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Original El Camino: 1939 Chevrolet Coupe


While this ’39 Chevrolet isn’t really the original El Camino, but it definitely is a predecessor and shows that Americans have had an interest in cars that are as versatile as a truck for a long time! The seller doesn’t know much about this interesting coupe, as it belonged to a close friend that recently passed away. It looks to be in nice shape and as versatile and interesting as ever! You can find this Coupe pick up here on eBay in Clinton, Arkansas with bidding at $8,500.


As you can see, the truck bed isn’t terribly large, but it would be much easier to load lumber, tools or parts into it than a standard coupe. And it sure is an interesting bit of automotive history! I’m not ’30s Chevrolet expert, so I’ll open the floor up to any experts out there that can tell us more about the history and story of this Chevy.


  1. Madbrit

    Didn’t they do this to avoid taxes by making it a truck?

  2. duke

    why are there ford truck hub caps on this sled-

    • Drew V

      Considering that this vehicle was converted to a street rod, and seeing the torsion bar front suspension,I’m guessing the body was set on a older (1970’s) Ford truck chassis Ergo, the Ford truck Wheels…

      • Rustowner

        70’s Ford truck with torsion bars? News to me since they used coil springs. Looks more like a front end from a 60’s 2wd GM truck or a mid sized Chrysler to me was grafted onto the stock chassis. I’d hardly call this a street rod btw.

  3. Jon

    This was an option starting in, if I am not mistaken , the 1937 model year.

    Like 1
    • Drew V

      I may be wrong but I was under the impression that the production run for these was 1936-1942???

      Like 1
  4. DrinkinGasoline

    Though seemingly not a Chevrolet offering, it looks to be done well.
    It looks like a late 20’s, early 30’s bed, slid between the rear fenders.
    My first car was a ’39 4 door sedan. The body was gray, and every fender was a different color. When Dad brought it home, I was mortified. My heart sank….this is my first car ?! Dad is a Chrysler guy and he brought home this bucket of bolts?? Really?? Four bald tires with PortaWalls that flapped in the wind. Dad didn’t say a word and went into the house. I stood there, looking at it in disbelief. About 20 minutes later, Dad came back out to the driveway and said “so,watcha think?”. I said nothing. Dad said Son, if you can drive this, you’ll be able to drive anything. 7 months later, it was all in primer, a seat cover with new tires and i was the talk of the neighborhood. Solid memories.

    Like 1
    • Drew V

      Quite to the contrary, the Chevy “Coupe truck” or “Foreman’s Pick-Up” was a factory offering from 1936-1942> There are several specimens of these that you see at many car shows… Here’s a pic from a factory brochure…

  5. geomechs geomechs Member

    This body has obviously been grafted onto a modern chassis. I guess it’s to each his own, however, if it were mine, especially with something as rare as this unit is, I’d be inclined to do an original restoration. The old Stovebolt will power this unit to the end of the earth and back again. If you want to do it faster, drop in a more modern 235 although you’d have to find a shorter water pump to clear the rad….

    • DrinkinGasoline

      Good call. Who knows who dropped the thumbs down but who cares. Obviously someone who is clueless.

      • Uberladen 69

        It’s too easy to drop a thumbs down especially when using a phone
        It makes me reluctant to even up vote.
        BF ARE YOU LISTENING? Please fix

    • Drew V

      If I remember correctly these use the same frame as the standard coupe, being only a body change and maybe heavier rear springs So reverting back to the original chassis shouldn’t be too hard or expensive…… Here is an article that Hemming’s done on a 1939 Coupe Truck…

    • Woodie Man

      Absolutely worth pulling apart, salvaging the original and ditching the garbage then rebuilding it as sold. I’ve seem them before built as original. Maybe it was an attempt to compete with the Studie Coupe Express. Hope someone with deep pockets takes it on.

    • Mark S

      I agree geomechs that v6 look all wrong in there. If it were mine I’d leave the chassie in it at this point because I’m willing to bet that this is half original at the back and half Chrysler up front. I’d put the 235cid in it with a 5 speed stick. I’d lose the truck bed In favour of the deck lid and I’d redo the interior in grey. Finally I’d restore and repaint the body in forest green with black fenders. The truck box is an interesting idea but I think it is fugly and ruins the look of the car. I also think it created serious rust issues in the trunk area. I’d bet it would be easy to sell the truck bed to someone else that wants to ugly up their coupe.

      • Mark S

        The thumbs up/down is working well there used to be some really good scraps on here before this was implemented. I don’t care if I get a bunch of thumbs down I don’t take it personally. All it means to me is there are people that don’t always agree with me. This rating system has really cleaned up everyone’s potty mouth including mine. I say leave it in.

