Solid Engineering: 1951 GMC Hauler

One of the great attractions of the rat rod scene is the fact that the vehicles not only come in all shapes and sizes but the people who build them demonstrate some pretty fertile imaginations. This 1951 GMC 1-Ton Truck began life as a fire-fighting appliance but has now been transformed into something very different that should provide some pretty respectable performance. It is located in Portland, Oregon, and is listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding on this custom classic has now reached $10,000, but the reserve hasn’t been met.

The GMC is a pretty solid old vehicle, and the only rust of any note is an area in the rear corner of the cab on the driver’s side. This is a pretty common occurrence, and repair patches for this are available. There is plenty of surface corrosion, but this is all part of the great look of the vehicle. The next owner would probably find it tempting to apply a satin clear coat to retain the vehicle’s great look. The GMC is fitted with all new tinted glass, along with all new window seals. About the only weakness with the Truck is the fact that due to the fact that it rides so low, the rear bumper can drag on certain sloping surfaces such as driveways. That is something that will need to be addressed sooner rather than later, because the owner supplies this YouTube video, and the bumper can be heard scraping on a driveway with a relatively shallow approach.

The interior of the GMC is a bit of a blank canvas on which the next owner can place their own mark. The steering column and seats are newer, but the upholstery on the seats doesn’t match the rest of the interior. It could be left as it is, but I personally would want to make some changes to bring some consistency to the interior. The other reason that I would do this would be to make the Pickup a bit quieter inside when driving. With the open sections on the doors, combined with the fact that there is no headliner, it does appear to be a bit noisy inside. Still, it comes down to personal taste, and you might watch the YouTube video and decide that you could live with it as is. One thing that I would probably want to change is the gauges. I don’t mind what is there, but the look just isn’t quite right. AutoMeter makes a couple of different series gauge sets with a more vintage look, and swapping to them eventually would be a tempting proposition.

Making the Truck more civilized to live with on a daily basis, it now rides on a 1979 Chevy 1-ton dually chassis. This has had the ride height dropped, giving the GMC a pretty tough stance. Powering the Truck is a 454ci V8, while you also get a TH400 transmission, power steering, and power brakes. The YouTube clip shows the GMC being driven, and it all looks to be pretty effortless and impressive. The engine sounds really strong, and it appears as though it has no nasty vices or problems. I get the impression that it is a vehicle that could be used on a daily basis with no real hassles.

What a great vehicle. I have to say that I really like this one, and it looks like the conversion work has been performed to a fairly high standard. One of the great attractions is that it is a vehicle that provides old world charm with more modern practicality. The hard engineering work has all been done, and now it is simply a matter of the next owner taking the time to finish it to their own taste. If you bought it, what would you do to finish it off?


  1. mpower

    I would add a/c and finish off the interior to make it more livable. It’s definitely and nice hauler, might add air bags to help with inclines.

    Like 7
    • Dave

      Yes! A/C and some kind of tailgate.

  2. Carter T

    Needs half ton front fenders. Look at the rear wheel opening vs the front wheel opening.

    Like 4
    • Jon

      Actually I would exchange the half ton rear fenders for 3/4 ton fenders. Would be more proportionate to those tall and longer bed sides.

  3. Gaspumpchas

    Yea Carter the front wheel looks like its off an RCH or 2, but the build is really cool and original. I’d bet the builder has more than the 10 large in it that its sitting at right now. Could definitely have some fun with this jimmy. Good luck to the new owner!!

    Like 2
  4. JOHN Member

    I dig it!!!

    Like 3
  5. geomechs geomechs Member

    Looking at this truck I have to agree with the builder—to a point. I would have left it a little higher. The 454 is a good choice for pulling power and the power train is bulletproof. Then there’s the other half of me that would’ve stuck with the original driveline; the basic six would do everything I wanted it to…

    Like 7
    • Richard Ochoa

      Correct! The GMC had a Great strong 6 banger!!!!! Go ORIGINAL!!!!

    • Mountainwoodie

      Personally, too bad its been bastardized………just saying….

      Like 2
  6. canadainmarkseh

    I’d re sculpt the back I think it would look better with less back swing. It would also solve the scraping problem. I also agree that the front fenders are wrong and the wheel arch is a bit big. I also think it would look fantastic painted and restored to it former glory. This truck would look great red with black fenders and gold pinstripes. The modern chassis is ok but I would have just modernized the old chassis with the power steering, auto transmission and big block engine. The front brakes could also have been converted to disc. The ride could also have been modified to give a better ride. Nice old truck.

    Like 4
  7. Rube Goldberg Member

    Well, I think they were on the right track, except halfway through, someone showed up with a suitcase of beer. If finished properly, rather than this “old beater” look, could have been a nice truck. With that rear portion, it’s just a crummy job. I think it says a lot about our society today if this is what’s cool.

