Big Shorty: 1954 GMC COE Custom

It would seem that old cars are often easier or more desirable to revive, but I love seeing this old Cab Over Engine trucks revived and on the roads. Once a part of mainstream society in their time as work vehicles, you hardly get to see and appreciate these old trucks. This 1954 example is more of a hot rod as it features a newer drive train and chassis, but the parts chosen are easily accessible and reliable. Ready to drive, this tall but short truck is offered for a buy it now of $25,999.00. Check it out here on eBay out of Industry, Pennsylvania.

Inside you will find a charming but basic interior not all that different from what this truck would have been equipped with from new. The diamond plate door panels are a neat alternative, and the nicely reupholstered seats look quite inviting. The seller did not share many detailed photos of the chassis or engine, but this truck is now currently powered by Chevrolet 350 V8 backed by a 4 speed manual with a transfer case. Despite this trucks vintage appearance, it will likely stop on a dime with its 4 wheel disc brakes.

A K30 1 ton chassis was the base of this build, and from there the truck was equipped with a Dana 60 in the front and a Dana 70 in the rear. Beyond the guts and feathers that make up this truck, you can see a solid but weathered cab, a flat bed, and modern aluminum wheels. The cab looks to have been school bus yellow in another life, but is now a Robin’s egg blue with some minor surface rust present. As a whole the cab and the nose of this GMC appear straight with no significant damage to be seen from the photos. I can certainly imagine that this is a fun ride, and would be great for parades! Are you a fan of this GMC?

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  1. David

    A fan. Nice fit out. It would be fun to drive and work that 350 is an interesting choice .

    • Dave

      The driveline is the original 1980 Chevy K30 driveline.

  2. 86_Vette_Convertible

    I like it. Nuff said.

  3. Crazyhawk

    Wow, I can’t believe how big this truck is! Look how tiny that kid looks standing on the bed of it.

    • Biff

      You win. :D


      LOL, the kid is far away from the truck bed … LOL

  4. Michael

    Other than maybe adding stakes to the bed, I would not change a thing.

  5. KSwheatfarmer Member

    Love the looks and stance. Think long and hard about how you intend to use this truck.Short wheel base any thing is inherently unstable,add in slick surfaces,gravel roads,pulling a trailer,high speed and things can get ugly quick.Hate to be mister gloom and doom but have a friend spending the rest of his life in a wheel chair because of a S. W. B. truck wreck.

    • Dave

      I drive the truck to work as close to every day that I can. I don’t haul with it, its a fun cruiser.

  6. Ken Carney

    I’d add stakes and sideboards to the flatbed and use it to haul newspapers or anything else I have in mind. Would have to get my sister in law a gym
    membership just to drive this thing unless it has power steering! Been
    looking for a truck that never runs out of uses. I used to see these trucks
    hauling grain in the Midwest where I grew up. My uncle had a ’59 Chevy
    Viking that ran a 348 4-speed combo. Compared to these trucks pictured
    here, Uncle Clsude’s Viking was like riding in a Cadillac. Great truck! Hope it goes to a good home.

  7. geomechs Member

    I like what I see, although the P-word finish would have to go and a nice durable single-stage paint job would take over. The 350 will take it up to speed fast and the disc brakes will haul it down, however, KS says it like it is: These beasts are not as stable as one would like to see and anything over 50 is going to get you in trouble if you have to make any sudden lane changes or take a corner too fast. That’s why I would’ve stuck with the old 270. I might add that when I’m in something like this, I’m not in a big hurry to get anywhere; I just start earlier and take my time. Still, it would be a nice addition to any collection….

    • Rube Goldberg Member

      I thought this would appeal to you. I like it too, although, I agree, finish the dang thing, GMC’s had such nice chrome grills. I’m not sure the intent of this, as it appears to have a goose neck hitch hole in the bed ( trailer brake control and 2 speed axle switch on the dash), but the 350 , I’d think, would be a little slim on power pulling anything big. And why the all wheel drive?This truck was probably a single axle road tractor, as evidenced by the big vacuum gauge. In the early 50’s, semi trailers had vacuum brakes,( can you imagine that?) and a big gauge indicating vacuum was important, as important as an air pressure gauge today. Neat truck, with the big rubber, I bet it rolls just fine.

