Copper in the Arts

June 2015

Rare Kopper Kart Pickup on View at America on Wheels Museum

By Robyn Jasko

America on Wheels Museum in Allentown, PA is giving viewers a rare glimpse of the Kopper Kart as part of its new exhibit centered around an American icon—the pickup truck. The exhibition Gettin' the Job Done: Evolution of the Pickup Truck, is on view through October and features 14 early Model T conversions from the 1950s and '60s. Each one is a time capsule all its own, with a style reflecting America’s preoccupation with space exploration and penchant for low, long and sleek automobiles with abundant metal.

The Kopper KartThe Kopper Kart was first shown at the Napa Rod and Custom Show in 1957. 

Photo by Paul David. 
Copper wheel detailCopper wheel detail of the Kopper Kart. 

Photo by Paul David. 

On display is a rare glimpse of The Kopper Kart, a recreation of a 1955 custom pickup featuring copper-plated sides, mirrors and spotlights. Among the sea of chrome at the show, The Kopper Kart is truly unique.

"Our exhibit showcases a cross-section of rare pickups,” says Linda Merkel. “The Kopper Kart is a fine example of a unique streamlined body and truly museum quality. Our Exhibits are chosen very carefully and always for an educational and memorable visitor experience.  The museum takes great pride in our changing exhibits, education and year-round events."

The original Kopper Kart was built in California by George Barris, the iconic customizer. Created from a 1955 Chevy pickup, the Kopper Kart made a legendary debut at the Napa Rod and Custom Show in 1957, and was one of the earliest examples the “Kustom” movement that took off in the late 1950’s.  Although that original model was later destroyed, this rare re-creation continues the legacy.  

The exhibit will also feature trucks that took a less traditional approach to the pickup – such as the car based 1960 Chevrolet El Camino and the rear-engine Corvair Rampside. Independents such as Studebaker, Hudson and REO will also be represented to show that the pickup has always been more than just Ford or Chevy.  

Rear detail of the Kopper Kart.Rear detail of the Kopper Kart. 

Photo by Paul David. 

“Today’s trucks are comfortable, efficient, and loaded with technology and comforts,” says Merkel. “Gettin’ the Job Done: Evolution of the Pickup Truck demonstrates the history of America’s beloved workhorse from the early days of home spun Model T conversion, to the stylish, chrome-laden trucks of the 1950’s and 60’s, you’ll see a cross section of rare and fascinating pickups that were used for work and play.”

Special visual displays will show select trucks in their natural elements; at work and at play.

“As you visually follow the evolution of the pickups in the exhibit, you will see how the design and marketing changed in step with consumer lifestyle changes,”  states Alan Gross, Exhibit Chair.


Up close view of the Kopper Kart Chevy pickup

America on Wheels Museum, 5 N Front St, Allentown, PA, (610) 432-4200

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