    Like 4
    • John

      I think it says a lot about our society that people think what they like is the definition of cool. Where’s your one-ton build?

      Like 3
  8. Mike

    Was a BaT auction item last week. Bids only reached $7,000.

    Like 1
  9. bobhess bobhess Member

    I like it. Ride height is just right but I’d put a good paint job on it. Would also take off the rear bumper but wouldn’t change anything else.

    Like 2
    • PatrickM

      I agree with the paint. I think the 454 is too much. A good 350 would do most any job.

      Like 3
  10. Tom Bell

    Became a candidate for the cutting torch when the “builder” got to it.

    Like 1
  11. Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

    Needs a couple bikes tied down in the bed, like a H-D Panhead and a scrambler Matchless G50…

    Like 12
    • geomechs geomechs Member

      Yes a couple of bikes would dress that up real good. You mentioned a couple of good examples. Matchless is a name I haven’t heard in a long time…

      Like 3
      • Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

        Geomechs, a Matchless G80 (like the one on my BF icon) is an image etched into my brain. As a 14 year old kid with a paper route covering about 5 square miles, I’d graduated from a Western Auto Schwinn knockoff to a Honda 50. I thought it was a cool but lusted for an S90 Honda until the day I rode up to the apartment complex and saw this huge black bike menacingly parked in front of the last complex, tied with what appeared to be the anchor chain from the USS Missouri to the upstairs support post like a junkyard dog straining at the leash. I stopped and stared, awestruck by the sheer mass of this mechanical monster with its knobby tires cut-down fenders and a cylinder head the size of a steam locomotive piston, when the apartment door opened and a guy in his 20’s with a pack of Camels rolled up in the left sleeve of his white tee shirt walks out in black knee-high lineman boots with an arm in the sleeve his black Langlitz-type leather jacket. He stopped short and looked suspiciously at this goofy kid on a red Honda 50 (wearing a couple newspaper bags) looking at his bike. But before he could say anything I said “Holy cow! What is THAT?” He replied “Uh, a Matchless 500..” to which I responded “FIVE HUNDRED CC’s!!??!!? WOW!!!” The guy looked at me coolly as he unlocked the toaster-size Master lock, wrapped the chain across his right shoulder and chest then stood the bike up as he pulled out the kickstart lever. He straddled the seat fiddled with the carb then jumped 6 feet in the air coming down on the Kickstarter; the erupting cacophonous roar could have been heard in the surrounding States let alone throughout the city. As he rode off the sidewalk (without a helmet!) with a two-fingered wave at me the eruption of endorphins exploding in my young brain made me realize I had to have a bigger bike as soon as I could.
        At least that’s how I remember it, anyway…
        Never could afford a G80 but came close when I found and restored a 1951 B50 I found in a herd of Hudson’s at a friends house which led me to me Dick Mann (THE Triumph rider of the decades, and a truly class act) who was also a Hudson fan, but that’s whole ‘nother story for another time.

        Like 18
      • leiniedude leiniedude Member

        Great story Nevadahalfrack! You should be writing for Barn Finds!

        Like 8
      • Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

        Thank you, leiniedude, but the BF editors not only do an outstanding job with their writings they have vastly more expertise and experience than I at their jobs-especially in collecting all the pertinent info around the web regarding any sort of transportation device and the history therein, a CRITICAL part of ANY subject matter.
        On the telling of tales, that may be another matter, however…😆

        Like 3
    • Stu Preston Member

      Nevadahalftrack, wow, the reference to Langlitz Leathers really takes me back. I remember Ross Langlitz telling me back in the 70s that Bates Leathers and some other leather motorcycle clothing purveyor had approached him about doing something for them. Ross refused because they both wanted to use nylon thread and he would only use cotton. He said the nylon would eventually cut through the leather at the stitching. He and his family went on to produce some of the finest tailor-made leathers available. Last I knew they were still in business: the third generation!

      Like 2
      • Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

        Very cool, Stu! One of the very best leather jackets I ever owned was a second-hand Langlitz jacket I traded for in the ‘80’s as a guy needed a cheap Hodaka headlight. It was too long in the sleeves I thought until I realized it covered my hands; when I rode to college (CL450 CHOPPER-don’t at night and came home in 10* weather it blocked the wind better than my USAF surplus leather gloves with wool inserts!
        I got rid of it many years later, as Global Warming was beginning to show its hand when I tried the jacket on one day and it was too tight, as it had apparently shrunk: excessive heat (or was that too much to eat? I dunno..)

        Isn’t it GREAT to see some of the old icons still survive, as you said RE: the 3td generation of leather jacket artists!
        Thanks for the info, Stu. I’d of like to have thanked Ross for making such an incredible and essential article of motorcycle wear.
        “We don’t quit riding because we got too old-we got old because we too quit riding!!”
        Ditto with cars!

