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Gem of a GMC

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Home : Scrapbook : Roamin Angel Corner Index : 1953 GMC Truck

1953 GMCCar buffs have various reasons for liking certain makes and models, like once owning one, always wanting one since first seeing it or even just chancing upon a great deal. For Herb P., it was having learned to drive in one. About ten years ago he was looking for a project and found a ‘53 GMC step-side pickup for sale in Stockton. So he went to check it out. Like the one he had first driven, it was an old ranch truck with a rusty body and an in-line six-cylinder engine. Although it ran, it barely did. But Herb had plans to improve upon what was there, so he bought it. After stripping it down to the bare frame, he sandblasted the frame and body to remove all mud (about two inches of hardened Delta clay) and rust. The engine was not really rebuildable, but a friend had a 235 CID Chevy six that had just been rebuilt for sale and he acquired that. He mated it to a five-speed manual trans from an ‘86 Chevy S-10 with a 3.43:1 posi rear end from a 70's Chevy pickup. He left the front end stock, but rebuilt it and lowered the whole truck by one inch by changing the springs. To stop his GMC, Herb added power assist and changed the front brakes to discs. To gain some interior storage room, he moved the gas tank from behind the seat to under the bed. For comfort, he added air conditioning and changed the seats to ones from a Jeep Grand Cherokee. Sounds come from an AM/FM/cassette player. Although the ‘53 GMC had no chrome due to Korean War shortages, Herb chromed things like the bumpers and the grill to liven the appearance. For the same reason he also had the three-piece rear window etched as a triptych of a pine-studded mountain scene. Herb and his wife Ginny have had years of trouble-free use of their GMC since the work was done. Well, almost trouble free. Right after it was finished, the rebuilt starter button came apart and shorted out the wiring, frying the new gauges, ignition system and alternator. But since then, the truck has gone on trips with fellow Roamin Angels to places like Lake Havasu (over Donner in a snow storm) and Coeur d’Alene, ID, as well as numerous cruises all over NorCal without a hitch. For Herb and Ginny, this GMC has been a real gem.

Short-bed, step-side pickups of the ‘50's are the most desirable models and adding an original aftermarket visor and chrome rims with baby moon hub caps give it even more of a classic 50's look.

1953 GMC

This Chevy engine is bigger and more powerful than the original 228 CID GMC mill, especially with a new 4-BBL carb. The black powder-coated alternator and aluminum valve cover dress it up nicely.

Herb kept the dash looking fairly stock. His carpenter hands are evident in the oak console and the under-seat tool storage drawers.

2010 © Ron Cherry

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