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Montana Barn Find: 1953 Chevrolet 3100 Pickup

We see our share of classic Pickups at Barn Finds, and their ongoing popularity makes the trend understandable. Genuine survivors make ideal project candidates, regardless of an owner’s vision for the vehicle. This 1953 Chevrolet 3100 Pickup was recently unearthed on a Montana ranch, and there is plenty to attract potential buyers. It is rock-solid and unmolested, allowing the new owner to add their mark via a restoration or custom build. The seller has listed this classic here on eBay in La Center, Washington. They have set their BIN at $8,750 with the option to make an offer.

Chevrolet released its Advance Design truck range in 1947 to replace the previous AK models. The company claimed it was stronger and sleeker than its predecessor, with the new models undergoing evolutionary changes before being replaced in mid-1955. Our feature Pickup rolled off the line in 1953, with the first owner ordering it in Juniper Green. There are traces of the original paint shade visible in various locations, although we can also spot plenty of touch-ups and bare metal with developing surface corrosion. However, what this Pickup lacks is significant penetrating rust. The lower cab corners appear solid, and the floors sport nothing beyond heavy surface corrosion and pitting. I can spot nothing that justifies steel replacement under those circumstances, but an amateur repair to the passenger-side rear fender might prompt the new owner to source a fresh panel to match the shiny new tailgate. The bed timbers are concealed beneath a ply sheet, and while the timber is pretty rotten, it seems the joining strips might be okay. The exterior trim is intact and restorable, with the wheels featuring their correct hubcaps and trim rings. Some glass pieces are beyond their best. However, the seller includes a new complete glass set, along with windshield and rear window seals still in the box as an excellent starting point for this build.

This Pickup’s interior is another area requiring TLC, but there is plenty of good news for potential buyers to consider. It is essentially complete, with the factory radio and horn button both intact. These items often disappear with age, so the fact these are present is a positive attribute. The gauges look surprisingly good, with the lenses and markings crisp and clean. The upper door trims are gone, but those are the only missing parts the new owner might need to locate. Their shopping list will include paint, seatcovers, seat foam, and possibly a floormat. If the buyer elected to preserve this classic’s weathered exterior, treating the interior to a total restoration would provide a striking contrast.

The 1953 model year marked the last when the 3100 rolled off the line powered by the venerable 216.5ci “Thriftmaster” six-cylinder engine. That is what we find lurking under the hood of this Pickup. In its prime, it would have sent 92hp and 176 ft/lbs of torque to the rear wheels via a four-speed manual transmission. The power and torque figures might seem modest by modern standards, but the torque delivery occurring low in the engine’s rev range made the 3100 an effective workhorse. The seller states this classic doesn’t run, and it is unclear when it last did. However, they fitted a new starter, and that six spins freely. They are confident that a carburetor rebuild and other basic maintenance should see that powerplant roar back to life. It will stay cool when it returns to active service because the seller includes a new radiator in the deal.

This 1953 Chevrolet 3100 offers its new owner a world of possibilities. It is a prime candidate for restoration because the crucial components required to return it to its former glory are intact. The lack of penetrating rust may see them opt for preservation, while it would also be a sound foundation for a ratrod or custom build. As is often the case, the limiting factor will be their imagination. What path would you choose? Are you tempted to transform the dream into reality by pursuing this survivor further? We would all love progress reports if you do.


  1. Nevada1/2rack Nevada1/2rack Member

    Goes to show the old truck market isn’t falling as fast as some of the classics of the same vintage.
    Great old Chevy, but what appears to be a satin clear coat on the paint cheapens it to some. Fun one to restore.

    Like 8
  2. Cam W.

    The old truck market seems to be on the same trend as the new truck market. Add in the fact that many classic car owners are “aging out”, and or downsizing collections. The other thing is that classic trucks are actually usable for their intended purpose.
    My wife and I have been collecting cars for decades, changing out one or two per year in our little fleet of 8-10. While we have(or have owned) many desirable classic and muscle-cars, the 2 we drive the most are trucks: a ’75 Blazer convertible, and a ’54 Chev 3100 restomod (on modern escalade chassis). While we would sell any of our cars, for the right price, we are least likely to ever sell the Blazer, which we have owned 20+ years.
    Interestingly, we get more public interest, comments, and conversations in the Blazer than we did with our Ferrari.
    I like the truck for sale here, but I see it more as a candidate for a restomod than a restoration.

    Like 1
  3. Melton Mooney

    Clearcoated patina looks just fine on these trucks. I worked up the body and painted one for a buddy years ago. It took forever. I practically had to invent body working tools to accommodate all the compound curves. It looked nice in the end, but I wouldn’t do another one on a dare.

    Like 3

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