Kevin F 1955 GMC Series 100 1/2 Ton 2dr Pickup

My 13 year old son and his love turning wrenches on this

In 2008 my son and I started looking for an old GMC truck to refurbish, In September of 2009 we found a truck on Craigslist. We drove little over an hour to the owner’s house and fell in love with the rusty blue / gray truck. My son, 9 years old at the time, was told he had to count out $2,500 and put it into Greg's hand to purchased this 1955.5 GMC 100 big window Hydramatic V8 pickup truck. We had to winch it onto a trailer to bring her home. Once we got her unloaded at home, we pulled the seat and started cleaning out all the rat dropping and crazy amount of debris left in the truck for who knows how many years of sitting aournd. After cleaning the inside, we put a milk crate in place of the seat, because the seat was so rusty and it was full of rat stuff and we decided not to reuse. We installed milk crate so my son could turn the key to crank the original Pontiac 288 V8 over. We changed all plugs and wires one for one, we drained all the old smelly gas and put in some fresh gas, changed the oil and filter, she cranked over but still had no gas getting to the original stromberg 2 barrel carb. We purchased a new/reman fuel pump on line and had to wait nearly 3 weeks for it to be delivered, after we installed the new fuel pump my son sitting upon his milk crate started cranking her over she tried to start spitting and sputtering….oh crunch the carb was pumping fuel everywhere, I was yelling to my son to KILL IT! I remember it like it was yesterday, he was looking at me like I lost my mind. I got him out of the truck and ran to the garage, got the fire extinguisher, not knowing if it was going up in smoke, it did not, thank god. We pulled the stromburg carb and took it to a local carb guy who did a fantastic job rebuilding it. Once we got the newly rebuilt carb on the truck, This time I kept the fire extinguisher next to me while my son started cranking the engine, she started but was running very rough, backfiring I had Richard turn off the truck so we could investigate the timing and plug wires, not knowing the problem and we did not have a manual so, back to ebay. We ordered one on line and again we had to wait several week for it to arrive. After we received the new/old manual we figured out the plug wires were installed incorrectly by the last guy who worked on the truck. After rotating the plug wires to their correct position. By now I was a bit gun shy and had that old fire extinguisher next to me ever time we tried starting her up, but this was the first time in who know how many years she ran beautifully, the smile on my sons face was so big it was priceless. Over the next three years we would hunt on ebay and cragelist trying to find all the original missing parts to put her back to gather as she was when she came off the show room floor at the GMC dealer. We wanted to see if we could find all the original parts to go back 100% original starting with gauges, gauge plates, deco remy starter and generator, front bumper, bumper skirts, correct seat, AM radio GMC not Chevy, the three items we spent the over three years locating was the original set of rims and the correct deco remy starter and the AM Radio. Most of the parts for the GMC truck 55.5 to 59 are the same as the Chevy truck, however many of the items are GMC specific hard to find. As you could imagine after 4 years of turning wrenches putting this beautifully time machine together, my son would get bored and would go ride his bike and showed less and less interest as the project seem to be an endless project just getting all the missing parts and putting her together so we could drive her around town. One of my most memorable moments working on the truck with my son was, sometime in year one, I put him on the creeper and slid him under the truck and I climbed under doing some wiring, he looked at me and asked me if this was what my dad and I did when I was a kid, I replied to him yes this is exactly what we did, I had to tell him I need to go get a wrench and would be back before I completely lost it. Every time I think of this moment, I cry like a baby, you see my dad died at a young age and my son never got a chance to meet my dad, his grandfather, so that one question is the most powerful events of my life. In July of year 3 we had everything together and running but the paint body was very bad, we completely dissembled ever part and started painting her back to original colors, Placid Blue and Dover White. We drove 1000 miles to pick an original seat from a guy who had it in his shed for over 20 years, we had to change out some of the seat springs and some frame repairs and had the seat reupholstered to the original two tone color scheme. This year 2014 Hot August Nights in Reno and we had high hopes to get her painted and back together so we could have her down there as a new 1955.5 GMC all original. We knew there was a good possibility we would not make it, so I continued to tell my son we may not make it this year and he was okay with that. We had a tall order to put everything back together in less than 6 months, I live in Truckee CA., the winters, summers are short, we have a one car garage that the truck does not fit in so all of our work was done outside in the driveway. Our painter of choice was busy with other projects and that could be the deciding factor of making it to the Hot August Nights event. We once we got the cab and chassy home we jacked up the cab and completely dissembled ever part from the frame scraped the 60year old oil and rust, sanded top, bottom and both side I mean every inch of the frame. We used self etching primer and painted the frame, reinstalled every part, including every wire from bumper to bumper we even removed all the old wire terminals and re-soldered each one onto the new wire matching wire color and size exactly. Year 4 one month to go for Hot August Night of this year, our chrome shop called and said out parts were ready. We drive down to pick up the massive front bumper from the chrome shop, WOW I must say they made the old dented rusty bumper and all the parts look new. We had all of the truck back together but the hood, once we installed the bumper my son looked at me and told me he loves the truck and was going to sleep in it. Well, we made it to Hot August Night 2014 and my son talked to every person who walked up to the truck, we also were invited to the grand marshal car show 1 of 50 vehicles invited, of the many thousands of incredible classic vehicles at this years event. That is a testament to the job we were able to complete in our driveway snow or freezing weather did not stop us. This was our very first project and this experience has been priceless to me.

