Car of the Week: 1948 GMC beer truck

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By Charles Farley

When Jeremy Timco of Southport, N.C., was searching the internet for a suitable work truck, he had his parameters fixed on a 1/2- or 3/4-ton stake bed truck, preferably manufactured by General Motors. These trucks are in demand and hold their value, so Timco focused on less expensive 1995-2005 models. He happened upon a 1995 dually with four-wheel drive and a stake bed in Phoenix, Ariz. Although distance was a problem, the truck had a 1948 General Motors Advance-Design cab perched on it. It did meet his search parameters so he placed a low-ball bid on it. He mentioned the truck to his wife of 16 years and promptly forgot about it as he continued his search.
About three weeks later, Timco received notification that he had placed the winning bid. Then the logistics of getting it home and the enlistment of family support would become a tale worthy of retelling.

“Honey, we bought an old 1948 ‘Jimmy’” would not be well received, as anyone with connubial experience would guess. Technically, it is not a 1948 GMC anyway — it is a 1995 GMC disguised as an older truck. (This would become a refrain oft repeated when Timco sought service for this unique vehicle.) The expense of shipping their prize home from Phoenix would be a budget buster for this young family, adding insult to the situation. Fortunately, Timco had access to frequent flier bonus miles and a sister who resides in Phoenix, and now a madcap plan to drive it home did not sound so nutty!

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Upon inspecting his purchase, Timco immediately realized this truck was not in turnkey condition as it had been advertised. All six tires showed signs of dry rot, and the 1995 chassis and running gear had not seen dealer-level servicing in years.

A visit to a “big rig” tire center serendipitously named The Blue Ribbon Tire Co. made short work of replacing the questionable rubber. Pulling into a Meineke in nearby Scottsdale drew a gasp and a “we don’t have parts for that” response. But after another now tiresome explanation that the 1948 GMC was actually a 1995 GMC, it received a proper 100,000-mile servicing. All fluids were drained and flushed and replaced with correct viscosity fluids.

“The fluid pulled from the pumpkin looked like chocolate milk,” Timco recalled after watching the fluid transfusions. His project was now as ready as ever to hit the interstates.

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After a night’s rest at his sister’s home, Timco headed out early and drove north to Flagstaff, Ariz., to pick up I-40, the highway that would transport him safely all the way back to North Carolina. Motels were not planned and to minimize expenses, he slept on the bench seat in the cab. Disaster struck near Amarillo, Texas, when the rear U-joint disintegrated without warning. Clunking and banging, Timco eased the truck onto the nearest off ramp and into a diner where he asked if he could park in their lot overnight. His luck had not yet run out and he was directed to a mechanic up the road “a piece.” Switching to four-wheel drive, the old Jimmy pulled itself to the only real repair it needed the entire trip.

Since that journey, the truck has settled in as a neighborhood sensation and as the Timco’s daily driver. The build on this unique piece of distant and recent history endeavored to make it look like a 1948 beer distributor’s truck that would have been in regular use during the early 1950s. The patina is perfect and when children sit on the fenders, it does not provoke rebukes from dear old Dad! Having modern power steering and brakes also makes it a breeze for the missus to drive. The inside of the cab has a cherry original instrument panel with choke and throttle controls beckoning to be used. But for now, the automatic choke will remain on the AFB carburetor atop the Edelebrock aluminum intake. The original Vortec V-8 was converted from fuel injection to a carburetor, but with headers and a custom exhaust, it has plenty of grunt.

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The truck draws a crowd wherever it goes near the Atlantic Ocean beach community of Southport. One day, early in the spring, Timco drove his daughter and son to the beach with the truck and when returning to it later in the day, he was startled to find it surrounded by uniformed police officers. “Hoo-Boy,” Timco thought to himself. “I’m in big trouble now — I don’t have an Oak Island beach parking sticker!”

“Am I going to get a ticket?” he asked the sergeant in charge?

The sergeant replied, “Yessir, my boy, you are going to be cited for having the most awesome truck we’ve ever seen!”

 

 

One thought on “Car of the Week: 1948 GMC beer truck

  1. jayharrison

    I noticed 5 lug wheels on the truck and with modern Chevy truck dually wheels having 8 bolt wheels I was wondering if the 1948 truck came with 5 bolt dually wheels and if adapters where used.

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