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Retired orthopedic surgeon, son, worked together on project, also took it to local body shop
Hayward residents Dale, left, and son Eric Townsend appear recently with Dale Townsend's 1948 Chevrolet Deluxe Cab half-ton pickup truck.

David Krumboltz — for Bay Area News Group
Hayward residents Dale, left, and son Eric Townsend appear recently with Dale Townsend’s 1948
Louis Chevrolet was a Swiss engineer and race car driver who, along with brother Arthur, William Durant (the fired General Motors founder) and others formed the Chevrolet Motor Co. in 1911. Chevrolet became a division of GM in 1918, and Durant again became the GM president briefly until he was canned for the second time in 1919. He then formed the Durant Motor Co., but that’s another sad automotive story.

In the early days of the auto industry, trucks were secondary. An early form was just a converted car chassis with a platform bed used to move parts and equipment around the auto plant. Chevrolet didn’t produce any trucks for sale until 1918, after they became part of GM. Their first truck was called the Model T (probably for truck). It was a half-ton with a four-cylinder, 36-horsepower engine, but the customer had to provide the cab and bed or van body. The famous Chevrolet “bowtie emblem” identifying the truck was already there. It was 1931 before Chevrolet built complete pickup trucks from the factory, something Ford started doing in 1925.

During World War II, there were no civilian pickups built, and after the war, in 1946, they manufactured a face-lifted 1942 model. In 1947 the “Advance Design” trucks were introduced by Chevrolet. They were good-looking trucks with a distinctive five-bar horizontal grille that was very distinguishable from anything else on the road. It was a major change in style with a larger cab so three people could sit in it. It was the beginning of creature comforts in trucks as the Advance Design Chevrolet offered an optional fresh-air heat and defroster system, an in-dash radio and curved back corner windows in the cab.
This issue’s featured vehicle is owned by Dale Townsend, of Hayward, and is in son Eric Townsend’s future plans. The two have worked together in making this 1948 Chevrolet Deluxe Cab half-ton pickup better than when it rolled off the assembly line in the East Bay Chevy truck plant.

“I got it in 1978, when it was 30 years old, and I’ve had it for 43 years. It was clean, rust-free, had original paint and had been sitting for quite a while,” the senior Townsend said of the truck, the original owner of which lived in Fresno.
“He actually had it for 20 or 25 years. He went to start it one day, and sparks flew out from under the dash. The old insulation on the wires had decayed so a couple of wires crossed. He was afraid of electricity, turned the key off, took the battery out and left it parked. A nephew of the man was visiting Fresno and asked the owner about the old truck parked behind the barn. The owner said, ‘If you can make it run, you can have it.’ The nephew, who was about 20 years old, took a flashlight and looked under the dash, saw where the wires were crossed, wrapped them up, cleaned the truck up enough to where it would start and drove it to Southern California.”
The nephew, a dental school student, planned on restoring the truck, “but his wife said when he was about to graduate, ‘We’re moving to Oregon, but that truck isn’t coming with us.’ So he put a ‘for-sale’ sign on it, and I got it for I think $800.”
Townsend estimates the truck was stored outside for about 15 years or more.
“I got it, and it was a running truck. I worked on it quite a bit while I was in medical school during breaks to where it looked decent.”

He graduated from medical school specializing in orthopedics. Townsend retired about two years ago, and he became serious about restoring his truck. He told me that, like mechanics, orthopedic surgeons use drills, hammers, pliers and torque wrenches, so it isn’t surprising that he likes working on his truck.
This truck now has most of the creature comforts of modern vehicles like power steering, power brakes, seat belts and air conditioning. He converted the truck to 12 volts, installed new wiring and replaced the original 216-cubic-inch engine with a period-correct Chevy 261-cubic-inch six-cylinder engine.
“We found a farm truck in Sacramento and got the engine and transmission out of that,” Townsend said.
He found a “new optional” left rear fender and mount for a spare tire, but it needed to be painted. He took it to Tommy’s Auto Body in Hayward to be painted, but one thing led to another until a year and $20,000 later, it was body-off restoration with the entire truck — inside, outside with pinstriping, under the hood and even the engine and frame being repainted.
This truck is a keeper now estimated to be worth between $45,000 and $60,000. While it’s definitely a show truck, it’s also an almost daily driver for father and son.
 
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