Chevrolet’s radically different 1947 Advanced Design light-duty trucks represented a major change in pickup design and appearance.
The nation was entering the exciting Post World War II era, and after four long years of war the American people, especially the veterans, were looking forward to new opportunities in the world’s greatest country.
There was no better way to put the past behind and look to the future than with new lines of America’s favorite form of transportation – cars and light trucks. Post War automobiles followed a little more than a year later than the new trucks.
GM was the first manufacturer to release the new-look post War trucks late in the 1947 model year as 1947 models. They were announced at Chevrolet dealer showrooms on Saturday June 28, 1947.
There is so much that could be said about the new Chevrolet pickups that we could fill a small book.
Truck engineers typically began development work on a new series by surveying truck users. Personal interviews with business owners revealed the number one concern with trucks was a larger, roomier cab with more comfortable seats and better vision. Please note that owner interviews at that time in history were held with business owners not with individuals who owned pickup trucks for transportation only. The cab of the Advance Design pickups was eight inches wider and seven inches longer than the previous model. By pickup standards, increases of this magnitude only happen once in a lifetime. The cab’s new size allowed the engineers to fit in with a true three-person seat which was also fully adjustable front and rear on an inclined plane to provide maximum driver vision. The additional cab width and length caused the new pickups to look much bigger than the previous model.
A new larger windshield and bigger side and rear window glass and optional rear-quarter windows vastly improved safety and drivability. Higher and wider cab doors made entry and exit easier. Another new feature, which further contributed to driver comfort and safety, was a fresh-air heater/defroster system, which brought fresh outside air into the cab and forced used air out through vents at the rear of the cab.
Chevrolet engineers designed the new cab’s construction to be entirely welded, as opposed to partly bolted together as in the past. Consequently, the new cab was much stronger and featured a three-point type of suspension, which contributed to a softer ride.
The line included three pickup truck types in the new Advance Design Series in three-sizes, half-, 3/4- and one-tons (models 3104, 3604 and 3804 respectively) with cargo boxes 78 inches, 87 inches and 108 inches long. All three boxes were 50 inches wide, 16 1/4 inches high on the sides and 14 inches high in the ends. Wheelbases were 116, 125 1/4 and 137 inches. For each model the cargo box was shifted forward for better distribution of the load in relation to the rear axle and for better support by the frame rails. All pickups continued to be built with wooden cargo floors covered with steel skid strips.
The Advance Design pickup’s engine was the 90 horsepower, 174 ft-lb. of torque, 216.5 cubic inch Thrift Master OHV six cylinder. The half and 3/4-ton pickup’s standard transmission was a three speed and a four speed was optional. Only the four speed was available for the one-ton.
In addition to pickups, the Advance Design light-duty trucks with bodyline continued to include half- and one-ton panels and canopy expresses; 3/4- and one-ton stake trucks; the Carryall Suburban and the automobile based on the Sedan Delivery.
Advance Design pickups continued through 1953 with only minor engineering and styling upgrades. For example, in 1948 the four-speed transmission’s gear shift lever was moved to the steering column from the floor and the parking brake was changed from a floor mounted lever to a foot actuated pedal on the driver’s far left. These changes cleared the floor of obstructions for the convenience and comfort of the passenger seated in the middle. The former four-speed spur-type transmission was changed to a synchromesh unit to eliminate double clutching.
In 1949 the gas tank was moved to inside the cab behind the seat back. In 1950 the 216.5 cubic inch six was tweaked to put out 92 horsepower at 3400 rpm and 176 ft-LB of torque at 1000 to 2000 rpm. In 1951 the left-side cowl vent was eliminated and was replaced by door vent windows. New push-button door handles were a 1952 model year introduction.
The first, and only, major Advance Design styling and engineering changes occurred with the 1954 models. These models featured a pleasing one-piece windshield, and all-new grille, new parking lights and a new steering wheel and instrument panel. Engineering advancements included the new standard 235.5 cubic inch OHV six-cylinder engine producing 112 horsepower and 200 ft-LB gross torque. The full automatic Hydra-Matic transmission became an option for light-duty trucks. These trucks continued into 1955 and remained on sale until March 25, 1955 when Chevrolet announced all-new Early V8 pickup trucks. Chevrolet pickups were number one in sales during every year of the Advance Design Era.