Owner: Mike Reese
A 70 Year Old GMC Saved From The Crusher!
This 1940 GMC 1 ½ ton had been retired along with its original owner, a farmer near Grand Rapids, Michigan for many, many years. It had been placed in a barn with badly damaged fenders, grille and related front items. The bed was beyond repair. If it was not for the sentimental value to family members, years later, it would have been sent to the crusher. A younger family member aware the truck was hidden in a barn began to consider updating it and making it roadworthy. The big plus was a pair of New Old Stock front fenders and running boards stored on the bed. This gave him the incentive to start on grandfather’s farm truck. It was a surface restoration but still became expensive. The bed was rebuilt at almost $900.00. Installing the new front fenders, finding a chrome grille and bumper surely added to the expense.
A second owner purchased the truck about 1993, however, he never did any further restoration. It sat for 10 years. Maybe this is the reason why it went up for sale. The big restoration money was yet to be spent.
The current owner is Mike Reese of Kempton, Pennsylvania. He bought it on-line in 2003 because he loved the appearance of the front end and cab. He became committed to make it look like new!
He already owned a 1951 Chevy fire truck and a 1951 Chevy 2 ton short wheel base dump truck (he still uses it for occasional gravel and dirt hauling) so he was very aware of what was ahead of him. However, he needed a lighter weight less massive older GM truck for driving to more distant truck shows and being more a part of the fun.
Mike did the final steps of the restoration, taking three years of evenings and weekends to complete. Total cleaning, painting the original Pimpernel Scarlet, all new rubber, correct interior, many mechanicals restored, etc. It was all done to exact 70 year old specifications. Finally, it became just like the Michigan farmer saw it when he bought the truck from the GMC dealership in 1940.
It’s now a head turner everywhere Mike takes it. People just stand and stare at the workmanship. They are looking at what they have only seen in black and white photos of the 1940’s.
After the first year of driving it on lesser traveled roads, Mike finally made one hidden change. He replaced the original 228 cubic inch six cylinder with a completely rebuilt 1956 270 engine. The outward appearance is identical. The two engines even used the same overhaul gasket set. Now the truck had a different personality. He could drive it on freeways to distant truck shows. He still keeps it about 60mph as the truck is still held back due to the original 4.56 ratio differential. He has not been able to find a higher ratio ring and pinion without making a major change that requires different wheels and he refuses to have a different design wheel on the front and rear. We offer our congratulations on this thinking.
One of the items that really stands out on this 1940 flat bed at all shows is the original GMC bed. Most display aftermarket beds, however Mike’s is pure General Motors. The two tall curved front panels (like a half barrel) are a true example of a truck that was ordered with the correct GM bed.
Mike Reese and his 1940 are often seen at Pennsylvania weekend truck shows; however his furthest was the American Truck Historical Society 2011 annual convention in South Bend, Indiana. Distance driven: 630 miles one way. This national club’s 2012 convention was in West Springfield, Massachusetts. This was 250 one way miles.
He never misses the world famous annual Macungie, Pennsylvania truck show 30 miles away. This year there were 600 participants on display. No judging, just lots of fun and memories.
Mike’s 1940 is quite an eye catcher at shows. He almost always receives a trophy or at least honorable mention. Yes, a home family room has many awards that prove this statement.
Mike Reese can be contacted by email— firstname.lastname@example.org
Barn Fresh in April 1984!