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Restored Panel Van: 1937 Chevrolet Master 1.5 Ton

Here’s something you don’t see very often. A 1937 Chevrolet panel van, from the Master Series, and rated at 1.5 tons of payload capacity. The seller has largely restored this one, indicating a few final changes may be needed. Once finished, we’re not quite sure what you would do with it. Would you put it back to work or use it to haul all your friends to the drive-in movies (if you can still find one)? Located in Overlook, Oregon, this beauty is available here on craigslist for $25,000.

We’re not sure what this van looked like previously, but it came out of dry storage after a slumber of more than 40 years. To get it going again, the 216 cubic inch inline-6 has been rebuilt (85 hp stock). The wiring has been replaced with the correct cloth harness. And the old workhorse has been shorn with new shoes (brakes and tires). The glass pieces have been replaced with safety glass and the upholstery has been updated with period-correct materials.

Some degree of bodywork no doubt has been performed, which we’re told includes new floor pans. But the chrome bumpers could use new chrome. Nothing is missing and the seller says “little is needed to put it back into service” but doesn’t indicate exactly what these uncompleted tasks are. The odometer reading is 77,000 miles, but the condition of the vehicle suggests that zero would be closer.

We have to agree that few of these panel deliveries are left, and the seller is willing to help with delivery to put this one in your hands (we assume there is a distance limit). What would you do with this proud piece of Americana? Add some graphics to it to advertise your business?


  1. Avatar photo Howard A Member

    1st, it’s really a neat find, panel trucks almost never survived. Most used until they broke in half, and repurposed as a tool/wood shed out back. 2nd, it seems foolish to stick any money into anything original from the floorboard down, on ANY of these. It’s still going to be a 1937 vehicle, and that doesn’t go well on todays roads. The most obvious course of action would be to take the body off and plop it on a modern dually chassis. Modern steering, brakes, tires, drivetrain, then do what you may as far as the back. Be a lot easier, and more of a chance at resale at a later date. Like this? A tough sell as is.

    Like 20
    • Avatar photo DAN

      I agree….a ” used” original that has had some work done …isn’t likely to bring that money. The generational shift has passed this…people want what THEY grew up with, not granpaws car…that crowd is thin. It’s value would be as a resto mod….just a static museum piece as original….and if you noticed most museums have dropped a lot of those older cars since the crowds aren’t interested in seeing such that old….

      Like 7
    • Avatar photo Jamie

      I agree. Plus, these were work trucks in every sense of the matter. I guarantee you that this old truck rides like an old truck, which means it’ll rattle your teeth every time you run over a pebble. The steering and brakes won’t be much more fun either. Pre-war means pre-highway, so don’t plan on driving it over 50mph.

      Like 11
      • Avatar photo Mountainwoodie

        We’ve become pretty soft haven’t we ?

        Nice truck anyway

        Like 9
    • Avatar photo Norman K Wrensch

      hi Howard I know of a much easier way to get newer suspension under this old girl. the front suspension from a mid sixties to late 70’s un bolts in one piece from the frame. and the frame rails are the same width from the late 30’s until the early 80’s making it a very easy swap, just drill a few holes to bolt it in and mount the later steering box and go have fun

      Like 7
    • Avatar photo GitterDunn

      Better to just buy a newer truck and be done with it, wouldn’t it? Let’s leave these historic vehicles to those who understand and appreciate them.

      Like 5
      • Avatar photo Eddie Tucker

        Newer truck at 60k and more? Those of us who love the sculpture of the 30s but want reliable wheels on the road beg to differ.

        Like 0
    • Avatar photo stillrunners Member

      yep…and before station wagons – then vans – all the wrecking yard junk was thrown in them to be crushed….

      Like 1
  2. Avatar photo Craig MacDonald

    If that engine block is the same as the Blue Flame of the early ’50s and later it will take a T5 tranny from an S-10 which will improve top end speed a lot and with the right diff will easily allow 65 mph cruising.
    I spent Thursday at Barrett-Jackson here in Phoenix. Everybody is dumping an LS into everything. Sometimes the answer is not more power. At least for some of us a return to the slow, simple, and unmolested workhorses of the past is a welcome respite from today’s “faster, bigger, fancier” obsession.

    Like 2
  3. Avatar photo geomechs Member

    Yes, you sure don’t see a lot of these on the road these days. It would still be blasphemy to take the body and put it on a modern chassis. The old Stovebolt will take this a lot of places, and while it might be a slower trip it will still be in one piece.

