1953 Chevy 3100 Thriftmaster 3-Window
From Clarence :
I'm the proud owner of a 1953 Chevy 3100 Thriftmaster 3-window pickup. I've loved the Stovebolt site for years and have learned a lot from many of you.
My great Uncle, Joe Castro, purchased this truck new (or near new) from Guaranty Chevrolet here in Santa Ana, California. In the late 1950's, Uncle Joe was seriously injured in a construction accident that nearly killed him. So after a long recovery, he never really used the truck much except on trips to the dump and to pick up things for home projects. He was an avid builder of all things cool.
My Dad passed when I was two years old. That's the only reason he isn't mentioned in this story.
When my Mother's car would break down, my great Aunt and Uncle would loan her the truck. At the age of four, I remember my Sister, Brother and I actually standing in the truck and leaning against the dash as my Mom drove. If not, the three of us would kneel on the seat and hold onto the seat frame rail and look out the back window.
When Uncle Joe passed from lung cancer in the early 1970's, my Aunt gave the truck to my Mother. In spring and summer, my Mom would fit about 12 kids in the truck and drop us off at the beach, park or zoo.
My fave memory was going to the dump with lots of grass and weeds from the back lot on Mom's property. We all couldn't fit in front so she tethered some of us on top of the tarp with rope and we headed down the road. Two miles short of our destination, the police pulled her over and she was told to shove six kids up front because it wasn't safe. LOL! All six of us rode in back on the way back.
When I was 13, I told her I wanted to learn how to drive. She said that I had to learn on the truck. She said that if I could drive the truck, I could drive anything.
I'd watch Mom shift so I knew how to do that. I'd sit in the truck for hours just shifting and working the clutch. After a while, I was allowed to fire her up and go forward in first gear and reverse in our long driveway.
By the time I was 14, I had the clutch and shifting part down. As soon as I was 15, I got my driver's permit was finally able to drive it legally.
The truck has been pretty much mine since I was 16. Even though I had other cars, I still took care of the truck.
When my Mother passed in 1999, I got the pink slip. Before my great Aunt passed, she told me I was the only relative who she gave a car to that didn't wreck it within a year or sell it. I made it a point to drive by to visit with the truck so she could see it.
The truck is weathered because she's sat outside since the mid 1970's. That's when the 216 was rebuilt. I had the trans rebuilt in the mid 1980's. In the early 1990's I had the rims switched out with tubeless 15" rims with the inside clips so I could keep the original hubcaps. The Cooper 235 / 75 / 15 tires are about 15 years old. Yeah, I know it isn't safe but I rarely drive over 45 mph.
The engine's due for new seals and gaskets but the compression is still perfect. I doubt I clock over 1,000 miles a year.
The truck sat in the garage for six years in the '90's when I had too many cars. After squirting mystery oil in the cylinders to soak for a week, a new battery and hand turning the engine, she fired right up. A couple of years ago, I had a major tune up including a valve adjustment. I converted her to 12 volt alternator power but kept the foot starter.
The "mickey mouse" signal lights have been removed and I had duel filament bulbs installed in the old rusty buckets to run my Grote turn signals. The brake system is completely new. I just installed one of those stereos that fits the stock radio opening with speakers behind the existing grille. The seat finally got reupholstered after ruining countless pairs of Levi's and developing an allergy to horse hair.
In my opinion, it's finished for now. Seeing that "patina" is suddenly cool, I'm in no rush to paint it. I still use it to haul trash and junk. So yes, I still use it as a truck. I am currently looking for a grille guard though. The truck has the weathered original medium green paint, pinstripe, painted grille and a very rusty front bumper because of the shoddy chrome due to the Korean War. Being a real work truck, it came with no options except for a cigar lighter. No radio or heater, painted grille, no back bumper till recently when I installed a repop '54 bumper because the dip makes a good step.
The truck was built in Los Angeles, CA so it's never been out of the area. The bed wood is rotted so I cut a piece of outdoor plywood to cover the bed. Rust is minimal. Only surface but no rust through anywhere. Not even under the vinyl floor mat.
I see myself as the truck's caretaker. Every one, including me, still calls it JoJo's Truck in honor of my great Uncle and I always will. No one cares who I will my house to but I always get the same question from relatives and friends: "When you die, who's gonna get the truck?"
"Pride isn't in having. It's in taking care of what you have.".