      • geomechs Member

        Hi Rube. I agree; if you want to do some serious pulling you’ve got to go with either a big block or diesel power. It’s interesting that even though I work in the diesel world, if this truck were to come my way, I’d probably slant toward the BBC. That’s providing I’d want to do trailer duties with it. The Cummins 5.9 is rapidly becoming the Small Block Chevy to the diesel world. A true ‘belly button,’ everybody’s got one. But then, I saw a real nice Diamond T 201, doing a cross continent tour with about 50 other stock and custom pullers, last summer that someone shoe-horned a 5.9 into. Real nice rig.

      • Dave

        That grill took a long time to weather like that. The 350 pulls it just fine, it has 4.56 gears and it pulls good. The Chevy K30 was 4wd and the body was put on that frame. The truck never had vacuum brakes, that gauge was for the 2 speed rear end, it was vacuum operated.

  8. JW

    I love it but I don’t think it’s long enough for a roll off bed to haul our Mach1.

  9. Bob S

    I love these trucks, and all I would do to this one is, chrome the grill and put a nice paint job on the cab.
    Way back, I drove a single axle 55 GMC tractor trailer, and it was quite stable at 60 mph. The wheel base was not much, if any, longer than this truck.
    I hope that whoever buys this truck doesn’t have a problem with licensing. I have a C65 Chev dump truck, and live in an area where I am forced to have a commercial plate and periodic inspections, even though I don’t intend to work the truck.

  10. dgrass

    About 2 feet too high, a frame 4 feet too short, with 1 too many drive axles and not near enough padding in the suspension or seats to keep you from jarring your brain at every…single…pothole.

  11. Canadian Mark S. Eh! Member

    Close to how I’d do it only I’d have gone with a dodge chassie cumins diesel auto over drive. I’d use a two wheel drive donor truck and have the cab much lower to the ground. I’d also custom build a period looking step side truck box then paint it all up pretty looking. one thing that should be understood this cab and fenders are really no heavier than the one that originally sat appon the donor truck and with those oversized semi wheels I can safely say that the lions share of the weight of this trucks total weight is at spindle height from the road. The tall cab only makes it look top heavy. Lastly I’d put air ride seats in it. Remember it looks like a semi but it’s only sprung like a 1 ton. This is no heavey hauler.

  12. William

    Several mentioned the short wheelbase. Those 22.5 semi tires combined with the short wheelbase and spring suspension, that thing would be like driving a jackhammer. Looks neat, but no thanks.

  13. BAMA

    i love it!!!!

  14. gaspumpchas

    Sweet looking Jimmy!!!

  15. scottymac

    I remember these pulling out of the yard with loads from Timken, Republic Steel, and U.S. Steel, those Jimmies barking in the frosty night air. Cannonball!

  16. Chris Londish Member

    Being a restorer this to me is a bit of a travesty but everyone to their own although I think it could have executed better cheap and cheerful is what my comment is

  17. Rustytech

    A nice truck from the error when truck drivers were real men! No offense lady’s.

  18. Jacob

    More like $10K rather than $26k, don’t you think?

    • Dave

      You think you can build one for $10K?

  19. 69goat

    I totally love this truck have always thought that body style look like a bulldog. For me I would put a really cool candy apple paint job on it maybe multi-tone Reds with ghost flames load up the fishing poles and camping gear and take it down to the beach where I live. I think I would freak out all the little Jeep CJ drivers on the beach LOL. And before anybody gets offended I love Jeep CJ’s just trying to make a size comparison.

  20. Kevin Lee

    Looks like the motor is off- center. Maybe for the transfer case?

    • Anthony

      Should have a diesel.
      Guy is outta his mind with price.

      • Dave

        You couldn’t build the truck for that price, especially with a diesel

  21. RW Clark

    It should be listed as a 1980 3500 with an old body. I drove ’53 as a kid and the GMCs had a really good 300 ci 6 that had loads of low end pulling power. We used it to haul hay and wood and I still remember not having to downshift at each hill. Not the fastest unit but it would sure pull at low RPMs. Small block 350 are not the best truck engine in my opinion. Of course if you are just tooling around in it the engine doesn’t really matter. I would put painted steel wheels on as the aluminum ones don’t fit the vintage look.

  22. charlie

    HI Dave, love your it still for sale please message me thanks.

  23. charlie

    Dave, i have been trying to get some info on your truck for months now .is it still available. please let me know. i put my e-mail in the e-mail box below.

  24. Dave Cervone

    Sold the truck to a guy I’m mississippi 6-7 months ago.

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