        Like 1
  6. Armstrongpsyd doug Member

    This is obviously homemade . Somebody did a pretty good job grafting an age appropriate Chevy bed into the truck space of this old coupe. It’s a one-off and worthless to anybody other than an idiosyncratic collector.

  7. Ck

    Thats just a Dumb thing to do .whoever buys this should put this back to the way it was..

  8. David Frank David Frank Member

    This was an option on Chevy coupes starting in about 1938. It was known as a coupe pickup.The truck bed was an option. It was easily swapped out with a trunk lid for the weekends when you wanted a car. Weekdays it was a work truck. Here’s an ad for one. Here’s a writeup Jamie did

    • Jon

      It did start in 37 as mentioned In my eariler post.

    • 68 custom

      Thanks for posting that picture. these beds must be pretty rare now days. cool Chevy, ditch the Ford hub caps.

    • grant

      Came here to post just exactly that. Thanks for digging up the link.

  9. S Ryan

    Bed maybe real option.
    Torsion bar front suspension was not. Probably Volare or? Chrysler.
    V6 of very hard to tell origin? HEI cap but looks like early Ford V6.

    • Rustowner

      Real factory bed. Not a Volare frontend, as they have transverse torsion bars. Front end might mid sized chrysler or 60’s 2wd gm truck, hence the reason the front track width is wider than the original. Motor is a Buick odd or even fire V6.

  10. Jim Norman

    While I respect the scholarship that convincingly shows the pickup bed was a factory option, can anyone explain the apparently raw edges of the flange, absent the rubber seal, where the trunk lid used to sit on this particular car? I think this was someone’s idea of a reproduction.

    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

      I restored one of these, a 1941, back in the early 80s. The bed as you see it is correct. The factory provided a correct trunk lid so the car could be converted either as a truck or a car. Since back then many states charged higher registration rates for trucks, by including the trunk lid, the car would classify as a car.

      To convert back to the coupe, unscrew all the screws around the lip and in the lower & back sides, then remove as one piece [takes 2 people]. Bolt on the deck lid [on these the weatherstrip was on the deck lid, not in the surrounding lip, due to the holes for the screws.

      Back in 1976 I had a 1937 Hudson Terraplane coupe, with a pull out truck bed. Open the trunk lid, grab the 2 side handles, twist them sideways to release the latches, and pull the pickup bed out about 3 feet! This gave a full 6 foot pickup bed with tailgate! These were available on the smaller Hudson coupes too. I sold the Terraplane a couple of years later, but I think it’s the car in the photo I have attached here. I used to take it to car shows with it full of hay bales in the back, and I dressed up in old bib overalls, chewin’ in a straw blade as I drove in!

  11. Madbrit

    Probably a Buick V6.

    I often wonder why so many people ignore proven facts about a car.

    Also, if one looks around the opening, one can see there are press studs for a tonneau cover to keep the weather out.

    • Woodie Man

      People ignore proven facts about all sorts of things. We live in the era of internet know- it-alls who know nothing and believe what they want.

  12. Ck

    Wow my mistake! I guess it is factory I have changed my mind blew by all those pics to write my old comment.I HAVE BEEN SCHOOLED .

  13. Howard A Member

    This is clearly a hodge-podge of different makes, and pretty well done. @ S Ryan, I noticed the front suspension too. I don’t think it’s a Volare ( although, that was a popular stub to use) as it had a transverse torsion bar, but this does look like a Chrysler. Late ’60’s Chevy steering column, and what appears to be a 60’s Chevy pickup instrument cluster( with SW gauges). I noticed too, the fan belts are missing, so I wonder if this even runs right now. As to all the naysaying thumbs downers, please, if you don’t know what you’re talking about, leave the thumbs down alone. This was an option in the 30’s, as shown, mostly for traveling salesmen in a business coupe( no back seat) that had larger items to show. With a little tlc ( get rid of the carpet) this is really a cool piece. I like it a lot.

  14. dave

    buick V6 with chryco torsion bar frt suspension added to original frame

  15. Jim Benjaminson

    The pickup beds were offered by several different makes – including Chevrolet, Plymouth and Studebaker — and probably others.


    Had a ’39 Master Deluxe 2-door sedan. Got it from the original owner, bone stock! Sanding and painting this monster was like working on an aircraft carrier! We took this baby all the way to the top of Pikes Peak with no problem! 216 ci. 2 barrel, very impressive! Great car to have fun with!!

  17. Rob L

    What are the round silver items on the tailgate and the sides of the bed? I’m thinking reflectors using “reflectorized” marbles inserted into a steel base. I’ve seen those marbles on railroad signs from that era.

  18. Little_Cars Alexander Member

    What does the car look like with the deck lid provided by the factory? In the day, I would be inclined to buy this car if the General provided a canvas cover or lid that could fit WITH the bed sticking out.

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