Truck With Attitude: 1956 GMC Pickup

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The mid 1950’s GMC trucks were based on the Chevrolet “Task Force” pickups that were introduced in 1955. This 1956 GMC has recently been resurrected after being off the road since 1995. The engine was freed up after soaking with oil, and after rebuilding the carburetor and installing a new set of spark plugs, it fired up. The truck is located in Anderson, California and is up for sale here on eBay. Thanks to reader Joe V. for sending us this neat find!

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I doubt that this rear bumper is original, but I think it adds to the overall ruggedness of the truck. That being said, I do think the appearance would be improved with an original rear bumper. It’s nice to see an intact tailgate, though; many of them are rusted completely through. I’m guessing this truck must have been in a fairly dry storage spot to be as solid as it is.

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Not to say this truck is without rust, though. I’m surprised this isn’t a wooden bed floor–any truck experts out there that can tell us if this is original or not? While the metal does add to the utility of the truck, I have to admit I prefer the look of polished wood in an old truck bed.

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Under the hood, we find a Pontiac-derived V-8 engine, presumed to be original, although that alternator and radiator overflow bottle certainly aren’t. That being said, I don’t think this would be the vehicle anyone would choose to restore to original. Personally, I’d run this truck cosmetically just as is. The seller has been running the truck off a bottle tank and says it has no brakes, so some mechanical work will have to be done as well, but I don’t think it would take too long to have this truck back on the road.

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Overall, I think this is a terrific old truck just waiting for someone to love it. I would, given the time and funding–would you?

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Comments

  1. randy

    I’d make it safe and drive it as is, it looks as good or better than my daily drivers.

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  2. Howard A Member

    Back when there really WAS a difference between GMC and Chevy. I believe this is the Pontiac 316 V-8, and that grill and dash gauges really set it apart from Chevy. I also believe, these had the wood and metal strips for a box floor. While clearly “West Coast” pricing, these are pretty rare, as most went with the Chevy in ’56, and not a lot of GMC’s. Most GMC’s from this era were larger trucks. Nice find, though.

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    • geomechs

      Hi Howard. I agree with you. I don’t think I ever saw a GMC or Chevy with anything other than a wood floor with steel strips. I always wondered why they were called ‘anti-skid strips?’ I remember trying to move stuff around in the back of my dad’s pickup during the winter and had my feet fly out from under me when I contacted one of those strips…

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  3. Charles H.

    Unusual to see one of these with a V8, seems like most were 6’s, I like it a lot, seems like a really worthwhile project!

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  4. JW

    Very nice condition, cool truck. I would say worth the $8500 if I lived close.

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  5. Gary

    This was the deluxe version pick up for it’s day, the large back window represented the custom cab model, (should also have SS trim around window) however this is a long bed model which was not as desirable as the short bed version. These trucks were pretty deluxe compared to the Chevy same year, and you will see fewer of these on the road. The bed would have the wood and steel slats as original, looks to be covered by a sheet of pitted metal. The Barden bumper on this is typical of most of these older P/U and were installed by a private company at the dealership choosing. The bad thing on these bumper’s heavy as they are if you got hit (even lightly) in the rear they would wipe out your rear fender where they are bolted at the base. Saw many folded up fenders on these trucks, best idea was to torch off the section of bumper behind and away from the fender. On the engine I know the ’57 Custom model had a 287 ci Pontiac motor as original, I am thinking this may be the same engine and not a 317 as shown? My personal best old pick up was a ’54 GMC short bed with a chevy 235 and 4spd. The ’54 was first year one piece windshield and first year for the flat top of bed, they also had one of the best looking dash boards IMO, I miss that nice old truck!

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    • geomechs

      Hi Gary. Ditto on those bumpers crushing the fenders. I know of several that had the corners cut down to avoid that. Otherwise they were good, solid bumpers. I could tell you a good story about a (however newer) truck with a substantial bumper and the frontend of an import.

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  6. Vince Habel

    These were nicer than the Chevy

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  7. Fred

    Wow! I wasn’t aware any trucks of the era had that nice looking of a dash.

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  8. randy

    After seeing the price, I went through the pics, he’s going to have to find that “special” buyer to get that price. There is a buyer out there somewhere though. For a couple hundred bucks he should fix the brakes and run through all of the gears and clean the fuel tank.

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  9. Cassidy

    It has a few areas where the bondo is cracking, but cudos to the seller, excellent photos with his auction! That spare will provide a little extra bounce to the ride if the buyer ever has a flat, an all-terrain tire opposite a smooth radial on an old truck like this will make for a bit of a scary ride I’m thinking. Why is the bed wet and the rest of the truck dry? It has to look like quite a beast in the rear-view mirror!

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  10. Steve

    Nice tach, even if it only goes to 4000 rpm

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    • Howard A Member

      Hi Steve, the tach is pretty rare for a pickup. Usually, they just had a blank plate that said “GMC”, and I believe, the tach was reserved for larger trucks, like semi’s, that used the same dash. ( hence the 4,000 rpm’s) This one may have been taken from a larger truck, as on zoom, you can see the “operating range” with those 2 lines (from 2500-3800), possibly from an in-line 6? ( I think the V-8 rev’s higher than that) BTW, the speedo is from a Peterbilt.

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      • geomechs

        Hi guys. I never saw a tach in a GMC smaller than a three ton. The ones I saw were the same regardless of six or V8 unless it was a diesel. I’m sure that a lot of V8 versions saw the tach peg itself on numerous occasions. Good eye on that speedo, Howard. I knew it was different but that’s as far as it went for me.

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