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1950 GMC 1 Ton Pickup


What a rare pickup! When new the owner paid the extra price to buy a 1 ton pickup, his number one need was a heavy hauler with a larger bed. As the fleet side had not yet been introduced, General Motors made the bed longer and the frame stronger to carry more merchandise.

During the Advance Design years (1947 early 1955) all 1 ton pickups even had the same tailgate, front bed panel dimensions, cab, and fenders as the ½ ton. Their bed length was 9 foot rather than the 6 foot of the top selling ½ tons. Their gross weight was about 6100 pounds instead of the 4600 gross weight ½ tons.

The sad fact is that few 1 tons remain in existence! They were bought for heavy work by their first owner and a second owner would usually have similar needs. When this pickup reached salvage yard status, their heavy weight made them a likely candidate to be sent to the recycler for their money value due to their size.

Our feature truck this month is one of these few remaining 1 ton pickups. It is a 1950 GMC with the same 228 inline 6 cylinder and 4 speed transmission that was in it at the factory. The owner and restorer is John Lesmeister of Bolivar, Missouri.

John bought it 25 years ago because of its unusual appearance. “It’s like being in an overgrown ½ ton”. He followed the prior owner home when he first saw it while driving down the highway. “What is that he thought”? With some negotiations it was brought home the next day to add to John’s collection of 13 older special interest vehicles.

Over the years John has sold most of his early vehicle collection but not the 1 ton. It is so unusual it became the one he wanted as his brand new pickup! The last five years has been the time of the most serious restoration on this unusual truck.

John’s son Brian has known the 1 ton most of his life. Lucky for John, Brian not only has strong feelings for the truck but has become a vehicle body shop technician. His talents have made the 1 ton’s sheet metal near perfect and then he gave it a show winning paint job in the correct Ferrara Blue.

The pickup has received its restoration beginning with the bare frame. John went by the rules to make a “new” 1 ton pickup as it looked at the dealership in 1950. A few points of interest are:
Correct painted all black bed wood and strips
The second year the engine was orange.
Wheels are correct 17” split rims.
NOTE: the small ring near the outer edge. They are the correct zinc plated to prevent them from rusting metal to metal between tire changes. (An attractive touch!)
The 250 hood side emblem always relates to a GMC 1 ton.
Due to the 9 foot bed length, there are 4 stake pockets per side.

John used the correct Spanish grain maroon seat and door panel upholstery with metallic brown metal paint on interior panels.
The front bed panel has a horizontal stiffener to prevent bending when hit by a heavy load on a stop.

John’s talents with Brian’s help have made this a true show truck. It stands beside the best at all shows. John’s “new” truck is a part of U.S. Truck History.

The Day of Purchase

25 Years Later

An Ant’s View

Body by Brian

The View from Behind

Bed Splash Apron – Sooo Long

Just like GM Sold Them

New Cab Floor

250 – Only GMC 1 Ton

Pure GMC 17″ Wheels with Zinc Plated Ring

Being Assembled

Fender Finish: Glass Smooth

The Real Spanish Grain Door Panel

Original Data Plate

Regulator and Fuse Box

You can reach John at bluegoose37@windstream.net


What a surprise! During the recent large 2014 Midwest All Truck Nationals in Riverside Missouri, there were three Advance Design 1 ton pickups. We doubt if there has been that many 1 tons pickups in one place in 50 years.
This unusual event required photo shots. Several attached. They are owned by:

1947 GMC Joe Miller of Smithville, Missouri
(See our July 2013 Feature Truck of the Month)

1949 Chevrolet John & Peggy Milliman of Mechanicsville, Maryland

1949 Chevrolet Jim Carter of Independence, Missouri



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