Cohort Vintage Photography: A Gallery of 1955-1957 New Chevy Trucks and a Few Others

We’re on a vintage photography roll here these days, and I’m happy to keep the party going. I’ve always been a big lover of the genre, and the more to share, the merrier. And these B/W photos were posted at the Cohort, by Ralf K, and he notes that they were from a Tacoma, WA. photographer’s collection of 4×5″ slides. Why exactly this photographer shot a whole number of new ’55 – ’57 Chevy trucks in all sorts of guises is unknown. And although there’s a decided theme, they’re well worth it. And there’s two very different subjects at the end.

This first truck is a 5700 series 1955, and powered by the brand new Chevrolet 265 V8 (4.2L). Sadly, I can’t find a ’55 or ’56 Chevy truck brochure on line, but this is obviously a raised forward cab (LCF), which shortened the wheelbase some. And that little V8 probably made all of 120-130 net hp. But that was still more than the 235 six, which was the base engine in these trucks. The 261 six, with gobs of torque, was also available on the 2 ton and up versions.

Hunter Fuel Co. in South Tacoma. I’m guessing they still sold coal too, given the dump bed on this Chevy.


Fuel companies are a bit of a theme in this collection. And this heating oil delivery truck is a ’57, as per the lower badge on the hood. And it sports a V8 emblem too, which would presumably be the new 283. Having driven an early 60s medium Chevy truck with a 283, I can assure you it was the highest-revving truck engine I ever encountered back then. Exhausting through a set of dual shorty pipes with cherry bombs, it sounded like a Corvette, but one being driven flat out and shifted at redline every time.


Here’s a nicely-trimmed ’55 panel van.


I’m going to say this is a ’56, a tandem-axle dumper with tall extensions on the bed.


Is this a way of encouraging legal drug sales instead of using the neighborhood drug dealer?


Another ’56 dumper in action, although at appears to be staged, given the lack of a pile behind it.


A tank body of some sort on a ’57 V8 chassis.


A ’55 hooked up to a semi-trailer. And it appears to be a six. it may seem odd to us now to think of a semi truck with a gasoline six making some 110-120 net hp, but average truck speeds were generally much lower then, typically no more than 45 mph on the open highway. If that’s the elderly owner standing there, maybe he wasn’t ready to take the plunge into a newfangled V8 yet. The sixes were a tried and proven commodity.


This one is labeled “Fife Fuel Company”.  I’m not sure all the trucks are related to that business, but small trucking companies were not uncommon back then. And there’s quite an age range in those trucks. Three of them are Chevies; the old one on the right I think not. it’s a bit too late for me to figure out, but one of you will likely know.


Two new ’55 service pickups for the So. Tacoma Refrigerator Service Company.


And a ’56 pickup for Buck & Sons, which appears to be an ag machinery outfit.

I love this one; it’s a ’57 stub nose moving truck with what I initially thought might be an aftermarket sleeper compartment, but is more likely an extra storage compartment. Maybe for all of the moving blankets. Note all of the license plates on the front bumper; back then trucks had to have one for every state they operated in, or something like that. I remember making note of them when I was a kid. 283 power for those long hauls!

Update: CC Commenter tiredoldmechanic left a comment that the Buick “nailhead” 322 V8 was available on the large Chevy trucks in this era. I did a bit of digging and confirmed that it was available on the largest 9000-10000 series trucks in ’56 and ’57, as in 1958, Chevy’s own big-block 348 arrived. The Buick was modified for HD truck use.

Just for good measure, here’s a colorized version by George Murphy. Not bad, but I doubt the front wheels would have been a different color than the rear wheels.


Another fuel service truck, a ’56.


And a ’57 V8 tandem-axle feed truck.


The AFIFI Temple ready to roll in a parade.


And this somewhat random shot of a Chevy dealer rounds out the set. They’re obviously excited about the Corvette.