Vintage Car Carrier: Chevrolet-Montpelier COE (1935-1937) – Outsourced, Until Chevy Built Its Own

The Cab Over Engine (“COE”) configuration dates back to the trucks earliest days, but it mostly faded away until an upsurge in interest in the mid-30s, as it looked modern and was very amenable to streamlined styling. And of course it had a number of benefits, primarily in reducing overall vehicle length, which was always a big issue with car carriers.

Chevrolet did not offer a factory COE at the time (1935) so the job was outsourced to Montpelier Manufacturing, in Montpelier, OH, a long-time builder of truck bodies and vans. The conversion required not only the cab, but also a heavier front axle and steering gear, among other changes. When Chevrolet decided to offer a factory COE in 1938 or 1939, they contracted with Montpelier to help design it.

Here’s a brochure for the Montpelier conversion, which was available on a variety of wheelbase chassis as well as with van bodies. A sleeper cab was also available.

This is the new “factory” COE, developed with technical assistance by Montpelier. Chevrolet was a bit behind the game, as Dodge, Ford and International already offered factory COEs.

There’s a bit of a question as to whether these first came out in 1938 or 1939; best bet is mid-year 1938.

In 1941, Chevy trucks got a restyle, including the COE. I snagged one of these some years back, and its whole story is here:  Truckstop Classic: 1941 Chevrolet COE: Streamlining Arrives Down On The Farm