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1947 Chev Ute and 1947 Chev Panel

Owned by

John Marsden
Melbourne, Australia

25 February 2008
# 2246 & 2247

From John :

           Hi! Firstly, your web site is awesome!

           I am "Down Under" in Australia and have had a Stovebolt in my family all my life - a 1947 Chev "Ute" that was my Father's - Cyril Marsden. He always ran a 1941 to 1947 Chev Utes and trucks for his work vehicles since the 1950's. The 1947 Chev Ute I have was his last that he had on the road. He bought it in 1962 and drove it until his death in 1997 at the age of 88. I learned how to drive in it, too.

           Dad had worked the engine many years ago and fitted a truck four speed crash box. Dad had lived through the depression era and as a result, was quite innovative at keeping the old truck going without spending any money on it! This is a genuine old truck that has been patched up anyway possible to keep it on the road -- a real "Ratrod" maybe!

           I kept it on the road for a while after his death but it has been in storage recently. However, I am planning a rebuild on it soon. It will not be a full resto but I want to patch it up and keep it running in the spirit of how it was always used.

           During World War II and in the immediate time after in Australia, we had very strict petrol rationing. As Dad's work involved using the truck all the time (greengrocery delivery round), he was forced to adapt to the situation. He had a 1936 Chev flatbed truck at the time. He saw an advertisement in the newspapers talking about a way to run your automobile on an alternative fuel source - charcoal!

           Dad sent off the money and received in the mail the schematics of how to build a "Gas Producer" which, from the burning of coal, you were able to produce a gas vapour that you could run your auto on! Dad built his in his own innovative way (you could buy commercially made ones at the time) using a 44 gallon drum wrapped in asbestos for insulation and had a series of water chambers etc. for the gas to run through on its way to the engine.

           It worked very well much to many peoples' amazement, including one local police officer who was getting suspicious of Dad because He saw Dad driving all the time and was convinced he was getting gas on the black market. When the officer pulled Dad over and said, "There is no way this thing could be working," he placed his hand on an exposed metal part of the drum. Much to Dad's amusement, the Police Officer got a rather nasty burn! He never hassled Dad again!

           The other Stovebolt I have is an Australian made 1947 Chev panel truck -- timber framed in the rear and very different to the USA models. I recently had this one in the soon to be released TV series "The Pacific" (sequel to "Band Of Brothers") produced by Steven Spielberg. [ pix on the lot ]

           I hope this is of interest to you. I was talking to a US collector of "Utes" (he is from California) and he told me about After seeing the Gallery shots of some Aussie Chevs in there, I was inspired to tell Dad's story and mine!

           I have a photo gallery of some of my collection on a My Space page -- (click on my pics). You can have a look and see what other interesting autos I have including a video clip of my band featuring my wild 1959 Ford Hearse (story below) which is very unique.

           I am also the lead singer/guitarist in the Australian Rockabilly band "Wild Turkey." We have toured in the USA several times and there is also a photo on the band's web site. We usually head over to the USA about June and July for a tour with the band in the Southwest. We also look about to see what old autos are available to transport back to Australia!

A little something different

           The 1959 Ford Hearse began its life as a Custom 300 four door sedan and was converted to a Hearse by W.G. Smith Coachbuilders in NSW Australia when new. It was lengthened by almost three feet. The whole roof was hand made and the rear door was made using a 1960 Falcon rear window.

           The inside of the back is all stainless steel which looks wild. W.G. Smith Hearses were always rather spectacularly styled and in my opinion, the best of the Australian Coach builders for Hearses. In Australia with our small population (back in the 50's and 60's) meant that Hearses were made in small numbers by numerous small Coach building firms. So almost every Hearse had a unique design - most undertakers wanted something different from their competitors. So the Coachbuilders catered for this with many varied cars.

           Australia, being a colony of England, still had strong influences from the "Mother Country" and in the 50's and 60's most hearses here were made from vehicles that were USA-based. But the Hearse conversion was done in the English style - lots of glass so the coffin is fully in view in the Hearse. Many American Hearses had covered in side windows (Landau style) and curtains, etc. so the coffin is not as visible.

           Also in America, Hearses were usually Cadillacs and Packards and Lincolns, but as none of these cars were sold in Australia, most of our Hearses were made from Chevs, Fords and Chryslers. Occasionally there was a locally made Holden or (rarely) British and European car.

           My Hearse has had an interesting history (with a lot of gaps that I have been unable to trace). From what I know it was used around Sydney NSW in the 60's and 70's - painted in Gray and Black. Then it was briefly sold to a tradesmen who I suspected may have painted it Dark Metallic Green. He put it on the side of the road with a "For Sale" sign where a friend of an undertaker from Queensland saw it. Thus, it was then purchased and made a road trip north to Toowoomba, Queensland where it was placed back in Service as a Hearse.

           Eventually, in the mid-1980's it was retired from service and was sold into private hands where it was owned by several owners and only briefly driven on the road.

           I found it in 1992 when its owner then had moved all the way south to Melbourne and brought it down to sell. I made an offer and drove it home a week later.

           After rebuilding the brakes, front suspension and rust repairs I got it back on the road and have toured all over Australia in it since. It is now running a warm 390 FE big block and I have done about 150,000 miles in it. It has been in numerous Aussie TV shows and is well known as the "Wild Turkey" Band Vehicle. It is one cool auto and I love it!

           Here is a link to a story in The Age newspaper here in Melbourne that did a story on me and includes the Hearse.

Thank you,

John Marsden


           If this isn't enough for you all, be sure to check John's 1946 Chev Ute that he also just recently got off eBay and saved from the scrap metal pile! Great reading, thanks for taking the time to write all this! ~~ Editor

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