Changes By Year
From at least 1955 and before, the raised letters on the tailgates were not a contrasting color. They remained the same color as the overall gate. The bed planks were not varnished or given a related finish to show off the wood grain. Trucks were produced for work and the planks were normally painted black on the 1955 and earlier. After this, they were body color or black. This better protects the wood.
The bed planks have not been oak since the late 1930’s. From then to the newer GM step pickups, the wood is hard yellow pine.
From 1939 and up, the GMC six cylinder was a high pressure insert bearing engine – initially 228 and 248 cubic inches. Chevrolet did not adopt the full insert bearing engine until 1954. This results in their similar appearing dash clusters having an exception of maximum oil pressure gauge reading of 60# or 80# for GMC and 30# for Chevrolet.
Almost all Canadian built GMC pickups prior to 1953 used the Chevrolet 216 engine, not the 228 and 248 GMC type placed in U.S. trucks. The Canadian Chevrolet using the larger GMC 228 and 248 was the “Maple Leaf”!
Between 1947-53 on light trucks, the cabs and fenders were the same color. On this series, two-tone cabs were not available until 1954. Only then was a white top available as an option and only on the more deluxe cabs.
Most 1/2 ton pickups prior to 1955 used 16″ wheels not 15″ or 14″.
Radios were first available as an “in dash” option on the 1947 “Advance Design” body style.
Right taillights were an option until the late 1950’s.
Full wheel covers were not available until 1954 and then only as an option.
Dark green was the standard exterior paint color prior to 1955. Most other colors, including black, were a non-cost option.
On the 1947-55 series, the door panels match the seat material. They are not similar to the headliner cardboard.
Shortages during the Korean War are the primary reasons for the eliminating of bright work on the 1952 and 1953 truck. Therefore, painted items on these trucks included: hub caps, bumpers, grille, radio speaker horizontal trim, glovebox door, etc. Interior window cranks and wiper knobs changed to maroon plastic.
During 1947-48, the Chevrolet painted grille bars and “back splash” bars were body color. In addition, the leading edge of each painted outer bar had a horizontal stripe matching the cab stripe. On the 1949-51 Chevrolet, with a painted grille, the “back splash” bar was white. In 1952-53 this changed to light gray to match hub caps and bumpers. On chrome grilles, only the outer bar was plated. The “back splash” bar was as the painted grille.
The cabs on both the pickups and the larger trucks are the same. The front fenders must be different due to the increase in tire size on the larger trucks. On 1947-59 trucks, even the hoods and grilles are larger to adapt to these bigger fenders.
The GMC with six-volt system uses a positive ground electrical system. Chevrolet uses negative ground.
The GMC and Chevrolet pickups share bodies, most suspension, transmissions, etc. – not engines, grilles, tailgates, exterior colors, or hub caps.
Early trucks were titled on either the body ID plate or engine number. If your title used the engine number and it has been replaced over the years, you may have major problems in selling or licensing.
The famous Chevrolet high pressure 235 engine was used between 1954 and 1962. It’s big brother, with some larger internal parts, was the 261 engine. A low pressure Chevrolet 235 was available on larger trucks only between 1941 and 1953. This earlier 235 has little interchange in common with it’s later 235 relative.
Whitewall tires were not available from the factory prior to 1955.