07 April 2014
1954 GMC Suburban
More pictures of my old truck
From Cletis :
First, let me give you a little background. My passion for 1954 GMCs came about quite by coincidence some 30 years ago.
At that time, I was driving a 1955.1 Chevrolet and I found out a friend of mine had a derelict 1954 GMC 100 series pickup parked in his woods. I asked if I could take a look to see if it had any parts I could use. One look at that beautiful dash and I was hooked. I had to have that truck.
I bought the old truck but due to some personal events, the truck sat another 20 years before I could start on it. I still have it and am still working on it ... it isn't finished. The engine, chassis, and the like are done. It needs bodywork.
I really got started on the GMC after I retired ... so I thought. I soon came across a deal on a 1956 3100 Chevy I couldn't turn down. I figured I'd play with it while finishing the GMC, then sell it. The '56 looked really nice with fresh Re-sale Red paint but was lipstick on a pig. But I'm getting off topic. You'll need to read THAT story on the '56 page!
Back to the '54. We were having big fun with the '56, and the dogs loved riding in it. But, besides the wife worrying the dog would fall out, they were scratching up the bed rails because they had to ride with their paws on it and their ears flapping in the wind. (It's a dog thing Cletis! ~ Editor) I said, "When I get that '54 done, they won't be riding in it and scratching up the new paint."
Then the idea hit me. We need a Suburban ... and, of course, it had to be a '54 GMC.
So the search began. I checked all the internet sites. I kept a look out on my motorcycle rides over half the back roads of Texas and surrounding states. I found plenty of Suburbans but no '54 GMCs.
This went on for a couple of years before finally finding this one on a back road in Colorado in 2008. I was on a motorcycle trip with my son and told him I had a feeling this was the trip that I'd find my Suburban on.
It was sitting as yard art with an Airstream trailer behind it on a tree farm. We stopped and talked to the guy and made him an offer. He agreed but he had to check with his brother in California who was half owner.
I left my phone number and a few days later he called to say his brother wouldn't let it go for that. I was disappointed and discouraged but decided that wasn't my 'Burb. I kept on looking.
One year later, I was back in Colorado and since it was on one of my favorite roads, I passed by there again. Oh no. There is the Airstream ... where is the Suburban? I had to stop and ask.
Whew! There it sat, behind the house. The owner explained that someone had bought the trailer and wanted the Suburban, too but his offer wasn't high enough. After I heard it run, I made the right offer. It was double what I offered the year before.
Mrs. Cletis and the dogs and I went to pick it up with the trailer. It drove on the trailer but I had to tie a rope to the brake pedal to pull it back up after pumping the brakes.
The first order of business was a complete brake replacement with power front discs. I also installed a later '50s SM319 overdrive transmission and a '55.1 open drive line.
I had new wheels put on stock centers and had new tires put on it.
It had ragged diamond tuck seat covers but underneath was the stock upholstery. I sent samples to SMS Fabrics and they made material to match it exactly. I had the front and rear seats re-upholstered and run the rear seat in the center position so the dogs can ride in the back.
I found papers in the glovebox stating the stock 248 engine was rebuilt in 1985. Every gasket and seal on it leaked so I expected it to be pretty worn out.
I pulled the engine and opened it up and it looked brand new. I replaced all the gaskets and seals and re-installed it. With the overdrive, it will run 70-75 all day long. I installed a Pertronix ignition so I don't have to file points every 1,000 miles.
My first trip in it was to Tucson and Phoenix in January of 2010. Over 2200 miles with no problems. It has since been driven over 20,000 miles, including trips to South Bend, IN, El Reno, OK and Kansas City, MO twice.
In addition to the out of state trips, it completed the 1000 mile Lone Star Loop two years in a row. It was also driven to dozens of car shows around the Dallas / Fort Worth Metroplex as well as small town shows in Hico, Hamilton, Graham, and others. (In Cletis' Photobucket, he's got pictures from a lot of the places he's traveled ... with the wife, trucks, bikes, dogs, etc. Fun to look at! ~ Editor)
Hard to imagine from looking at it but it even has brought home over a dozen trophies.
Cletis has his 1953 Chevy 6100 "Yard Dog" that entered the Gallery in November 2004. What are you talking about "not as nice as some others?" Our favorite trucks are the workin' kind ... this truck is beautiful ... earns her keep!
In August 2007, Cletis added his 1956 Chevy 1/2-Ton Stepside to the Gallery -- as we all prepared for the great Kansas City 3rd Annual Stovebolt Reunion (and Cletis gets some a/c in the '56 for the trip!). Cletis did a great Feature story on that big event -- the Reunion, not the air conditioner.
In April 2014, Cletis added his 1954 GMC Suburban to the Gallery, with some neat video! We got to see her in person when Cletis and June drove her to the Kansas City Reunion in 2012.
Cletis has an entire site of his own: TRUCKS -- "This web site came about from my love of old trucks. I have a bunch of old Chevy and GMC trucks but I like all old trucks, old cars, old machines, etc. It started as a place to store pictures I wanted to share with my friends at The Stovebolt Page." That is pretty cool (some good stuff, too).
Cletis has done several tech tips for the site:
In 2007, Cletis came aboard to help moderate the General Truck forum, doing a great job we might add! ~ Editor
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