If Cars Could Talk

As seen in January 2018 G&D Magazine (page 32)

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If Cars Could Talk

A Late-20s Van in Japan

By Ed Gallagher, VCCA #44216, Manzanita, Oregon

ONE OF THE INTERESTING THINGS ABOUT COLLECTING old Chevrolets is knowing the history of our cars. Some have detailed stories, including who owned them and how they were used over the years. Others are mysterious survivors of years of use and, often, left in a barn or as part of a lineup in a farm field. If these cars could talk, we would likely hear some interesting stories!

On a trip visiting relatives in Japan, my wife and I took a side trip to Ishigaki in the Okinawa Prefecture. It’s the southernmost part of Japan, just 300 km off the coast of Taiwan. The island is about 88 sq. miles, has around 48,000 residents and—quite surprisingly—is the home of a vintage Chevrolet truck.

While walking around the City of Ishigaki checking out the sights, we came around a corner and there it was…an antique Chevrolet truck. What a surprise! Our son, who knows Japanese, translated the sign. It said most of what was written in English: 1926 Model (American) Superior Series Van, 2802 cc Chevrolet.

The truck looked to be in fairly good shape. The fenders and headlights, however, would indicate a 1927 model, not a 1926. The current owner must not have been a VCCA member! Was this truck made in Japan under license from Chevrolet? I knew our Chevrolet LUV pickup was of Japanese origins, but what about Chevys as old as the Ishigaki truck?

I’m sure that Chevrolet scholars in the VCCA have good information about the construction of Chevrolets in Japan from the very beginning. In the Toyota Auto Museum, I’ve learned (via the internet) that they have a 1931 Chevrolet cabriolet that was supposedly constructed in Japan, as well as a Japanese-made Ford Model A. The museum website indicated that GM built its first assembly factory in Osaka, Japan, in 1927, and they built Chevrolets there. Since the truck is right-hand drive, it could have been one of the first trucks out of the new GM factory. Or was it an import?

If cars and trucks could talk, this one would have a most interesting tale indeed. It is definitely a survivor…of typhoons, a very humid climate, and a World War.

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