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

1947 Chevrolet 3100 Chelet 12 photos
Photo: Mecum
1947 Chevrolet 3100 Chelet1947 Chevrolet 3100 Chelet1947 Chevrolet 3100 Chelet1947 Chevrolet 3100 Chelet1947 Chevrolet 3100 Chelet1947 Chevrolet 3100 Chelet1947 Chevrolet 3100 Chelet1947 Chevrolet 3100 Chelet1947 Chevrolet 3100 Chelet1947 Chevrolet 3100 Chelet1947 Chevrolet 3100 Chelet
If you look at the present-day new pickup truck market in the U.S., it becomes immediately clear that all the companies that were once known as the Detroit Big Three are are taking the lion's share: Ford rules the sales charts with the F-Series, GM's Chevrolet with the Silverado, and Chrysler (sorry, Stellantis) with the Ram.
All three truck makers are the heavy hitters of the industry thanks to the models they release today, but you only need to take a look at the aftermarket and custom segments to realize the three have always been American favorites.

How else can you explain the constant flood of old (and very old) American-made pickup trucks we're subjected to as these machines keep changing hands over and over again, increasing in value the older they get?

Let's take Chevrolet, for instance. The bowtie carmaker is today mother and father to the Silverado, of which no less than 513,000 examples were delivered in 2022. From that, it gains money directly.

But it was also once mother and father to the Advance-Design and the Task Force, and the C/K. These trucks are long gone from the assembly lines, but they still make the headlines thanks to custom shops and restorers. From that, Chevy keeps gaining notoriety.

And it does that even if the pickup that once again brings its name under the spotlight looks as decrepit as this 3100 here.

The 3100 is one of the most appreciated Chevy trucks of old. Made as part of the Advance-Design series that ran from 1947 to 1955, it keeps making the headlines as it's constantly refreshed by talented shops across the country.

1947 Chevrolet 3100 Chelet
Photo: Mecum
Most of the time we get to see 3100s brought to incredible levels of sophistication and shine, as most of the shops mentioned above seek to dazzle the audience and get to their money. The unknown crew behind this build is doing the same, only it does it by going for the opposite effect: repulsion.

Their 3100 was put together as a rat rod, that kind of custom build that bets of rust, old age, and the appearance of uselessness to get to the hearts and pockets and buyers. This pickup is trying to do that at the beginning of next month, when it goes under the Mecum hammer in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The truck was originally assembled in 1947, making it an example of Advance-Design from the family's very first year on the market. It looks nothing like it used to, as it now sports one of the most deceiving exteriors we've ever come across.

If there ever was a king of NASCAR-bred sleepers, then it's this pickup truck here. Nicknamed Chelet (a moniker it proudly wears on the rust-filled, modified Chevrolet grille), the thing is a monster of a machine, both visually and mechanically.

As far as the eyes can see, the truck is in horrible condition. A brown patina drowns all of the body panels, while the front shows enough exposed metal elements to make the rust stains come out and give us a big, wide smile.

Up above the truck's windshield a big hunk of dented metal hangs around, trying to play the role of sun visor. Further down, on either side of the truck, long pipes with welding points exposed rush to the rear from openings in the sides of the engine bay. They are the truck's exhaust pipes, proudly worn on the outside.

1947 Chevrolet 3100 Chelet
Photo: Mecum
The truck ends with an exposed chassis and suspension, visible thanks to the removal of the bed and tailgate. Speaking of suspension, we're dealing with fully adjustable 4-link gear with Pro Shocks and Eibach springs out back, and coilovers made by Pro Shocks at the front.

The cabin of the 3100 is spartan to say the least. Almost all the interior surfaces come in naked aluminum with exposed rivets. Even the seats are the same, only they feature cushions for the driver's and passenger's behind.

The veeery long hood of the truck hides underneath a kind of engine one rarely gets to see. Displacement-wise it's not that impressive, as it only comes in at 358ci. The thing was however handled to be used in NASCAR: we're talking about a Richard Childress NASCAR Sprint Cup Chevrolet SB2.

The unit runs a NASCAR-approved 4-speed manual transmission, and it's rated at a heart-stopping 820 horsepower and 770 lb-ft of torque. The engine draws fuel for its needs from a racing-spec 32-gallon (121 liters) tank.

All that power is sent to the ground by means of 15-inch front and 20-inch rear wheels, all four of them dressed in Mickey Thompson tires. Behind each of them sit disc brakes for stopping power.

Despite its incredible menacing looks, the Chelet is perhaps the lightest truck of its kind you'll set eyes on all year. Whereas the original 3100 tipped the scales at around 2,900 pounds (1,300 kg), this one does the same a lot sooner, at just 1,800 pounds (816 kg).

The build is not new to this world (we know of it being featured back in 2014 in Hot Rod magazine), and it doesn't even try to look like it. Mecum is selling it with an apparent and undisclosed reserve, and no mention as to how much it is expected to fetch.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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