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Q&A with Kit Foster: March 27, 2014

Q. A copy of your response to a letter from Donald Chepurna regarding GMC truck history (Q&A Dec. 12, 2013) was referred to me by Dan Bower, president of our Motor City Chapter of the American Truck Historical Society, for review and comments. Most of your response was correct, except for a few points that I would like to clarify:

GMC built half- and one-ton trucks starting in 1913 (electric) and added 3/4-ton models in 1914 (gas). In 1927, GMC introduced a line of trucks powered by Buick valve-in-head engines. They took over design of Buick six-cylinder engines in 1929, acquired the tooling in 1930 and began building GMC engines based on the Buick design in 1931.

GMC first used Chevrolet-built cabs and front sheet metal (except grilles and hood side panels) in 1931 light- and medium-duty trucks. Introduced in 1960, GMC V-6 gas engines were available in light-duty models through 1969, medium-duty through 1971 and heavy-duty through 1972. The “roughness” was due to a second-order imbalance inherent in the 60-degree V design that was annoying, especially in panel trucks at 60 mph. They were very reliable and durable engines, but used more fuel than the inline sixes.

In 1978, GMC Truck & Coach Division took over design of all Chevrolet medium- and heavy-duty trucks. Chevrolet dropped out of the heavy-duty market in 1979. More details about engines used and Chevrolet design commonality are available upon request.

 — Donald E. Meyer, GMC Truck Historian, Lake Orion, Mich.

A. Thank you for filling in that detail. I was trying to answer Mr. Chepurna’s very general question in an expeditious manner. I missed the fact that the V-6 GMC engine continued to be available into the 1970s. If I’m not mistaken, the 230-cid Chevy inline six became an option around 1963. Many V-6s were plagued with inherent roughness, which led to the development of balance shafts, different firing orders and other remedies. I see that the start of the GMC-built, Buick-based six in 1931 neatly coincides with Buick’s shift to eight-cylinder engines across the board that year.


Q. I recently picked up a 1954 GM Motorama token to go with my 1955 and ’56 tokens. What other years did they do this, and what did the others look like? While getting these out of the pocket pages of my notebook, I also wondered what other elongated cents of autos are out there. I’m including my list of 20 that I have. I have only one hand-painted example, as to get more that way was too expensive. Naturally I chose my favorite auto brand: Buick. I also have only one bronze Franklin Mint coin of Series 1: the Buick. Only a Buick emblem is on the reverse side of the auto token, different from the aluminum Sunoco set that says Sunoco/Irving gas on the reverse. My auto elongated cents are: 1957 Buick, 1960 Corvette, 1962 Corvette, 1978 Corvette, 1955 Chevy, 1936 Lincoln, 1958 Edsel, 1953 Mercury, 1932 Ford, 1937 Ford, 1948 Ford, 1955 T-Bird, 1956 Ford, 1965 Mustang, 1951 Kaiser, 1950 Packard, 1957 Studebaker, 1948 Hudson, and 1951 Nash.

— Art Tetreault, Middleboro, Mass.


A. Elongated cents are made from ordinary U.S. pennies, struck by a die in a stamping machine that alters their shape and embosses them with a new design. We’ve all seen the machines in tourist locations that perform this function to create souvenirs. Perhaps without knowing what they are called in the collectible community: “exonumia.” Apparently the first examples were created at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. This is all new to me, so I’ll leave it to readers to answer Mr. Tetreault’s questions.

To submit questions to this column: E-mail or mail to: Q&A, c/o Angelo Van Bogart, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990-0001.

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