JANUARY 2024: RESCUE FROM A SWAMP GIVES A 1936 CHEVY PICKUP A WHOLE NEW HOT ROD LEASE ON LIFE

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1936 Chevy pickup trucks were built for very hard work during very hard times and were used up before they were crushed, abandoned, or mired in a swamp in the case of one ’36 Chevy truck.

Jim Paul discovered a 1936 Chevy truck stuck in a swamp and decided he needed the rescue the Dirty Thirties workhorse from its slow death by rust.

Jim Sutherland

The lower half of the truck had already succumbed to rust because it was immersed in swamp water, but the upper section of the ’36 Chevy pickup was still intact. Jim is a welder by trade, so he was the right guy for the project because it required massive metal replacement and alterations.

The old school hot-rodders were very creative and were able to mix-and-match components from different makes, models and brands to complete a project. It was a concept that was embraced by Jim during his build process.

For example, Jim chose to use a Model A frame as the foundation for his hot rod project. His decision required plenty of custom metal work to make the ’36 Chevy truck body fit on the frame, including fabrication to ensure the body was channeled (positioned lower than factory ride height) onto the frame.

The ’36 Chevy truck had no floor and the bottom section of the doors required metal replacement, so Jim’s welding and fabrication skills got a serious workout during the project.

The hot rod way also requires a major horsepower upgrade, so Jim kept the truck’s Chevy heritage intact when he wedged a Chevy 383 stroker small block into the pre-war pickup. He connected the 383 to a Chevy 700 R-4 automatic transmission that provided overdrive for the old truck.

The result is a Depression-era pickup that is now a 21st century road warrior that can easily meet or exceed posted highway speeds. In fact, Jim told MyStarCollectorCar his Chevy pickup is in “Happy Land at a Buck Twenty”, a speed that translates into 120 km/h-or roughly 70 mph in non-metric language.

Jim also mentioned the truck’s light weight in hot rod form delivers great gas mileage on road trips, aided by its overdrive capabilities and muscled-out stroker engine that can handle the pace with ease.

The truck has other unique features, including door handles that used to be crystal knobs for an old house door. Jim got a gas tank from an old Ford tractor and still uses its measuring stick as a manual gas gauge.

Jim also included a tackle box owned by his father-in-law that was given to his daughter Barb (Jim’s wife) and converted into a small toolbox when the situation warranted it.

The heavily modified ‘36 Chevy truck now has a few added creature comforts like heat and cruise control for longer trips because Jim and Barb take every opportunity to hit the road in the hot rod. For the record, the seats have a retro bomber style, but are cushioned enough to be a comfortable fit on trips.  

It is clear this truck had a very uncertain future before Jim rescued it from a watery grave. We at MyStarCollectorCar are certain the ’36 Chevy truck now has a rosy future because of its owner/rescuer.

Jim Sutherland

BY: Jim Sutherland

Jim Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer whose work has been published by many major print and online publications. The list includes Calgary Herald, The Truth About Cars, Red Deer Advocate, RPM Magazine, Edmonton Journal, Montreal Gazette, Windsor Star, Vancouver Province, and Post Media Wheels Section. 

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