In our first installment this week for the Cool Rides Online March 2016 Ride of the Month, here is some background information on the 1949 Chevy Pickup.
Note: These are not the actual vehicles nominated for February’s Ride of the Month, just general information on the vehicles themselves. Please check the link at the bottom of today’s article to view all the actual vehicles nominated for this month’s Ride of the Month.
Like every other car company during WWII, the designers at Chevrolet were left to refine designs that wouldn’t go into production until the end of the decade. The result was the Advanced Design pickup. First produced in 1947, by ’49 it had established the elements that define the modern truck.
Built for Driver Comfort
Before the Advanced Design and Ford’s “driverized” post-war pickups, trucks were built for simple construction with little thought of ergonomics. Learning from interviews conducted with business owners across the country, they addressed issues with comfort and visibility with a new cab that was 8 inches wider and 7 inches longer than its predecessor. This allowed a wide, adjustable bench sea for greater comfort as well as room for a third passenger. The new cab was fully welded and used a three-point suspension to help isolate passengers from road and drivetrain vibrations. Windows also increased in size, making these vehicles much easier to drive.
A Look Good Enough to Revisit
Styling was also all new, eschewing the AK’s busy front end for lower, flatter pontoon fenders and a simple grill made from four wide metal slats. This long, low look has made it iconic in hot rodding circles, and it inspired the design of Chevy’s recent SSR sport truck and HHR wagon.
Despite its modern design, the bed still featured a floor made out of pine boards supported by chrome rub strips. Although it’s common for modern restorers to stain these boards, they were always painted black at the factory.
Simple Naming and Better Shifting
In late 1949, the model got a slight refresh and a new naming scheme that would be copied throughout the industry. Gone were the “Thriftmaster” and “Loadmaster” labels, replaced by numbers that indicated the truck chassis: 3100 for the half ton, 3600 for the 3/4 ton and 3800 for the one ton. No matter the model, the truck would come with the same engine: a 216 c.i. Thriftmaster inline 6 producing 90 hp and 174 lb-ft of torque. 1949 models used a new three- or four-speed synchromesh manual. Double clutching was eliminated while a column shifter and a foot-operated parking brake cleared the seating area for the middle passenger.
The ’49 Chevy pickup set the tone for the modern truck market with a design that was roomy, easy to drive, easy to identify and easy to look at. It’s no wonder it serves as inspiration for customizers and new vehicle designers.
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