Photos by Harold Pace.
“It’s a commercial car that can carry your name into the most fashionable neighborhoods with quiet dignity that could only add prestige to your business.”
The mid-1930s were a tumultuous time. America was finally ridding itself of the remnants of the Great Depression. Businesses, both large and small, were growing, and there was a need for vehicles to transport the increased demand for goods. While large companies needed heavy-duty trucks for business, small companies from dress shops to dry cleaners needed something that could carry their goods, park in tight spots and have a minimal cost impact. To satisfy this demand, Chevrolet developed the sedan delivery.
Chevrolet advertising touted the value of the sedan delivery as having passenger car performance, appearance and quality, with Chevrolet’s economy and durability. Their sales brochure went on to say, “It’s a commercial car that can carry your name into the most fashionable neighborhoods with quiet dignity that could only add prestige to your business,” and that it was the lowest-priced fully-enclosed light delivery unit on the market. The 1935 Chevrolet sedan delivery was made for the time.
The sedan delivery was, in fact, a modified Chevrolet Standard model two-door sedan, with styling that was carried over from the 1934 model. From the front doors forward, it used passenger car sheet metal. The quarter panels were revised by eliminating the side glass and replacing it with sheet metal. However, buyers had the option of replacing the quarter panel sheet metal area with glass equipped with regulators. The side panel was typically used to advertise the company’s name or logo. In the rear, a left hinged door that included an integral rear window opened wide to allow easier access. The rear bumper was also moved closer to the body for the same reason. The rear door design necessitated the spare tire be moved to the right front fender. Delivery drivers were treated well, with front seats covered in imitation leather and available in the same colors as on Chevrolet’s passenger model. The rear floor was finished with wood planking to allow ease of loading. Imitation leather was also used to trim both side doors, rear doors and the entire coved ceiling from the windshield to the rear door. A large dome lamp illuminated the area.
Chevrolet’s passenger car Blue-Flame six-cylinder powered the sedan delivery. The overhead valve engine, first offered in 1929, was rated at 75 horsepower, providing a 15 horsepower increase from 1934. A plethora of engineering changes improved reliability. The crankshaft was now counterweighted to reduce bearing load, and a new pressure type oiling system kept internal parts lubricated. The Delco distributor was redesigned to reduce wear. Other changes included tin plated pistons and improved motor mounts. Clutch pedal effort was reduced with a new clutch linkage assembly and revised clutch assembly. Its low 5.45:1 compression ratio allowed nearly any fuel to be used.
Chassis design was strictly passenger car. Chevrolet used a 107-inch wheelbase X-type unit with two side rails and a front and rear crossmember. Brake linings were ¼ inch wider giving a 16% improvement in effect braking surface and reducing stopping distance. Front suspension was an I-beam design with 33-inch long semi-elliptical leaf springs. The standard 4.11:1 ratio rear axle rode on leaf springs. Seventeen inch tires were mounted on either stamped steel or wire wheels.
While the nation was clearly on the mend, the robust economy did little for sales, with only 538 units being built. Today, the 1935 Chevrolet sedan delivery is among the most sought after commercial vehicles in the collector car hobby.
Fuel For Thought
Could be used as a mini-motorhome with room for sleeping bags
Many businesses were started with a sedan delivery
The stovebolt six continued to be used in passenger cars for another 27 years
Engine and transmission featured five attaching points to the chassis
Number built – 538
Construction – Body-on-frame
Engine – 206.8ci overhead valve six-cylinder
Power/Torque – 74hp/150 lb-ft torque
Transmission – Three-speed manual
Suspension Front – Forged I-beam front axle
Rear suspension – Semi-elliptical leaf springs
Steering – Worm and sector 14:1 ratio
Brakes – Four-wheel hydraulic, 11-inch front and rear
Length/width/height – 166.75/53.5/65.75 inches
Wheelbase – 107 inches
Weight – 2,670 lbs. shipping weight
0-60mph/quarter mile – 20 seconds/22.5 seconds at 63 mph (est.)
Top speed – 80 mph (est.)
MPG – 14-18 mpg (est.)
Price – MSRP – $580; Today – $5,675-$23,000
Chevrolet’s stovebolt six was designed to produce peak torque between 1,000 and 2,000 rpm for ample acceleration while loaded with goods. The lubricating system was through a combination pressure/squirt system. Air and fuel was mixed via a Carter down-draft single barrel carburetor. The engine featured three main bearings and overhead valves with mechanical lifters.
The EC model sedan delivery sat on a relatively short 107-inch wheelbase. The short wheelbase, combined with the I-beam front axle and multi-leaf front and rear springs, gave a somewhat harsh and washboard ride.
Unique body style
Excellent hot rod material
Truck utility with passenger car comfort
Dependable six-cylinder engine
Typical rust issues
Low production numbers means it’s difficult to find one for sale
Aftermarket parts are limited
What To Pay
1935 Chevrolet Panel Truck
MSRP – $580
Low – $5,675
Average – $11,450
High – $23,000
*Prices courtesy of NADA, www.nadaguides.com
Insurance cost is $175/year for a stock 1935 Chevrolet panel truck valued at $11,450. For a modified vehicle, insurance cost is $250/year. This is based on 3,000 miles per year of pleasure driving.
