1947-1959 Chevy Truck Model Years Identification Guide (2024 Update)


Chevrolet trucks have changed a lot over the years, with each model year and generation offering unique features that helped them redefine what a pickup was capable of. Classic Industries is committed to supplying owners of these timeless pickups with restoration parts, but we're also committed to preserving their legacy. To this end, we've updated our visual guide to help you identify Chevy truck model years and learn about their differences. In this article, we'll cover 1947-1959 Chevrolet trucks one year at a time so you can identify year-to-year changes and new features.

The images in this article have been scanned and preserved from original documentation, and show sub-models based on the Chevy truck platform for each model year. Important notes are included for each year and generation. The lead photo for this article shows a restored 1956 Chevy Cameo, and is courtesy of Mecum Auctions.

1946 - Early 1947 Chevy Truck


Occasionally a customer’s truck is titled 1947 but the body design is actually 1946. This can make ordering parts confusing. There are two reasons for this:

(1) In several factories the 1946 design was carried over through March 1947.


Above: This 1946 Chevy truck has been fully restored. Note the teardrop-style headlamps on top of the fenders, which would be replaced with flush-mounted headlamps by the end of the following year. (Photo courtesy of Mecum Auctions)

(2) The GM “Master Parts Catalog” does not show an early 1947. When this year is mentioned it always refers to the 1947-55 1st series “Advanced Body Style”.

Late 1947 Chevy Truck


The first of this new “Advanced Design” body series introduced in May 1947. Gas tank is now located under the front bed section. Nine bed wood planks. Truck name stamped in tailgate. Bed is now approximately 3” wider than prior style. Vacuum wiper moved under dash from above windshield. Hood emblem on late 1947 is die cast metal. Windlace around door is black rubber and secured with metal strips screwed in place. Headliner center bow screwed in place. Hood side emblems say CHEVROLET & THRIFTMASTER.


Above: This 1947 Chevrolet 3800 is a clean example of a medium-duty truck from this period. It's equipped with Forrester Green exterior paint, as well as a 216ci inline-6 engine and 4-speed manual transmission. (Photo courtesy of Mecum Auctions)

All 1947 trucks use non-synchromesh three or four speed transmissions without external linkage and floor shifters. Emergency brake handle is on the right hand side of the floor shifter. Serial numbers: EP 1/2-ton, ER 3/4-ton, ES 1-ton, etc.

1948 Chevy Truck


1948 models are very similar to late 1947 models, with some minor changes. Redesigned three-speed transmission now uses column shift with linkage attached to case side. The 1948 emergency brake was relocated to the far left side of the cab and is now a foot operated mechanism. Serial numbers: FP 1/2 ton, FR 3/4 ton, FS 1 ton, etc.


Above: Not much changed from late '47 to '48. Here's an example of a restored "five window" truck with red and black two-tone paint. (Photo courtesy of Mecum Auctions)

1949 Chevy Truck


Early 1949: Hood emblem becomes chrome plated steel. As in 1947 and 1948, on Chevrolet light trucks hood side chrome emblem states THRIFTMASTER. Large truck side hood emblem states LOADMASTER. Gas tank is now located behind seat inside of cab. Serial numbers: GP 1/2 ton, GR 3/4 ton, GS 1 ton, etc.


Above: By the end of the 1949 model year, hood side emblems said "Chevrolet" with the series designation underneath (in this case, 3100 indicating 1/2-ton). The Thriftmaster emblem was dropped. (Photo courtesy of Mecum Auctions)

Late 1949: Last lever action shocks on Chevrolet, this carried on one more year on some GMCs. New style cab windlace fits in metal track around door opening. Headliner center bow is now “floating type”, not screwed to roof of cab, as before. Hood side emblem says CHEVROLET, no longer says THRIFTMASTER. Series designation emblem-is also on side of hood; 3100 on 1/2 ton, 3600 on 3/4 ton, 3800 on 1 ton, etc. Serial numbers: same as early 1949.

1950 Chevy Truck


Handle for left side cowl vent door is flat steel, not maroon plastic knob type, as earlier. Modern tubular shocks introduced. Headlight frames remain chrome plated brass. Wiper knob is chrome plated steel. Hood side emblem on Chevrolet shows this name plus 3100 on 1/2 ton, 3600 on 3/4 ton, 3800 on 1 ton, etc. Last year for driver’s side cowl vent. Serial numbers: HP 1/2 ton, HR 3/4 ton, HS 1 ton, etc.


