1955 Chevrolet First Series 3100 1/2 Ton
6-cyl. 235.5cid/112hp 1bbl
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In 1925, Ford was the first of the Big Three to enter the pickup market, but it was Chevrolet that stood tall as Detroit's top truck-seller by the time of World War II. Chevy resumed civilian truck production in August 1945, and really got back to business in May 1947 with its new “Advance Design” pickups. Wider, longer and lower than the prewar leftovers marketed in 1946, the Advance Design models looked thoroughly modern and featured an equally modern “alligator” hood hinged at the rear. Beneath that gator was Chevy's proven 216-cid “Stovebolt” six-cylinder.
There were few changes as the Advance Design trucks rolled into the 1950s, but Chevy continued to sell more trucks than all rivals—even with Ford's new F-series models on the market after 1948. Notable updates included vent windows being added to the doors in 1951, and a restyled grille and trendy one-piece windshield appearing in 1954. That same year a much improved 235-cid six-cylinder was installed and an optional automatic transmission was introduced. Advance Design production continued briefly into 1955 before the era came to a close and Chevy’s new “Task Force” trucks were launched, and these last-run Advance Design models carried some Task Force features—accordingly, they are highly prized by collectors today.
The biggest downside to owning one of this series of Chevy 3100 is that the pre-1953 216-cid inline-six engines are weak for modern use, thanks to babbit bearings and splash lubrication. Powertrain swaps beyond the vastly superior 1953 and newer full-pressure lubrication 235-cid six are a big leap of faith and generally not a simple parts swap due to torque tube architecture for the powertrain and suspension on all but the early 1955s. However, due to the 3100’s popularity for both stock restorations and street rod conversions, restorations require little more than a title and a VISA card. Frames and all sheet metal—including the cabs—are available as reproductions.