01 February 2014
1951 GMC Suburban
From Lisa :
I suppose I was in about third or fourth grade when I realized that I really liked cars. My Dad and Brother were always working on cars and it all fascinated me. I wanted to know more about how they worked. And ... well, I was a tomboy.
While I was in high school in Los Angeles, they were offering occupational classes -- automotive repair was one of them. I thought it would be a good idea for me to take the class so that when I got a car, I would know if a mechanic was taking me to the cleaners or not. I probably wouldn't even know what he was talking about. Well, after ONE CLASS in the shop class, I was hooked on the whole scene.
Back in the day (as we all say), you were able to get a driving permit at 15 -- and so I did (pretty easy to get back then, too). I was working part time and a neighbor had a 1964 Ford Monterey he wanted to get rid of. He only wanted $200 but that was a lot of money for a high school kid. That car was truly a "Fix Or Repair Daily" vehicle ... but I loved it! It had plenty of mechanical problems and it gave me a lot of practice.
While in college, I purchased my second old car, a 1950 Pontiac Silver Streak. I had a friend who had a Pontiac and I rode in his car and I liked all the chrome and the way it rode. He had a friend who was selling one on consignment. It was a fastback and it looked good, but it needed quite a bit of work.
The shop instructors were always looking for vehicles to work on and I told them I had one! I was able to bring the car to high school and work on it as project.
A lot of people helped me with that "project." We restored it from the frame up at school, and in my spare time. I had a lot of help from friends and family, too. There was so much satisfaction in seeing the old car come back to life.
In the auto hobby class, they did cover body work. I was there for four semesters and mid-year, they changed subjects. We learned paint. But things were so different back then. We had basic paint - acrylic enamel, synthetic enamel, and acrylic lacquer. It took a number of things to get the paint shiny. Most cars were painted with a choice of just three colors.
When I started my career after college, I sold my old cars and dedicated my life to my career and my three wonderful kids.
The love for the old cars remained. Now that my kids are all grown up, I decided to get back into the hobby.
In October of 2011, I purchased my first old truck. It's a 1951 GMC Suburban. It has a GMC 218, straight six with a four speed transmission.
I found the GMC in the LA Auto Trader newspaper. I just happened to be breezing through the paper and I saw it listed. It looked all there and was all original.
I telephoned the guy and he said I was the first person to call. But he said the first person to get there with money, gets the truck! Well, I got over there that day!
The vehicle was a daily driver for the previous owner and he took really good care of it. He had parked it for the previous three months because he could not drive any more -- he was having problems with his eyesight.
The 'Burb was all original as he said. As a daily driver, he kept it well maintained! (The first thing I did when I got it home was to change the oil. Well, the oil was clean. He said later that he had changed the oil before he "parked" it.)
The Suburban has the original paint. It was oxidized (see the photo taken the day I purchased it) and we just polished it. It had been sitting in a three acre field in the high desert of California. So, I knew it wouldn't have any cancer. That was the first thing I checked out when I looked at the truck. The sheet metal was so clean. I couldn't believe it had been sitting out. There was not a single bit of rust anywhere. That was a huge selling point for me.
I re-wired the entire vehicle. I put in the "old style" new wire. It looks old on the outside but it is new wiring on the inside.
I have a friend in a car club and he helped me with lots of stuff but I've always been there doing it myself ... not necessarily BY myself! My friend knew a lot of the tricks to make things work.
I changed all the fluids. Then we changed the points and adjusted the timing. pulled out the generator and installed an alternator. We converted it all to 12 volts. That took me a while but I worked with my local NAPA guy and he told me exactly what to do and what parts I needed. I kept wondering if what I was doing was right.
Once I got all that electrical stuff done, I was so excited because it all worked!
I have one son and two daughters. My Son is always willing to help. My neighbor has a a lot of friends who are mechanics and work in the industry. I hang out with them and get lots of advice and help from them. Some of the stuff is heavy and dirty work and they love it! I am not afraid to do the work but I need help. Sometimes I just need someone for extra umpf. Like, those lug nuts were so tight, I needed help just to get them loose!.
This is one good-looking Suburban. Lisa's truck is in the 2014 Panels & Burbs calendar. Naturally. ~ Editor
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