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1936-38 GMC Grille Centers

What a rare occurrence! At the 2011 America Truck Historical Society Convention in South Bend, Indiana, we found both a 1936 and a 1937 restored GMC truck with the correct grille — each at different booths. You can go to every truck show for many years and never see even one. Therefore, we just had to get a few photos and make some comments. After all, this may never happen again.

Though at quick glance, the GMC grilles of these two years may seem the same, however, look close. The die cast assembly at the top of the 1936 and 1937 grille center gives the impression that the vertical grille bars extend through the emblem. They don’t! It’s an illusion; the tops are die cast and give the appearance that the verticals extend to the top.  A hood ornament above repeats the GMC letters.

The 1936 grille center assembly consists of seven vertical 3” wide hollow chrome bars all the same size. The length is 25 1/4″. The notches in the receiving die cast housing (hold these verticals in place) at the top and bottom are the same for each bar.

By 1937-38 the center vertical bar became wider. It increased from .3” in 1936 to .625”. It tapered back to align with the positioning of the other six side bars. The overall length was shortened to 24”.

These notches in the die cast top and bottom receiving housings are therefore different due to the width change in the center bar. The 1936 and 1937 may look the same on the outside but are not where they attach to the vertical bars. See photo. Chrome was not used to add to the appearance.  These bars were painted silver.

By 1938, the upper grille bar housing was modified.  It doesn’t have the upper die cast vertical bars. They even eliminated the GMC letters on the hood ornament above the grille.

Note:  All these upper GMC emblems are also extremely rare. If off the truck, they usually find a hobbyist’s collection. If they don’t have the GMC letters, such as on 1938 hood emblem, most people don’t know what they came from.  Once separated from the truck in a salvage yard they go to the iron pile.


1936 GMC Grille

1936 GMC Grille Center Bars

1937 Grille Center Bars

1938 Upper Grille Bar Housing

1936 GMC Grille Center

1937 GMC Grille Center

1937 upper grille bar extension front view

1937-38 Upper on bottom side

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