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Fender Bender: 1956

Oakland, California, circa 1956. "Ambulance at collision." The age-old rivalry of Ford vs. Chevy. 4x5 acetate negative from the News Archive. View full size.

Oakland, California, circa 1956. "Ambulance at collision." The age-old rivalry of Ford vs. Chevy. 4x5 acetate negative from the News Archive. View full size.


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Lug bolt pattern

All Chevrolet passenger cars from the thirties through 1948 had a 6 bolt pattern. Chevy finally went to the more modern 5 bolt wheel on the all new 1949 models.

Note: The older 6 bolt pattern is the same as later model 1/2 ton 4 wheel drive pickups. I have seen a number of old Chevys with the 6 bolt 4x4 rally wheels.

Sedan vs Panel Delivery

In all the discussions of the modified Chevy, no one seems to have noticed the 6-lug wheels. Those usually don't come on anything lighter than a 3/4 to 1 ton chassis.

Cerrito68's example below has the hubcaps on so I can't compare, but I would guess it is a panel delivery that has been cut down.

Guys in the White Coats

I'm guessing they are from the ambulance on the far right of the picture. A Cadillac?

Ambulances then were basically just throw you in and race like heck for the hospital. Nothing like today's mobile emergency rooms on a 1 1/2 ton truck chassis. I bet they rode better, though, not the dump truck like ride of today's.

The guy in the aluminum wide brim hard hat is probably from the contractor's pickup.

Chevrolet Sedan Delivery

The accident vehicle appears to have started life as a c1946 Chevrolet Stylemaster Sedan Delivery. Sedan delivery bodies were mounted on standard sedan frames while panel delivery (panel truck) bodies were mounted on truck frames. Looks like the rear body was sawed off and converted to pickup-truck duty.

Great Pic!

What a great view of this area. I am actually looking at this from within one of the buildings pictured!

Round one to Ford

The Ford looks almost driveable, the Chevy obviously not. Ford wins.

Odd Chevy Truck

I know there's some sort of flat bed on the back, but the Chevrolet truck doesn't look like any from the era (40's to 50's). The front end looks much more car like, but the cab appears to be factory. Any ideas on what model that was?

[It's homemade. Note the sheet metal fastened with screws or nails behind the door. - Dave]


That Ford is a recognizable Ford truck, but the 1946ish Chevrolet is based on a car chassis. I know in the States they made a Sedan Delivery, but they never made a truck version except in Australia? Unless this is a custom job?

Odd-looking 1947 Chevy...

looks as if the bodywork behind the front seat has been cut away in a conversion to a pickup of sorts. The roof pillar behind the driver's seat, in particular, looks modified, and the rear window seems to be a rectangular replacement.

I'm not a car expert, I just play one on the Internet.

Tribune Tower

is hiding behind the telephone pole.


Looking at the structures and comparing them to 1958 Historic Aerials imagery, it looks to me like the accident occurred at the corner of 14th and West Street. The 980 freeway cut through a block east so yes, everything in the immediate area of the '56 photo was demolished during freeway and subsequent urban renewal projects.

Urban Renewal

Looking east on 14th Street about where the Grove-Shafter freeway (today's 980) went through beginning in the 1970s. Tribune Tower on the right, old City Hall on the left and the church remain. Urban renewal and freeway construction obliterated everything else nearby in the '56 image.

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