The July/August 2019 issue of Vintage Truck magazine will soon be available on newsstands. Our cover story about a 1955 GMC 100 pickup was written by Loren Hoekema, with photos by Brad Bowling.
Jay Baker was 13 years old when GMC introduced its all-new line of “Blue Chip” trucks in early 1955 as second-series 1955s. Gene Cline, a local excavating contractor who lived in Baker’s hometown of Moline, Missouri, purchased a new turquoise-and-white, second-series 1955 GMC. Baker remembers Cline driving around the corner in his new pickup with V-8 and Hydramatic transmission. When Cline saw Baker watching, he “gave it the gas” and threw some gravel with the rear wheels while waving at young Baker.
Baker and his family were GMC people. His dad owned a succession of GMC pickups that included a 1949, 1957, and 1962 model, so it was only natural Baker would want one. However, pickups would have to wait. Baker graduated from high school in 1959, served in the United States Army, graduated from aircraft Airframe and Power Plant school, and went on to become a corporate pilot for Atlantic Richfield Oil Co. (ARCO).
The second-series 1955 GMC trucks that Baker admired closely resembled their late-1955 Chevrolet “Task Force Design” brothers but were considerably different in many ways, as GMC aficionados are quick to point out. During this period, GMC was officially referred to as “General Motors Truck and Coach Division,” and as such it made all of GM’s heavy trucks and buses. Had you ridden on a Greyhound bus in the late 1950s, chances are very good that it was produced by GMC. Because of this connection, most people—even GMC itself—considered GMC trucks to be heavier duty than comparable Chevrolets. (This concept is similar to some of GMC’s current advertising, which pitches GMC trucks as “Professional Grade.”)
By 1955, the horsepower wars of the 1950s were in full force, and light-duty trucks benefited as much as passenger cars did. When GMC and Chevrolet introduced their new trucks midway through the 1955 model year, it was anticipated they would be offered with a V-8 engine option. Chevrolet used its new small-block 265ci V-8, but since GMC did not have any of its own V-8s at the time, it turned to sister divisions at GM, Oldsmobile, and Pontiac for engines. Oldsmobile supplied its 324ci V-8 engine for GMC’s medium-duty trucks, and Pontiac’s new 288ci V-8 became the optional engine for all light-duty GMCs. This was not the first time GMC used Pontiac and Oldsmobile engines in its light-duty line. From 1927 to 1933, a Pontiac-sourced L-head 6-cylinder had powered the GMC light-duties. That was followed by an Oldsmobile engine, which was used from 1934 through 1938. In 1939, GMC introduced its own line of engines, which included a 228ci 6-cylinder of valve-in-head design with full-pressure oiling for low-tonnage models. This engine, enlarged to 248 cubic inches, was the standard power plant for the new second-series 1955 “Blue Chip” models.
To read more about our featured 1955 GMC 100, pick up a copy of the July/August 2019 issue of Vintage Truck magazine!
Articles in this issue include:
No Hill Too Steep!—Ken Soderbeck’s Jackson Four Wheel Drive Truck
By Robert Gabrick, Photos by Jack Harrison
The World’s First 4WD Luxury SUV—1966–68 Jeep Super Wagoneer
By Tom Gibson
A Real “Blue Chip”—Jay Baker’s 1955 GMC 100 is a ride back to his teenage years!
By Loren Hoekema, Photos by Brad Bowling
Loaded Original—John Clarizio’s 1936 Ford Station Wagon is an unrestored beauty!
by Candace Brown
Letter from the Editor
Letters to the Editor
Dodge Garage: 1969 Dodge D-300
Independent Trucks: 1959 3/4-ton NAPCO Studebaker
Delivery Designs: Salt-and-Ice Truck Refrigeration at Hercules
The Road Less Traveled: Republish Dispatch and Special
Photos from the Attic
Aid for the Anxious Amateur: Replacing Shock Towers, Shock Absorbers, and Springs
Granny Gear: The First Truck
Gallery: Photo courtesy Candace Brown