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Rare But Really Rusty: 1949 GMC Canopy Express


Here’s your next project: a 1949 GMC Canopy Express! It’s in Milton, Wisconsin, 36 miles southeast of the beautiful capital city of Madison. This former workhorse is listed here on eBay with a current bid price of $2,100 with over two days left on the auction and there is no reserve! Thanks to Craig W for tracking down this GMC!


A couple of weekends and this thing would be ready for Pebble Beach! Well, a couple of years worth of weekends, maybe. It’ll definitely be worth the work as these are as rare as (insert very, very rare thing here). Our own Josh wrote about a similar sister truck, a ’49 Chevy Canopy Express, in early-2015 and that one was in much better condition! In fact, this GMC is scary, it would be so far above my head to do a project like this one. But, I have no doubt that the majority of Barn Finds readers could tackle this one and have probably done projects with a similar amount of rust work. This one will need a LOT of welding and fabrication, it’s almost like a tin-foil-truck it’s so rotted in places. But, those Wisconsin winters can be brutal and road salt is even more brutal for our fine-fendered friends. The seller is including some replacement panels which could/should/would help, but you’ll have to be the Michelangelo of mig-welding to get this one back in shape again.


As with a lot of ads, this one just has snippets and detail photos, which is disappointing for such a rare and potentially valuable vehicle. There are no photos of the passenger side, the back, or most of the interior other than close-up detail shots. As you have already guessed, there isn’t one square billimeter of this vehicle that won’t need to be restored in some way or another. These are so rare that I would hope that it could be restored back to original-spec, but we all know that resto-mod is the way things are trending, so I’m guessing that it’ll end up riding on an air-bag suspension with a modern drivetrain, etc. Not that it’s a bad thing, and everyone is free to do what they want to do with their vehicle. But, something this rare could be, and would be, a museum piece if restored back to original spec. The interior is a thing of simplistic beauty when it’s like new.


The seller says that this truck has been partially disassembled since these photos were taken, bummer. That’s rarely if ever a good thing for someone to take things apart and then sell the project, it’s so much easier to restore something when you can see how it comes apart and do that disassembly yourself as you go along. There are a lot of parts and panels available for these “New Design” series GMC trucks so hopefully someone with experience in them can snag this one. Since GMC had 224 body and chassis types, not to mention 9 engine types, I have no clue what engine is shown here and the seller doesn’t mention it, other than to say that it’s a six-cylinder and it’s been taken out and will be included in the sale. I would hope so! The standard engine for the 1/2 ton 100-Series GMC truck in 1949 was a 228 cubic-inch inline-six with 95 hp. What do you think about this rusty rarity? I hope that it can be brought back to like new condition again. How would you restore this Canopy Express?


  1. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    I grew up in Janesville and kind of surprised I never saw her around. Although being born six years before me, might have been taken out of service before I got my bicycle and really started to get around. Probably built in Janesville as well. I am still not far from Milton so if someone needs a look, let me know. Cool find Scotty, thanks.

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  2. Howard A Member

    Yeah, it’s a Badger truck all right. IDK, on one hand, it’s pretty far gone, on the other, very few of these exist, mostly because they were used a lot, and few were kept. Someone had the insight to hang on to this, but I think it’s too far gone for most, as Scotty sez. I see there’s one in Ohio, a driver for $9,000. http://classiccardb.com/gmc/43833-1948-gmc-canopy-express-truck.html
    Lot of work here, not sure it would be worth it. Cool find, though.

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  3. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Thanks for the link Howard. I am kind of a tight wad on some thing’s, overpriced cars and parts for the most part. But, for nine K, I think that is a pretty sweet buy.

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  4. geomechs geomechs Member

    I’m going to bet that this one is powered by a 228. Much sturdier than the 216 in the Chevy counterpart. The 228 can be a little pricey to rebuild compared to a Chevy 235. Still possible. Lots of rust to deal with. It’s really unfortunate that they feel that they’ve got to use so damned much salt on the roads. I guess I’m spoiled in that in the Chinook Belt there are a lot of winters when the salt trucks aren’t even started. That helps us out a lot. However, this truck is worth saving. One day I might be tempted to take on a project this extensive….

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  5. Ck

    We all keep saying how rare these are and yet they keep showing up here on barn finds.It also seems like every one knows someone who has one ,or where one is including me .It makes me chuckle. I’m chuckling rite now.

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  6. Ck

    Huh Chuckle what an old timey word.

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  7. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Well, some one is going to save it. Sold for $3,100.00. 11 bids.

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