Semi Stepping Stone: 1940 Chevrolet Truck

1940 Chevrolet Truck

Trucking has come a long way in the last seventy five years. This Chevy truck listed on eBay has the elements that played a role in the development of the modern day semi truck, like the fifth wheel for example. This old Chevy still has the basic cab of the pickup with the things necessary to haul semi trailers added on, like the trailer brake mounted on the steering column and the gauges bolted on under the dash. The fifth wheel system is the same basic design of a modern fifth wheel. The air hoses for trailer brakes are hanging on a stand behind the cab similar to what you might find on modern trucks and they might even have glad hand connectors. The underside looks pretty solid. If someone can find a use for this classic truck, it would seem worth the $12,000 asking price.



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  1. dj

    I live in Alabama. That 4×4 Corvette is still the worst redneck crap you can come up with.

  2. Howard A Member

    Pretty neat truck. Can you imagine some teamster, possibly one of our fathers, ( not mine) slogged along at 34 mph on all 2 lanes and small towns with this. The 5th wheel coupling, looks a little odd. I’ve never seen one like that. It differs greatly from modern ones, rather than backing into a “U” shaped jaw, that locks, this, you’d lower the trailer pin into the hole, and then lock it somehow. I don’t see an air compressor in the engine compartment, as those were usually mounted up high. Could it be vacuum brakes? Did they have those for trailers? Price may or may not be justified, how many remain in usable condition? Be great to pull a flatbed with your classic toys aboard.

    • David Frank David Member

      It is a puzzle about the air. I don’t see a tank mounted anywhere, but the trailer air hoses are there and there is the trailer brake handle on the steering column. The brakes on this truck appear to be hydraulic. Air brakes would could have been a retrofit as Fruehauf’s Streamliner semi trailer equipped with Westinghouse airbrakes didn’t appear until 1937 and might not have been in widespread use in 1937. Some early Fruehauf trailers and perhaps other manufactures, were equipped with their own air compressor for trailer brakes and the tractors still had hydraulic brakes. Thus, the seperate handle for air brakes.

      • Dave Wright

        Very cool………

      • Dave Wright

        Many were vacuume brakes.

  3. Ed P

    That Chevy 6 must have been huffing and puffing when pulling a load up a hill. Anybody want to guess what the engine displacement is?

    • Ralph Terhune

      216 c.i.

    • Howard A Member

      Hi Ed, this appears to be the “splash and hope” 216, putting out 85 hp. Remember, in 1940, they had nothing to compare it too, and this was as good as it got.

      • bob

        Ralph & Howard……I agree the original engine would have been a 216 c.i.
        However the engine pictured appears to be a 235 or 261…..probably a 235 because a 261 block is longer and the firewall does not look modified.
        Note the valve cover and the side cover…..not a 216.

      • geomechs geomechs Member

        The Chevrolet version would’ve likely used the 216 originally, however, I’m sure this one has been changed to a 235. Nicer, not only because of more power, but did away with the splash bottom end. But, Howard, I doubt if it would do any better than 35 mph with a full load. I might add that I wonder what it would be like driving one of these fully loaded through the mountains?

        Just coming back from seeing the kids in NM we took the route through Durango and Silverton, north to Grand Junction. We were traveling on switch-backs with 10 mph speed limits, after dark. We drove up over hogs backs on mountain tops. I was almost white-knuckling it with a lone Chevy truck. Then I saw a couple of semis on that same road. I told the wife that those truckers deserve a debt of gratitude for getting the load through…

  4. dj

    Ed, it should have a 216 with a whopping 85 hp. Can you imagine trying to pulling a loaded trailer up a steep hill with 85 hp?

    • Ed P

      When I started working for the phone company in ’69 we had 1 ton trucks from Ford, Dodge, and Chevy. All were loaded to the max or a bit over with tools and supplies. None of these trucks had any options, meaning the Fords had 240 ci 6’s. Climbing hills in second gear was a regular thing. Fourth gear was mostly for rolling down hills. I would imagine this tractor spent a lot of time in the granny gear.

  5. 1969Deuce

    Dad used to tell about coal trucks going up hill in reverse ’cause they couldn’t pull it in low. That woulda’ been fun with a trailer.

  6. steve

    DJ and JW…I do agree with you guys but I am somehow drawn to it!!! I live in downtown Chicago and have a couple C 3 Corvettes. Parallel park always depends upon how much the guy in front or back of you respects your car…that vette could solve my problems!!!!

  7. JimmyinTEXAS

    Seems like a pretty cool truck, and even if the engine has been upgraded it still would be a challenge to try to use in today’s traffic.
    There are 15 people watching the auction, maybe one will step up and fix it up…

  8. Dave Wright

    This truck was most likely a yard goat with a vacume brake setup. And off course an upgraded engine, We used to install GMC 300 6 cylinder engines from the old GMC military trucks. They were great hot rod engines and had many speed accessories available. Nice old truck but of limited usefulness in today’s world. The larger trucks like a 1 1/2 ton are worth much less than a comparable pickup today. They are just not as fun and the market is much smaller.

  9. Charles

    It would be cool for an RV dealer to own to move 5th wheel campers around on the lot. The old truck is probably geared so low that it will move a heavy load at slow speeds. Rigging up an electric brake controller would not be too difficult. If the truck is still 6 volts, one could use the 12 volt charge circuit on the RV to power the brakes on the RV for moving around the lot. Paint the truck in company colors and use it as an advertizement tool. Other than that, use it as a show truck, towing parade floats, or other non essential duties. Of course one could always remove the 5th wheel, lenghten the chassis and build a flat bed body for it. Than one could use it around a farm to haul stuff.

  10. Kolin

    To the person who posted this.. please email me about the corvette!

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