1936 CHEVROLET Coupe 'Custom' PickupView vehicle description
Though car-based utility vehicles date back to 1920s America when Model T roadsters
began to sprout factory beds, the concept would really take root about a decade later,
and on an entirely different continent.
Legend states a farmer’s letter to Ford Australia spurred the company to build “a vehicle
to go to church in on Sunday, and which we can carry our pigs to market on Monday”. In
1934, the division introduced their Coupe Utility, giving birth to the “ute”; an antipodean
cultural institution that would persist for more than 80 years.
Both Ford Australia and GM’s Holden division ceased ute production in 2016, but the
term persists there and in New Zealand as a generic descriptor for pick-ups of all kinds.
El Caminos and Rancheros disappeared from US showrooms much earlier, though their
unifying concept is now enjoying an American market renaissance, with Honda,
Hyundai, and even Ford recently introducing modern variations on the theme.
There’s an obscure missing link, however, dating back to the height of Great Depression
One of just 3,183 built for only one year, this 1936 Chevrolet Standard Coupe Pick-Up is
an extremely rare example of a little-known ancestor to the division’s El Camino of
1959-1987. Conceived as a way to do more with less - a vital pursuit during The Great
Depression - It’s thought that as few as 10 Standard Coupe Pick-Ups survive, and that a
large portion of that figure have deteriorated or have been modified beyond hope of
That’s certainly not how we’d describe this particular Standard Coupe Pick-Up, which
appears to be highly factory correct and thoroughly well preserved throughout.
On the Outside
Identified as an early build by its front, right mounted spare tire (a migration forced by
the loss of a trunk lid), this example could otherwise easily be mistaken for a
run-of-the-mill Standard Coupe, at least from most angles.
As one moves around the sides of the vehicle towards the rear, factory steel protrusions
begin to emerge from a lid-less, widened ‘36 Chevy Coupe trunk opening. These form
the sides of a small cargo bed, complete with a small tailgate. Note the convenient
factory step pads on either end of the rear bumper, which are designed to aid entry to
This attractive shade of navy blue appears identical to OEM code 197, and other details
from tires to wheels, hubcaps, trim and more all present as factory accurate. The
vehicle’s distinct roofline was referred to as a “Turret Top” in contemporary advertising,
which sometimes also cited the Coupe Pick-Up as a “Foreman’s Truck”
On the Inside
The cabin appears to be essentially identical to standard, Standard Coupe spec,
including upholstery, door card, and headliner materials. Features like a carpeted floor,
glovebox, dash clock, and even a cabin heater were unusual luxuries for the time,
particularly for commercial vehicles.
The interesting painted patterns seen on metal window surrounds are likely remnants of
a factory simulated wood finish, and gauges are usefully large, in contrast to the small,
fussy, nearly illegible items fitted to most vehicles prior to the 1930s. Note both the
lovely Art Deco typeface used for numerals, as well as the speedometer’s stern
advisory “safety first”.
Up front, we spy a 207ci 79 hp variant of Chevy’s Stovebolt Six, a famously smooth and
robust motor used in a multitude of vehicles including C1 Corvettes, and in
reverse-engineered form, early Toyota sedans and Land Cruisers as well.
The engine works in combo with a typical 3-speed manual transmission, and is
surrounded by what look like correct factory ancillaries, including manifolds, carburetion,
etc. Check out the old klaxon horn, too.
In back, Chevrolet specced heavier springs from the Standard Sedan in order to help
bear the burden of any cargo that might be carried in the bed above, but otherwise left
typical passenger coupe spec well alone.
The vehicle is offered without known history.
What We Think
From 1937 on, Coupe Pick-Ups moved to the larger, Chevrolet Master coupe platform
to better accommodate a bed, and production ended entirely in 1942 when domestic US
auto manufacturing paused and switched gears to aid the war effort via production of
military vehicles, aircraft, and armaments. Even later, Master-based versions remain
scarce and largely forgotten, making surviving, Standard Coupe-derived Coupe
Pick-Ups such as the example at hand particularly important and desirable.
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