Ran When Parked: 1916 GMC Model 16 3/4-Ton Pickup

GMC was initially created in 1911 by William Durant, the same Durant who shares credit founding Chevrolet and General Motors, to cater to the trucking and industrial markets. During the first world war, GMC was tasked with building heavy machinery for the war effort. During the post-war period, however, they pivoted to producing durable civilian utility vehicles. This 1916 Model 16 ¾ ton truck comes from the same year that GMC staged a display of its durability by doing a cross-country trek from Seattle to New York in less than a month. That was really good for 105 years ago. You can find this historic pickup truck here on eBay.

The truck doesn’t run, but it ran when it was parked…fourteen years ago. It’s a thirty-year-old restoration on top of that, so it will likely need a little bit of love to get running again. The seller is honest with what it needs, and they mention it has a couple of flat tires, but beyond that, it looks to be in decent shape. Importantly, with a vehicle mainly made of wood, there doesn’t appear to be any termite damage. Anyone with a Morgan will tell you that they’re little devils. Again, it’s been restored, so you’d likely have a perfectly functional machine once you pour some new oil in it and rebuild the carburetor.

With pioneering vehicles such as this, online information is sparse. I found a similar vehicle listed on Sotheby’s website, and they mention that it has a 35 horsepower Continental L-head four-cylinder engine driving the rear wheels through a three-speed sliding gear transmission. Looking at the pictures provided by the seller, that seems to ring true. It’s definitely an L-head inline four-cylinder driving the rear wheels through a dog-leg three-speed transmission. Pictures can’t give dyno results, though, so if you were hoping for the breakneck 35 horsepower this had 105 years ago, you might be out of luck.

I love how turn of the century vehicles didn’t really have an “interior,” so to speak. The cab was outside as much as it was inside, and you sit more on top of the vehicle than you do inside it. This definitely provides a unique driving experience, crash safety be damned. Its value is historical; you wouldn’t buy this car when you’re in the market for a usable truck, if you wanted something practical you’d buy its modern equivalent: the Sierra. Different vehicles fill different niches, and this fills the niche left by the automotive industry once they started catering to environmental and safety regulations. Not to say cars lost something when that happened, but they did definitely change, and this provides a unique look back to the beginnings of automotive history.


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  1. Chevy Guy

    Dang, that thing is SWEET!!

    Like 4
  2. Terrry

    ‘Ran when parked” is right up (or down) there with “no low ballers. I know what I have” Sellers need to leave such gibberish out of their ads.

    Like 3
  3. t-bone BOB

    Item location:
    Erie, Pennsylvania

  4. Dave Peterson

    I was always told it was originally Grabowski Motor Coach. My Grandfather who taught school, built houses, farmed sugar beets and flew planes in WWI, was the source. I’m not sure if I want to know if it’s wrong. A great representation of late brass era.

    Like 3
  5. Howie Mueler

    Looks like a automotive shop, why not try to get it running and hopefully get a better price? Looks cool.

    Like 1
  6. Burger

    Don’t use it ? Why ? I use my 25 from the time the weather warms up until winter returns.

    Like 1
  7. Howard A Member

    Great writeup, for the 18 people that may be interested. This was trucking 101, and was actually a very advanced truck for it’s time. With war clouds ( 1914-1918), truck makers went all out to gain the upper hand and military contracts. It was the 1st mechanized war, and trucks like this gave us a huge advantage.These trucks were strictly daytime city rigs, with a top speed of maybe 20mph, a cab wasn’t needed, but could be had from aftermarket suppliers. Unless trailered, these just don’t fit in our society today, but I hope there’s still enough interest. The current bid, is $7,700 ( going up in single dollars) tells me, old folks with not a lot of money are bidding on this. Who knows what will happen the next time.

    Like 2
  8. Alan Robbins

    Sorting the mag will be the tricky part, as long as the motor’s not frozen these are very low compression engines that are hard to kill unless you run them out of oil. Plus remove all the grease cups, refill, and twist liberally.

  9. MKG

    One of the first comments you will hear is, “Whats it drive like”? Answer: Well, it drives like a truck.
    And back then they meant it.

    Like 1

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