Classic Chevy Design / 1940 Chevrolet Pickup

This 1940 Chevrolet Pickup was among the first modern pickups produced by Chevy beginning in 1937.The automobile historian will note that these new Chevy’s in 1937 ushered in the more modern streamlined design. This was at the time that the country was starting to emerge from the Great Depression and the market for small trucks was picking up.

1940 chevy half ton
1940 Chevy Half Ton

Chevrolet sent a 1937 Half Ton Pickup on a trip for about 10,000 miles around the U.S. carrying a 1,000 lb load in it’s cargo bed as a promotional endeavor. Amazingly, the 1937 Chevy truck averaged about 21 MPG which is pretty good by any standard.

The 1940 Chevy Pickup along with the 1939 model sported a newly redesigned cab and a more driver friendly instrument panel. For 1940 further enhancements were made to the dashboard where rectangular gauge clusters were added taken from the passengers cars that year. Some Chevy truck enthusiasts will tell you that the 1940 had the best cab design.

Also in 1940 the Chevy Pickup’s grille had a a top bar with the name “Chevrolet” printed on it. The cargo area also became three inches wider.\

1940 chevrolet pickup
1940 Chevrolet Pickup

The Beginning of the Pickup Truck

One story about how the pickup truck came to be was that a cargo area was fit onto a car chassis at the factory to carry materials around the plant. Some of these creations, not made available to the public, were said to have been sent to Europe during World War One. Chevrolet however officially got itself into the truck building business when they introduced two four cylinder models in 1916. The vehicle came with front sheet metal and it was the customer who would have to arrange for the formal body with a coach builder.

The vehicle was really a Chevrolet Four Ninety passenger car (without a body) with much stronger rear springs and sold for about $600.

The second model that Chevy introduced in 1918, and bigger than a half ton, cost about $1,000 (without a body) and surprisingly carried the name Model T which undoubtedly stood for “truck“.

Two decades later there were many automakers in the truck business. Names other than Chevrolet you’d readily recognize was Ford and Dodge. Others would be International, Reo, Studebaker and Mack.

dashboard 1940 chevy half ton truck
Dash on this 1940 Chevy Half Ton

Chevrolet Truck Models

In 1940 Chevy offered pickup truck models ranging from the 1/2 ton to the 1 1/2 ton.

Restorations and Modifications

The 1940 Chevrolet Pickup will be a vehicle you’ll see in original restorations as well as street rod modifications.  This holds true with the 1937 to 1939 models and the 1941 Chevy truck as well. The vehicle is a classic with a classic design. We’ve seen these 1/2 Chevy trucks with 350 Chevy engines installed.

Don’t be too surprised if you come across what was a 1940 Chevy Half Ton Pickup that now has parts, fenders and hoods from a variety of vehicles. Some have even been widened.

If you come across a 1941 Chevy Half Ton you’ll notice that just about the entire front end was redesigned from 1940. This same redesign held for the 1942 models but production was cut in February 1942 due to the U.S. entry into World War Two. The 1942 models are fairly rare since about 75 percent of the normal production was cut due to the war. Chevy truck production for the civilian market would not resume until August of 1945.

1940 chevy truck grille
1940 Chevrolet truck grille with enlarged top strip and lettering

1940 Chevrolet Half Ton Pickup Specifications

Standard in the 1940 Chevy 1/2 ton pickup was the “Stovebolt Six” engine. This was a 216 cubic inch inline six.

The half-ton’s wheelbase was 113.5 inches. The 3/4 ton truck had a 123.75 inch wheelbase. The conventional heavy duty 1 1/2 ton Chevy truck had a 133.0 inch wheelbase. The 1941 Chevy Half Ton was built on a longer 115.0 inch wheelbase. The 1941 larger wheelbase coupled with the significant front end design changes made it look significantly larger than the 1940 model.

The 1940 Chevy Half-Ton Pickup’s brakes were four wheel drum.

The 1940 Chevy Half-Ton was the first with sealed beam headlights. A sealed beam headlight is one in which the lens, filament and reflector are fused into a single unit. The first such headlights were introduced in 1939 and were mandatory from 1940 to 1984.

Transmissions included either a three speed or four speed manual.

Additional AutoMuseumOnline articles you’ll find interesting include…

The 1935 Ford Pickup

1941 Chevy Half Ton

1949 Chevy Woody Wagon

1963 Ford Falcon Ranchero / The Compact Pickup


1940 chevy truck engine
1940 Chevy Truck modified engine

1941 Chevy Pickup Truck

The 1940 Chevrolet Half Ton Collector Truck

1940 Chevy Half Ton’s are popular vehicles to collect, restore and modify. Mostly because these trucks come in many different forms the asking prices for those for sale are in a pretty wide range. Below are some examples as of this writing.

1940 fully restored Chevy Half Ton $32,000

1940 fully restored Chevy Half Ton $38,500

1940 non restored and modified with flat bed cargo area $6,000

1940 fully restored Chevy Sedan Delivery Panel $32,000

1940 fully restored Sedan Delivery $29,900

The 1940 Chevrolet Pickup also makes a good project truck if you can locate a usable frame/body without overwhelming rust. These can usually be picked up for a few thousand dollars depending on exact condition.

(Article and photos copyright 2013 AutoMuseumOnline)