Trying to rebuild his friend’s truck

November 1, 2008 | By Richard Prince


I have a 1940 Chevy half-ton pickup that I bought from my buddy’s estate after he died awhile back. I want to finish up the truck in his memory.

He disassembled the truck completely and I brought it home in pieces. What I need is an assembly manual for 1940 trucks. I have a shop manual for the truck but it does not show where many of the parts go. The motor that he had rebuilt is a 261 cid unit. I want to install a 700R automatic in the truck. I am told that there are companies that sell an adapter that will be compatible with the 700R transmission. I would also like to install disc brakes on the front. Are there companies that make disc brake conversion kits for trucks with solid front axles? What rear end would fit the truck so that I can remove the original rear end? Would a mid-1950s Chevy rear end fit?


It’s my understanding that there is no assembly manual for 1940 Chevy pickup trucks. The good news, however, is that your truck is remarkably simple in most respects and therefore with a bit of patience you can figure out how most of the pieces go back together.

It will, of course, be helpful to look at other Chevy trucks from the era and to build a reference library you can consult when you get stuck. The books “How to Restore Your Chevrolet Pickup” and “Chevrolet Pickup Color History,” both by Tom Brownell, are a great starting point. “Chevrolet Pickups,” by Mike Mueller, is another worthwhileaddition to your library. All are available from, Motorbooks International (, and most major retail outlets. Jim Carter Classic Truck Parts ( is also a very good source of information (as well as parts) for your truck. The Jim Carter site has a section called Technical Articles and, as the name implies, it has some very informative technical information about vintage Chevy and GMC trucks.

There are various companies that sell adapters and other parts that facilitate the installation of late model overdrive automatic transmissions into vintage vehicles. Contact Wilcap Co. ( for everything you need to install a 700R4 intoyour 1940 Chevy pickup.

There also are various companies that sell front disc brake kits for your pickup. Master Power Brakes ( is one of them.

With varying degrees of effort and ingenuity you can make almost any later model differential work in your truck. Having said that, a 1980s-era Camaro or Impala rear end is a popular choice for pre-1955 Chevy pickups because they fit well, work well, and are relatively plentiful and inexpensive.