Project: Dads 1947 Chevrolet 3100 part 1

1947 Chevrolet 3100 Thriftmaster 6EPJ3165, original 216 engine, built in Oakland Ca, 65th 3100 made!

Okay, I know what you’re thinking, but hey, if you like other old cars besides Alfa Romeo’s, raise your hand.  I thought so.  I’m not alone here.  Here’s the story: around the time I was born (late 1972 for those who don’t know me outside of my ramblings here) my dad brought home this truck.  It was owned since new by a local Blacksmith shop.  I doubt my dad paid much for it.  Over the years I rode around in it with him, notably driving several times from San Bernadino California to Bremerton Washington (some 1200 miles -just under 2000 km for my rest-of-the-world readers) for Christmas visits with my grand parents.  It always started right up and got us wherever we were going.  I can still remember the sounds and smells of riding in this truck -last time I was in it when it ran was probably in about 1990.

This truck has been waiting a good 20 years to get back on the road.  That sign on the door is pretty sweet.  Funny how memories of something like this truck can be so strong when other stuff so easily fades.  As a kid I would climb all over this thing and the metal was so thick I doubt I made even the slightest dent.

Doesn’t look so hot but the inner and outer fenders have been in bare metal since about 1992.  My dad had moved to Abilene Texas and decided to take it apart to ‘restore’ it.  Family tragedy saw him move back to southern California -leaving it apart, literally a pile of parts in a friends barn, for about 12 years.  Rust isn’t bad for the amount of time it spent in bare metal.

Cab, doors and hood are in original paint.  I am looking for a pair of front fenders in original crappy paint to assemble to this rather than try and repaint things to match the patina.  Both doors got the signage.

Dad (Bruce) spent about $1200 having the original 216 straight six rebuilt with a 235 crank and (I hope) connecting rods, crank, pistons, oil pump and the lot.  Sadly it was abandoned only months after pick up from the shop.  Doesn’t turn over now.  Plan is to just pull it apart, figure out what’s stuck, free it up, re-ring and gasket it, then reinstall it.

I have to add to the story here.  So my dad moved to Gulfport Mississippi in about 2000 for work and took the opportunity to retrieve the truck from his friend in Abilene.  It sat in his garage and he messed around on it a bit but work, fixing up his house etc took precedent and by the time Katrina rolled through it had seen little attention.  Katrina flooded it (he was about 1/2 mile or less from the gulf beach) above the differential, transmission and oil pan- no surprise it’s frozen.  Again, other tasks kept his attention and it just sat.

Hey Pa!  Loosening up the head bolts while the engine is firmly attached to the frame.

I have spent some time on eBay/Craigslist/stovebolt forum etc over the last few months and seen a lot of cabs.  This cab is easily the best original I’ve seen.  Typically the floors rust, the corners rust and basically a bunch of metal work needs doing to make them roadworthy.  This truck still has the odd light gold matte finish paint on the interior surfaces.

Hey dad, why is there an old Hi Life bottle down in this hole?

Nice rustic dash.

Nice solid truck floors.

Okay.  The plan?  Get the engine apart, replace what needs replacing, lube it and put it back together.  Buy a 4 on the floor transmission, rebuild the rear end etc etc.  Nice thing is he bought boxes of new stuff for it that will finally be attached to the truck.  Good times.  I’ll drive the Sprint the two hours up to his place when I can to keep the Alfa content to at least an acceptable minimum.

Don’t worry, I’ll only be posting about this truck every other week, and I promise -I’ll do some work on the Sprint and Fiat too.


14 thoughts on “Project: Dads 1947 Chevrolet 3100 part 1

  1. Dear Matt,
    I may be an ol’ softy, but this is an excellent post. The Alfa content of this whole work must have been nurtured in your childhood memories of this “Tow-mater” and your Pa. How else can we expect such a bond to develope between man and machine as those of us who climbed touched smelled and sometimes hurt ourselves on these Iron emblems of speed and liberty. Bravo! And thankyou for the insight into your own world, so often lacking in the blog-o-sphere.
    Your Fan,
    Laurence Anderson

    • Laurence,

      Thanks for the nice comment. I didn’t realize this truck had such a presence in my childhood memories until I started going through the boxes of parts and pulling it apart. Lot’s of work to do, but for this project it’s mostly about hanging out while doing. I am excited to drive it though -never done that.


