This is a reply to Mr. Faria’s request for information about the 1936 Chevrolet truck with a chrome grille (Q&A, Apr. 11).
To eliminate confusion, I would like to begin with 1934 and 1935 Chevrolet trucks. The 1934 and ’35 were difficult to tell apart. While the front-end styling was all new for 1936, they did have a strong resemblance to those two previous years. As a quick ID, the 1934-’35 had four vertical hood side louvers, while the 1936 had two horizontal louvers.
The 1934 and ’35 models came with a painted grille; the only chrome on the front was the headlamp rims. A special-chassis half-ton was available. It was equipped with four shock absorbers and the face of the radiator shell had a raised chrome bead that framed the grille. The rest of the shell (which was also chromed) was painted to match the hood color. The grille screen, the vertical center molding or strip, and the hand-crank hole cover were chrome-plated. The headlamp bodies and supports and hood latch handles were also chromed. The chrome shell is listed in the 1939 parts book, costing 50 cents more than the painted version.
For 1936, the styling was revised and there were there were no options. All trucks had the fully chromed shell painted to match the hood (as above) with the chrome-plated frame exposed, as well as the center molding and crank-hole cover. Grille screens were chrome-plated, with the mesh between thin vertical bars painted black. It is not unusual to find a fully exposed chrome shell today, due to confusion or the preferred look of chrome. After paying several hundred dollars to have the shell re-plated, it is difficult to cover 80 percent of it with paint.
The painted shell was considered more modern and made the hood look longer. Chrome headlight bodies could also be purchased through parts suppliers and installed, but were not a factory option. Today it is common to see the grille screen painted, as new ones are not available, and originals are often rusty and pitted and cannot be re-plated — not to mention the expense.
The 1936 low-roof truck cabs replaced the early high-roofed cabs. They could be identified by the lack of the short visor above the windshield and a more modern rounded appearance. The roof was about 3 inches lower and the cab construction was about 95 percent steel. Panel trucks were not changed. 1937 cabs were similar, but again completely new and improved.
There were tons of different conversions made to change existing bulb-type headlamps to sealed beams, as well as complete headlamp assembles sold. These often had a teardrop parking lamp mounted on top, as the sealed beam eliminated the parking light bulb in the headlight reflector.
Most of the above information is from the 1934-1935 and 1936 Chevrolet Engineering Features manuals.
— Gene Schneider, West Allis, Wis.
A. Ask, and you shall receive. Thanks, Gene, for educating us about another aspect of Chevrolet history.
Q. Can anyone tell me if this is real trim off a Duesenberg straight 8? It looks real, but I can’t tell if it is real or a reproduction.
— Guy Buswell, Fort Worth, Tex.
A. It’s real, but not original. Both editor Angelo VanBogart and I were pretty sure it’s a reproduction emblem, but to be sure we checked with the marque experts. Both Randy Ema and Chris Summers confirm that it’s a “re-pop.” That makes it less valuable on the open market, but if you have a Duesenberg and need one it’s a respectable replacement. It is the type, I am told, that mounts on the instrument panel.