Poncho Powered 4X4: 1957 GMC Suburban

Here’s a rare and interesting four-wheel-drive – a 1957 GMC Suburban that is said to have had a Pontiac V8 as its original powerplant. I was intrigued by this and after a little bit of research, found out that GMC did indeed use Pontiac V8’s during these years. Unfortunately for this one, though, it no longer has the Poncho power sitting between the fenders. Found here on eBay, this is a unique vehicle that is sure to make someone a really great project.

The highest bidder will definitely have a complete project on their hands. At first glance, I thought this might be a project that could be restored or rodded. While the patina look is a somewhat controversial topic, there is something cool and unique about seeing an older truck going down the road in “as is” condition. This could potentially be a candidate for that with a modern powertrain and new interior. But after taking a deeper look, this one might be better suited for an authentic restoration.

While there are some rust issues, it’s not too rough to take the time and make this one right. The body certainly isn’t perfect but isn’t horrible either. There is no aspect of restoration that is easy, but this one would hopefully require less work than other projects that are more than six decades old. It’d be great to see this one in person to really see the fullest extent of the rust. With any restoration work, there is always more rust than one would expect.

I wouldn’t want to writeoff the resto-mod crowd but I do feel like this Suburban is a better candidate for an authentic restoration, simply because of the unique options. I don’t know the numbers but it would be interesting to know how many Suburbans left the dealer with both a NAPCO four-wheel-drive and a Pontiac V8. Sourcing a period-correct powerplant could be a task in and of itself, but definitely work the time and effort. So, what are your thoughts here… Would you do an authentic restoration or be okay with making this one a resto-mod? And what price would you be willing to pay to get started?


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  1. Terry

    no point in doing an “authentic” restoration, unless you just like losing money. There simply is no demand for original panel trucks. Occasionally some of the NAPCO trucks do ok, but otherwise its a bloodbath…….

    Like 4
    • YooperMike

      Someday Terry

  2. TimM

    The first thing to do here is get some real tires!! Those tires make it look too heavy and awkward!! This could be a really cool truck even if it were just around town!! Modern drive train and it would put the soccer mom mini van crowd to shame!!!

    Like 6
  3. PaulG

    Back in the 90’s purchased a similar 2wd model, bone stock with the Pontiac V8 and hydramatic transmission. Even the hubcaps and 3 seats were present. Had a cool feature on the tailgate. The license plate holder and light articulated to vertical when opened.
    Wish I would have held on to such an original truck.

    Like 6
  4. Johnny

    Very real looking vehicle. American made with metal and to last. I,d restore it and use it. The pontiac motors came in these trucks done a really good job . Putting them down the road. My friend ,s dad had a GMC truck the same year with I think a 389–or smaller size with the same block as the 389. It was geared low and had a 4 speed transmission. The way they were made to compared of what is made today. I go with keeping it original. Easier to figure out in case something goes wrong. Less electric problems too plus safer.

    Like 5
    • TimM

      I think the emblems on the front fender says it was a V-6!! I had bought a school bus years ago!! It was a gmc with a V-6!! I can’t remember the cubic inches but it had a lot of power!!! I actually bought it for the four speed transmission that was in it!! I put that older transmission in a 66 gmc C-60 dump truck!!

      Like 1
      • geomechs geomechs Member

        This would’ve had a V8. GMC didn’t offer a V6 until 1960.

        Like 1
  5. geomechs geomechs Member

    A rare beast for sure. It was not uncommon to see even a NAPCO conversion on a pickup, or even to have it powered by a V8. A burb would be more rare yet. Pontiac supplied V8 engines to American GMC trucks from ‘55 to ‘59 so I would be surprised to see anything else unless someone put it in there. Now, if it was a Canadian GMC it would’ve been essentially a Chevy with GMC badging. Growing up on the border both variants were common. Now if this truck came my way I’d be looking for a 347 CID GMC/Pontiac engine, which would be the correct powerplant. Of course just about any Pontiac engine would bolt right in. I like those old Ponchos although I was never all that fussy about the Stromberg carburetors that they used. Oh, they worked OK; they tended to strip the fuel inlet fitting out of the body. I’ll bet a third of the carburetors I rebuilt needed the inlet fixed. I rebuilt an engine out of a ‘57 Surburban Carrier that had experienced a fire because of that…

    Like 7
  6. Jim Bay

    Keep it original for sure. The good thing is that it is rare GMC model and not a Chevy, which are a dime a dozen.
    Just like the GMC Suburban Carrier Pickups vs the Chevy Cameo pickups, you would always want the GMC version,
    more rare, more valuable and just better trucks.

