1949 Chevy 1-Ton Canopy Express
27 March 2006 Update
The Canopy Express is finished. I finally finished a 1.5-year project on my 1949 1-ton Canopy Express 3807. A frame off body and frame restoration has been done since June, and I have recently finished the interior and put in a Southern Yellow Pine wood bed from Jim Carter's, which had to be custom made because of the length.
I found some Dodge 8 hole rims just down the road for $40 (!) that hold 16 inch radials (and also clear the front linkage by 1/2") and sandblasted them, painted them black and attached 1-ton aftermarket hubcaps with the clips off of the original split rims. I never realized what a process it would be to get an original-looking wheel set up with radials on this old truck! I'm debating whether to put in a heater, as it originally came with a GASOLINE aftermarket heater that is long gone. (Anybody heard of such a thing?)
One really cool development -- after I posted my first "in progress report" of my truck in the Stovebolt Gallery back in June, the son of THE ORIGINAL OWNER saw it and contacted me! I am the third owner and had been trying to no avail to track down the original owner for over a year. Thanks Stovebolt! Don is a great guy and has been sending me stories and photos of the Canopy Express from the early days. Some interesting facts:
Purchased in 1949 from the Yakima Chevy dealer in Yakima, Don's Dad originally bought it to start a fruit and vegetable business. The man he hired to operate it took the money and ran, but left the truck. Here's a good picture of the CE helping to build a new garage.
After Don's family car broke down in the early '50's, the Canopy Express became the new family car. With only a sporadic gas cab heater and several kids stuffed into the cab, Don said this wasn't his mother's favorite vehicle. Don's Dad covered the sides with plywood and small plexi windows, and moved the cab divider back a few feet to accommodate the growing family.
Finally, with the purchase of a new "girl" (1956 Chevy car) to replace the "old girl," the CE was put out to pasture. It still remained Don's Dad's pride and joy and took many Boy Scout trips into the Blue Mountains of Washington until his passing away in the 1990's. Here is the last picture of Don with the '49. One of Don's brothers sold it to a guy here in Benton City who then replaced the brakes, front end, and put in a good running 235 engine out of a '54 Chevy pickup. He had it for several years, driving it in the "Benton City Days" parade and then sold it to me about two years ago.
I am enclosing several of the old pictures Don kindly sent me along with some I took of the finished product. This one is from the '50s showing the CE parked at the curb, after a DDT spray in the neighborhood. Here the CE is driving along Weber Canyon -- straight ahead the road has caved in. A beautiful shot at Owyhee Dam in Oregon. In the Redwoods. Don is still trying to track down the original dealer sales receipt which will be the "jewel in the crown" of the scrapbook I'm putting together of the CE.
Thanks for all the nice comments from my other postings, especially the other members who have CEs. Nice to see more attention given to these obscure, rare, and wonderful old pieces of history these days, with some fine restored and in-progress examples in the Stovebolt Gallery.
Anybody that wants to talk about CEs email me!
Bolter # 3631
Benton City, Washington
This update was actually sent to us in December 2005. Mark had so many really cool pictures, I couldn't decide which to use. Took me this long to figure it out. Some really great shots. We used the Stovebolt Sunset for a mini-poster in the Hoo-ya shoppe. The the old ones are really fun! ~~ Editor[an error occurred while processing this directive]
05 July 2005
I really like The Stovebolt Page website and want to send some photos of my work-in-progress. It's a 1949 Chevy 1-ton Canopy Express.
I bought it a little over a year ago and have it in a friends' body shop where we are slowly working on it. We did a bit of a rush to get it on the road for this area's Cool Desert Nights car show. It managed to garner quite a bit of attention even though, obviously, still in progress. A lot of folks thought it to be some kind of modification we were doing, although they couldn't imagine what. Others had heard of one or seen pictures but had never seen one in person. And a few old timers remembered it from their youth.
We had it in the slow drags and even got an offer to have it on a local calendar after completed. I thought this cool as there were a couple hundred cars there --muscles, rods, etc., and they singled out the humble Canopy Express as one of the twelve.
It has a '54 235 in it and runs great. There was no rust except some surface rust when we started. The body was lifted from the frame. Frame sandblasted and painted. Engine taken out and seals replaced. Then painted 216 gray. Body was worked one section at a time, removing all paint and using minimal filler. Painted original Forester Green base and clearcoated, then buffed 3 times.
What's left is to finish the cab interior, put in a pine bed, new 16" wheels with original style hubcaps, cream pinstripe, finish canvas curtains, etc.
Whew!! Guess that's quite a bit.
I read on a website that Canopy Expresses of the 20's were precursors to the the panels and suburbans which then became today's SUVs. Great great granddaddy of the Ford Explosion (or whatever it is) and Chevy Tahoe ... is that an honor or a stigma?
Whatever, I would be glad to hear from anyone who knows of another '49 1-ton (seen a few halfs and one '53 1-ton on this site) or any other CE owners.
Will send updated pics later.
Keep on truckin ...
Bolter # 3631
Benton City, WA
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