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1946 Chevrolet 3100 Half Ton Pickup

By Jeremy Wilson

When Norm Schmidt bought his 1946 pickup he had no idea of the surprise that awaited him. Within months of the purchase he came across a photo of his father, uncle, and grandfather in what might have been the same truck!

“I was going through my father’s papers and found a picture of my dad, his brother, and my grandfather; they were in the construction business rebuilding houses. Their work truck looks like mine and had their name on the door. My father told me his brother was killed in that truck, in 1942 after he came back from the war. I still want to get a picture of my dad and myself and either my son or my brother with my truck but that hasn’t happened yet. I’ve gotten as far as getting the lettering for the door on a stencil,” says Schmidt.

But appearance is where the similarity ends. Under the hood Schmidt’s pickup is nothing like his family construction truck. For starters, the 350 Chevy motor with a 671 GMC blower generates five or six times more horsepower than the stock six-cylinder engine.

“The truck’s motor probably puts out 500 horsepower--it has an overdrive blower. It’s fun and exhilarating to drive. It doesn’t have power steering but it’s quite a unique feeling to accelerate and drive a truck with that much power.”

Adding to the joy of ownership is the knowledge that he acquired his trophy-winning pickup while staying on budget.

“The guy that I bought the pickup from owned it for over twenty years. I traded it for an Anglia project car I had. The Anglia had some of the parts necessary to turn it into a hot rod including tilt steering, a rebuilt engine, new headers, new wheels, and tires. The Anglia also had a nice paint job, but it wasn’t assembled. The truck needed a paint job really bad, but it ran and was drivable. He wanted a new project and I wanted one that was more complete.”

Schmidt also likes the fact that his truck has character. In the spirit of the older hot rods the Chevy has been updated with parts from other cars, not just add-ons from speed shops.

“Instead of performance catalog parts it was put together with a lot of junkyard parts. It has a Datsun bench seat, Camaro electric windows, a Trans Am rear end, a Corvette transmission, and a Chevelle master cylinder. The pedals are stock including the starter pedal although it’s not hooked up, it’s just bolted to floor,” Schmidt says with a smile.

Although Schmidt’s restoration was not a total frame-off, it came pretty close. Everything but the cab came off of the frame while it was cleaned and detailed.

Schmidt’s biggest challenge was getting the truck painted in a timely fashion. This is a common restoration problem as body shops are usually reluctant to do complete paint jobs. It’s a matter of economics as they can beat the collision flat-rate labor times by a factor of two, plus the make a profit on the parts.

“A friend of mine painted the front clip, the cab and the running boards all at once. But the rear fenders needed some work--they were painted with the bed and tailgate a year later. It took so long because it was at a collision shop. The bed was nearly out of view, standing on end in a corner. But now that it’s done, I like it. The paint I chose is BMW Steel Blue on the bottom half and Medium Wedgewood Ford Blue on the top half. It’s two-tone but so subtle most people don’t even notice it.”

Schmidt is looking forward to the truck getting better and better.

“My future plans are to just keep upgrading the truck--the paint, the headers and maybe the rims, and maybe some of the chrome.”

Although he has bought and sold many dozens of cars, Schmidt says this one’s a keeper.

“I like the grill and design of the truck. I like that other people like it and appreciate it. I don’t ever really want to sell it--I plan on hanging on to it.”

Customization
Molded front splash pan with Frenched running lights
Ram-driven tilt front fenders/hood unit
Aluminum rear bumper
Louvered tailgate and side panels
Vinyl covered dash and interior panels
Hardwood bed
Hand-build tonneau cover
Dual outside mirrors
Dual windshield wipers
Dual taillights

Recommendations
Click on any item below for more details at Amazon.com

John Gunnell
Chevrolet Pickups, 1946-1972: How to Identify, Select and Restore Chevrolet Collector Light Trucks
Motorbooks, Paperback, 1988-05-01
This well-reviewed book contains over 200 photos and detailed information on design, history, important differences, unique features, what to look for when buying one, and how to restore it.

Car & Parts Magazine, Cars & Parts Magazine
Catalog of Chevy Truck ID Numbers, 1946-1972: Pickup, Suburban and El Camino
Amos Press, Paperback, 1992-06
This guide will help you to decipher trim codes, vehicle identification numbers (VINs), interpret body codes and authenticate engine numbers. The text was compiled from a variety of sources including original manufacturers catalogs and official shop manuals.

Tom Brownell
How-to-Restore Your Chevrolet Pickup
Motorbooks, Paperback, 2004-07-25
This well-reviewed book is a step-by-step restoration guide for all Chevy light-duty trucks from 1928 onwards. It shows you what tools you need, what steps to take, and estimates how long each job will take.

Mike Mueller
Chevrolet Pickups
Motorbooks, Paperback, 2004-02-29
This book covers the rise of the Depression-era trucks that made Chevrolet the number one manufacturer of light pickups, and Chevy’s 30-year run in that top spot. The author explains how the leaders and engineers at Chevrolet made the company’s truck line such a dominant force.
History and Production Notes

The ’41-’47 3100 series half-ton pickups looked nearly identical. Although a number of engineering changes were made from year to year, the only obvious change was the elimination of chrome plating during the war years. In mid-1947 Chevrolet began production of the next generation body style so a ‘47 Chevy truck might look like ’46 or a ’48, depending on when it was sold.

According to John Gunnell’s book Chevrolet Pickups 1946-1972, the production total for the 1946 calendar year was 270,140.

Current Specifications
Year 1946
Make Chevrolet
Model 3100 half ton pickup
Engine Chev 350 with a 671 GMC blower, two 650 Holly carburetors, headers
Transmission Muncie M21 four speed
Rear end Pontiac Trans Am posi-traction rear end
Wheels/Tires 15” 265 rear / 15” 195 front
Suspension 4” dropped straight axle (front) / leaf springs with lowering blocks (rear)
Wheelbase 115”
Steering Stock
Brakes Chevelle disc (front), Pontiac Tran Am drum (rear), power assist

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