Utility Bed: 1953 Chevrolet 3/4 Ton Pickup

In 1927, GM formed its “Art and Color” design studio, derided for years as “the beauty parlor”. It took at least five years for the studio to gain traction and respectability inside GM. The point of the concentrated design approach was to forecast what consumers would want and to deliver that in an attractive but economical way for GM. The interface of the design studio and GM’s advertising was responsible for imprinting Chevrolet trucks so customers would want to upgrade to the latest and greatest. The “Master” and “AK Series” were focused on model names and didn’t tell the customer much. When design hit its stride, we saw the “Advanced Design Series”, “Task Force” and “Action Line.” Here on eBay is a 1953 Chevrolet 3600 pickup from the Advanced Design series, with what the seller calls a homemade utility bed. The asking price is $5,500 and the truck is located in Norton, Massachusetts. It does not run. Advanced Design trucks were Chevrolet’s first post-war series, still with two-piece windshields (until 1954), a bullnose-shaped painted horizontal grille, and starting in 1951, vent windows.

This truck has a 235 cu. in. six-cylinder engine, which didn’t become an option until 1954. The seller says the truck’s transmission is a three-speed manual column shift with overdrive. The water pump was replaced two months before the seller bought the truck, but we don’t know how long he’s owned it. We do know it hasn’t run since 2005, apparently due to an ignition problem. The seller says the battery and starter are also new. The tires are mounted on eight-lug split rims but extra wheels are included in the sale. This is a 6-volt electrical system.

The interior is respectable, given the truck’s somewhat derelict history. The seller indicates that the seats have been reupholstered. The Advanced Design effort did not quite yet include creature comforts for the driver; that had to wait until about 1960 when trucks began evolving toward car-like ride and handling.

The intriguing feature of this truck is its utility body, which appears to be professionally executed. It has four cabinets – two on each side – and each one has a shelf. The compound curve of the sides is well formed, and the doors fit tight with inset handles and interior hinges. If someone made this, he was pretty talented. I found company trucks of this vintage with utility bodies – such as for a phone company – but the beds were slab-sided. Does anyone know anything about this particular configuration?

Comments

  1. Frank Sumatra

    “GM’s Art & Colour section put interiors front and center”

    The years of the General Motors Art & Colour Section, 1927 to 1937, were a period of transition for GM products where form became integrated with function in a way never witnessed before in the industry.

    This is not to besmirch the attractiveness of General Motors interiors before 1927, but the arrival of Harley Earl to head General Motors new Art & Colour Section that year heralded the start of a revolution in integrating quality with aesthetics at the automaking behemoth that was slowly overtaking Ford Motor Company as the world’s largest.

    I’m guessing Mr.Earle wanted it to sound more European.

    Like 2
    • Michelle Rand Staff

      Probably right; I noticed that Chev’s very early 1920s trucks were called the “International” series, not to be mistaken for actual IH trucks – only to cast the glow of foreign mystique, I bet.

      Like 3
      • Frank Sumatra

        Mr.Earle was certainly a “colourful” character. Maybe the :International” term was used to help sell them to the mid-western farmers from the Nordic countries!

        Like 1
      • Kevin Kendall

        My dad had a mid 60s International truck with a utility bed very similar to this,wish I had it now

  2. angliagt angliagt Member

    I’m guessing that the bed is from a newer era.

    Like 1
    • Howard A Member

      I don’t think so, it is a service body that was an aftermarket option, like the phone company even back then. I read, there were several companies that made these, so it’s not a one off, as the author suggests. It could have had any number of uses. Some had hand cranked cranes in the bed. This was one company, but there were others.
      https://www.pinterest.com/pin/739153357587295686/

      Like 2
  3. Dave Phillips

    Nice potential, the 235 had full pressure oiling and is bulletproof if you replace the fiber cam gear with a steel one (personal experience here). I’m not familiar with a 3/4 ton 3 speed w/OD but it sounds like an excellent feature for travelling – most were 4 speed w/granny 1st. The proportions of box would look better with a slide-in camper above – BTW, I see no compound curve to the box, just a simple curve that would be easy to do.

    Like 2
  4. matt

    Stahl made utility truck bodies also.

    Like 1
  5. Glenn Schwass Member

    I love the ultility bed. I don’t think I’ve seen one like it. I have seen Phone truck beds but I think they’re different. Cool truck.

    Like 1
  6. George Birth

    Restored this would be a unique vehicle. I love the custom tool box bed. Ten years ago I would have tried to buy it, as it would have made my business Really stand out from the crowd.

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