Patina’d Panel: 1959 Chevy 3100 Panel Truck

It’s often overlooked today, but I’ve noticed a trend back towards smaller delivery vans  that can more easily navigate city streets and crowded neighborhoods – vehicles like the Ram ProMaster, Ford Transit Connect, and others. In a way, it’s a shout-out to our history of loving compact courier vehicles, a history that began with old-school panel vans like this 1959 Chevrolet listed here on eBay for $3,700.

The huge barn doors made loading a breeze, and the cavernous cargo bay could swallow all manners of packages or projects. Sure, we still need the big dogs to haul days’ worth of cargo, but these panel vans made excellent in-town runners or contractor vehicles. This Chevy has been off the road for 12 years, and the seller notes some bodywork needs, but fortunately, no major rust. Even the wood floor in the cargo bay is said to be in good condition.

The inline-six didn’t take much coaxing to fire back to life after its decade-plus sleep, but the seller still recommends a carb rebuild and the gas tank cleaned out. The engine is paired to a three-speed column shift manual, and really, it doesn’t appear much has been disturbed under hood. Of some concern is the mention of a “custom” sunroof and the vehicle having fallen out of the California DMV system, but the latter is only really a problem for in-state buyers.

And – shameless plug coming – if you’re hunting for a panel van but are either on the opposite coast or a devout Mopar fan, we just dropped the price on this Barn Finds Exclusive Dodge panel van project. Whether you use them for a business or personal use, panel vans will always be in style and are a great way to combine some practicality with owning a classic vehicle. If you had to have one, would you choose a Dodge or a Chevy?

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Comments

  1. geomechs geomechs Member

    Nice panel. Looks like a project that wouldn’t break the bank to carry out. Driver quality restoration. Keep the six. Use it and have fun. Won’t go very fast but it will do the job without complaint. Someone might want to pull the straight axle off the front and graft on a front clip from a Camaro or Nova. I have no problem with the leaf springs in front but I say that if you want an IFS there are some outfits that offer a bolt-in crossmember that has the IFS already there. And you can actually resell the vehicle in the future…

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  2. Howard A

    Dodge, no question. This is pretty neat too, the fact that a panel van exists at all is amazing. They led a rough life. These are a bit of a handful as is, and resto-mods are actually a good thing for today’s driving. Limited only by your imagination.

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  3. geomechs geomechs Member

    The Dodge is tempting because of its rarity. Your chances of winning the lottery are better than finding another one of these show up at the car show. Both are good choices and I wouldn’t fault anyone for either of them. Personally though, I’ll have to side with the Chevy…

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  4. Mountainwoodie

    So a thousand dollar bill is the new hundred dollar bill I guess. Inflation is reeking havoc on my dreaming. Speaking of which, while a prisoner at an undisclosed location today, I was forced to watch Mecum Indianapolis and saw someone pay $270 K for an F code ’57 T bird from Amos Minter.
    To think that some thirty-five years ago I refused to pay 11 grand for an F code on the West Coast. I just never learn!

    .

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    • Howard A

      There, there, laddie, we all have that remorse. I passed on a 3 year old 1970 Jag roadster in the 70’s for $2,895.
      Re: inflation,,my parents thought the world was coming to an end when a loaf of bread went over a buck. Somehow “our” inflation isn’t the same as “their” inflation ,,,

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      • Mountainwoodie

        Lol……..that’s why we’re here HoA, to share the pain and wonder at the machines we love and the turn of the worm of time……I like to think if it wasn’t for all of us young gear heads back in the day of whatever stripe, the junk we coaxed and kept running wouldn’t have survived to be the objects of fascination and ridiculous prices they are today.

        Perhaps it’s a testament to our parents pragmatism and experience of the real Depression and the lessons some of us absorbed that makes 270 grand F code ’57 Tbirds seem like the craziest thing ever……well alongside every other example of auto related craziness you can imagine! :)

        I’m just hoping there is another round of Woodie crazyness before I need to convert the Woodie to diaper money!

    • GCS Member

      I love it. I want a 57 so I change the front clip but keep it for the next guy. Seeing these is really making me want to tap the 401k before they are priced out when I retire in 10 years, if …

      • GCS Member

        Would change. Man I fat fingered that one…

  5. Johnmloghry

    These things were very noisy, so Noise deadening would be first on my list after tank and carb, fluid changes etc. then A/C is a must for me here in south east Texas, with comfortable seats. Exterior is last on my list as always, mostly because I have no skill in that area meaning I must pay someone to do it for me. My dad always used 8 ply riverside tires from Montgomery Wards but his were work trucks, I would want highway radials on it. Maybe add power steering and brakes for ease of driving, and seat belts for sure.
    God bless America

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  6. Johnmloghry

    P.S. I’ve seen a few of these older panel trucks with overhead R.V. A/C units that apparently work quite well.
    God bless America

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  7. Tom Bell

    A rare blast from the past. Needs to be properly restorted. Too many panels and sedan deliveries have been butchered by the “resto-moders” and others who refuse to respect the designs of the past.

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  8. TimM

    The dodge is cool guys but that’s my favorite Chevy body truck and I really wouldn’t feel bad about pulling that anemic six cylinder out and put a diesel in it with four wheel drive!!!

  9. Bern

    I know that The Singer Sewing Machine Co. used Chevy Panel Trucks of this vintage, as my dad worked for them from 1948 up until his unexpected death in June of 1960.

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    • 427Turbojet Member

      At Back to the Fifties in St Paul 3 years ago a fellow had a 55 Chevy sedan delivery with original paint and original Singer livery on the sides. Sedan delivery’s are dear to my heart, especially 55 Chevy’s, I spent a lot of time looking it over. You can complain on patina all day, but I’ll walk past 10 shiny sedan delivery’s to see one with the original signage on it.

      • Bern

        427 Turbojet: Thank you for that information…I have always wondered if there were any ‘SINGER” panel trucks left with their ‘SINGER’ “livery” intact, and you answered that question. I hope to see one, or a least a photo of one, someday.

  10. MIKE KIEFFER

    No question the Chevy

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  11. Alexander

    As a inner city courier, I drove plain jane white Chevrolet “carryall” or “suburban” from 1981 to 1985 with barn doors in the back. While loading and unloading was a breeze, in a tight parking spot those doors would often raise the ire of others parked nearby because they couldn’t scoot by to get into their cars. I always backed up to sidewalks when possible.

  12. John King

    Didn’t see if it had the original seat. It’s missing the rear cargo door arm hinges. The doors hit the rear tail light assembly cracking the lens. An expensive missing part. Very hard to find.

  13. chrlsful

    luv a ‘hood’ on a “van”.
    Easy access for the motor.
    And speakin of motor – good umph to this one

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