27 Reader Comments

  • 1
    Lynda California October 9, 2014 at 22:11
    Great story..... Wonderful bonding and learning experience. Richard will have those memories to share for always, just as you do/did with your dad
  • 2
    Lynn Fibbins Calif October 9, 2014 at 22:17
    Great story, great bonding with your son, Richard. thank you for sharing
  • 3
    James Worsnop United States October 9, 2014 at 23:26
    What a great story and a beautiful truck!~ This guy deserves a prize!
  • 4
    Ellen R. Knope Truckee, California October 10, 2014 at 02:01
    This a true account of my wonderful son in-law and grandson's journey from an old rusted junk truck to a totally refurbished 1955 GMC truck. Not just a new engine and paint job...but every nut and bolt was cleaned and replaced...as you read this you will understand what a true restoration entails. The most important and wonderful thing about this is the love of a father for his son. I come from a family whose father walked out on them...nothing, nothing at all could mean more to a young boy than the love and conrodament of his father. Thank you my dear Kevin...and Richard, you have been Blessed with what every young man should have. Whether it be through sports, music etc....all fathers should be like the wonderful father you have. I love you both. I am proud of both of you. gma
  • 5
    Ray Alice, Texas October 10, 2014 at 10:32
    My brother just acquired a 1957 GMC longbed, v-8 model but has a 74 chevy 350,and is standard granny trans. needs restoration ,but nice truck.
  • 6
    May May <3 Reno October 10, 2014 at 12:15
    This is great I love love love wonderfull job I am so proud of you two this truck is absolotly beautiful the hard work pays off and the memories that you have created are even more special and it is something he will be proud to share with his children :) your dad would be so proud...this is a wonderful story and such a beautiful relationship has been built with the three of you I am proud to say my dad and little brother did such a great job words can't even explain, this is how relationships should be with our youth rebuilding and starting over teaching them life lessons hands on... Once again words don't even compare this is breathtaking :))
  • 7
    Jan Worsnop Rescue ,CA October 27, 2014 at 18:49
    Great story and really nice truck!! How much do you want for it??
  • 8
    Woody Worsnop Rescue ,CA October 27, 2014 at 18:51
    Nice Ride! How long did it take to restore?
  • 9
    Jamie Worsnop Rescue ,CA October 27, 2014 at 18:54
    I'ii trade you my 56 Chevy for it! Nice restoration!
  • 10
    Kevin Fitler Lake Tahoe CA October 27, 2014 at 12:08
    Richard can hardly wait to this truck to his prom in 4 year.
  • 11
    kelley reno October 28, 2014 at 18:57
    This makes my heart happy. loved watching you two and the bond you guys made xo
  • 12
    Rachel Nevada October 28, 2014 at 19:22
    Beautiful truck, even more beautiful story!
  • 13
    Lois Calif October 28, 2014 at 19:27
    Kevin you are the exception, I know how you Love Richard and I know how you want him To have all the great memories you have of your dad. You are a wonderful dad, son, brother, and husband, I hope that other dads read this story., and remember how happy the both of you are to have had this experience. This truck was the most beautiful vehicle at hot august, nights. I was there I heard so, so many men women and even children comment on the beautiful truck everyone loved the journey that you And Richard had in the restoration of this little ugly rusty shell of a truck, I knew it would be a truck when you finished but I didn't know it would turn outso great, you are a perfectionist just like your dad, I know how proud of you he is.i cannot wait to see your next project, the other pile of junk you spent awhile looking for. I love you both.