Above: 1950 marked the introduction of modern tubular shock absorbers for a smoother ride. (Photo courtesy of Mecum Auctions)

1951 Chevy Truck


Engine in pickups remains 216 cubic inch Babbitt bearing low oil pressure type for Chevrolet, used from 1937 to 1953. GMC continues with the 228 cubic inch full pressure engine as their standard unit. Seat adjustment horizontal rod under cushion is run through a rubber grommet which is secured to the seat riser frame. Earlier year seats adjusted with a metal cable.


Halfway through the 1951 Chevy truck model year, bed wood changed from 9-board to 8-board type. Speedometer maximum speed 80 miles per hour. Vent windows in doors are introduced. Outside door handles are still turndown type. Only year with vent windows and turndown handles. Last year for 80 m.p.h. speedometer. Last year for chrome window handle knobs and chrome wiper knob. Serial numbers: JP 1/2 ton, JR 3/4 ton, JS 1 ton, etc.

1952 Chevy Truck


Horizontal strips below and above radio speaker grille plus glove box door change from stainless steel to painted steel. Outer door handles become push button type. Chevrolet hub caps changed from chrome plated to gray painted steel with black block letters, however, stamping and shape remain the same as prior years. Some say a very few deluxe 1/2 ton pickups still carried the chrome cap.


Above: 1952 was the first year for push-button exterior door handles. By the end of this year, GM was no longer installing series badges (e.g. 3100) on the sides of the hood. Rear bumpers were not offered on pickups this year, but some owners installed them after purchase. (Photo courtesy of Mecum Auctions)

Speedometer now shows maximum speed 90 miles per hour. All beds are now 8-board type. Rear bumpers are only available on Suburban and Panel models for 1952. In mid year, GM stopped using 3100, 3600, 3800 emblems on side of hood. However, CHEVROLET hood emblems are used the entire year. Inside window handle knobs and wiper knob are now maroon. Serial numbers: KP 1/2 ton, KR 3/4 ton, KS 1 ton, etc.

1953 Chevy Truck


Hood emblem is now stainless steel. First year for the optional left side mount spare on this series of pickups. Last year for wood blocks under bed. Wiper knob is maroon plastic, as in 1952. Last year for 216 cu. in, Babbitt bearing type engine. Hood side emblem changed to large 3100, 3600, 3800, etc only. No CHEVROLET emblems on hood side.


Above: In 1953, rear bumpers became available once more on pickup trucks. "Chevrolet" hood side emblems were removed and a series designation (e.g. 3100) was installed once more. (Photo courtesy of Mecum Auctions)

Rear bumpers are re-introduced on pickup models. First year for blue and silver ID door post plate. Prior years were black and silver. Serial numbers: H 1/2 ton, J 3/4 ton, L 1 ton, etc.

1954 Chevy Truck


Chevrolet has the newly introduced cross type “bull nose” grille. Introduced the new high pressure 235 cubic inch insert bearing engine on pickups, and 261 cubic inch six cylinder on larger trucks. Hub caps have the same shape as the 1953 type, however now have only the Bow Tie emblem. Park lights are now in the lower corners of the grill/fenders. New front hood emblem shows only a stamped Bow Tie and is now longer on top than bottom. Hood side emblems are still 3100, 3600, and 3800.


Above: The new "bull nose" grille debuted in 1954, along with new Bow Tie emblems in place of Chevrolet lettering on the hood and hub caps. (Photo courtesy of Mecum Auctions)

Completely redesigned bed. Bed now has increased in depth with all new bed sides. Top of bed sides are now flat, not angled as in previous years. Rear bumper is still an option, but is now dropped in the center to make room for new license plate location. One piece curved windshield. Newly designed dash. Taillights are now round. Serial numbers: H 1/2 ton, J 3/4 ton, L 1 ton, etc.