  2. Hi Matt,
    I am 64, the year this truck was born is my year as well:) I’m old enough to remember a joy my grandchildren will not experience — riding in front or in the back or on the lowered tailgate of pick up trucks like this one – no seat belts no kidde seats facing backwards – someone out there may offer a horror story – my memories are good ones – thanks sam

    • Riding ‘on’ the truck was always a treat whether running boards, in the bed or wherever. I used to get driven to pre-school sitting in front of my dad on his motorcycle w/out helmet. Was only a few blocks but still -imagine that today!!


  3. Awesome! I’d heard so much about the truck from you, and the pics do not disappoint. Gotta keep the blacksmith signage for sure… Great stuff,

  4. Hi Matt.
    When Kathy and I first got married back in ’69 I had a 1950 Fargo ute that we used to travel all over the southern states of Australia chasing up early cars and parts. You just brought back many memories of those good times, thanks for that. You’ll have plenty of fun getting the Chev running again and there are plenty of us out here who are interested to hear all about it. Cheers, Gavin

  5. Hey Matt:

    Glad to finally see pop’s ole truck after you telling me about it.
    it’s a 5 window like my 53. a well balanced stable should have both Alfas and Chevys, what else would one tow your race car to the track with but a period piece truck.
    I have 5 Chevrolet trucks 46,53,55,65 & a 66 plus 5 Alfas
    Matt I have a spare 4 speed from my 55 chev p/u or you can install a t5 5 spd from an S10, use an 11″ clutch assy from an Astro van, shorten the external part of the input shaft and drill out the mounting bolt holes in the case and it;ll all bolt up to the old stovebolt. all these details are avail on

    I’d be happy to donate my tranny, not sure what the bus freight charge would be from Bellingham Wa to the Bay.
    I just had a very heavy & 6′ long 1952 Packard grille assy sent up from L.A. for $100
    what else do you need besides the fenders? You should run a wanted ad on Stovebolt, or I can do it for you. I know some “bolters” in the bay area I could put you in touch with.


    Mike from Canada.

    • Mike,

      Thanks for all the offers! We are still figuring out the best approach, but at this moment both of us are thinking we’ll just get it back to stock, on the road and driving. I’ve seen a few local 4 speeds for not much money, so I’ll probably just get one of craigslist. Big jobs right now are getting the engine free’d up and reassembled with new assembly lube, gaskets and probably rings, and freeing up the rear end. I pulled the cover and a pint of gulf water came out with the oil but I don’t see much rust and both axles turn independently -maybe it’s just a frozen bearing -will figure it out.

      I’m holding off posting a bunch of questions and wanted ads on Stovebolt until I know exactly what we need. I really want to avoid to many repro parts -you know me, I like my original patina, so I’ll be tracking down everyone’s cast-offs.


      • I wish we were closer as I am taking out and tossing the original torque tube rear end and drive shaft out of my 53 next week in favour of a Camaro 10 bolt as this truck is getting a sml block Chev. I’ve already welded in a brand new Mustang II frt suspension set up with sway bars from T.C.I.. This truck will be my Hot Rod, all the others are stock. I have to stray once in awhile. I need at least one truck to lay down bacon strips with.


  6. I think the most intersting collections are the ones that are diverse. An Alfisti who can also appreciate the inherent charm of a classic American pick-up truck gets FAR more cred than a Tifosi who’s into Ferraris for peer acceptance but knows (or worse, CARES) absolutely ZIP for Ferrari heritage. Look at Ralph Lauren’s collection: Bugattis, Alfas, Ferraris, oh- and a Morgan, a postwar Ford woodie and an UNMOLESTED Jeep CJ3A. BTW I was a volunteer in the Gulf cleanup November 2005 after it hit and remember a place with prewar Fords and a ’37 Chev pickup- what a mess. This is a good reminder that trucks psess provenance , too. Thanks for sharing, keep us posted.

    • Variety is good spice. On the RL topic, lots of guys are mad he restored what was the best original 8C… An appreciation for provenance and patina is important in a collection too.

      Thanks for chiming in Jon!


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