having to haul it around? That’s always the question with a vehicle like this, what in the world do you do with it, other than using it for its intended purpose? Any suggestions?


  1. unclemymy Member

    I’m OK with “patina”, but I’m afraid I’d be mistaken for one of the antagonists in the “Wrong Turn” movies. And the design critique assumes that the tow mechanism was designed to tow cars…it would be fun around Halloween though, with some concertina wire hanging from the hook. Don’t look now, but….

    Like 2
  2. alphasud Member

    I’m seeing Tow Mater on this one!

    Like 10
  3. Howard A Member

    1st thing is to remove that home made hoist, and start with a bare chassis, for best results. It’s not factory unit and there’s no call for a hoist lift today anyway. Rough start, but could be made into something useful, if people still are doing that.

    Like 3
  4. geomechs geomechs

    Like Howard says, remove that towing deck and go with something else. Of course, restoration of the truck itself would be mandatory. I would be tempted to just build a stake bed and use it accordingly. I like to see the stock 265 in there; it’s a rare treat. I would fix it and keep right on going…

    Like 6
  5. LMK Member

    I thought of Classic Truck Rescue Rick immediately when I saw this retired working truck…

    Like 2
  6. KKW

    Looks more like a gin truck than a tow truck. Given the dual rear wheels, I would guess a 1ton rather than a 3/4, but I’m sure what a 3600 is, chevrolet had a weird numbering system back then. BTW, it takes the same windshield as any other chevrolet pickup.

    Like 2

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