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1955 GMC Suburban Carrier

They don’t get much rarer than these! In our over 200 Feature Truck of the Month Series since the year 2000, we have never even found one of these Carriers to use as an example.  In their three year production, mid-1955 to mid-1958, less than 1000 were sold through the many GMC dealers in the U.S. The limited survival rate in over 60 years is unknown. The proud owner is Larry Koochel of Liberal, Kansas.  As a special interest vehicle enthusiast and owner over the years, Corvettes being his favorite, he became aware of this GMC many years ago.  A friend told him about this truck and mentioned it was in storage near his home in western Kansas.  Larry had not heard these were ever made and being able to see it in a storage building really got his interest.  Research bought answers to this unusual factory made ½ ton.  No, it was not for sale!

Larry later heard the owner was paying for its storage garage until he was released from a state prison. Unfortunately, soon after release, he again broke the law and returned to behind bars.  Then it truly became up for sale!

 

 

It was only then the GMC came out of storage and found a new owner. This person gave it a body off restoration.  Cab corners were all that was required in body part replacement before painting to the original Dover White.

Flame Red was on the wheels, inner bed panels, and rear cab secondary color. Of course, all rubber seals, window channels, most glass, and bed wood were replaced.

 

 

Now enters Larry Koochel. As a follower of special interest auto auctions he was shocked to see this same Suburban Carrier at a vintage auction two years ago and within driving distance of his home!  He immediately recognized it as the GMC he had seen years ago in storage.  Yes, he wanted it and the high bid was his!

It is now in storage near his home but this time occasional driving keeps it “up and going”! Probably one of the only Suburban Carriers in Kansas. Having a truck this unusual sure makes Larry happy being at that auction two years ago.

With the coming of the new 1955 pickups GMC knew there was no time to develop a small V-8 engine. What now?

GMC already produced a much larger V-8 but it was for very big freight haulers, not practical for the ½ tons! The GMC inline 302 was one of the strongest six cylinder gas engines in the industry but the GMC Division realized that they had to do something else to satisfy a ½ ton buyer’s V-8 wants.

 

 

Therefore, GM did the same as in 1938. They borrowed the correct size engine from the Pontiac car division.  In this case a 287 cubic inch V-8 that was used in the 1955 Pontiac.  They then became a leader of largest “small block” V-8 and with little tooling costs.  NOTE:  GMC slightly modified the V-8 heads so compression was slightly less than the Pontiac.  This made sure the engine operated well on regular octane gasoline.

Two other modifications when the Pontiac V-8 was placed in the GMC, the color changed from dark green to red orange. Of course, GMC did not want the Pontiac name stamped on the two valve covers. Thus, truck valve covers do not have the Pontiac script stamped on their top.

Why a Pontiac V-8 engine in a GMC? The new GM truck body in Mid-1955 for both GMC and Chevrolet were following some customer’s interest for more power in pickups.  Chevrolet had been developing the 265 cubic inch small block V-8 for several years to be ready for the new body designs.

 

 

Specifications for Larry’s Suburban Carrier:

Engine: Pontiac V-8, 287 Cubic Inch. 7.4 compression ratio

Transmission: 4 speed Hydromatic

Differential: 3.90: 1 semi-floating

Single exhaust and 2 barrel carburetor

Weights and Measures:Wheelbase: 114”Overall width: 74”Ground clearance: 7 1/8”Base price without options: $1,981.00

Shipping weight: 3,645 pounds

Bed length: 6’6”

Overall length: 198”

Tires: 6.70 X 15” tubeless

Options:

Hydromatic                  $210.00

Radio                           $55.00

Heater                         $40.00

Oil Bath Air Cleaner    $15.00

V-8 engine                   $106.00

 

The year 1955 was good at GMC Truck and Coach Division, made even better by the surprise appearance of the sporty, classy Suburban Carrier. It was a truck that was much more at home pulling up to the country club than hauling hay on the farm. NOTE: We heard a rumor that this rare GMC might be for sale for a little less than $39,000.

You can contact Larry Koochel at: lkoochel@Yahoo.com

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