    Trouble with putting a modern drivetrain under these, they weren’t desinged to go 80 mph and you feel it when trying to drive it at those speeds. My BIL has a ’36 Dodge that’s all Street-Rodded. It’s fine below 75 but get up there to the 80 mark and it starts to feel like the front wheels aren’t even on the road anymore. I’ve talked to others who have experienced similar things. No, just drive slower and enjoy the ride.

    If you really feel the need for more power, drop in a 261. You’ll need to run an electric fan because the water pump protrudes too far but that’s all you’ll need to do. Well, convert it to 12V…

    Like 24
    • Avatar photo GOM

      I agree wholeheartedly. A period piece this original (and relatively rare even in its own era) deserves to remain original, including its driveline and chassis. Roll the windows down, find some back roads in farm country, and enjoy the day. Not everyone needs to go 80 miles an hour to have fun! Stop at a local feed and grain or hardware store and I’ll bet you will find some old-timers with stories to tell.

      Like 11
      • Avatar photo Ken

        You’ll have a hard time going 50 in this- maybe 45.

        Like 0
    • Avatar photo Rallye Member

      You’re correct. Very rare 1.5T, I don’t think I’ve seen any panel truck more than 1T. Open the cowl vent, crank open the windshield and enjoy the breeze @55. Even a Chevy 1.5T would have boosted brakes?

      Like 4
    • Avatar photo Dennis6605

      geomechs are you suggesting removing the water pump? Before a electric fan can cool a engine, the water has to circulate through the radiator.

      Like 2
      • Avatar photo geomechs Member

        No, not at all. The regular fan won’t clear the radiator so you need to set up a fan in front. A friend of mine encountered that with his ‘38 model. It’s close quarters with the old Babbitt Pounder; the full pressure version has the water pump stick out just a hair and it’s enough to hit the radiator or have less than a cigarette paper’s clearance.

        Like 2
    • Avatar photo Norman K Wrensch

      there is an adapter kit to put a 216 waterpump on a 261. but you would also have to run the 216 harmonic balancer.

      Like 2
      • Avatar photo geomechs Member

        We heard about that but couldn’t find anyone who had one so we opted for the electric fan. If it would’ve been my call I’d have held out for the kit.

        Like 2
  4. Avatar photo Flint Fieseler

    Is it just me or are the rear wheels rigged for duals? If so, I wonder why on a panel?

    Good night to all

    Like 5
    • Avatar photo Howard A Member

      Hi Flint, I saw that too. Apparently, this chassis was used for bigger trucks, like a stakebed, that probably used the same rear axle. Generally, panel vans didn’t carry a lot of weight and didn’t need duals.

      Like 6
  5. Avatar photo Dan

    It’s the most exciting listing of today’s barn finds.

    Like 5
  6. Avatar photo John

    Nice looking ole truck. But i did notice a couple things (1) no floorboard & (2) 3 holes on the right rear quarter panel, Like a mount for an antenna. You dont think that maybe this ole girl was used as a paddy wagon. kool fine non the less.

    Like 2
  7. Avatar photo Duaney

    The picture of the engine doesn’t indicate a “rebuilt engine”

    Like 1
  8. Avatar photo Tim

    The purists may disagree, but I see it on a 4×4 chassis .with a small block and the interior refurbished with a modern design. This is a really cool ride .

    Like 0
  9. Avatar photo chrlsful

    top addition for the 15 or so (well, tied w/the Lancia) listed today. Kudos for the true to form rest0 (no mod). Others can take it where they want. I say daily it as is, use as designed. They all should be. Ie: dont buy a dodge WC (power wagon) unless U have a lot of property to work it, or contracts to use it at. Museums are the next. Like the 300 SL &/or 507 they should not B left in the garage, but driven. Otherwise let’s put it ina museum for all to enjoy.

    Like 2
  10. Avatar photo Mountainwoodie

    We’ve become pretty soft haven’t we ?

    Nice truck anyway

    Like 0
    • Avatar photo pixelpusher

      Flow-thru ventilation that be,
      Listing indicates there is a new floor pan with it.

      Like 0
  11. Avatar photo jwaltb

    Uh, there’s no floor in the cab.

    Like 0
  12. Avatar photo pixelpusher

    Me thinks it is a one ton truck. The 1.5 ton trucks were dualies with wider rear fenders obviously.
    Nice truck though.

    Like 0
  13. Avatar photo Mark

    Looks like a cleaned up version of the original Jeepers Creepers movie truck. Jk. We had a 1936 Chevy 1.5 ton dump truck that had been in my grandpas family since it was new. It was used at their greenhouse and farm. My dad got it in the early 70’s, but sold it off in the early 80’s. I sure remember how it felt to ride in it as a little kid, loud, bouncy, and windy.

    Like 0

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