GM Truck Generations: 1947-1955 First Series


GM Truck Generations: 1947-1955 First Series


General Motors’ first major truck redesign post-World War II, the Advance Design series was billed as a bigger, stronger, and sleeker design. First available on Saturday, June 28, 1947, these trucks were sold with various minor changes over the years until March 25, 1955, when the Task Force Series trucks replaced the aging Advance Design model. From 1947 until 1955, Chevrolet trucks were number one in sales in the United States.

While GMC used this front end, and to a slightly lesser extent the cab, on all of its trucks except for the Cab Overs, there are three main sizes of this truck: the half-, three-quarter-, and full ton capacities in short and long wheelbase.

1947 Chevy Pickup Introduction

Introduced in 1947, the Advance Design series pickup was the first major post-World War II truck redesign by GM. Many of the redesign features could be seen as early as 1942, as a part of Harley Earl’s GM Styling Section, including headlights integrated into the front fenders, a tall hood, and a split windshield. Being billed as a bigger, stronger, and sleeker design, the 1947 Chevrolet Advance Design truck featured a gas tank filler neck on the passenger of the bed. The truck also excluded the vent windows in the doors featured on previous models. The grill featured five horizontal bars topped by a hood ornament with a blue bow tie and Chevrolet lettering. The hood side emblems read “Chevrolet” atop a “Thriftmaster” or “Loadmaster” emblem. The truck’s three different serial numbers for the 1947 Advance Design pickup included the EP 1/2-ton (3100), the ER 3/4-ton (3600), and the ES 1-ton (3800). The ¾-ton and 1-ton trucks received the same new styling but had a longer wheelbase and bed.

The cab and fenders on the 1947 Advance Design pickups were the same color. Vehicle options for the 1947 Chevrolet Advance Design included rearview mirrors, heavy-clutch, double-acting rear springs, wide running boards, oil filter, cab rear corner windows, and various tire options. 1947 was also the first year that GM offered radios as an “in-dash” option.

1948 Chevy Pickup Differences

Manual transmission shifter now mounted on column instead of the floor.

1949 Chevy Pickup Differences

Early 1949 – Gasoline tank now mounted upright behind the seat in the cab; filler neck aft of passenger door handle.

New serial number codes: GP ½ ton, GR ¾ ton, & GS 1 ton.

Late 1949 – Hood side emblems no longer read “Thriftmaster” or “Loadmaster”, but are now numbers that designate cargo capacity: 3100 on ½ ton, 3600 on ¾ ton, 3800 on 1 ton.

Serial number codes remain the same as in early 1949.

Serial numbers codes: FP ½ ton, FR ¾ ton, & FS 1 ton.

1950 Chevy Pickup Differences

Telescopic shock absorbers replace the lever-action type. Last year for the driver’s side cowl vent, its handle is now flat steel, not a maroon knob as in previous years.

New serial number codes: HP ½ ton, HR ¾ ton, & HS 1 ton.

1951 Chevy Pickup Differences

Doors now have vent windows. Mid-year change from 9-board bed to 8 boards per bed. Last year for 80 MPH speedometer, chrome window handle knobs, and chrome wiper knob.

New serial number codes: JP ½ ton, JR ¾ ton, & JS 1 ton.

1952 Chevy Pickup Differences

Outer door handles are now push button type as opposed to the previous turn-down style. The speedometer now reads up to 90 mph and dashboard trim is painted instead of chrome. Mid-year, Chevrolet stops using the 3100-6400 designation on the hood and changed to maroon window and wiper knobs.

New serial number codes: KP ½ ton, KR ¾ ton, & KS 1 ton.

1953 Chevy Pickup Differences

Last year for the 216 cubic inch inline-six. Hood side emblems now only read 3100, 3600, 3800, 4400, or 6400 in large print. The door post ID plate is now blue with silver letters (previous models used black with silver letters). Last year to use wooden blocks as bed supports.

New serial number codes: H ½ ton, J ¾ ton, & L 1 ton.

1954 Chevy Pickup Differences

Only year for significant design changes. Windshield now curved one-piece glass without center vertical dividing strip. Revised steering wheel. Revised dashboard. Cargo bed rails, previously angled, now horizontal. Tail lights round instead of rectangular. Grille changed from five horizontal slats to a crossbar design commonly referred to as a “bull nose” grille, similar to a modern Dodge truck grille.

The engine is now a 235 cubic inch straight-6.

Serial number codes unchanged from 1953.

Hydramatic automatic transmission is available for the first time as a paid-for option.

1955 First Series Chevy Pickup Differences

Identical to the 1954 model year, except redesigned hood-side emblems and modern open driveshaft in place of an enclosed torque tube.

Serial number codes were unchanged from 1953.


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