A Large Stash Of GM Commercial Vehicles Down On The Shop

Some decaying tow trucks and other GM vehicles in need of a restoration

Back in June of 2020 I stumbled across a shop owner's stash of rusty and crusty GM trucks. Someone clearly has a thing for 1950s-1960s commercial vehicles from The General.

Starting with these two trucks wearing vintage Texas plates. I get the impression these haven't run in a long time. The circa 1955 Chevy truck on the left has a tow truck upfit, making it pretty rare. I don't think I've ever seen another wrecker even half this old before. Though this was not the only 1960s commercial vehicle I saw last summer:

The truck on the right didn't have a tow upfit, instead wearing a fifth wheel. It appears to be a similarly aged Chevy or GMC heavy duty commercial chassis cab.

But far rarer than the two conventional 'standard control' trucks is this circa 1945 Chevy AK Series COE, aka 'cab-over-engine,' tow truck. These are properly rare nowadays as not too many survived. Detroit's early experiments in cabover trucks fascinate me as they used to be very common but very few were kept. They tended to be known for abysmal crash safety, poor ride quality, and unpredictable handling so many were phased out quickly. Like the mostly now disappeared cabover semis of the 80s, they just didn't stick around as in practice their maneuverability didn't make up for their shortcomings.

Miraculously, other than a missing hood, this COE tow truck is entirely intact. Since it used the same cab as the regular pickups of the period, the cracked glass shouldn't be too hard to replace.

And right next to it sits a Ford Econoline from the period where they were front-mid-engined. These vans were notorious for being deathtraps so I was surprised to see one. Even less likely is that this is a commercial variant with no windows, something that would tend to be immediately thrown away when something expensive broke. Like the rest of the classics sitting around the place, it looked like it hasn't run in a very long time, but it wasn't scrapped when that happened.

It's a very space efficient design and even somewhat good looking, but I don't see anyone clamoring for new cabover vans.

In the corner is an equally derelict but likely far more valuable '40 Chevrolet coupe. The year is revealed in the vintage Kansas license plate that is probably its original. The body is pretty far gone but stock examples are increasingly rare as almost all have been hot rodded.

And on top of a random container in the back is an intact looking first generation Chevrolet Corvair coupe. I do love Corvairs but I've never once seen one in running condition. It's really sad how overlooked this model is.

Fortunately it has a second generation convertible for company. It looks pretty rough though and convertibles stored outside don't fare as well as their hardtop siblings.

I really don't understand what's going on here with the good condition 4Runner on the back of a tow truck missing its front on the back of a semi trailer hooked up to a semi.

Also worth noting is the Cushman three wheeler just barely visible on the right.

Well, that brings us to the end of this eclectic shop yard. Hopefully all of these vehicles will someday get the attention they deserve. Especially that Chevy COE as that's properly rare.

All of these spots were originally posted to the deceased Kinja Oppo while I was out looking for scavenger hunt items for the Great Oppo Hunt that went on last summer. I figure I'll also crosspost this to our other home on The Hyphen.

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Comments (4)

  • I would love to put a cab from something like that on a modern frame someday to tow with. The emblems off that tow truck in front are worth a few hundred as a set. It would be better to keep the cab whole though.

      10 days ago
    • I think it would be better to keep it as unmodified as possible seeing how few must be left in original condition like that. If you're talking about the COE at least.

        9 days ago
    • Well they should put them for sale in Hemmings if they don't plan on doing anything with them. There are more out there than you think, mostly sitting like that on ranches or lots. I used to drive around in the AZ desert in college and there were...

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        9 days ago