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1959 GMC ¾ Ton 4×4

It’s the late 1960’s and John Berry of Lehi, Utah, needed another pickup truck for his ranch duties. He was not particular of the brand but just needed a dependable older pickup for his general hauling requirements. The best he found that seemed affordable was a 10 year old local GMC. John used to tune the truck and service it for the original owner. Its solid 270 six cylinder engine was still in place as was the original 4 speed transmission and two wheel drive. A factory 4.57 ratio differential would be just right for his needs at that time. GMC referred to the color as Seafoam Green.

This GMC was of the age that some repair parts could be found in local salvage yards and a new GMC dealer was in the area. Just right! It could haul heavy loads and was dependable. A little slow on modern highways but that would not be a problem on the ranch.

Now enters his son Max. As he grew into his driving years, this GMC was a big help in accomplishing his work duties on the ranch as well as driving to town for supplies. Young Max had a good mechanical aptitude and quickly learned how to make many occasional repairs when parts were required to keep it running.

A few years later this talent really started him thinking how he might make some serious changes to this work truck. The GMC had become his main ride! Max found himself attached to this GMC! Could he make it a more impressive truck when hanging out with friends and not lessen its ability to be a hauler on the ranch? After all, during the 90’s trucks in the US had grown very popular as fun driving vehicles. Many were no longer parked behind the barn on Friday night and the sedan used for an evening out. They were now even seen in the church parking lots on Sunday! What a change.

As luck would have it, Max’s hopes came true when he discovered a for sale used 1978 Chevrolet ¾ ton, with a 350 V-8, more modern 4 speed transmission with a higher speed 4.10 ratio differential and power disc brakes. Best of all, it had a factory installed complete 4 wheel drive system. Could anything have been better to transfer to his 1959 GMC?

It would be an exciting major project for Max. Of course, at his young age he had the enthusiasm to make it all fit together. Keeping the original frame and springs, failure was not an option! He searched locally and found some others that had been successful doing this type of change over so that gave him confidence it was possible.

What a major learning experience! So much was all new to Max but he never gave up. He knew if others had been successful, he could do it too. Maybe he was a little slower than some but it would be completed. It was almost like going to a college technical class but he did it mostly alone!

This story does not end here. It actually continued many years later with Max’s young son Jacob. Of course, why wouldn’t it? Jacob grew up with this 1959 GMC! When working on the ranch and Max driving on local errands, Jacob was riding with Dad! It was natural that the GMC was the vehicle he learned to drive first. Certainly, he really liked the way his father had changed it to a more socially accepted pickup and could still be used for work duties.

As time has passed, this 60 year old pickup has become an eye-catcher to those that notice unusual vehicles. There was nothing like it in the area, however it is said “nothing stays the same.” After many years of using the GMC it was beginning to show its age. Yes, it was still mechanically strong but the normal wear and tear was definitely causing the pickup to look well worked. It is those little gradual things that are not noticed in the beginning but outsiders would sometimes draw attention to worn areas. When Max or Jacob wanted it to look its best for an occasion, so many places just could not come up to standards. For appearances, it might then be considered a “25 Foot pickup!” In other words, it looked good if a person did not get closer than a 25 foot distance.

Max occasionally got the hint from Jacob to make it nice again but he tried not to say much. After all, upgrading the many items would get deep in someone’s bank account. Just maybe it was Jacob that was responsible for the pickup’s face lift that we see now.

Max realized that the time was right during Jacobs’ late teenage years. Jacob would be on a two year assignment about 2,000 miles away for his church. Max and Grandpa Dale Jones decided this needed major restoration would be a great surprise for Jacob’s homecoming after his out of town work was finished.

Max took this GMC to his father-in-law’s shop. Here he painstakingly completely restored the truck with a frame off restoration and body upgrade. Starting in February of 2019 and finishing on Dec 19th,2019. Almost every night of the week including weekends were spent with family and friends restoring the truck. Many dinners and late nights were spent in that garage next to Jacobs dream. Occasionally Jacob would write home and ask if the truck was still where he parked it.

Big surprise: When Jacob returned home, his parents told him the tired truck he grew up with was needing a new battery and tires. The new parts were down at grandpa’s shop. Jacob was excited to get the old truck road worthy again and suggested they get working on it and maybe paint it. When the garage door opened, what a shock! There sat his old but new 1959 GMC.

Wish we all could have seen that moment!

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