Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Pickin' Up a Pickup, Part I

Last month I ran across a note on the Crosley Gang yahoo group that a Crosley pickup outside of Salt Lake City had been listed for sale on a local classified website.  There was a link to the ad, which could have been used as the 'before' example in a "how not to sell your car" tutorial.  There were photos, but they were small, fuzzy and taken from angles that made it impossible to tell what kind of condition the car was in, other than that it was rust/primer color and missing the headlights.  The text said it was a 1948 Crosley truck - and not much else.  Unsurprisingly, the car had been for sale for months.

I gave a call and talked to the owner, Steve.  He said that the body wasn't bad and that there wasn't much rust.  He told me that the truck had been in his wife's family for at least 50 years - maybe from new.  It had been a little farm truck and then in the sixties his wife had driven it to high school.  It was parked after that and hadn't been driven since.  They had tinkered with the idea of restoring it about a decade ago and had gotten as far as taking a bunch of stuff apart - and then had proceeded to lose some of the parts.  He started dropping the price before I'd even asked.
The price wasn't the biggest issue for me - I wanted to know if it was a 'real' pickup.  Crosley pickup trucks are among the rarest of all production vehicles - less than 10% of Crosley production was pickups, and given their utilitarian nature, I suspect that their survival rate wasn't as high as the other rare birds: convertibles and roadsters.   I've seen well over 50 roadsters (total production about 2500), but less than a dozen pickups.  From the pictures it was impossible to tell if it was a genuine pickup truck or a customized station wagon.
Roundside Pickup
Later 'flatside' trucks (as opposed to the earlier 'roundsides', where the rear of the truck was formed from the same stampings as the front fenders) are very similar to station wagons - many trucks are simply station wagons cut down to be truck bodies.  In trying to figure out how to tell if this was a 'real' truck, I found out something I didn't know - while the rest of the Crosley line changed body styles for the 1949 model year, pickups changed from 'roundside' production to 'flatside' production sometime mid-1948, using the early-style front end and the later pickup bed.  I'm still not totally sure, but it seems like these late '48s may be the rarest body style of all the postwar Crosley pickups.
Early Flatside Pickup
The key seemed to be the rolled beads around the rear window... unfortunately, none of the pictures showed the rear of the truck!  I called Steve again - it turned out the car was jammed in a shed and surrounded by stuff.  The more details I got from Steve, the more I was convinced that it was a modified station wagon.  He agreed to get in the shed and take some more photos for me.  I also asked if he had been able to find any of the stray parts, including the gauges... unfortunately they were gone.
Lo and behold, when the pictures came in from Steve a couple of days later, there they were: three factory-formed beads around a pill-shaped rear window - it was a real pickup!  I told Steve I'd take it, and that I'd be there in a few days to pick it up...

To be continued...

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