Rides from the Readers: 1953 GMC 100 panel van

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Brad Shirakawa

Hagerty readers and Hagerty Drivers Club members share their cherished collector and enthusiast vehicles with us via our contact email, tips@hagerty.com. We’re showcasing some of our favorite stories among these submissions. To have your car featured, send complete photography and your story of ownership to the above email address.

Today’s featured ride is a 1953 GMC 100 panel van. Though these trucks shared their gearboxes and suspension with their Chevrolet siblings, GMC could claim to have the burlier offering thanks to a reinforced frame and a beefier powertrain. In 1950, for example, GMC offered a 228-cubic-inch six-cylinder as the base engine for its half-ton (100 series) trucks; bare-bones Chevrolet trucks made the most of a 216-cubic-inch six. (Each OEM did offer larger powerplants, however.) In 1954, the year after today’s featured truck, GMC’s 100, 150, and 250 series trucks dropped the base 228-cu-in motor for a 248-cu-in six-cylinder that made 125 hp.


This particular ’53 panel truck belongs to Nick Dounias, who’s affectionately named it “Ugly Truck.” Dounias originally bought the truck to haul his motorcycles and then invested three years wrestling it back to running and driving condition.

“It has emerged from my garage as an oil-leaking, smoke-belching, eardrum-rattling, bumpy-riding, wandering-steering, streetable vehicle,” Dounias writes. “And those are the good points!” Rather than spend time restoring the truck’s wonderfully patina’d exterior, Dounias opted to install air conditioning. It sports a period-correct 302-cubic-inch inline-six, spruced up via fuel injection and electronic ignition, mated to a modern five-speed transmission with overdrive.

Long live the Ugly Truck!

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