The 1950 Chevy Custom Cab Over Pickup / Photos, Specs, Model History

The 1950 Chevrolet Custom Cab Over Pickup featured here is one good looking truck. Known by several different names, the cab over models were called Cab Over Engine and Cab Forward in the U.S.  General Motors produced both Chevy and GMC COE pickups during this period.

The medium duty Chevrolet COE pickup falls into a Class 1, 2 or 3 designation depending on it’s weight. As an example, GVWR of under 6,000 lbs is considered a Class 1. In contrast, a Class 8 truck specifically applies to large tractor trucks with GVWRs over 33,001 pounds. These are sizes you’ll see hauling large trailers typically on Interstate highways.

chevy coe
1950 Chevrolet COE Pickup

Advantage and Disadvantages of COE Trucks

COE trucks are considered to have better visibility and maneuvering. The truck could turn in a tighter circle. One large disadvantage with these trucks has to do with frontal collisions. With the engine pushed back by design, the crumple space between the trucks front and the driver’s cab is small and the chance for more serious injury is increased. Another disadvantage is that the ride above the engine can be a bit uncomfortable.

The Cab Over Engine Truck

Historically, the first cab over engine truck was produced by a company named Sternberg in Wisconsin in 1907. The first modern cab over truck was produced in 1932 for the White Motor Company. In addition to this, several truck manufacturers over the years built cab over vehicles. Among the names were Freightliner, Mack, Kenworth, Western Star, International, General Motors.

This flat-nosed or cab over design was at one time financially advantageous. Especially during the 1950’s and 1960’s where there were strict highway regulations pertaining to length.  By shortening the overall length of the truck cab the trailer size could be increased (potentially carrying larger loads) while keeping within the length limit set by each state. The regulations, which ran from 1956 to 1976, typically specified a maximum length of 65 feet. This length included the total length of the truck and trailer combined. After 1976 the length allowed an increased to 75 feet.

When longer trucks and trailers were legal on the roadways, the main advantage of the COE’s no longer existed. This led to the large cargo carriers stopping orders for the COE’s and switching over to the conventional style engine in front cab. This change in design increased and the market for COE’s in North America eventually dried up. Although the decline did not happen overnight and lasted for years but eventually led to the halt of all COE production in North America.

Major truck manufacturers stopped production of the COE styling one at a time. As an example, International stopped building the COE in 1998, Kenworth in 2002, Peterbilt in 2004, etc.

Chevrolet and GMC COE Heavy Trucks

Note that the COE trucks were built in many sizes. All the way from pickup configurations to highway semis. Chevrolet stopped producing heavy trucks by 1978. GMC stopped production of their Astro COE heavy truck in 1987.

coe trucks

1950 Chevy COE Pickup Specifications

This 1950 COE Chevy Pickup is powered by a GM LS 6.2 Liter eight cylinder fuel-injected engine

Transmission is a four speed automatic.

This particular model has four wheel disc brakes, independent front suspension and power steering.

Related Auto Museum Online articles are…

1937 GMC COE Heavy Duty Truck

1949 GMC Suburban

References for this article includes…Evolution of Cab-Over-Engine Trucks by author Norm Mort…GMC Heavy-Duty Trucks 1927-1987 by James K. Wagner.

Chevy and GMC COE Pickup Sale Prices

Current auction and sale prices for a Chevy or GMC COE Pickup from the late 1940’s through the early 1950’s are found in a wide range. Available examples come in all conditions, project vehicle to finely restored. Highly restored examples can be easily found in the $65,000 to $100,000 plus range. This particular model sold at auction for $110,000.

old chevy trucks

(Photos and article copyright Auto Museum Online)