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1942 GMC 1 ½ Ton Flatbed

It’s about 2015 and Bob Combe semi-retired of Rancho Cucamongo, California (40miles east of Los Angeles) had begun to develop an interest to restore an early General Motors truck. This may sound strange as he had never done a major restoration but he had the itch to do it. He had always done all maintenance on his daily drivers so he knew he could be successful on a truck over half a century in age. Bob being 72 years old was not an issue.

The action began on a visit to see his daughter near Boise, Idaho. On that trip Bob saw what would be his retirement project. While on a Idaho country back road he saw a hidden truck in weeds beside a fence in a farm field. When he got closer his instinct told him “This is it.”

The owner said it was a 1942 GMC and was left by the field many years ago. (As with many farmers, the time and expense to haul it to a local salvage yard was not financially practical) The dry Idaho air had saved it from being land fill material. Bob had to have it.

He had it transported to Southern California and within several months a total disassembly began. During the 3 ½ year restoration there was not a nut or bolt not removed, examined and restored. To Bob, it was a challenge to prove to himself he could create a “New” 77 year old GMC.

He now proudly says, “I personally did everything myself except for the painting.”

The GMC has its original 228 cubic inch inline six cylinder and the correct non-synchronized 4 speed transmission. Electrical: GMC have positive ground on six volt systems (Chevrolet were negative ground.) To get the most hauling capacity for the 228 engine, the low geared differential has a ratio of 5.43. (The engine turns 5.43 revelations and the rear wheel turns once)

COLOR; Very close to the 1942 GMC factory color Permanent Red. The standard color for fenders and running boards is black. All the interior panels were removable (not welded on) and are the correct tan color

WHEELS; The 20’’ split rim wheels look better than original. These splits are not the design of large over the road trucks that have received so much bad publicity. This GMC lock rings are “one-piece” with no splits. Bob disassembled these, sand blasted all, added new tires and tubes on the wheels, and added air to the factory specifications.

BED DETAILS; its restoration followed the original bed specifications perfectly. Tongue and grooved, 5’’ wide boards, 1 5/8’’ thick. These many 2’’ oak boards (before planing) were one of the more expensive single item of this restoration!

Bob also personally created the metal perimeter band around the bed with the right angle corners. See photos

HISTORY; Because the Cooper Tire logo was still on each door it is assumed its first owner delivered this once famous tire brand from a company warehouse to locations that sold the tire to retail consumers. When the GMC retired after many years of delivering tires, it was purchased by a farm owner. The Cooper logo on each door was of no concern to the new owner in farming. He did not take the effort to sand it off and repaint the door with a close color.

RECENT SHOWS; Bob now belongs to a Southern California car and truck club, CAL-Rods. Now in its 65th year. It has 250 members and at least half attend their monthly meetings and events. A great percent turnout!

One of the few judging shows that Bob has taken his GMC was in Solvang, CA about 400 miles north. It was the Wheels and Windmills early vehicle show. Over 300 classic antique vehicles attend and Bob’s GMC received first place in the commercial class. Not bad for a first time restoration!

Being in serval local South California parades is no exception in public interest. All eyes go to this “new” 1942 GMC 1 ½ ton.

You can reach Bob Combe at: bob.combe@hotmail.com


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