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Primer + Patina: 1949 GMC 100 Panel Van

General Motors redesigned its trucks in 1948, the first big redo since World War II. Chevrolet designated them the Advance-Design, while the same trucks were badged as the New-Design over at GMC. All sorts of body styles and payload capacities were offered, including the seller’s 1949 GMC 100 half-ton panel van. Having spent its life in Montana, the van is now located near Portland, Oregon, and is available here on craigslist for $7,000. Once again, Gunter Kramer delivers in the cool tips department!

Truck and van buyers had to wait until late 1947 before any new designs would come out of General Motors. 1946-47 products were carryovers from the war era. Whether you bought a pickup, cab over, or a panel van, the basic design was all the same. The post-war changes made these vehicles very popular, and Chevy/GMC outsold everyone in the market through 1955 when the series’ successors came along. The standard engine/transmission combination was a 216 cubic inch inline-6 with a 3-speed manual.

As the story goes, this van was a common sight around Missoula, Montana where it was used by Russell Leslie, a contractor. An outline of the graphics used back in the day is still visible. The original color of this van may have been grey as that’s the color inside, where some variation of military green seems to be present on the outside (along with key amounts of primer and surface rust). Corrosion doesn’t seem to be an issue except on the front floors where patches or more may be needed.

You can get the van to run with gas poured directly into the carburetor, so an overhaul of the fuel delivery system may be in the cards. The transmission shifts but the van is not a runner at this stage. No photos of the engine are provided, and the seller refers to it as a “core” which implies (to me) that it’s the original motor. The wooden floors inside the van look to have held up for ages. This vehicle has loads of patina and you might just want to get it going right rather than restore it.


  1. Avatar photo Claudio

    The first picture looks like a chevy HHR , i never noticed and had one for a few months

    Like 8
  2. Avatar photo Mike

    The ad says it was a work truck for a builder named Russell Leslie in Missoula, MT. Did a search and found out that there was a Russell S. Leslie living in Missoula and his grave marker says he was born in 1911 and died in 2003. It also says he was a Seabee in WW2 which probably explains how he was in construction.

    Like 18
  3. Avatar photo Lee

    This looks like a sedan delivery to me. Sedan delivery’s were built on a car frame and panel trucks were built on truck frames. I have a 1947 sedan delivery.

    Like 0
    • Avatar photo Otto Nobedder

      Definitely a truck chassis/body..Also it appears to have a ‘granny’ 4 speed-something that was not available on the car chassis

      Like 1
  4. Avatar photo Mountainwoodie

    Had a friend, a female as it turned out, who owned a ’47 or ’48 and was still driving it around town into the early 2000’s. A mother, grandmother and business owner she had owned it for four decades. This was a town where this was not the norm if you get my drift.
    Love the turn signals on the front fenders. Once again I don’t get the relationship between the ASK and the condition of the truck.
    By the way, I had a few AD pickups when I was a kid, one was a ’47…………..didn’t the AD iteration begin with the 1947 model year in both the GM and Chevy?

    Like 4
  5. Avatar photo Gene

    I learned a lot about repairing ancient technology on a 48 GMC. How to pour babbit bearings — I’ve forgotten most of it and wouldn’t imagine not sending it to a specialized shop today — and I also learned that I hate torque-tube drives even though they’re all the rage on performance cars today. Anyone undertaking a rebuild of this would need to dive into the lost arts. It would be helpful to have one of those thousand-page greasy Motor or Chilton manuals that told you everything about everything.

    Like 3
  6. Avatar photo Bunky

    Russ, buddy. 216 as standard equipment in a GMC? Yeah. No. GMC 6s started with a 228c.i. with full-pressure lubrication. Other displacements were 248, 270, and the mighty 302. GMCs were not some badge engineered Chevy in this era. They were better built, cost more- and were worth more.

    Like 5
  7. Avatar photo Frank Luczak

    Thank you for setting that straight. GMC ruled. Hot rod alternative to the v8 Fords pre Rocket 88.

    Like 1
  8. Avatar photo George

    My grandfather had one and we rode in back on wheel wells that were rusted out and could see wheels turning under you. Yep no seat belts or child seats! The only restraint was their right arm across your chest in fast stops!

    Like 0
  9. Avatar photo Wayne

    I had a 1953 Chevy version of this truck. It was factory red on the outside and grey like this on the inside. One thing I did notice on this truck (and I had on mine) was the starter pedal to the left of the accelerator pedal. I had forgotten about those! (no starter solenoids in those days!) I bought the truck originally to use as hay storage for my FFA project bulls. But it ran so nice, that I drove it all over the fire roads back home. I learned to double clutch as first gear was not synchronized (Nor was my my Moms ’63 Impala 327 that I took my driver’s test in. One block from the DMV I had to go around a corner that didn’t include a stop. I double clutched into first and the examiner asked what I had just done. I explained the what and why and his reply was turn around and go back, you passed!)

    Like 1

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