1937 Chevrolet Pickup
Image: John Lloyd, 2012
Chevrolet isn't just well-known for being one of the most famous volume and value divisions within General Motors. It's also known for its famous pickup truck legacy, starting as early as 1918 with the Chevrolet 490 half-ton cowl chassis. From then on, the division focused on making the best pickup trucks available on the market. In 1937, the division developed a new pickup truck that would help cement how modern trucks were made from that point on.
Unlike other pickup trucks from the major General Motors division, the 1937 Chevrolet Pickup represented a major change in the way the division built its pickup trucks. Before the introduction of the 1937 model, the vast majority of half-ton and ¾-ton pickup trucks were adapted from pre-existing car designs. While this meant automakers like Chevy could keep development costs at a reasonable level, it also meant that these pickup trucks weren't as sturdy as they could've been. When it came to hauling loads and other typical activities, the car-based frames proved a lot less durable than people expected.
The 1937 Chevy half-ton pickup was not only the first pickup truck to be designed from the ground up as one, but it was also among the first to offer a full body instead of just the chassis and front cowl. Instead of relying on private body makers and even local lumber yards to provide the beds for their commercial chassis, Chevrolet created its own bed styles. This began a trend of American automakers handling all aspects of design and bodywork for their light and medium-duty trucks, one that continues to this day. The steel cab provided a modest level of comfort, although any pretense of luxury was nowhere to be found.
Chevy trucks for 1937 were available in a number of guises, from the light-duty half-ton and ¾-ton chassis to the medium-duty one-ton chassis and heavy-duty 1 ½-ton chassis. Each pickup used a newly-designed truck cab that was better integrated with the rest of the bodywork than previous cabs. The standard suspension consisted of a steel I-beam and a solid axle fitted with semi-elliptic springs on each end. A contemporary worm-and-sector gear drove the steering. At each wheel, the trucks were fitted with hydraulic shock absorbers, drum brakes and 8 x 16 tires on 16-inch steel wheels.
All pickups used a 3.5-liter inline six-cylinder engine, dubbed the ""Blue Flame"" by Chevy engineers. At the time, it was capable of producing 78 horsepower and a rather generous 170 pound-feet of torque from 850 to 1550 RPM. The Blue Flame's early buildup of torque at such low RPMs suited most drivers of the time, especially those tasked with hauling items on a daily basis. Each pickup truck was equipped with a three-speed manual transmission with synchronous meshing on the second and third gears. A steel drive shaft connected the transmission to the semi-floating rear drive axle at the rear. 1 1/2-ton models were available with a dual-wheel axle for greater durability and load capacity.
Examples of the 1937 Chevrolet Pickup are always a welcome find for collectors and enthusiasts who are big fans of these one-of-a-kind pickup trucks. As with any classic vehicle, a fair amount of restoration may be in order to bring it up to presentable condition. If you're in the market for one of these fantastic classic pickups, ClassicCar.com offers a regularly-updated listing of classic vehicles from all eras of automotive history.