1937 Chevy Truck For Sale, More than 80 years ago, Chevrolet needed to convince buyers that its light trucks were the foremost dependable, capable, and economical haulers on the road. So, the corporate cooked up an idea to send a replacement 1937 Chevrolet half-ton pickup, loaded with 1,000 pounds of weight, on a 10,000-plus-mile road trip, certified by the American Automobile Association. For the driving chores, they signed on racer driver Harry Hartz–a three-time Indianapolis 500 runner-up who made headlines during a 1933 Chrysler publicity stunt by driving a De Soto “backwards” across the country. (The car was found out with reverse-facing controls and a modified drivetrain in order that Hartz had three speeds in reverse and sat facing the car window .)
On December 23, 1936, Hartz wheeled the Chevrolet truck off the production line in Flint, Michigan, and headed northwest across Montana, Idaho, and into Washington. He then followed the West Coast south and traversed the U.S.-Mexico border to the Gulf of Mexico. After passing through the Gulf states and North Florida, he pointed the Chevrolet up the frigid East Coast , to Maine, then headed back to Michigan through New England . Hartz arrived back where he began on February 23, 1937–mission accomplished.
Some of the highlights from the truck’s two-month-long, 10,244-mile odyssey are surprising even by modern standards. During 328 hours of time period , the Chevrolet averaged 20.74 mpg and a speed of 31.18 mph. It needed only a minor repair along the way that cost 73 cents, and oil consumption was reported to be quite 7 quarts, but that included an car care on the way to stay the truck’s babbitt bearings protected.
That same year, Chevrolet staged another road trip to demonstrate the sturdiness of its heavy rigs. the corporate sent a 1.5-ton single-axle tractor, pulling a flatbed trailer loaded with five tons, on a visit from Southern California to ny . Over the three ,511-mile journey, the large truck averaged 27.34 mph and a powerful 11.37 mpg. It burned just two quarts of oil and used one gallon of water.
Powering both of those road-proven Chevrolets was the new-for-1937 216.5-cu.in. Blue Flame six–the only engine offered within the company’s trucks that year. The 216 was a more robust engine than its 206.8-cu.in. predecessor. The block was two inches shorter, with full-length water jackets, and its crankshaft spun in four main bearings. The oiling system, however, was still a low-pressure arrangement that Chevrolet described as “four-way” lubrication:
The 216 had a shorter stroke than its predecessor, at 33/4 inches, versus the 4-inch swing of the 207, but a bigger 31/2-inch bore than the sooner six’s 35⁄16-inch openings. For extra oomph, Chevrolet boosted the compression ratio 1 / 4 of some extent from 6:1 to six .25:1. (Later 216s would have 6.5:1 compression). The new engine was factory rated at 78 hp @ 3,200 rpm and 170 lb-ft of torque. (In passenger cars, it had been rated at 85 hp and 170 lb-ft of torque.) Rounding out the powertrain on Chevrolet’s half-ton trucks was a three-speed manual transmission with a floor-shift and a 4.11:1 final-drive ratio.
The engine wasn’t the sole new feature Chevrolet was boasting about in its 1937 haulers. Also that year, it introduced an all-steel cab with taller front and rear glass, for a far better view of the road or job site. The front was restyled to strongly resemble Chevrolet passenger cars, with an identical (but not interchangeable) grille, also as painted headlamp pods mounted to the edges of the radiator surround.
Inside the cockpit, a bench seat was divided into two sections with adjustable cushions and backs. In pickups, the fuel filler was accessed by raising the passenger side cushion and unscrewing a bung on the highest of the tank. For 1938, a more conventional external filler pipe was routed outside the cab on the passenger side. To further blur the lines between its cars and lightweight trucks, Chevrolet equipped both with similarly styled and configured instruments, switchgear, etc. because the company acknowledged in promotional literature: “The same easy control that’s yours during a coach is provided for the driving force of a Chevrolet truck. The instrument dials are directly ahead of him. accessible his right are the choke, throttle, and lightweight controls. there’s even a package compartment, with lock, within the panel. Clutch and brake pedals operate at light pressures.”
The instrument cluster was well appointed, for the time, with a 100-mph, AC-branded speedometer within the center, gasoline and water temperature gauges to the left, and amperes and pressure gauges on the proper . Simple paneling disguised most metal interior surfaces, and a rubber floor mat covered the ground .
Optional comforts indoors included a radio, a heater, a clock, a cigar lighter , and seat covers. Outside, buyers could pile on extras sort of a rear bumper, a right-hand taillamp, an outdoor car mirror , fog lamps, a spotlamp, whitewalls, and more.
The half-ton’s chassis was redesigned for the 1937 model year, too, and built rugged enough for light hauling chores. The reinforced frame rails were made up of 9/64-inch #1025 hot-rolled, pressed steel, measuring 2¼ by 5¾ inches. Tying the frame together were five stout crossmembers, plus there have been beefed-up engine mounts, spring hangers, and steering brackets.
In the rear, there was a “Monorail” love handle carrier that clamped the tire beneath the bed with a locking bolt, to protect against theft. The carrier was also designed to form raising and lowering the love handle under the truck easier on the operator.
Chevrolet’s 1937 1/2-ton pickups were 183 inches long, from nose to tailgate, and rode on a 112-inch wheelbase. the entire package tipped the scales at 2,945 pounds, with a 4,400-pound GVW. When it came time to check that GVW, operators had a wood-decked box at their disposal that measured 77 inches long and 451/4 inches wide inside. The 1937 model’s cargo box also benefitted from a redesign that stretched it out 5 inches from earlier trucks.
To shoulder whatever load owners might pile on, Chevrolet equipped its littlest pickups with eight-leaf springs front and rear, also as Delco hydraulic shock absorbers to assist smooth the bumps. When it had been time to prevent , Chevrolet’s light haulers relied on 11-inch hydraulic drum brakes, borrowed from the company’s passenger-car line, fitted with 13/4-inch-wide linings, front and rear.
By 1937, light-truck sales within the U.S. were heating up, because of their versatility and low operating costs–as demonstrated by Harry Hartz’s trip round the country for fewer than a penny per mile. Chevrolet moved 88,867 1/2-tons that year, 64,420 of which were pickups. The 1937 redesign rolled through 1938 with some minor updates, and in 1939, Chevrolet unveiled a made-over light truck, identifiable by its more modern V-shaped windshield.
This month’s feature Chevrolet is owned by Dave Russell of Prescott, Arizona. Dave has owned the truck since December after purchasing it from the estate of his late uncle, Marvin Nelson of Flushing, Michigan. Marvin purchased the badly deteriorated remains of the truck within the 1990s and spent a decade restoring it. Interestingly, the engine is predicated on an NOS block that Dave bought for his own ’40 Chevrolet, but gave to his uncle when he realized it had been an older-vintage casting.
Dave told us that Marvin worked as an electrician at the Chevrolet plant in Flint, Michigan, and learned to revive vehicles by buying, fixing up and selling Buicks in his off hours.
“He’d buy late-model Buicks that had been wrecked, fix them up, then sell them. As a kid, I remember he was always building a replacement Buick,” Dave said. “He was performing on this project near the top of his life, but he brought all of these years of experience to the work , which is why it’s so great.”