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So Many Options: 1963 GMC Fire Truck

left rear

This fire truck listed on eBay in Peach Springs, Arizona has some interesting possibilities. It was an L.A. fire truck and has been owned by the seller’s family since 1981. The listing says the carburetor is removed, but it’s clearly installed in the pictures. Because it’s a GMC, parts are much easier to find than some of the other fire engines we’ve seen.


One could, of course, scrap the body and make this into a flatbed or box truck. Wouldn’t it make a cool car hauler? Perhaps the tank could be removed and the tool boxes and sides left in place when creating a flatbed. What ideas do you have for this classic GMC?


  1. jaygryph

    They corrected the ad to say that the aircleaner and carb are there. :)

    Would make a heck of a ramp truck, or a tilt deck tow truck if you could find an 80’s or 90’s wrecker tilt deck to graft onto it. Would be way cooler than all the 84 F350 ramp trucks running around.

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  2. Dave Wright

    I learned to drive with a truck like this. It has the GMC only V6 that is a very good engine but not as easy for parts as a typical Chevrolet. My dad had a fleet of them before moving to Internationals. One of my mechanic buddies had a customer recently that needed one to replace the worn out one in his GMC pickup. The pickup engine was of the same family but was a 305 cubic inch instead of the 351 that is in this as I remember. I found him a good low mileage engine out of a truck that was being made into a hotrod so it was replaced with a small block. 300.00 for a complete 35,000 mile engine, not bad…..but the rebuilder wanted something like 4,000 to rebuild his orignal. These are well built engines that have heavy forged cranks, rods, pistons……it was a real truck engine. It was also the basis for the GMC 702 cubic inch V12 that I have been lusting to find for use as a hotrod engine.

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    • Dave Wright

      This truck also appears to have 10 lug wheels which is a real advantage over the common 6 lug heavy wheels used on these trucks. You can still buy great custom aluminum wheels for the 10 lug axles……a set of Alcoa’s would be wonderful. My dads trucks had 2 speed rear ends that were pretty nessisary to get highway speeds while still having the access to low gears for pulling heavy loads.

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  3. Mark S

    Back in the early 90’s I worked as a mechanic on a school bus fleet up here in Calgary Canada that still had a few of these left in there fleet. It’s true that they are a tough engine, but ours were in 66 passengers buses running on propane. They my be tough and reliable but they were also gutless they could hardly pull themselves, no danger of a speeding that was for sure.

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    • Dave Wright

      I have owned and operated some propane powered trucks as well, it takes 20% of the normal power away and gets way less fuel economy too boot……many propane fueled vehicles were not designed to use it from the factory and were really bad. I had a little IHC cab over tractor with a good MV404 V8, it was designed and geared to use gas, but was changed to Propane by the truck company that owned it. It wouldn’t pull 1/2 of its designed load capacity and I think we measured the fuel burn at 1 1/2 Miles per gallon. Terrible stuff.

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  4. Mark S

    Hi Dave the thing was they were very hard on the heads on propane being a dry fuel it would cause the valve to recess into the head. The Cure was hardened seat inserts and sodium cooled valves. The motivation in Calgary was fuel price sometime as much as $0.60 a litre less than gas.

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    • Dave Wright

      Yes………I remember the hard valve seats and sodium cooled valves. International came with them in normal engines. I don’t remember if the GMC’s did as well, but I would not be surprised if these truck engines did. It didn’t take the government long here in the US to assign road tax to propane used on the highway. Propane is still a bit cheeper but the loss of fuel economy more than overcomes the savings in fuel costs. I’ve fact is…..both Diesel and gasoline contain more energy per gallon than Propane. So a gallon to gallon comparison will never work. The guy in the ad says the engine is a 305 but I don’t believe it……..in this heavy a truck I would bet it is a 351. They are difficult to tell apart.x

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  5. Mark S

    I remember that a lot of peaple tried dual fuel set ups the carb would rattle to pieces than flood when you went back to gas, but the big problem was that the advance curve for timing propane is different than gas. If set right they would pull pretty good on propane, higher base timing with lower total advance.The bus line that worked for used straight propane on GM 366 industrial engine and IH 401’s

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  6. JW454

    You should assume there is no clutch or brake operation as the master cylinder is disconnected. I don’t think that is the correct type duel unit master cylinder for this truck. Anyone know for sure?

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