Brian & Jean Durnin’s 1936 Pickup

Customer: Brian & Jean Durnin, Canada

Vehicle: 1936 – by the Serial # our truck was built in Jamestown Wisconsin with a production date is October 10, 1935. Chevy Master pickup model ‘FB’ low cab. Chevy pickups were registered as ‘Master’ from 1933 to 1938.

They built both high cabs (leftover from 1934/35) and new low cabs in 1936. The low cab design was the first year Chevy built an all steel cab pickup replacing earlier models that uses wood “A” & “B” pillars, wood door framing and wood window supports. 1936 was also the first year for pickups to have hydraulic brakes replacing the older mechanical rod style brakes. It is 112″ wheelbase, on its original frame and rear multi-leaf springs. The front suspension is a replacement independent coil spring system. The engine is a 5L, TPI small block Chevy (built by Street & Performance in Mena Arkansas) with coated headers and stainless exhaust. The transmission is a 700R4 with a 290 rear axle. It’s weight is 2,980 lbs. very close to its original weight. The body is all steel including the running boards with glass fenders and is correct for that year of truck. The box is 6′ long, 45″ wide with 16″ high sides, correct for 1936 and has walnut boards with stainless spacers.

How long have you owned this vehicle?

Anticipating retirement and having spent 45 years in the automotive business, I wanted a Street Rod pickup that was safe to dive at highway speed and looked mostly original. In Sept. 2013 my wife and I drove to Cape Cod to see the truck. When we got there the owner had parked it in a small wooded area behind his estate. From the minute we looked at it we wanted to buy it. The owner was a classic car collector in Cape Cod Massachusetts. He had over a dozen classic vehicles which he stored in a 50’s style parking garage under his home. He only drove this pickup 1,400 miles over the 10 years he owned it. We drove from Ontario Canada to Cape Cod and towed it home on a U-Haul trailer behind our Chevy Trailblazer. After a short stop at the US/Canadian boarder we successfully imported our truck into Canada. While driving home on the Massachusetts and New York Turnpikes we had many waves and honks from other drivers and pedestrians. We were really proud of the truck even before we got it home. We nick-named it ‘Little Red’.

Where did you get this vehicle?

This truck has a long 80 year history, mostly unknown. I have traced it back through several owners in Arkansas, Kansas, Indiana,Texas and eventually to Cape Cod Massachusetts. I found that Bob Murray (1940-2010) a retired high-school math teacher and ex-marine from Mt. Vernon Indiana owned this truck from 1996 until late 2002. Apparently Bob was a great lover of old Chevys and completed several Chevy Street Rod projects! Records show that in Bob completed a frame off street-rod project on this truck completely redoing the body and paint work as well as rebuilding it into a Street Rod. He used a donor 1992 Camaro to complete the project. Bob sold the truck to a dealer in Texas in late 2002 and it was then sold in early 2003 to the collector in Cape Cod Massachusetts. I have left Bob’s name on the tailgate in his memory!

What condition was it in when you got it?

The body and paint was in very nice condition like a recent rebuild even though it had been 10 years. The paint was and still is in near flawless condition. The front bumper and huge 10″ stainless steel headlights were like new. The interior had 1980’s small bucket seats, no seat belts and a modern steering wheel. The engine would hardly run but idled fine and after backfiring and badly hesitating it would drive down the road. There were wiring issues, no signal lights or horn working. There were lots of little things to do to it but the basic truck was in great condition!

What work have you done on this vehicle?A new electric fuel pump in the tank fixed the engine drivability and now runs like new – all for a $300 fuel pump! After replacing the ball joints and an alignment it steers very well at highway speeds. I ordered a new, 1936 Glide bench seat frame and had a local reupholster cover it in red and grey to match the truck. The new seat and seat belts were an easy install however the centre parking brake control had to be relocated to the drivers side. I installed a new, old-school, banjo walnut steeling wheel that complements the walnut box floor boards. I added correct year signal lights on the year and did considerable rewiring to the cab and under-chassis.

Is there any other work that you would like to do on it?

I am very pleased with the truck the way it is and really enjoy showing it at local cruse nights! There very few old 1930’s pickups in Canada partly due to the salt we use on our roads and the fact that the wood framed cabs rotted away. Few trucks were produced during WWII so the 30’s truck worked until they went to scrap metal for the war effort. The cab is very small and only 44″ wide which makes it cosy to drive adding to the great feeling of driving an 80 year old truck.

What was the hardest part to find?

I hunted a long time for the rear tail lights and could not find them in any catalogue. I finally found out that the 1936 chevy trucks used trail lights leftover from the 1931 to 1935 Chevy cars! Chevrolet like a lot of companies were recovering from the Great Depression and used parts up from past years whenever they could!

What other vehicles do you own?

We also own a red 1957 Chevy Bel Air Sports Coupe (2 door hardtop). This winter I have replace the interior with completely new material using original Bel Air (black cloud) insert panels with red vinyl and used the original silver buttons and trim. Compared to our 1936 pickup our 57 Bel Air has a lot more room and comfort for longer distance and overnight cruising.

What is your next project?

For now my shop is full! I feel lucky to have 2 beautiful old Chevy’s which I can tinker with and enjoy driving to cruise nights and over night tours. If I have a chance I would love an early 1930’s Chevy 3 window coupe!

Do you have any advice for people thinking about starting a restoration project?

I think you need to discuss what you expectations are with other folks who own Classic and Street Rod vehicles. You need to decide if you want an original restoration or a Street Rod. You need to consider your available work space, tools, welding ability and available time to commit to the project. You also need to consider where and how far/fast you want to drive your finished project? Are you going to really enjoy the build and be proud of the finished unit or simply want something to tinker with and the pride of ownership? Full restorations are very rewarding however are very time consuming the expensive! If you can find a vehicle you want, consider a partly completed unit over a full restoration. You can have the pride of finishing the build, reduce your final cost and you will get to drive your Classic or Street Rod sooner. Either way old Chevy’s rule!!

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