Former Wrecker: 1939 Chevrolet COE Truck

I frequently wind up a post with a “What to do with it?” question and ask readers to offer their ideas and suggestions as to what to do with a vehicle whose continuing purpose in life is not self-evident. I’m going to cut to the chase, right up front and ask, What would you do with a 1.5 ton, 1939 Chevrolet cab-over-engine wrecked wrecker? This puzzle of a truck is located in Justin, Texas and is available, here on eBay for a BIN price of $7,000.

Well, right out of the gate, the first thing that can be done is come up with a couple of tires for the front, it looks like a railroad hi-railer rolling around on its rims. But hey, it comes with an extra grille! There’s really not a lot here that’s memorable for the right reasons. The body is dented, the glass is broken, the bed, which was outfitted for towing, could be used for an alternate purpose as it’s fairly flat except for the two vertical protuberances that had something to do with the towing apparatus. But a 1.5-ton capacity is a lot of truck capacity, probably more in terms of weight and sluggish performance than one would want for an updated, non-commercial use.

The engine should look something like this.

It’s not stated specifically, but I’m going with the assumption that the non-photographed, 85 HP, 216 CI, in-line six-cylinder engine is a no-go. It’s easy to imagine that the Babbit-bearing blue flame has probably flamed out as a result of being worked to death over the years. There is a manual transmission in place, probably a four-speed with a “granny gear” first.

As with many vehicles, there is an inside, described by the seller as being “brown”, but no real interior. Never a comfortable environment to start with as trucks of this era were, this one has had the floorboards pulled up and rearranged while the seat looks as if it ran afoul of a weasel – no material or batting left. Actually, if you look at the gear shift lever it appears as if the cab of this truck has experienced water immersion – that’s a lot of scale and rust! Unfortunately, the dash and gauges have faired no better.

So, any ideas? I’m not coming up with anything viable, especially with a $7,000 price tag. Other than its age, it’s not really a historically significant vehicle. It would need a sizable investment in time and $$$ to return to road-worthiness, and then for what use? I suppose a towing company could spruce up the exterior and use it as a stationary marketing item as in a business sign/marker but it’s really not attractive yard art. And then there’s always the scrap market, anyone know what steel is trading for?


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  1. Bluetec320 Bluetec320 Member

    Not the same year, but Jeepers Creepers!

    Like 6
  2. Howard A Member

    Mmm-hmm, 175 watchers and no bids. 1st, as is, it’s literally worthless, even though these Texas cowboys have bigger thoughts. It’s only hope is a resto-mod flatbed, which is very popular today and is destined for such. Always liked a 4 spoke steering wheel, and is a great find, but come on, nice try, better eliminate a zero for any sale in our world, I think.

    Like 14
    • al8apex

      there are “no bids” because is a Buy It Now listing, not an auction …

      Like 7
      • Dave


        Like 1
  3. David

    Overpriced, but interesting restomod candidate. Good write up here. Yes, a flatbed and new driveline. Your buying the frame and shell, the rest will need to be rebuilt.

    Like 5
  4. Van Cardwell

    I love it.
    Clean and clearcoat and drive it to work.

    Like 6
  5. chrlsful

    came here due to the ‘grill’ under the driver’s hdlght.
    have not visited the orig listing.
    What is that? Looks attached on this photo~

    Like 3
    • Howie Mueler

      Looks like a spare grill, its sitting on the ground. Not much hope for this truck.

      Like 3
  6. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry Member

    Unfortunately there’s just not enough here to work with. Price is to high, and desirability is real low. No interest here, but I do hope someone saves it for prosperity purposes.
    God bless America

    Like 7
  7. DON

    I dont think this was a former wrecker ; usually the bed and cab would be the same color . There is lettering on the doors of the truck that were painted over ,and probably were another business’s . I’d bet the white wrecker had its damaged bed removed and the good bed from the green truck is on it now. This may have been a parts truck for someones project

    Like 3
  8. douglas hunt

    doesn’t Counts Customs tool around in a similar COE all dolled up?
    this could be nice if you have unlimited funds i guess

    Like 1
  9. Terry J

    Sorry, I disagree guys. These old COEs are becoming VERY popular, often swapped onto a 1 motorhome chassis’. Seeing them at shows, Rod Runs and magazines all the time. :-) Terry J

    Like 3
  10. 86_Vette_Convertible

    Pull the cab, swap out the frame and drive train with something newer and get rid of the half a tow-truck body and put a flat bed on it to act as a car hauler. Now you’d have something to work with and enjoy IMO.

    Like 3
  11. jwaltb

    Some of you guys have great imaginations!

    Like 1
  12. Poncho

    There may be some interest in the using of this cab, but at $7000? That’s a tough pill to swallow for alot of work to be done after that. Ever try hammering dents out of this older thicker steel? A buddy and myself worked on an old fender that was bent. We used heat and alot of hammering. After the ringing in my ears and two guys hammering arms were tired, we did some of the dent out but never the entire dent. When you start adding up the actual work that goes into fixing one of these old thick steel vehicles, either get out a thicker pile of dollar bills or plan on spending more time in the shop. The project doesn’t come easy.

    Like 1

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