Ever seen a NEW GMC pickup? If not, our Feature Truck is as close as it comes to factory new. Now owned by Jan and Ross Gale (father and son) of Princeton Junction, New Jersey. It is so pure even the seat upholstery is as perfect as it came from the dealership over 65 years ago. This pickup sets the judging standards for the few 1961 GMC’s now surviving.
WHY SO PERFECT?
It was first purchased by a soon to be retired couple named Clarke. He was an engineering executive for the Bell Telephone Company in Washington D.C. The new GMC was soon taken with them to Freehold, New Jersey after the retirement.
The next project was to prepare the pickup for the Clarke’s long awaited camping trips. It is assumed the Clarke’s favorite camping grounds were not too far away because the odometer had only 41,000 miles when it was sold to the “Gale Family Collection” in 1999. (About 2,200 miles per year) When not on their camping trips, the Clarkes kept the GMC in their personal garage. Therefore, it only saw outside weather a few weeks a year!
Keeping the GMC so perfect goes along with the Clarke’s record keeping. Included with this truck they sold in 1999 to the Gales was every repair receipt during their 38 year ownership. This even included the first written and bound proposal when it was first bought from the GMC dealer.
PREPARING FOR CAMPING. SO INTERESTING!
The Clarkes wanted a little more than offered GMC when it was new. This pickup is a ¾ ton, Series 1502, so is one step up from a ½ ton and provided a longer bed and heavier rear suspension for their new live-in camper. (These campers were so popular in past years)
To give the pickup more stability in heavier winds and during sharp cornering, the Clarkes had the ultimate installed. They added an extra pair of rear wheels and tires to also help in wet weather. These two extra tires also pulled the weight of the pickup just like the originals beside them (Check the tech article below written seven years ago on what was probably added to accomplish this extra).
It was suspected the extra two rear wheels and another unusual extra were added as a package from the Morysville Body Works in Boyertown, PA. The other extra are storage boxes attached to the bed sides. What a great extra! This would allow much more storage on the Clarke’s camping trip. Ross Gale says, “The tool boxes have never seen a wrench, are covered with the original paint, and are clean enough to eat off of.” Maybe the Clarke’s did not need them after all!
By seeing the following photos, note because of the extra dual rear axle width, it was necessary for the Morysville Co. to remove the stock step side rear fenders and add the narrower rear fenders they produce. It all fits together just right with the wide dual rears.
The power plant is one of GMC’s greats. A 305 cubic inch V-6 engine was only offered by them from 1960 through about 1969 in light trucks. All is exact as it left the factory. It was the only engine offered in 1961 a GMC light pickup
The transmission is the almost “bullet proof” 4 speed which had been used since 1948 in the ½ through 2 ton (In a ½ and ¾ ton it is almost under-worked).
Power brake unit at side
THE SECOND OWNERS
Jan and Ross Gale (father and son) are serious truck enthusiasts and refer to their collection as the Gale Family Collection – GFC. When this 1961 GMC joined their fleet in 1999, it quickly became a family favorite going to shows near and far. Now with only 51,000 miles, it is barely broken in. (about 1,000 miles/Year.) It now has a nickname as “Blueberry.”
The Gale Family are serious collectors!
Note three other trucks in their collection in the following photo together. These types of trucks are rarely seen in any condition at car and truck shows or other vehicle displays.
- 1949 Chevrolet 1 ton Canopy Express
- 1959 Studebaker pickup
- 1955 Willy’s Station Wagon
These three trucks (in photo) are currently on display in the Vintage Auto Museum of New Jersey.
One other (almost the last survivor) is a 1952 GMC 1 ton “Banana Truck” Too nice to even get outside on a cloudy day.
A FEW MISCELLONEOUS 1961 GMC EXTRA DATA
- Front license plate not using the two middle holes for the bracket. Could it be New Jersey requiring two plate years later and Mr. Clarke could not find a bracket?
- Front accessory bumper guards. Nice!
- Parking lights in the hood the same as Chevrolet but lens background totally different.
- Notice non-split rim wheels. Most all ¾ ton 8 bolt wheels were split rims. These even secured them to the factory hubcaps. Maybe an option?
- This 1961 has seat belts. Was it a GMC option or installed later? Federal law didn’t required seat belts on new vehicles until 1968.
- With new storage boxes attached to the bedsides, the original taillights had to be replaced. See photo
- Chrome grille, bumpers, windshield trim and hubcaps. ALL GMC extras.
You can contact Ross at firstname.lastname@example.org &Instagram @fringecarcollector