Rare Pickup: 1955 GMC Suburban Deluxe

It seems that the original owner of this 1955 GMC Suburban Deluxe liked their workhorse to come with a splash of luxury. That would help to explain a few of the comfort features, as well as the drivetrain combination. It will need some work before it graces our roads again, but that begs the question of what path the buyer might follow. It is structurally sound, so it could easily be driven as an original survivor. However, enough additional parts are included to make it a tempting restoration project. Located in Stillwater, Oklahoma, you will find the Suburban listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding has already sailed past the reserve and currently sits at $7,300.

The first thing to note about this Suburban is that it does appear to be essentially complete. All of the exterior trim and chrome is present, although some pieces will require restoration. It looks like the Pickup has led quite a colorful life, literally. We can see glimpses of its original Flame Red paint, but there have been several other shades to grace its panels over the years. However, it is surprising how little rust is present in this classic when we look beyond that. There is a small amount in the front floor, but this could be addressed with a patch. There is also some present in the rear of the cab near the back window that will demand the buyer’s attention. However, the owner includes another rear cab section which provides all of the correct steel to knock that problem on the head. The wheels look like they have recently been restored, and they wear a shiny set of genuine hubcaps and whitewall tires. The original owner ordered the Pickup with tinted glass, and this appears to be in excellent order.

The drivetrain is one of the features of this Suburban that makes it interesting. Buyers were offered a six-cylinder engine as the entry point, but the original owner chose to equip this one with the 287ci V8 that produced 180hp and an impressive 264 ft/lbs of torque. Buyers could also choose a 3-speed or 4-speed manual transmission, although this one opted for the 4-speed Hydramatic transmission. All of that power and torque would have made the Suburban an accomplished load carrier, but the automatic transmission would have made this chore a relaxed experience. It seems that this GMC doesn’t run, but the engine does turn freely. It might not take a lot of work to revive it, and if that’s the case, getting it back on the road could be a straightforward proposition.

Given the traces of Blue paint that we can see on the exterior and the color of this seat cover, I assume that someone had intended to refinish the Suburban in a different shade to its original Red. The seat upholstery looks perfect, and it would make a great starting point for an interior refurbishment. The painted surfaces will require attention, but that is one aspect that makes these classic pickups such attractive propositions as project vehicles. Dismantling the interior to the point where the buyer could apply fresh paint is not difficult, and with that work completed and a new rubber mat on the floor, this interior could look stunning while costing its owner peanuts. It appears that no items are missing, so the buyer isn’t going to be out of pocket there either. Luxury touches over your regular Suburban include dual sunvisors, armrests, and an ashtray. There is no radio, but the often-lost factory blanking plate remains intact.

Monitoring the health of the little V8 should not be an issue, thanks to the gauge cluster with the rare optional factory tachometer. The gauge fascia will require restoration, but it has no dings or dents. Once again, this should be a straightforward process that would produce satisfying results for the owner.

I don’t doubt that we will have readers who will look at this 1955 GMC Suburban Deluxe and see it as a prime candidate for a rat rod or custom build. I completely understand that, and I respect that view. However, before anyone contemplates such a move, I suggest that they take a moment to reflect on the rarity of these vehicles. The Suburban was produced in this form from 1955 until 1958, and build totals were not high. Sadly, the actual production records were destroyed many years ago, but various sources, including the GM Heritage Center, indicate that the total over those four years would’ve been around 1,000 vehicles. That already makes it a rare classic, while the drivetrain combination and the list of optional extras would push the stakes even higher. That is why I hope that someone buys this classic pickup and returns it to its former glory. I believe that it would be worth the time and effort, and the finished product would stand out for all of the right reasons.


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  1. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    One rare truck……wish I had seen it before it was listed…..at the reserve price. Someone will get a good deal on a rare truck !

    Like 3
  2. Snotty

    GMC’s answer to the Cameo? I agree with Adam, this truck has a lot goin for it. Build back the way it rolled of the assembly line in 55.

    Like 10
  3. local_sheriff

    If I understand it right this bed is basically the stepside bed with fiberglass outer skins? As much as I like this design I think GM could’ve improved it even further by adding a lean-forward tailgate matching the angle of the tailfins –
    however I do realize that would’ve required a modified bed layout + be a bulkier piece. What’s with the 8slot wheels at the rear…?

    Like 1
  4. Bob C.

