APRIL 21, 2015 (MAY 2015): A 1952 CHEVY PANEL: THE PURPOSE-BUILT TRUCK FROM THE GENERAL

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A 1952 Chevrolet panel (sedan delivery) was not built for fun family outings.

 

It was a working vehicle with many applications in the practical world.

 

These panels served everyone from plumbers to delivery guys, and even police departments as paddy wagons.

 

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They were a welcome sight for every kid when they were used by the TV repair guy in a bygone era when they hauled around a literal truckload of replacement vacuum tubes for the ancient and unreliable TVs.

 

These working class rides were not pampered during their time on the road and were discarded shortly after they could no longer keep up the pace.

 

The life of a panel/sedan delivery was neither easy nor glamorous, and they were soon a forgotten part of history after they served out their purpose.

 

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The absence of these old panels makes the heart grow fonder and now they are a welcome sight at a car show.

 

We spotted one at a show and tracked down owner Marty Williams. He has owned the sedan delivery for over 10 years and loves his old Chevy.

 

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His brother was the previous owner and he wanted to sell the old panel. Marty wanted to keep it in the family, so he bought the truck from his brother. He told us he “didn’t want to see it leave”, so he stepped up to the plate.

 

The Chevy is fairly close to original, with only a few minor upgrades from the factory assembly. The engine is a 1954 six-cylinder which closely resembles the original engine in the ’52 in appearance and specs. Marty’s brother did the engine swap and also added a 12-volt system into the mix.

 

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The old Chevy panel has an upgraded signal light system to make it easier to drive in modern traffic because Marty likes to get behind the wheel and hit the road in the truck.

 

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This sedan delivery will do about 55 mph (90 km/h) on the highway and will hit “60 mph (100 km/h) downhill” according to Marty. He added that it “drives nice” and “steers like a Cadillac”, although he may be a little biased in this regard.

 

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Marty did recall a story from his first trip as the new owner of the old panel. He headed out to a lake resort about 25 miles from his home and did not quite make it to his destination. The Chevy stalled on the way and suddenly he was on the side of the road.

 

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The culprit was his stereo system because it overpowered the old school generator in the truck and drained the battery down to zero. Just another lesson learned the hard way in car guy world when an old charging system is pushed beyond its comfort zone.

 

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Marty admits the panel may be a “little underpowered” for modern roads but, for the foreseeable future, he has no plans to change that situation.

 

Instead he will continue to enjoy a 63-year-old blast from the past whenever he has the opportunity to drive his old panel.

 

Jim Sutherland

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