Wild Kustom? It’s Up to You: 1985 GMC Jimmy


Warning: this is not going to be a reasoned analysis of all things GMC Jimmy, so if your whole life is that truck, you’re probably not going to find this all that interesting. Rather, it’s a thought experiment that I hope will garner some interesting discussion in the Comments, and I’m starting the conversation because the assignment on this 1985 GMC Jimmy K1500 Sierra Classic true barn find has been sitting unclaimed for two days. I figure some of you might want to have some fun with chat about this truck, available here on eBay with a bid not quite at $1100. Jump soon, though, if a bid is your interest—the auction ends Monday for this Eagle, Idaho resident.

So what could you do with this full-frame vehicle, which has no engine nor trans and is “not regularly driven.” No kidding? With no powertrain? Other revealing ad language informs us that it “does not work.” No comment. Aside from having no mechanical guts, this truck, with 85K on the odometer, is a dusty-musty mess inside and needs upholstery at the least. Still, that brings us to our first possibility: restore it to stock. Let’s assume that the white paint at the bottom is original two-tone and not some kind of primer job covering massive rot. The truck unfortunately has bad surface rust on the hood, but you could repaint the  blue, shine up the white, and have the Jimmy looking like 1985 again.

What to do regarding an engine? That’s where possibility two comes in. Why bother trying to source an engine from the era? Just talk to one of those aforementioned Jimmy experts and figure out who sells a kit to install a RWD 454-CID GM engine, and drop one in. The only problem would come if you live in an emissions state, like California, because you’d be subject to 1985-or-newer emissions regs if so. But think about it—you’d be catching the trend nowadays of resto-modding trucks. It’s no coincidence that trucks of all sorts, led of course by Broncos, are now selling for insane money at auction.

The final idea: What about some kind of George Barris-style Kustom? The late, great George had to start somewhere, and I can see him taking a blank canvas like this and making it into (put on your young-person-pop-culture hat here) the truck that Gru would drive. After all, that Gru  fellow has his own origins movie, out now. What would a Minion-ized 1985 Jimmy look like? Once you figure that out, do it to this truck. After, all, if Barris could make the Kustoms he did, you can start the next generation. In short, this is a truck that has multiple possibilities, depending on how much imagination you want to throw at it.


  1. Evan

    I can only think of 2 possible reasons why the engine/trans are gone:
    1) the powertrain was the best part of this thing, and somebody bought the whole truck, yanked the goodies for their project car, and let the rest sit, or
    2) the engine and trans dies, the owner yanked them for a rebuild and then forgot.

    If you’re the type of person who has an engine/trans hanging around and you live nearby, great. But if you live someplace where rust is an issue, this is gonna cost a ton of money to get it to the rust belt.

    Like 1
  2. Cam W.

    Based on the VIN, this truck came with the notoriously bad 5 litre (305)V8. That is likely why the engine is out. The rest of the truck actually looks promising, and if it were local, I would be interested.
    This truck was well-equipped, with power windows, locks, A/C, and sliding rear side-windows etc. If the rest of the truck holds no major (bad) surprises, I think it would be a nice project. I would build it back mostly stock, but upgrade to a warmed-over 350. The interior actually looks relatively decent, and would respond well to new seat-covers, and front carpet.
    At current prices, this truck is worth restoring.
    I went to look at a light blue ’87 Jimmy a few weeks ago. Guy told me it was a solid, well-equipped project. It had a 305 that kinda ran, but wouldn’t stop due to rotted brake lines. He was asking $3,500 for it. It had: smashed grill, broken windshield, split dash, complete floor was rotten with holes, smashed rear window, crushed tailgate, and a fist-size chunk torn out of the fiberglass roof. Undercarriage was badly rusted too. It turned out to be a base model with few options. Guy said interior was “mint”….until mice got it!
    I drove home empty-handed. Guy called me a few days later, lowering the price, but I politely told him he barely had a parts-truck.

    Like 6
    • Brian Kennedy Staff

      Thanks for this well-informed comment. I was hoping we’d hear from someone with this level of knowledge! I’m wondering what the value is–nice ones online are around $30K, I think, and that’s partly a function of the fact that trucks and classic SUVs have gone way up of late.

      Like 1
  3. bull

    The engine and transmission were the weak link in these trucks from the git go.

    What’s far more important than the engine/transmission is the condition of the body. There are lot’s of good original interior parts available when you start looking.

    1. Everyone that fools with old cars can do mechanics.

    2. Everyone that fools with old cars has a friend or relative the does body or
    paint work.

    3. Everyone that fools with old cars knows that rust and body panel
    replacement is hard work that is expensive to replace and their friend or
    relative that is a body man does not want to or cannot do the metal work.

    IF you are going to buy a BIG PROJECT buy a good body first and foremost. You family will thank you in the long run!

    Like 4
  4. Troy

    Monster transmission website a trans is about $1900 a engine is just under $10k and your probably looking at a couple of thousand in the odds and ends stuff that it will need to get it running and driving. That is still way cheaper and better quality than this thing they are trying to pass off as a blazer today

    Like 1
    • Johnny

      You can look around and find complet vehicles–with good running gears for less then $1,000. These garages way over charge people. If this truck was hear on the east coat–I,d sale you a 84–4 wheel drive for $800. Put the motor and transmission in this GMC and your ready to go. People get in too big a hurry—when they have money burning a hole in their pocket.

      Like 3
  5. John M.Stecz

    Evan brought up a good point. I live in Pennsylvania and these blazers rotted out fast so if you had a rusty Blazer fully in tact this would be a good way to go,because solid body’s are hard to come by back East and nowadays the shipping charge would be over the moon

    Like 1
  6. John M.Stecz

    Yeah I know it’s not a Blazer but it’s the same vehicle,before I get reprimanded ,Happy 4th of July

  7. Poncho

    The two tone paint is correct for 1985. I had a 1985 two tone Jimmy, red white a white top and white on the bottom like this Jimmy. Mine was a low option truck with the 305 and a carb. Was good until I crashed into a bridge abutment which cut through the passenger side front bumper, radiator support and followed the inside frame rail. The fuel lines ran inside the frame rail and were sheared, dumping fuel steadily. Coincidentally the passenger side is also where the battery is located. Combine exploded battery with a steady stream of 93 octane (non ethanol) and we have a good fire going. Long story shorter, I bent the steering wheel with my face and got a broken jaw in the exchange. That being said, I walked away but the Jimmy completely burned. I saved the rear license plate and could have saved on tire. The rest was gone. That was my first Blazer/Jimmy. Now on my 5th 2 door. I now have two 1997 GMC Yukon GT 2 door rigs. I totaled 2 including the 1985 Jimmy and walked away. I’d say if I was driving lesser vehicles, I would have been dead back in the 90’s.

    • Ken Member

      You guys will probably think I’m crazy but I’d take this down, 1/2 ton suspension with a big block, 2 wheel drive.
      Make it a sleeper.
      You don’t see em anymore.

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