With the introduction of the new 1955 GMC Blue Chip trucks. (Chevrolet used the name “Task Force.”) The GMC Truck Division made their statement with changes that were different in many ways than their Chevy competitor. Much of the sheet metal was identical to Chevrolet but there was just enough changes that allowed them to be a market and stand alone!
The new 1955 GMC trucks sometimes had their own independent dealers but more often their pickup line was marketed by GM car dealers such as Pontiac or Buick.
The stepside pickup beds were almost identical to Chevrolet but the tailgate displayed the famous GMC logo. (A nice advertising touch to show the follower, the pickup in front was a pure GMC.) To standout even more, the hood, grill, hubcaps and dash were much different than Chevrolet. The seat springs and frame were the same but the appearance of the cloth and vinyl gave a different appearance. Even the 6 cylinder and V-8 engines were different than Chevy! The GMC Truck Division would say “Our pickups are certainly a step above the competition.”
Through the transmissions, differentials, and brake systems were mostly the same as the Chevrolet, their engines were very different. It appears that GMC would not share this most important part from their competition.
The 1955 six cylinder was 270 cubic inch. This was the same engine that had been optional in their first series 1955 trucks. (One of GMC’s greatest in the engine category.)
In regards to a V-8 engine it appears GMC was not prepared when they discovered Chevrolet had developed a small V-8 engine. (Yes, GM had a V-8 but it was 2 very large unit used in off road equipment and commercial highway vehicles. Too large for ½ to 2 ton trucks.)
Now what? GMC did what they had done in 1938 with a similar situation. The borrowed Pontiac’s engine! They could now boast, they had the largest V-8 in a pickup truck.
If you like the 70 year old body designs with the “creature comforts” of a modern vehicle, our feature truck this month might really catch you attention. It may appear very old but on a freeway it can reach a speed far above the legal limits!
This eye catching stand out in a crowd 1942 Chevy pickup is owned by Bill Sanders of Crossville, Tennessee. What a creation! After 2 ½ years of building it has just been on the road only a month to check for little problems that need corrections. So far, nothing has shown up that cannot be easily repaired.
Bill has been involved in other vehicle restorations but this is the first time using a late model drive train. His brother had stored this cab, bed, and front sheet metal for many years with no steps taken to restore it. So, one day, Bill got the opportunity to buy it. It was soon brought to his home but in pieces. No frame or related suspension, motor, transmission or differential. So what now? Either gather original parts and create a “frame off” original or do what he has sometimes seen at local car shows.
A VINTAGE LOOK WITH LATE MODEL MECHANICALS
After much research and talking to others. Bill’s discovered a US Company that manufactures conversion kits designed to attach a 1939-46 Chevrolet ½ ton body to a Chevy S-10 pickup chassis. Why an S-10?
They are almost the correct wheel base as Bills 1942 and have a full frame to secure the older sheet metal and extra weight that may be hauled. S-10’s have repair parts readily available and they come from the factory with options like automatic transmission, independent front suspension, power steering, power brakes and air conditioning.
The company “Code 504” will even get involved to help you adapt your S-10 Chassis to hold a late model Chevrolet V-8 or most any tech question during the installation.
Bill was hooked! This is what he wanted. A good friend with experience in this type work was retired but decided being off work was not for him. Bill found him at just the right time. Thus, John Leech, also of Crossville, Tennessee and Bill Sanders became partners.
Together Bill and John with 2 ½ years created the finished product. John did the chassis rebuilding on a 1979 S-10, adding the “Code 504” kit, and restored much of the 1942 body. Bill says he became John’s assistant. John’s so many years in mechanical repair business made him a natural on what needed to be done.
The easy part was replacing the worn out ½ ton bed. Fortunately, all bed parts are available and they fit and took just like the originals. No repair panels required. Mostly a light sanding, paint and the detailed assembly was needed.
The 1942 sheet metal was another story. It had been so abused over the many years! Few, items are being reproduced and it became a hunt to locate better used replacement parts. Thank goodness for John Leech!
The updated modern mechanicals from the radiator to the differential were not difficult to obtain. You just need some deep money pockets to take position and then get them to all line up together.
A few of the major items were a 350 Chevy V-8, 400 turbo transmission, (both from a 1975 Corvette) GM power steering and brakes, air conditioning, plus tilt steering column. Of course, the extra chrome and polished aluminum made the engine compartment a real standout.
Owners of special interest older vehicles are never completely done. Bill has some ideas that may take place in the future.
For sure, he plans on this to be a tribute to US Army Special Forces that include:
Delta Force * Green Berets * Army Rangers (Bill’s son-in-law is a Green Beret and this had made a deep impression on his feelings for our US military).
He might even install an exact copy of a 50 caliber machine gun and mount it in the bed for local parades. What a parade eye catcher! A non-military vehicle with a large machine gun!
Bill is even thinking of calling it his Hillbilly Humvee.
Special bed side boards will announce this fact during parades!