1955 "First Series" Chevy Truck


Early 1955 trucks, referred to by many as the First Series, were almost identical to the 1954. First year for the open drive shaft on 1/2 ton pickup and panel. Final series with the six volt system on Chevrolet. GMC continues to make 12 volt an option throughout the year into the next body style. Hood side emblems now are one piece with CHEVROLET at the bottom and 3100, 3600, or 3800 above. Serial numbers: H 1/2 ton, J 3/4 ton, L 1 ton, etc.


Above: Much like in 1947, the outgoing body style ("First Series," pictured here) was still produced during the first few months of 1955 as General Motors transitioned to the new body style ("Second Series"). (Photo courtesy of Mecum Auctions)

1955 "Second Series" Chevy Truck


In mid-year 1955, Chevrolet introduced this new body style truck. It was completely redesigned from previous years and very few parts will interchange with the older models. Grill design has 3 horizontal bars and 4 uprights. Single headlights in front fenders.


Above: GM's new truck design debuted in 1955, along with the rare and highly-sought-after Cameo model pictured here. It featured a fiberglass bed with elegant, flat sides — a design cue that would continue to become more popular in subsequent years. (Photo courtesy of Mecum Auctions)

Fender side emblem is one piece and mounted below horizontal line on fender. Emblem on front of hood is wider at top than bottom. Small step between cab and rear fender. First year for the Cameo, a very rare and desirable fiberglass bed pickup. First year for the optional V8 265 cubic inch engine. Serial numbers: H2 1/2 ton, M2 1/2 ton longbed, J2 3/4 ton, L2 1 ton, etc.

1956 Chevy Truck


Very similar to 1955 Chevy trucks. Fender emblems are two piece and mounted above horizontal line on fender. Emblem on front of hood is now longer on bottom than top. Front hood emblem has a cast in V if a V8 truck. Serial numbers: 3A 1/2 ton, 3B 1/2 ton longbed, 3E 3/4 ton, 3G 1 ton, etc.


Above: The 1956 model year didn't change much, but a V was added to the hood emblem on V8 models, and fender emblems were moved above the body line. (Photo courtesy of Mecum Auctions)

1957 Chevy Truck


Similar to previous years but with a few significant changes. Fender emblems are now one piece mounted above horizontal line on fender. Front hood emblem is the same as 1956 but paint scheme is reversed. Hood has two raised humps on top running front to back.


The 1957 Chevy truck grill now has inner and outer oval ring separated by 8 “teeth”, 4 on top and 4 on bottom. First year for the optional V-8 283 cubic inch engine. Serial numbers: 3A 1/2 ton, 3B 1/2 ton longbed, 3E 3/4 ton, 3G 1 ton, etc.

1958 Chevy Truck


Complete front end redesign. Dual headlights in front fenders. Grill is now a one piece design with parklights mounted in the ends of the grill. Last year for the Cameo pickup. First year for the optional Fleetside bed.


Above: GM completely redesigned its trucks for the 1958 model year, now with dual headlamps and a wide one-piece grille with integrated park lamps. The Fleetside bed seen here was optional. (Photo courtesy of Mecum Auctions)

Fender emblems have series designation (31, 32, 36, 38 etc.) and Chevrolet in the center the of emblem with Apache on the top rear of emblem. Front hood emblem is 31" long with vertical design in background behind Bow Tie. Serial numbers: 3A 1/2 ton, 3B 1/2 ton longbed, 3E 3/4 ton, 3G 1 ton, etc.

1959 Chevy Truck


Very similar to the 1958 trucks. Fender emblems are now larger design with Chevrolet and Apache in center of emblem with series designation (31, 32, 36, 38 etc.) at rear of emblem. Front hood emblem is 36" long with square pattern design in background behind Bow Tie. Serial numbers: 3A 1/2 ton, 3B 1/2 ton longbed, 3E 3/4 ton, 3G 1 ton, etc.


Above: 1959 trucks featured a larger fender emblem with "Chevrolet Apache" followed by a series designation. The truck seen here is outfitted with a factory-installed NAPCO Powr-Pak kit (option code RPO 690) to add 4x4 capabilities. In 1960, GM began producing its own 4x4 trucks instead of working with aftermarket suppliers like NAPCO. (Photo courtesy of Mecum Auctions)

1960-72 Chevy Truck Information


If you're interested in part two of our Chevy truck model year identification guide, which delves into the popular C and K Series models from 1960 through 1972, you can read it here:

You can also check out other entries in our classic car history series:

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