Resto-Mod or Restore: 1942 Chevrolet AK Pickup

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The Chevrolet AK Series was only in production from 1941 until 1947 and represented, for the first time, a conscious effort on the part of General Motors to give their commercial range a distinctive visual appearance which was different to their passenger vehicle range. Barn Finder Ikey H referred this classic Pickup to us, so thank you so much for that Ikey. The Chevy is located in Albany, New York, and is listed for sale here on Craigslist. If you would like to park this old girl in your garage, you can do so by parting with $12,000.

I rather like this Pickup, but then, I’ve always been a fan of anything that has even a hint of art deco in its design. You compare the styling of this vehicle with Chevrolet’s passenger car offerings of the period, and you can see that they were very successful in their attempt to create two distinct visual identities. This Pickup looks to be a solid example, and certainly, the frame seems to be rock solid. The AK looks to be largely complete, and rust issues in the body and floor also appear to be negligible. There are a reasonable number of minor dings and marks scattered around the body, but this is completely within the character of a 77-year-old commercial vehicle. In fact, I’d say that it actually has surprisingly few issues for such a vehicle. One feature that I really like is the working, swing-out windshield. That should provide plenty of ventilation on even the hottest of days.

The interior is a blend of the old and the new, and it’s the new that really jars on me. The padded and buttoned door trims and headliner are just plain wrong, and those would be going pretty rapidly if I owned this. Otherwise, the interior really doesn’t look bad. The owner states that the heater was optional on the AK, and while this is true, I’m not completely sure that this heater is the right one. Hopefully, one of our knowledgeable readers can clarify this. The rest of the interior looks pretty reasonable, and shouldn’t be too hard to restore if that’s the way that the new owner wishes to proceed. There will be some electrical work to be completed though, as it appears that some of the lights and gauges don’t currently function.

The owner states that the Pickup runs, drives, and stops really well, and I am not surprised by this given how neat things look under the hood. For a 77-year-old truck, the 216ci straight-six looks quite clean, although some of the wiring leaves a bit to be desired. That’s one aspect that I would definitely be addressing, as nothing can ruin your day quite like a misplaced wire shorting out in your classic vehicle. The results can be somewhere between inconvenient, and catastrophic. As a general rule of thumb, transmissions on the AK Series were 3-speed manual, but a 4-speed was also available, and that is what is fitted to this one. The electrical system has also been upgraded to 12-volts, which should greatly assist reliability. Especially on those cold mornings. The brakes have recently been given a service, while the AK has also been fitted with period correct Firestone bias-ply tires.

The owner of this AK Pickup rightly points out that this would be an easy basis for a resto-mod, but that they are only original once. I have to agree with him on that point. Finding solid and original examples of the AK Series is beginning to get tough, so preserving a few seems like a pretty smart idea. That’s what I would be inclined to do. What about you?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Nevada1/2rack NevadahalfrackMember

    Buy it, drive it-don’t hide it. Simple things can give simple pleasures if given the opportunity.

    Like 6
    • Todd

      Restore it. Definitely. There are already way too many of these out there with Chevy 350 engines or similar. Very, very few have been kept honest and original.

      Like 7
  2. geomechs geomechsMember

    Another one! They’re obviously still out there. I’d be tempted to take this and give it a good cleanup then drive it for a while to see what else is ailing. Then fix what needs to be fixed and keep on driving. Have a good time, and when you’re done with that, go the restoration route…

    Like 3
  3. Bob S

    I love the truck. I remember seeing a lot of this style of truck when I was a kid growing up in an area where there were lots of apple orchards.
    If I would restore it , but if I kept the 216, but because the engine is splash lubricated, to protect the bottom end I would either replace the present transmission with a T5, or at least add an overdrive.
    That would make the truck more suitable for those slightly longer cruises.

    Like 1
    • Bill Hall

      To add overdrive or change transmission will require a whole new driveline including rear end since all the old CHEVYS had a torque tube sealed driveline. If you wanted to go that route maybe dump in a new straight six motor.

      Like 2
  4. Gaspumpchas

    just what Bob s said==might want to upgrade that ol Babbitt pounder 216, also the t5 5 speed conversion. Grab a 5 speed from an s-10. Just about bolts in. Those early stovebolts couldn’t stand steady running. My old Boss did hundreds of Babbitt rebuilds years ago- if we saw something come in the shop with a Babbitt engine, we warned people that they don’t take any high speed or continuous driving. I’m sure there are those who would disagree- Forwarned is forearmed!!!

    Like 3
  5. geomechs geomechsMember

    I’m inclined to drive a little slower instead of installing a 5-spd. The trouble is: the engine has only got 92 hp and it can be taxed with an overdrive. It would likely have 4.11 gears (same as my ’49) which is good for 50-55. Put in a set of 3.73s and you could keep up with the slow lane. I’ve gone through a number of babbit-pounders and they are amazingly tough engines. Their weakness is people using too heavy a grade of oil. When it’s cold it doesn’t circulate that well and it takes a while to thin out. I had customers who ran 20 wt. from spring to fall and straight 10 in the winter. Very few problems with the bottom ends. Those same customers ran babbit-pounders in their 2-ton grain trucks where they were subject to no end of abuse. I might add that the latter broke a lot more axles than pounded out rod bearings…

    Like 5
  6. Pete

    Clean up the cab wiring, drive and enjoy. I like its honesty just the way it is. These trucks were built before there were interstates, so 55 mph is tops. That’s fine for secondaries. I might hang a period aftermaket radio under dash, tuned to a C&W station.

    Like 1
    • geomechs geomechsMember

      Is there any other kind of station?

      Like 0
  7. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

    I had a 41 Chevy pickup back in the early 70’s. it had a 392 ci hemi with three speed standard trans. I couldn’t keep u-joints in it. Had a rear end from 62 Olds Starfire that I planned to put under it, but that never happened. Instead I bought a 65 Ford f-100 352 3 speed column with overdrive a much better truck.

    Like 0
  8. Andrew S MaceMember

    Service it thoroughly, fix what needs fixing, go back to 6v (never saw any need for the “upgrade” to 12v), install a correct new wire harness, and use and preserve and enjoy it for what it is! For those who see it and think “resto-mod,” I suggest buying a good used Silverado, but that’s just me. ;)

    Question, though: What is the extra “mechanism” on the shift lever?

    Like 0
    • Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

      Looks like two speed rear end.

      Like 0
    • Bill Hall

      The extra lever was to engage reverse?

      Like 0
  9. Dale Watson

    I drove my fathers 46 in high school I think I was very hard on it but it never gave us any trouble, it had a. South wind hot air heater with ducts to the windshield which would crack the glass . I let both the truck and girlfriend at the time get away . I am fond of the good old days. Now 83 and still dreaming.

    Like 1
    • 427Turbojet 427TurbojetMember

      I used an 8 volt battery ( available at tractor supply type stores) in my ’41 Chevy Special Deluxe 4 Dr. I set the voltage regulator to charge at 9.6 volts. Used 6 volt halogen sealed beams in front, used all other original bulbs and gauges. Spins over and starts very well. Have used this way for 10+ years with no problems.

      Like 2
  10. Charles Turner

    I just say again that the 216 is tough as nails…….ppl just need to remember that it’s not a modern truck. Appreciate it for what it is & drive accordingly. Not rocket science here, ya know?

    Like 0

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