  • 14
    Andrea Vivian Reno, Nv October 28, 2014 at 19:33
    Beautiful story, family, and truck!!
  • 15
    Jessi Z Newport News, VA October 28, 2014 at 19:58
    How awesome of an experience this must be for you and your son! And to pass down your knowledge like you fresher did with you is, I'm sure, a new family tradition as I can only imagine him passing on his knowledge to his future children. Also awesome to see how patience and dedications pays off! Only 50 cars invited and y'all being one?! Be proud and enjoy this Moment forever :) thank you for sharing :)
  • 16
    Devon California October 28, 2014 at 20:28
    You both did an amazing job. I can't wait your next master peace with Richard!
  • 17
    Hailye California October 28, 2014 at 20:41
    What a great story! The work you two put into fixing up this truck is crazy, and what a great time for you two to bond.. love it!
  • 18
    Kelly Truckee October 28, 2014 at 20:51
    Awsome sauce! And a very beautiful restoration!
  • 19
    Rhiana New Mexico October 28, 2014 at 09:38
    Your truck looks Great...but it is the story that matters. I hope other fathers read and learn from your experience with your son. Nothing will ever take away the wonderful memory you and your son have built for yourselves. The pride in taking your time and doing it right was/is a very important lesson. More fathers should be sharing their time with their children.. We live in a very busy world and sometimes we forget the "important things" . The truck turned out as perfect as it was as it rolled off the assembly lime. Congratulations
  • 20
    Susie Slo October 28, 2014 at 23:43
    The best part in all of this is not the truck, though it's amazing, it's the value put on spending quality time with your son. Priceless.
  • 21
    jessicca Jerome Idaho October 29, 2014 at 19:35
    Awesome, what a great way to bond, very beautiful story
  • 22
    jessicca hollon Jerome Idaho October 29, 2014 at 19:40
    Love to love this. Amazing work,love, memories of a lifetime.
  • 23
    Heather M Truckee @ Heart!! October 29, 2014 at 09:52
    I started reading this, only because this is a family story from people who are very important to me. But that quickly changed, The story is captivating and heart warming. Really enjoyed the father/son connection. GREAT JOB!!
  • 24
    kelley Reno October 29, 2014 at 10:21
    Grandpa Ellis is proud of you daddy, I'm sure he has been with you and Richard the whole time building xo
  • 25
    Michael Hackley Reno October 29, 2014 at 00:27
    So cool to watch, can't wait for a bond like that with my son. Makes you truly appreciate the "little" things!
  • 26
    Reggie Baker Fort Worth, Tx November 5, 2014 at 14:25
    Great story! Six years ago, my 16 year-old boy donated $700 of his lawn-mowing business earnings, which I matched, and we drove home and old 85 Dodge Ram truck. We overhauled the engine, transmission, exhaust, and brakes over the next 3 years in the driveway. The day I finally fired up the engine with the headers open, he told his friend on the phone, "Dude, I gotta go, my Dad just fired up my truck!" That day was a great memory, as is the picture of him in that truck driving off to school! He quickly lost interest in helping me work on the project, but he is still driving that old truck every day!
  • 27
    Newty-Newt 3rd rock from the Sun November 7, 2014 at 10:28
    Great Story, I have a 56 Chevy truck that I have had for many years and can't decide to go Original or Modern restoration. I have the same great memories with my Dad wrenching on old cars. Best wishes!

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