Ed Warners California 1940 1/2 ton
My truck is a 1940 ½ ton KC model, a California truck that seems to have not strayed more than about 60 miles from where it was first owned. It has a later 1959 261 CID, with a dual carb manifold and dual exhaust. It seems to have the stock 3 speed and rear end.
I have always had a thing for old Chevy trucks, as did my dad and uncle. My visual attraction seemed to be centered around the late ‘30’s through ’40’s body styles, with the Art Deco 1946 being the most interesting.
A year or two ago, I got more serious and started to look around and see what I could afford. After a few false starts I found a few potential candidates. Most were projects, some were drivers that I would have enjoyed, but I was in a place in life where I could afford to buy one to enjoy. It took my wonderful wife to say “why don’t you just buy one!” With that, I took a run at a fully restored 1946 ½ ton offered on Mecum auctions, but was opposed by a man that had a slightly bigger budget.
I kept looking and found another “Art Deco” truck, a 1939 Plymouth ½ ton, at a vintage dealer here in Southern California, American Classic Cars in LaVerne. We were going to come up and take a look at it the next day, but later that night, my wife scanning their website said there is this real pretty (red flag! Danger danger!) turquoise blue old chevy truck that she really like the look of. I said I would look at it when we went up to see the old Plymouth. The next morning, I did some math and learned that they made 6,000 of the Plymouth trucks in 1939, but Chevy made almost 200,000 trucks in 1940. Availability of parts started to become very important as I lost interest in the ’39 and turned my attention to the “pretty” 1940 bolt.
Turns out this old girl was likely in pretty good condition prior to being stored. It was originally Boatswain’s blue, then resprayed red. At some point likely in the last 15 years, It was “discovered” and was sanded down and painted a very striking high gloss turquoise blue. Everything that was visible was restored or replaced, the chrome, trim, and details all look close to new, but here is the rub. It was not a frame off restoration! If it does not show, it is as it was 50 years ago. This is a shame, as it was in the kind of condition that would have made that frame off process less dramatic than most of my fellow bolters describe here. To take this truck apart now will be to waste a very nice paint job. Decisions, Decisions!
I have documentation of possibly three early owners from items that I found under the seat, alongside the gas tank, and under the dash board. The first owner seems to have owned the Texaco station in Monrovia, California. I found his business card and a dental appointment card dated 1946. Another possible owner was an Arcadia contractor/builder in the same area. His details documented with receipts from 1947. Another possible owner seemed to have been a promoter of boxing matches, as I found about 25 identical promotional tickets for a match in 1957 in Arcadia. From that point, I have nothing except the results of the work done to bring it to its current condition.
My intent is to learn as much as I can from the Stovebolt site and then drive it and enjoy this 83 yr. old relic. With all that I am learning here, I am gradually cleaning up the stuff that is not visible, and picking off one item at a time to make it mechanically safe and reliable. The suspension seems to be all 1940, with the exception of some front shocks on welded steel angle that augment the reduced count front leaf springs. I believe the rear leaves have been reduced as well, but do not benefit from any shocks. It will never be fast, and that suits me fine. 50 mph seems to be its top end.