*Based on a quote from Heacock Classic Car Insurance, www.heacockclassic.com
1935 Ford Sedan Delivery
Number built – 8,257
0-60/quarter mile – Times and speed unknown. The Ford had 11 additional horsepower (85 vs. 74) and would be slightly faster than the Chevrolet.
Price – MSRP – $580; Today – $7,400 - $20,200
1935 Plymouth Sedan Delivery
Number Built – 1,142
0-60/quarter mile – With 82 horsepower on tap, Plymouth performance would be slightly faster than the Chevrolet.
Price – MSRP – $535; Today - $5,100 - $11,200
With so few produced, restored sedan deliveries are more than likely seldom driven and are trailered to events. Hot rodded versions are likely to be driven more often.
Standard Catalog of Light Duty Trucks 1918-1995 Pickups and Other Light Duty Trucks by John Gunnell
Chevrolet History 1929-1939 by John D. Robertson
How to Hop Up Chevrolet and GMC Engines by Roger Huntington
How to Build a Cheap Hot Rod by Dennis W. Parks and Tom Prufer
Engine overhaul kit - $707.90
Complete exhaust system - $310.40
Rear leaf springs - $660.00 (pair)
Water pump - $189.95
King pin set - $54.00
Headliner - $195.00
*Based on information from Kanter Auto Products, www.kanter.com
The Chevrolet sedan delivery filled the void between large commercial trucks and passenger vehicles. Its styling, affordability and practicality were perfect for the small business owner. In later years, the sedan delivery became increasingly popular with business owners.
This 1935 Chevy Sedan Delivery Packs Inliner Power!
By Harold Pace
If you believe that all hot rods don’t have to be Fords with V-8s under the hood, then this one is for you. It’s a killer 1935 Sedan Delivery from the Bowtie brigade, with a matching Chevy mill up front and all-GM running gear. But that’s no belly-button SBC or LS mill poking out from the hood sides. It’s a 292-inch inline six fed by three massive Weber carbs! When Will and Suzie Willis built this beauty, they definitely had their own ideas of what a very cool rod should look like.
Will, a dairy maintenance technician by trade, stored the truck for years before embarking on a five-year build at his Lakewood, Colorado digs. The standard Chevy frame was boxed and the X-member modified to take the big six. A 1979 Cadillac Seville gave up its disc-brake rear axle, sprung by single-leaf springs with reversed eyes. The front suspension is also via single-leaf springs, and sports 1974 Oldsmobile disc brakes with a Corvette master cylinder and a seven-inch booster. The Flaming River Vega-style steering box is topped with a repro C1 Corvette-style 16-inch wheel. The rubber meets the road via American Torque-Thrust 5-spokes (15 x 6 front, x 8 inches rear) wrapped in Hercules 195/65s in front and Remington P275/60s in back.
The all-steel body was massaged by Zoomers Automotive in Denver. The firewall was cut back to clear the long engine and the top was filled. The stock headlights were converted to Halogen and the repro 1948 Chevy taillights were filled with LEDs. Jeff Showalter at Colorworks in Denver squirted the two-stage yellow paint and applied subtle ghost flames to the sides.
Under the hood sleeps a very warm Chevy six (the 1963-1984 292 was the largest Chevy inline six) modified and assembled by the inline experts at Sissell’s Automotive. JE forged pistons and a Crower 272 HDP cam are teamed with Sissell lump-port heads and a Petronix electronic ignition system. An Offenhauser finned aluminum valve cover and side covers dress up the engine, but the first things that grab your attention are those lovely 45mm Webers. Three of them, to be exact, bolted to a Clifford manifold and wearing chrome air cleaners that protrude through the open hood sides. A custom header and exhaust system were fabricated by Discount Muffler in Denver. The result is 250 hp at the wheels and all the torque this hauler will ever need. The impressive inline is backed by a GM 4L60 4-speed automatic with a Gennie shifter topped by a green “6-Ball” shift knob (signifying the inline engine, instead of the usual 8-ball). Inside is a 2500 stall converter with lock-up.
The interior of the 1935 is treated to more luxury than a lowly sedan delivery ever saw when it was new. A Haneline engine-turned dash panel is filled with Stewart-Warner gauges. The 1986 Firebird steering column mounts a Moon tach. Modified Saturn bucket seats were re-covered in black Ultraleather by Jay Schleuter at PJays Upholstery. The seat inserts are copied from a 1957 Chevy and the carpet is black square-weave. The back door also has a custom “6” emblem inserted into the upholstery. The audio system is hidden to retain the clean look.
The Willises’ Chevy is no trailer queen. It makes a yearly pilgrimage to Bonneville for Speed Week, where Will can be found working the Inliners International club booth. Inliners (www.inliners.org) preaches the gospel that inline mills are as cool now as they were in the past. One look at this beauty and it should be easy to sign up a new crop of “straight and narrow” fans!