    That 287 is actually a Pontiac v8 in its first year. GMC used them during this time.

    Like 8
    • Grease

      Wondered if 287 was a typo – learn something every day..!

      Like 2
  5. Vance

    Keep it original, great head on look, love the grill and bumper set up. I really like the gauge cluster, that machined look will clean up nicely. This is another rare bird that has to be restored to the way it rolled off the line. You can just see how great it will turn out, somebody is going to be very happy.

    Like 8
  6. bobhess bobhess Member

    That 4 speed Hydromatic is one of the best transmissions ever made. We used them, with aftermarket shift kits, behind our Olds drag/street motors. Great performance from them. Great looking trucks. Not a lot of them out there with the full up package like this one.

    Like 8
  7. Nomader 55

    This would be a great truck to restore. As the owner of a 57 Cameo and previous owner of three other Cameo’s and a 55 suburban, I see a lot of missing parts for the bed and rear bumper which are impossible to find due to low production. Still a beautiful truck.

    Like 3
  8. benjy58

    Great start on a restoration of a rare truck.

  9. Arthur L Cramp

    I have only seen one other of the 55’s with the Hydromantic and the V-8 TheV-8 the GM divisions were friendly Rivals! This is the only Cameo style I have seen. in a 55 GMC

  10. karl

    I’d be willing to bet no one special ordered this truck ; back then trucks were meant to be used as trucks ,and when you needed one it was right away, not months from now. I imagine this was a dealer ordered showroom truck , meant to draw customers in and away from other truck dealerships

    Like 5
  11. 427Turbojet 427Turbojet Member

    In high school I bought a ’56 GMC 3/4 ton with a swapped in 389 Pontiac and a 4 speed hydro. Had 4.88 gears and you could smoke the tires for as long as you wanted. It was a beautiful turquoise and cream, big back window, big toothy chrome grill. Could never get it to keep a battery charge, even put in a new generator – one day the owner of the shop I worked at told me that GMC was positive ground in ’56. I repolarized the generator and didn’t have to jump start it every time. Sold it when I went to college. Always loved the dashes in the GMCs, much better looking than the comparable Chevys.

    Like 2
  12. Dave

    When I was a kid we had GMC school buses of this vintage, and they had a vacuum gauge where the tach is on this one. Also, Preston Truck Lines had the big truck version of these, they were painted orange and black .

    Like 1
  13. BR

    Well, that tach was NOT a factory option. They were not even offered in the light duty trucks. This dashboard and instrument cluster was used in the entire truck line up, so there is going to be inconsistencies. The tach was standard equipment on all diesel powered trucks and those with the big gas engines. And it was not electronic, it was cable driven. Even the seller doesn’t appear to know better.

    Like 2
    • Howard A Member

      I gave you a thumbs up too quick and can’t remove it, stop blasting the authors! How many times must I say, the writers aren’t experts, they pick the vehicles from a long list, and may or may not know anything about it. That’s, I imagine, where the comments come in, to add or politely correct something the author may have missed.. As you rudely mentioned, this was an aftermarket tach, mostly a US item, and Adam may not have even seen one. While that space was for a tachometer in some trucks, the gas jobs more than likely had a vacuum or air pressure gauge there. With governors, a tach wasn’t really needed.
      I think you know a lot, but please, try and be more constructive with your comments, the authors are NOT idiots.

      Like 7
  14. timothy r herrod

    Saw one of these back in the late 70’s at 40 Acres Salvage Yard, thought it was something someone threw together but later i found out they made GMC’s with the pontiac motors. Also saw a 65 fairlane 4 door that had hi performance 289 fender tags on it but the motor was gone about the same time frame. The good old days of walking through salvage yards, wish i took pictures now

    Like 2
    • 86_Vette_Convertible

      I hear you on spending time in a salvage yard (hate the phrase junk yard). Had a cousin who had a classmate’s uncle that owned one. The uncle let us have the run of the yard and we went crazy salvaging parts and getting cars upgraded or repaired. Nothing was sacred in those days, if you could make it fit with a welder and torch, it was fair game. Weren’t even satisfied with keeping it within the same manufacturer or make. Planted Pontiac rearends into Chevy’s because they were stronger, Hemi’s into anything we could make room to get them to fit. There were companies back then that made things like engine adapters, solid motor plates and what we couldn’t afford to buy we made from scratch. Some worked, some were dismal failures but it was all fun.

      Like 2

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