        Like 3
  12. Rx-7 TurboII

    Love the Honda Civic front seats….isn’t that a federal crime to mix imports with American cars? Lol!
    Nice truck though! I love the look and stance.

    Like 3
  13. DougJ

    Ugh. More “patina”, aka someone that doesn’t want to spend the coin to do it RIGHT. Paint the d@mn thing already. So sick of this whole rat rod / patina movement…

    Like 10
    • PDXBryan

      Ugh. So sick of that whole “gazillion bucks on a paint job that’ll make me scared to use the damn thing” movement….

      I’ve seen this truck “live” and it’s damn cool. The seller’s (a great guy) got a couple other “ratty” trucks from the same builder. They’re all really well built and drive great. And if you don’t like the patina thing….avert your eyes.

      Old guys get weird about trucks: I drove my old Toyota farm truck (actual WORKING farm) to the truck stop for gas. Old guy walks up and earnestly asks me “don’t you ever wash yer truck?” “No” I said. With a look of total disgust, he stomped away.

      Like 3
      • Mountainwoodie

        Great looking body too bad its been bastardized….:)

        Like 2
    • geomechs geomechs Member

      We all know that ‘Patina’ is an old Indian word meaning: Lazy Bodyman. You can paint these quite economically. I’ve painted motorcycles in the driveway and I know people who painted their entire car in the driveway, with very favorable results.

      Like 1
  14. Lynelle

    I am absolutely impressed…That engine and transmission sounds and drives like new.Doesn’t sound like any compression problems either.I think a new career in towing would be appropriate for this beast..Only thing is it may need a suspension checkup especially for a wheel alignment. That steering wheel seems to be leaning a little more to the left than it should…I think that an enterprising young person with about $5000 to spend could get this great example back to the original specs in and out.Good luck to the new owner.

    Like 1
  15. Little_Cars

    To make this one less “show” and more “go” utility-wise, the build should have included the larger REAR fenders to accommodate higher profile truck tires. Keep the front fenders and fill with proper higher profile truck tires as well and nevermind the scraping of the rear on certain inclines.

    Like 1
  16. John

    Truck and pickup are not capitalized.

    Like 1
  17. K.B.Roadsend

    What would I do to finish off the abomination you ask ?
    I would part it out there might be enough there to help build a real 51 GMC and real 79 Chevy should anyone have such a desire
    Cant say I have ever seen pick up rear fenders used on a fire apparatus such as this It does look rather odd with the “big” truck fenders on the front and pick up fenders on the rear sized for nothing larger than a 17 inch wheel they hardly match up to the front end designed for 20s.Its a wonder there is anything left in this country as the 6s of the day just could not get there fast enough.We have a 42 GMC firetruck…..Yes 42 loaded with chrome .With a full load of 500 gallons of water its not what one would call fast but when is the last time you saw one of the $750,000 monstrosities they build today running full out,Around our home town they spend most of their time sitting idle at the grocery store making a food run.
    Whats the purpose in having a piece of automotive history if you want to make it like something else

    Like 1
  18. Jay E.

    I’d take off the 18 inches of bed between the rear bumper and the fender. Other than that I’d just enjoy it.

    Like 1
  19. g Wentzell

    Asking 10 large for something to ‘personalize’ is too much. If one has replaced the platform/drivetrain, why not add air conditioning? Why leave the interior partially done? Why leave the hooks on the side from the ladder/hoses? (sure, you could use them for tie – downs in the bed)The back end – sacrificing practicality for “looks”? If the back end scrapes going up a hill or driveway – so much ‘nope’.
    Which brings me back to the asking price, way too much to finish this for what the seller desires. If it fits “You”, go for it.

    Like 1

      The seller has not set a price of $10,000.00 for this truck. The seller started the bidding at $1.951.00. It took 7 different bidders placing 29 bids to get the price up to $10,000.00.

      Like 1
  20. Rickster

    Looks like the seller’s listed its cousin too.

    Like 1
  21. Dennis M

    Have not read all the comments, so apologize if this was pointed out before.

    This looks like a truck that was built for the fire department competitions on Long Island in the ’50’s and ’60’s. They may still be doing it.

    Like 1
    • Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

      Very cool!!!! Elaborate please, Dennis M. Is that similar to the competitions wherein the challenged department(s) show up with their best and baddest pumper engines to hose the 50 gallon barrel across the overhead cable (as in a hydraulic tug of war in reverse)??! If it is, they used to do that sort of thing here too in Virginia City (after the Cartwrights left, I guess..LOL),with a sundry of agencies in play. It was a hoot.

      Like 1

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