Live Auctions

V8 Powered! 1953 Chevrolet 3100 Pickup

I recently reviewed a vehicle where the seller stated, “All the heavy lifting has been done”. I thought that seemed debatable in that case but I wouldn’t argue the claim in this instance. This 1953 Chevrolet pickup has had a few modifications performed that don’t immediately meet the eye – let’s look it over closely. It is located in Audubon, Minnesota and is available, here on eBay for a current bid of $10,500, reserve not yet met. There is a BIN option of $13,900.

First up is the model, which one is it? It resembles a 3100 but there is no side badge and while the seller doesn’t disclose that detail specifically, it is referenced in the listing title as a 3100 and the “H” in the VIN is indicative of 1/2 ton carrying capacity. In 1953, Chevrolet was deep into their Advance-Design phase (1947-1955) with the new “Task Force” Series just two years away.

OK, I know many of our Barn Finds readers are not fans of the patina look, I get it, but that’s how the seller refers to his truck, it has “perfect patina”. Working around the semantics, the body of this Chevy is in pretty solid shape, no dents, rust-through or observable crash damage. The rust, that is present, looks to be strictly surface in nature as it bleeds through its typical ’50s aqua hue though the seller does state, “nearly no rust”. The underside appears to be very sound though the wooden cargo bed has seen better days.

Under the hood is an interesting choice, it is a 283 CI V8 of unknown provenance. It is obviously a swapped in powerplant as a 216 CI, in-line six-cylinder engine was standard in ’53 with Chevrolet’s famed small-block V8 still two years away. The engine appears to have experienced some improvements but it may have a bit of a “staged” look about it. The surprise is the transmission, it is a GM 700r4, automatic with overdrive, a nice selection but curious, nevertheless, in concert with the old 283 mill. The seller claims that this truck will cruise easily at 60 MPH but needs new tires to go faster.

Inside is a neat environment – it is clean, worn and industrial. The seat appears to be a reupholstered original but it perfectly compliments the desired look. There has been some floor modification performed, more than likely to accommodate the transmission swap as opposed to rust repair. While the original instruments are still in place, there are modern auxiliary gauges that have been added to help keep tabs on things in the engine room. The accelerator pedal is an interesting selection, it looks like a standard “street rod” component.

Back to the heavy lifting, the engine and transmission swap has been performed, though it would be nice to know a bit about the engine – it would help to determine if more heavy lifting will have to be undertaken in the near future. How much of the exterior has been “posed” as opposed to natural degradation is hard to say but it is presentable as is or, it could be repainted too. Same with the interior, it would seem to be designed with a certain look in mind, so live with it, or refinish it, it will be the new owner’s choice.  I think I know the answer, based on prior featured examples, but I’ll ask the question anyway, do you like this Chevy’s appearance as is, or would you prefer it if it were more finished?


  1. CraigR

    I’d paint it for sure. I’ve seen tasteful interiors on this vintage truck that retain the period appearance. I’d do that too.
    The hell with the P word, that thing looks like crap as is.

    Like 6
    • Mike

      The P word? You mean perfect?

      Like 2
  2. Jerry

    Really? Fourteen large for this?

    Like 4
  3. Joe Haska

    I have had several of this era Pick Ups mostly Ford F-100’s but also some GM products. It used to be everybody liked the trucks, but no one wanted to pay for them. That has been changing, I am not sure why, but numbers don’t lie.
    Fourteen large, Ok find a truck in the condition of this one, with no engine or trans, do the transformation to V-8, automatic and have it running, add up the cost and labor, Really 14K too much, do the math.

  4. Dean Blegen

    Better Check the title. It’s a ’52 not a ’53. You can tell by the Chrome on the sides of the hood.

    A ’53 says: 3100 , not Chevrolet. Everything is the same.

    Like 1
  5. Chris Londish Member

    Well the 60mph claim is quite achieveable even with 3:73 diff and the O/D trans, the look seems quite authentic to me but the, but the price of drivetrain parts in your part of the world wouldn’t justify that sort of price, especially when there is still a lot of these still lying around in junkyards for little money

    Like 1
  6. Rod

    Like the truck, and the P looks pretty real. If falls in price due to the V8 transformation. Either build it out to a rod, or SC the engine and take it back to factory.

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