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1954 GMC Longbed 1/2-Ton

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  Owned by Don Riske
Cheyenne, WY
28 April 2008
# 2308

From Don :

           Here is a picture of my 1954 GMC longbed 1/2-ton in line at Bonneville (pulling my friendís D Street Roadster). It has a 1960 235 Chevrolet engine, a 1980 T-5 Borg Werner 5-speed transmission and a 1980 Blazer rear end, bucket seats from a VW Rabbit and a number of other changes from the original.

           I am a 62 year old attorney in Cheyenne, Wyoming. As a young man, I worked with my brother in building a chopped 1934 Ford pickup with a 1951 Mercury flathead which I then drove to high school. After that, I built a 1928 Ford pickup and a 1954 Chevrolet hardtop that I drove to college.

           The music bug caught me and I traded vehicles for banjos and didnít do any hot rodding while raising a family and practicing law.

           In about 2000, I started looking for an old pickup to just have to haul stuff. I watched eBay for months and then a friend of mine, who collects old cars and races at Bonneville, had a 1951 GMC pickup. He sold it on eBay before I learned that he was selling it, but the GMC pickup bug had bitten me. I have always liked the look of the GMC pickup front end over the Chevy. So I started looking seriously on eBay and finally found this truck in Portland, Oregon.

           I emailed the seller and got information. I bid and won the auction. In December 2002, I flew to Portland, bought the truck and drove it home to Cheyenne. The seller was in the business of purchasing wrecked motor homes, restoring them and then reselling them. He found this truck at an auction. It had been in a wreck and the passenger side front fender, running board and rear fender had been crunched. He fixed it up in his shop and then posted it on eBay.

           The truck had gone through some prior restorations before the seller got it and was pretty solid and rust-free.

           The engine is a 1960 Chevrolet 235. I made the trip to Cheyenne (1200 miles) through a snow storm in eastern Oregon and then across Idaho to Utah and then across Wyoming. On a clear December afternoon, as I was driving across Idaho, the speedometer turned over from 100,000 miles back to zero. The truck and I celebrated by honking the horn for a short while.

           Several miles later, the speedometer started going wild and then quit all together (planned obsolescence!).

           The truck is a longbed 1/2-ton. I havenít seen many of those around.

           Back in Cheyenne, I started driving the truck to work everyday (with a new speedometer). After about 4,000 miles, the front u-joint started to fail. My friend recommended that, rather than just fix the u-joint, we pull the old 4-speed and rear end and put in a modern tranny and rear end to get some highway speed.

           We installed an S-10 5-speed (T5) transmission and a 1980 Chevrolet rear end from a salvage yard. We had to move the rear mounts up 2Ē to keep the wheels in the rear fenders. I found a drive shaft from a 1980 Chevrolet truck that ended up fitting perfectly. Very soon afterward, the oil pressure had gone to zero. So I had the engine completely rebuilt. I was back on the road with that set-up in 2005 when we all went to Bonneville to race my friendís D Street Roadster. (That roadster, by the way, is right behind Anthony Hopkins when he is arguing with the race officials about running his motorcycle in the movie The Worldís Fastest Indian).

           I was approached by members of Inliners International on the salt and invited to join them at the KOA Barbeque that year, but didnít make it down there. Here is a picture of the truck on the sale in 2005; and another. I added bucket seats from a VW rabbit and a new (vintage-style) radio. I had a new fuel tank installed below the rear of the bed and pulled the old tank from the cab.

           The truck made the 600 mile trip to Bonneville in 2007. The picture at the top of the page was from that trip.

           Starting with the winter of 2007-08, I have begun a restoration / rebuild of the truck. All the body panels are off and headed to the body shop. New aromatic cedar bed wood has been cut and is ready for installation. A new Fenton duel manifold and Fenton split headers are ready to be installed and then it will all go back together.

           As you can see, the truck has become a project and a labor of love. After a 40 year lay-off, I am really enjoying getting back into doing this.

           Thanks for your work in getting the Gallery together. I like to look at other trucks to get ideas for mine.

           This truck is a daily driver that brings great enjoyment.

           See you at Bonneville in 2008!


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