Rust-Free Restoration: 1939 Chevrolet Pickup

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While some of you may look at this 1939 Chevrolet Pickup and see a solid basis for a rat rod project, this may well be a vehicle that will serve you best financially if it were restored to its original condition. Regardless of what your heart may desire in this respect, if you really want this Chevy then you will need to find your way to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where it is sitting with a clear title while it awaits a new owner. You will find the Chevy listed for sale here on eBay.

This old Pickup is as solid as a rock. It originally called Arizona home, and this has helped limit any rust to simple surface corrosion. There are a number of shots of the underside of the vehicle, and like the rest of the body, all there is to see is a dusting of surface corrosion. There is no front bumper on the pickup, but I don’t know if it has just been removed, or if it is missing altogether. The only other real negative that I can find is that while all of the glass is present, the windshield on the passenger side is badly cracked.

Under the hood is the 235ci straight-six engine, which is backed by a 3-speed manual transmission. The owner doesn’t indicate whether this is the original engine. What we do know is that the engine ran when the vehicle was parked around 10-years-ago, but it doesn’t run now. If the engine turns freely, it may not take a lot of work to get it back up and running.

The interior throws up a bit of a contradiction on this Pickup. The body and engine bay give every indication that the vehicle started life finished in Export Blue, but the copper bronze finish on the interior metal-work is a bit of a mystery. It looks like someone has gone to the trouble of giving the interior a bit of a spruce-up at some point. Color aside, everything is present, and it all looks like it will look pretty good with a decent clean.

This Chevrolet Pickup appears to be a solid car, and as I said in the beginning, it could be a great base for a restoration or a rat rod project. The bidding on the truck has been spirited, and at the time of writing the price has risen to $6,100, with the reserve unmet. If you were to make this into a rat rod, it would be hard to determine what it would be worth when complete. However, I can tell you that nicely restored examples of the 1939 Chevrolet are currently selling for prices just short of $30,000, and a check of historic sales data indicates that this price has been rising steadily in recent years. Restoring this Pickup might be a good investment proposition.

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  1. geomechs geomechsMember

    I sure wouldn’t kick this one off my driveway. It looks to me like a good cleanup and tuneup and it could be driven while you fix the rest of it. 235? Possibly but it would’ve had to be switched out as the tried and true 216 babbit-pounder is the most likely. For the likes of me, it would do just fine. I prefer the ’39 over the ’40 strictly for the lack of the parklights on the fenders; I like the smoothness. On or about the mid-30s, GM started to standardize the interiors of its trucks. Prewar, they were a light brown/tan (I could be corrected as to the exact tone), and postwar they were more of a bronze color. It didn’t matter what the exterior was, the interior ended up with the standardized color which the General kept up until ’67. A friend of mine restored a ’38 GMC a few years ago and we were trying to determine the proper color (the interior had a lot of peeling and surface rust making it impossible to determine exactly what they had.

    Like 4
    • Howard A. Howard AMember

      If I had a wad, I’d buy everyone of these for you, just to insure they would remain original. However ( here it comes, predictable me) you know as well as I do, this is another “clean slate” for the resto-mod group. Someone that wants their own pre-war hot rod pickup, with some motor that could pull a loaded Fruehauf , finally becomes a reality for them. I wish these could stay original, but with people, like the person that was going to turn that original Henry J into a gasser ( that really ground my gears), this doesn’t stand a chance. Got to admit, they make some nice resto-mods. Looking thru the images, there has to be 20 resto-mod ’39 Chevy pickups to one original.

      Like 5
      • geomechs geomechsMember

        Howard, you are absolutely right! I really don’t blame people for wanting to combine the old and the new; I guess what gripes me is that another historical artifact is going to be gone. They never get a chance to be put back to what they once were; the engine and driveline eventually gets discarded and those little knobs and tabs that get trimmed off to make room for other accessories are gone forever. Now this might be my own personal prejudice, but I’ve ridden in a lot of resto-mods/street rods, and it doesn’t take long to realize that they were NOT designed to travel at freeway speeds. You get wind noise around the headlight buckets and grill, and in a crosswind they can get downright scary. My BIL is a street rodder and he has a ’36 Dodge coupe with a fully modern powertrain. That 340 engine makes it go like Jack, the bear but boy do you hear the wind at 80. He even admits that driving it for extended distances at 65+ is tiring. Since I grew up with babbit-pounder sixes, flathead sixes and V8s, I don’t have any qualms about continuing with them. But on the same token, I already told you about my (hopeful) intentions with the wife’s ’57 Poncho. She likes to go for a drive to the mountains with her girlfriends, which I think is a great idea. But the old V8 tends to vapor-lock, and the Hydramatic seeps oil from everywhere. A crate motor with EFI, and a simple TH350 transmission would greatly enhance the reliability. Plus I would like to see a dual-braking system with booster and front discs. This is to ensure my wife’s (and her friends) safety. A very careful resto-mod along with the planned body-off resto will incorporate all those things, in addition to turning me into the biggest hypocrite in the world…

        Like 4
  2. Doug Craik

    I have a 1940 GM pickup that has GMC on the grill, General Motors Corporation on the hood wings, and Chevrolet on the tailgate, It is titled as a Chevrolet. Not sure what to do with it at this point. its in rough shape. Any Ideas?

    Like 0
  3. JimmyinTEXAS

    And it’s already gone…

    Like 0
  4. Chris

    Sold quickly and cheap.
    Hope it doesn’t get ruined.

    Like 4
    • DKW

      Sold? I saw that it didn’t meet reserve.

      Like 0
  5. Ken

    This may sound extreme, but I think anyone who would take this fully restorable truck and turn it into a restomod or a rat rod should be arrested and charged with crimes against automobilia. :)

    Like 7
  6. John

    This one needs to be loved as it is… besides, rat rods suck!

    Like 2
  7. Del

    Why must it be a RAT ROD ?

    Why not a CAT ROD.

    That is not the original engine. OHV six.

    Probably from a 50 to 60 Chevy

    Like 1
    • Norman Wrensch

      All chevy six’s were overhead valve, I don’t know for sure but I don’t think Chevy ever made a flathead engine.

      Like 0
      • geomechs geomechsMember

        I don’t know what Chevy ran from ’11 to ’13 (I think they were a flathead six supplied from an outside source) but the 1914 models were OHV. Chevy touted it was the ‘Blue Flame’ combustion chamber.

        Like 0
  8. stillrunners

    yep a nice one that survived….

    Like 2
  9. Mike Russell

    There is nothing about the appearance of the engine that would contradict it being original. If it is a 235 then it it would be the early 235 for big trucks only. They were splash oiled and looked pretty much the same as a 216 on the outside.
    One thing not mentioned here is that it is a 3/4 ton truck, not a 1/2 ton. Notice the longer bed (wheelbase). 3/4 and 1 ton trucks of this era still used 6 bolt wheels. If correct these would be 15 inch artillery. If the VIN is posted anywhere it will contain the letters JD. Nice truck, I hope it stays original.


    Like 1
  10. Lou Rugani

    Anybody can run a blowtorch – but it takes guts to restore a car to original.
    It takes determination to preserve automotive history and a genuine love and respect for the past.
    It takes a willingness to honor all the great automotive pioneers, the engineers, stylists, designers, and even line workers whose hearts and souls went into those early motoring classics.
    It takes long research and patience to restore a car correctly. And there’s no greater feeling than to know you’ve done it right.

    Like 6
    • geomechs geomechsMember

      I knew I wasn’t the only one who felt that way.

      Like 3

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