When we learned about the defunct Dunn Chevrolet and the automotive archaeology therein, we sent…
1955–59 Chevrolet 3100 pickups are still a Force in the market
If the goal of Chevrolet’s new line of Task Force trucks was to leave potential buyers lifting their chins off the floor (before heading to the nearest dealer, of course), then mission accomplished. Those fresh-looking, innovative, head-turning “work” trucks, introduced in 1955, have never gone out of style.
Values for 1955–59 3100 half-tons are up again, as is their Hagerty Value Rating, which rose from 50 to 64. What does that mean? The HVR, based on a 0–100 scale, considers the quantity of vehicles insured and quoted through Hagerty, along with auction activity and private sales results. A vehicle that is keeping pace with the overall market has an HVR of 50. A number above that constitutes above-average market interest; below that indicates lagging market interest.
In other words, with an HVR of 64, the 3100 isn’t exactly hot, but it is far from being cold. Task Force trucks don’t do cold. They barely do cool. In fact, 1955–59 Chevy light-duty trucks haven’t slipped below a 50 HVR since May 2017, and even then, it was 49. In the 31 months since, they’ve had an HVR of 89 points or higher eight times.
What makes them so great? Where shall we start?
Designed by Ned Jordan, Chevrolet’s Task Force pickups blurred the line between passenger cars and trucks. They were more comfortable and roomier than previous Chevy trucks, and they offered stylish features like a wraparound windshield, hooded headlights, and an egg-crate grille. Although a 123-horsepower, 235-cubic-inch inline-six was the standard engine, 3100 series trucks could be fitted with Chevy’s 145-hp, 265-cu-in overhead-valve V-8.
The 3100 series included the Suburban Carryall, a two-door station wagon with either twin side-hinged panel doors or a two-piece tailgate. The Suburban sported a double-bench driver’s seat and a front passenger seat that folded down to allow easier back access. Including a middle seat and an optional rear seat, the Suburban could hold up to eight people.
Also introduced in 1955 was Chevy’s smooth-sided Cameo Carrier, Detroit’s first truly stylish pickup. Available only in Bombay Ivory with red cab accents that first year, the ’55 Cameo featured a fiberglass-skinned cargo box that further begged car-line comparisons. Color choices arrived in ’56. Cameo production continued through 1958, the same year that Chevy introduced its new Fleetside pickup, another fashion-conscious model featuring cab-wide, steel bedsides.
Pricing for a 1955 3100 half-ton short bed truck started at $1430, which is about $13,456 in today’s economy. It’s no wonder that Chevy boasted, “More truck for your money today! More money for your truck tomorrow!” Ironically, Task Force trucks are among the more expensive collector pickups today, with an average sale price of $49,500 in 2019.
Although 1955–59 Chevrolet 3100 trucks have remained generally strong in the marketplace, they experienced their most significant HVR drop earlier this year, slipping from 89 to 50 before rebounding. Factoring into the downturn was slow insurance and quoting activity.
On the upside, ’55–59 values have been steadily rising for #1 (concours) and #2 (excellent) examples since 2010. In the past year, #2 values are up an average of 7 percent across the board, with the biggest gains made by more-expensive 4×4 models, whose values rose 26 percent during the same period.
Unlike a lot of trucks, Task Force light-duty models are disproportionately more popular among older buyers. Half of all Hagerty quotes come from Baby Boomers, who account for only 39 percent of quotes across the rest of the market.
That may change as young buyers grow older, gain more financial stability, and can afford to upgrade to the trucks they really want. In the meantime, it doesn’t cost anything to look. Just don’t let your chin hit the floor.