Sunday, January 30, 2011
The history of our 1963 Chevy truck, the history of your 1963 Chevy truck, and some 1963 Chevy truck pictures
Whenever I stop to get gas or have the old truck out and about, I usually run into somebody who had one like it, or knew someone that had one like it, or had a family member that had one like it. Lots of people have stories about this style of truck.
And for good reason. This basic style went from 1960 all the way through the 1966 model year. And during that time, Chevrolet broke all records for truck sales up-to that point.
Over the years, there were many subtle, and not-so-subtle changes throughout these trucks lifetime. The 1960 and ’61 models are the only ones that came from the factory with the “eyebrows” in the hood, similar to the oval pods found on a ’59 Chevy car. The grills are a bit different between the two years, and ‘60s have the bullet-centered hubcaps carried over from the ’57 – ’59 models, while the ’61 caps had a flatter design.
‘63s like mine had another new grill, with round bezels around the lights. The bigger news was underneath, as ’63 was the first year for coil springs under the front suspension as opposed to the torsion-arm setup in the earlier models. Out of the box, the new suspension probably didn’t ride as soft, but it lasted longer and wasn’t nearly as hard on tires.
The big change in ’64 was the flat windshield that replaced the old knee-knocker curved glass of the earlier models. This necessitated an entirely new dashboard layout as well. The grill was fitted with a finer mesh, and the headlights sat in a slightly squared-off housing.
Kansas City is actually a haven for ’60 – ’66 Chevy Truck restoration parts. Three of the biggest catalog warehouse businesses for these trucks are right here in town.
Classic Parts in Riverside, Mo., handles all kinds of reproduction restoration parts for these and several other old GM trucks. They also have a neat walk-in showroom where you can see their show trucks on display, as well as dig through the scratch-and-dent discount pile. http://www.classicparts.com/
LMC Truck, located in Lenexa, Kan., also has an extensive selection of new parts for Chevy, Ford, and Dodge trucks. It is amazing what they can come up with sometimes in there. http://www.lmctruck.com/
Finally, there’s a guy named Tony Smith who has an obsessive collection of parts for ’64, ’65, and ’66 trucks. He just loves them, and he sells parts to enthusiasts all over the country. You can see some pictures here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/4-5-6chevytrucks/sets/. He doesn’t have a website, so if you want to get something from him, you’ll have to send an e-mail. firstname.lastname@example.org.
My in-laws used to live in Harvard, Nebr., a very small town a few miles from Hastings. My wife and I would go up there to visit every so often, and as much as I like her parents, I often didn't find myself with all that much to do during our visits. To borrow a line from Smokey and the Bandit:
"Oh, probably sit around and watch the cars rust."
The funny thing is, I really did go up there and watch the cars rust. Well, actually, it was one truck in particular.
Parked in the street across from my in-laws house was a very, um, patina-heavy '63 Chevy short bed truck. I looked at it so much it grew on me, so eventually boredom took over, and I went over and asked them if they wanted to sell it.
That meeting didn't go very well. But about a year later, my mother-in-law called me while I was home in Kansas City, and said the neighbors were having an estate sale, and the truck was being sold "right now", so I had to bid if I wanted it. About a minute later, I owned it.
My truck is no beauty queen. But we still manage to do lots of things with it. I take it to some of these car cruises I write about during the summer. My son plays in the bed; family and friends tend to gather around the back. And in spite if its well-worn look, people still seem genuinely interested and want to talk about it.
I also use it like a real truck on occasion. Large item dump days seem to be a common occurrence. Whenever we buy a new appliance, or big shelves, or tires, or whatever, they go right in the back of the truck. My son's Big Wheel is usually stored in the back. It is surprisingly handy to have around. And since it isn't in pristine condition, I don't get too worried about scratching it up.
So finally, to round-out this article, I am including a slideshow pictures of Mater from around town. Some of them are posed, but many are just shots from the various car shows and activities that we hit throughout the summer. You might not really want to look at this slideshow, but it's winter, there are no car shows this weekend, so what do you have better to do? OK, don't answer that.