Bruce Kunz is a freelance automotive writer. He is a regular contributor for Brand Ave. Studios.

I know a little more than the average Joe (or Jolene) when it comes to cars—but I never claim to be an expert on anything. No matter how much you think you know, there’s always somebody out there who knows a thing or two more than you do. That said, I know especially little about military vehicles because one, I never served in the military and two, I was a terrible student in Ms. Hunze’s history class and learned very little about the subject.

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Herbie, the Canadian lorry, on its way to the Easter Car show. Photo by owner, Terry Johns. 

My friend and former, fellow coworker (at TSA), Terry Johns, has been collecting and driving military vehicles for ages, so I’m going to let him tell the story about one of his special rides.

Here, in Terry’s words, is the story of a survivor—his 1941 Chevy C30, 4x4 Canadian Lorry: 

“This is a survivor. If the ravages of seventy-eight years were not enough, this hunk of metal fought one World War and served in two armies. This stoic hero just keeps on fighting. It is a 1941 Chevrolet C30 4X4, produced in Canada by GM. It features U.S. automotive technologies, of the time, with British Army design characteristics, referred to as Canadian Military Pattern or CMP.

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These types of war vehicles were also produced by Ford and Chrysler. Show here a Ford version. Photo by Royal Air Force official photographer. 

A prominent feature of many Commonwealth vehicles of the Second World War was the cab-over concept. US military vehicles that served our “Greatest Generation”, an expression coined by Tom Brokaw, were standard cabs with an engine mounted out front. The island based British realized that to take the war to Hitler’s doorstep required overseas shipping of everything, soldiers and equipment. Cab-over vehicles saved shipping space.

Fully loaded, this bad-boy weighs in at 9,000 pounds and has a top speed of 58 MPH with the wind behind her. She is powered by a Stove-Bolt, six-cylinder, overhead valve, gasoline engine-originally with 216-cubic-inch displacement. I repowered it using a newer 235-cubic-inch Chevy six, because the original engine was rusted out internally.

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These vehicles were commonly referred to as Canadian Military Pattern trucks. Here is a Ford version which was found abandoned in the Nambi Desert. I guess you'd call it a "FIDD"... get it? (Found In Desert Dead.) There goes my invitation to Ford's Unlimited, All Ford Show!  (Which, btw is TODAY at James S. McDonnell Park in St. Ann. See my facebook page for flier.) Photo by Von Rocco Strydom. 

The lorry features right-hand-drive. While the folks up north also drive on the same side of the road as we do, it was realized that most of Canada’s military vehicle production, including Sherman tanks, would go to the British forces, not to mention Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and later Russia– hence the steering wheel is on the wrong side. No, it isn’t. It’s on the right side... er, let’s say the “correct” side!

My wife and I acquired the vehicle by way of Milweb, a UK based site that specializes in military vehicle sales. They had the vehicle imported from Norway. When the war ended in Europe the German military was still occupying Norway. The British soon arrived to disarm the Wehrmacht and sent them packing back to the Fatherland. Mission completed the Brits made a gift of most of their vehicles to the newly rejuvenated Norwegian Army thus saving the cost of a return trip. Eventually the Norwegian government began disposing of the old war horses during the late 1980s and early 90s.

Being the head grease monkey I decided the first thing to address was the required engine transplant and then to get everything working properly. While most parts are standard old GM, many NOS parts came via a supplier in Holland. When it arrived it still had the wartime Run-Flat tires. Luckily a source of new 10.5-16 inch directional tires became available.”

I’m long overdue for a Breakfast with the FIN MAN so stay tuned right here and on Facebook for the next location and date.


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