Vintage American: 1941 Chevrolet G7117 Camper

John Steinbeck’s s Grapes of Wrath was published in 1939, just a couple of years before the 1.5 ton 1941 Chevrolet G7117 on offer here rolled off the assembly line. Steinbeck’s tale chronicles the story of a family who leaves their farm in the Oklahoma dustbowl of the 1930s for the promise of a new life in California along with all the ups, downs, highs and lows of that exodus. One look at this camper and you can imagine Steinbeck’s Joad family — or frankly any family from that era — making the difficult decision to pack as many worldly possessions as the truck will hold, and hit the road for greener pastures. Today’s cool tip comes from our tipmeister, T.J., and is found on craigslist, in San Francisco offered at $20,000.

The truck wasn’t actually a camper from the get go, according to the seller. It seems to have been converted between 1950 and 1964, and fashioned after a “vardo wagon” minus the intricate carvings and decorative flair so often associated with those wagons of England’s Romani travelers. What stands out on the inside of this camper is the vintage patina. There’s just such a genuine warmth and authenticity that’s hard to deny.

Slide behind the wheel of this rig, and it’s easy to see that it’s all business. No fancy 10-inch screen. No bluetooth radio. No massaging heated/cooled seats. As expected, the driving experience is fully and completely analog (the way it should be). The levers operate the 4-wheel-drive, plus the four-speed manual transmission. The right pedal feeds an original 235 straight-6, and the middle pedal operates the Hydrovac power brakes. (Does ‘The Club’ come with the sale?)

Check out this spice rack. Not sure cooking with these would be recommended, but if you’re interested in a time capsule look, here it is, right down to the vintage embossed-style vinyl labels.

If you happen to have an aged vinegar fetish, this could be one of the best collections out there. There’s even some olive oil and liquid smoke. Question: might this be the genesis of the salad craze that gripped America?

The answer to the previous question is possibly contained on the coffee can shelf which has, in addition to pantry staples, cookies, potatoes, pretzils [sic], and cherry pipe tobacco. This must surely be one of the strangest vintage campers on the market, but one that brings us full circle to the Grapes of Wrath era. The seemingly disjointed array of vittles and vice that might very well sum up what it was like to travel with all your wares back in the day. A genuflect to an era where it was OK to eat cookies and smoke a pipe guilt-free. The lucky future owner inherits an amazing legacy to preserve and carry forward.


  1. sisuman Member

    In today’s world it’s difficult to understand any practical value of a camper with a top speed of about 45mph, and that probably gets about 8mpg. And why not add a box on top of it that would bring that number down even lower?
    That said, I love it. From a distance.

    Like 24
  2. Bluetec320 Bluetec320 Member

    To me, this is no longer a camper, but a collectable, and should remain that way. What a great preservation of history from a long gone era. Hopefully, whoever buys it, keeps it that way and doesn’t turn it into a Retromod.

    Like 24
  3. Cadmanls Member

    It’s some kind of 60’s conversion by the looks of the interior. Spice racks have plastic stoppers and the kicker is Currently licensed and registered as a 1964 Chevrolet pick up truck. So is the chassis a 64 ton and a half with the older cab? Not to sure when the label maker came out (Dymo) but thinking it was the seventies so just a wierd home built kind of cool old camper. What do you think clearance height for this beast is?

    Like 6
    • Bluetec320 Bluetec320 Member

      The Dymo corporation was started in 1958.

      Like 5
      • Cadmanls Member

        Don’t think that camper is that old, just all the labels from the Dymo on everything and they weren’t all that popular till the sixties and by the seventies they were all over the place, schools business usage etc.

        Like 5
    • Fahrvergnugen Fahrvergnugen Member

      I would HOPE that the pop-up, pops-down for clearance…

      Like 10
      • Bluetec320 Bluetec320 Member

        @Fahrvergnugen – From looking at the interior Craigslist photos, I would have to say that it is fixed and does not pop down.

        Like 8
  4. Howard A Member

    Okay,, I get a kick out of the “Club” on the steering wheel,,the non-synchro 4 speed should pretty much render the Club useless. I’m by no means an expert on military trucks, but I read, this was also a G506, and Chevy supplied over 154 THOUSAND of these for war efforts, most blown to smithereens, sadly many with it, others were shipped to Soviet Union, the rest probably dumped at sea, so this one probably never saw’r any duty, which ironically saved it. To be clear, this isn’t something you struggle to drive, you crawl to some local destination, park it, and sell your wares. The 1970 miles is the clue there. What a cool find.

    Like 14
  5. 370zpp 370zpp Member

    Is the label maker included?

    Like 6
  6. PaulG

    I’d love to be it’s next caretaker but I’d probably end up having to live in it.

    Like 11
  7. NHDave

    Yes, the Army Ordnance Corps supply designation was G506 for this series of WWII-era truck. The official model designation was G7100 (G4100 on earlier versions), with sub-numbers such as G7107 (no winch) and G7117 (with winch). These 1-1/2 ton Chevies were solid trucks and filled the space between Dodge WC’s and the GMC 2-1/2 ton CCKWs (and Studebaker US6’s).

    Like 5
  8. Scott Marquis


  9. Mike

    Someone really wanted to get their money’s worth out of that label maker.

    Like 6
  10. Kurt Member

    Reminds me of Rocinante, Steinbecks camper in Travels With Charley.

    Like 3
  11. nelson W rayder

    Chevrotet didn’t make a 235 in 1941, I think it came out in 1953-54.

    Like 1
    • Ed P

      The 235 was first used in heavy trucks in 1941 models.

      Like 1
  12. TED

    This truck sort of reminds me of the truck used on Ironside, 1940 Ford 1ton Paddy Wagon.

    Like 1
  13. George

    Had to check that out. They were, but had babbit rods until ’53. Then you got a fully pressurized (hyd. lifters) 235 with a Powerglide or solids with a std. transmission. Was curious, ’cause I worked at a place (’62-64) that rebuilt those engines, and all all we saw were the pressurized versions of the 235 (Canada).

    Like 2
    • George

      That was in reply to Ed P

      Like 1
  14. GitterDunn

    Another apt John Steinbeck reference might be “Travels With Charley”, his account of a trip around the USA aboard the Rocinante, his custom GMC camper truck, accompanied by his canine companion Charley in 1960.
    BTW – the Rocinante has been fully restored, and is displayed at the Nat’l Steinbeck Center, in Salinas CA

    Like 2
    • Kurt Member

      That’s great to know…hope I get to see it someday. Loved his books.

      Like 1
  15. David Wayne Krum

    Love that thing would love to have it here on Maui to camp and fish out of.

    Like 1
  16. John b

    Although it was a Dodge they drove in the Grapes 🍇 of Wrath, it was a nice parallel you made to the era and book

    • Cristiana R Barsuglia

      In “the Grapes of Wrath”, the Joad’s truck was a converted 1926 Hudson Super Six sedan.

      Like 1

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