    Like 5
    • geomechs geomechs Member

      Hi Jim. That’s my sentiments as well. I met a guy last summer who has no less than 7 Cameo Carriers and 2 GMC Suburban Carriers. He said that the GMCs are hard to find but he’s looking for a couple more to add to his collection so he has all four. Some guys have all the luck…

      Like 4
  7. pwtiger

    This would be so cool towing my old Spartan travel trailer out to the desert, but by the time I redo this and the trailer I might be to old to enjoy them…Definitely this would be some sort of a restomod where it could get decent fuel mileage and easy to repair, I know that fuel injection and a AOD with a lock up torque convertor would be the way to go, I’m not sure that I want to deal with a computer maybe an older Cummins and a 6 speed and some 35″ tires

    Like 4
  8. Joe Padavano

    21 photos in the ebay ad and not ONE picture of the engine? GMC used both Pontiac and Oldsmobile engines in the 1950s.

    Like 3
  9. chrlsful

    must B a divorced x-fer. How to hook upa 12v (no ‘puter’n a line pump) anda allison or a ZF/5, 6 speed? That keeps the 4WD, utility & affordability. Swap them in (no motor or tranny now) and DD as U restore the rest? ‘S how somea us do…
    (I might even mig over the rd side windows & the back 1’n a half on pass. side)

  10. David Ulrey

    I personally wouldn’t restore it. I respect the opinion of those that would but I wouldn’t. Did that with a Bronco once. The nicer it got, the less I wanted to use it out of fear of scratches or small dents. I’m not rich but I’ve owned several gas hogs and still manage to drive them and keep gas in the tank. I probably would look for a 389 or the right years of a 455. Since complete originality isn’t a thing for me, I’d put some different tires and wheels on it. Nothing modern as far as wheels, maybe old school white spokes or similar. Definitely power steering and brakes. A front disc brake conversion if feasible and drive it, use it, enjoy it.

    Like 3
  11. Chris Londish Member

    The power plant shouldn’t be a problem elderlyiron in Oregon should be able to help or Classic truck restorations Google them their on YouTube too

    Like 2
  12. Stevieg

    I would restore it cosmetically, but throw a 455 between the fenders & put a Western plow on the front, then be afraid to use it for fear of ruining it lol. That’s what happened to my last plow truck…I used it, a 1986 F250, for years, basically destroyed it, found a nice body from an identical 2 wheel drive truck in Arizona, shipped that body home, paid big bucks to have the sheetmetal transferred over, went through the legal issues with the state dmv because of my plow truck now having 2 vin numbers, and had it painted. Then I didn’t want to use it any more out of fear of destroying my investment.
    Good thing I can’t afford this truck lol.

    Like 5
  13. Tom Kelley

    Nice truck!! Put in a GM Performance crate motor and auto trans. Carb motor, ( maybe switch to EFI), but good performance and good price. Add AC unit by way of aftermarkets, and there you have it! Repair body, etc., and paint, wheels, tires and rims. Then it will be a nice ride!!

  14. DVSCapri

    As others have said – restoring it would be a bloodbath. I would restomod it, keep the body factory looking (maybe even a nice period correct paint job), make a nice interior for it too. As for drivetrain – a nice aftermarket Pontiac motor, fuel injection, one of the many aftermarket stick transmissions & ?? on the divorces transfer case & axles (would need to see what they were. Pretty much check out the suspension used & go from there, I cant say I wouldn’t lift it – but it would be a very moderate one if at all. Nice looking wheels & some 35’s maybe??

    Like 1
  15. Bill McCoskey

    From my experiences with these vehicles, both Chevy & GMC, almost all of them had dual opening rear doors. The combination lift and tail gate is fairly unusual today. Just another reason to keep it stock looking, at least on the outside.

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