1947 Chevrolet 3100 Chelet Is the Undercover King of NASCAR-Bred Pickups

If you examine the current new pickup truck market in the United States, it becomes immediately evident that the dominant players are the three companies formerly known as the Detroit Big Three: Ford, GM’s Chevrolet, and Chrysler (now Stellantis) with their respective flagship models, the F-Series, Silverado, and Ram.

These three truck manufacturers have long been heavyweights in the industry, and their popularity extends beyond the sales charts. In the aftermarket and custom segments, they have always been favorites among American consumers.

Why else would we constantly see a flood of old American-made pickup trucks circulating in the market, changing hands and increasing in value as they age?

Take Chevrolet, for example. The Chevy Silverado, which sold an impressive 513,000 units in 2022, is a significant source of revenue for the brand. However, Chevy’s reputation as a favorite among truck enthusiasts is not solely dependent on the success of its current models. The legacy of its past trucks, such as the Advance-Design, Task Force, and C/K series, continues to captivate the public through custom shops and restoration projects. This enduring popularity adds to Chevy’s notoriety and cultural significance.

Photo: Mecum

One of the most beloved vintage Chevy trucks is the 3100, which belongs to the renowned Advance-Design series produced from 1947 to 1955. This model continues to capture attention as talented custom shops across the country keep giving it new life.

In most cases, 3100s are transformed into stunning works of art, showcasing sophistication and shine to attract buyers. However, the team behind this particular build is taking a different approach by embracing the allure of decay and celebrating the appearance of age. Their 3100 has been transformed into a rat rod, a custom build that embraces rust, antiquity, and the facade of uselessness to pique the interest of buyers. This unique pickup truck will be up for auction at the Mecum event in Las Vegas, Nevada, next month.

Originally manufactured in 1947, this 3100 represents the first year of the Advance-Design family. Its current appearance is a far cry from its original state, as it now proudly displays one of the most deceiving exteriors ever seen.

1947 Chevrolet 3100 Chelet

Photo: Mecum

This truck’s exterior is intentionally designed to appear dilapidated, with a brown patina covering the body panels and exposed rust stains adding character to the front end. An oversized, dented metal piece acts as a makeshift sun visor above the windshield. Welded pipes protrude from the engine bay openings, serving as the truck’s exhaust pipes, exposed for all to see.

Underneath, the chassis and suspension are completely visible due to the removal of the bed and tailgate. Speaking of suspension, the truck features a fully adjustable 4-link gear with Pro Shocks and Eibach springs at the rear and Pro Shocks coilovers at the front.

Inside the 3100’s cabin, simplicity reigns. Bare aluminum surfaces adorned with exposed rivets dominate the interior, even extending to the seats, which offer minimal cushioning for the driver and passenger.

Beneath the impressively long hood of the truck lies an engine rarely seen in such a setting. While its displacement may not be remarkable at 358 cubic inches, this is no ordinary power plant. It is a Richard Childress NASCAR Sprint Cup Chevrolet SB2 engine that has been modified for use in NASCAR. The engine is mated to a NASCAR-approved 4-speed manual transmission and generates a staggering 820 horsepower and 770 lb-ft of torque. Fuel is supplied by a racing-spec 32-gallon (121-liter) tank.

All that power is harnessed by 15-inch front and 20-inch rear wheels, dressed in Mickey Thompson tires. Each wheel is equipped with disc brakes for optimal stopping power.

Despite its intimidating appearance, the Chelet is remarkably lightweight compared to other trucks of its kind. While the original 3100 weighed around 2,900 pounds (1,300 kg), this modified version tips the scales at just 1,800 pounds (816 kg).

The build is not new to the scene; it was previously featured in Hot Rod magazine in 2014. The rusted masterpiece is now being auctioned by Mecum, with the selling price and reserve undisclosed.


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