Photo Gallery
Powered by Squarespace

Entries in GMC (10)


GMC Astro 95

A bit of nostalgia this morning.

Do you remember GMC Astro's the cab over truck, not the van of later years.

If you have ever been in the truck side of the business you encountered or perhaps even sold Astro's way back in the day.

This morning The Colonel is jogging his memory about Astro's.

The idea of a cab over (hinged truck) was simple, in the US back in the day the overall lenght for a truck and trailer was 55 needed a cab over to haul in the US...yes 80,000 lbs GCW which by Canadian standards was "light".

Back in the day an Astro was a popular truck. While the styling was appealing compared to other offerings in the segment.

In the truck business for a sales consultant to sell an Astro was comparable to today selling a top of the line luxury car or was HUGE to close a deal on an Astro.

Some perspective computers, no word processors, no showroom software for the product. It was a voluminous "data book", accompanied by a comparable price book, to "spec out" and price an Astro or any truck for that matter.

When you hear today about product knowledge, back in the days of Astro's it was product knowledge, and application knowledge. You were the wikipedia of both product and application knowledge. A myriad of exchanges were going on a daily basis among sales consultants exchanging knowledge among themselves regarding applications, usage, fuel economy, speeds, gear ratios...and on and on.

It was a prime example of humans curating, disseminating the knowledge to prospective customers. Not software, not the Internet. It was and still is with trucks..." I'm hauling this from here to there, my GCW is so much, and I want to travel at that speed"....from there the sales consultant would always ask additional questions to uncover the finer points of the application, and expectations.

In trucking terms...the Astro had to lift the load, move it, and overcome wind resistance". Put this into perspective of when HD trucks had about 300 HP to do all of this and no turbos.

Back in the day when folks acquired an HD GMC truck, it had a GM diesel, you did not sell many Astro's without a Detroit Diesel.

These trucks were assembled in Pontiac, Michigan literally hand made in an aging truck plant, which was fascinating to visit and see all the manual operations from riveting aluminum, to bolting various components.

What were the "specs" of an early Astro?

Detroit Diesel 8V71 with 65mm injectors 318 HP, a Fuller RTO9513 13 speed transmission with a 0.85 overdrive ratio, a 12,000 lbs front axle with soft ride springs, and a 38,000 lbs rear tandem either Rockwell or Eaton, and either an Hendrickson extended leaf (Canada) or a Reyco (US) rear suspension. Depending on how fast the truck had to travel it was a 4.11 or 4.33 or 4.44 rear axle ratio.

The specs on the later versions

A Royal Classic cab, Detroit Diesel 8V92 TT or T (365 to 430 HP), a Fuller RTO 12513, and a 40,000 lbs rear tandem usually a Rockwell SQHP with the oil pump to lubricate the power divider, same rear suspensions, the gear ratios were 3.70 or 3.90 or 4.11. The turbo motors had dramatically more torque, and metallic clutches which presented a learning curve for some old school drivers. "Release to clutch and lift the load with the engine, do not try to slip the clutch as you are accustomed with a non turbo motor".

Today cab over trucks are a rare sighting, having been replaced by "conventional" cab trucks with a hood.




427 Truck Engine

A bit of nostalgia this morning. If you have been around this business long enough you remember, and perhaps you even sold GMC trucks with 427's way back in the day.

Here is the deal:

Back in the day a GMC or Chevrolet truck with a 366, 5 speed, 9 front, 18,500 2 speed in the back, 10.00x20 tires and a 27,500 lbs GVW was the standard of the industry. These trucks sold by themselves, they had such a reputation of being the best.

At one point GM truns the 366 to a 427, as an aside this was not the same 427 as in cars, it had a tall deck block, and was used in trucks and marine applications. Although the 366 was bullet proof. The 427's were not lasting as long. 

Numerous folks at GM were scratching their heads as to why a 366 would easily last over 200,000 kms in a truck and the 427 was barely lasting 100,000 kms. 

Here is another deal:

Been in the business long enough you hopefully remember a company called McCallum that was transporting GM vehicles from the factory or rail heads to GM dealers in eastern Canada. McCallum had a numerous tractors with 427's pulling their trailers. Yes...they did not last very long the 427's.

GM in Canada enlisted McCallum to run various tests on various configurations of 427's. GM will install an engine in a McCallum truck, have the truck cover a speciifc mileage, take the engine out, replace it with another engine. Obvious do a meticulous tear down of the engine taken out of the truck. Yes...the old tachographs were helpful during the tear down.

The conclusion...not enough gas flow, the 427 required appreciably more gas than the 366. The by now iconic single 200 liter step tank with an electric fuel pump for the 366 created instances of fuel starvation with the 427. The solution...dual step tanks with dual fuel pumps.

Another deal:

In Canada, a 427, with a 5 and 4, 12 front, 38,000 in the back, with an Hendrickson suspension was the standard dump truck for countless years.

At the time GM had the medium duty truck market "locked up" with the 366 and 427.

The last deal:

Yes...the 427 were strong performers on the highway, very strong. Fuel economy...don't ask.



Dually Pick Up

An interesting story...just follow along.

Back in the day one of the applications for a dually pick up was to tow a 5th wheel trailer, with the fifth wheel in the pick up box. It still remains a popular application to tow a horse or livestock trailer.

The truck of the day was a 1 ton regular cab, with an 8 foot box. Keep in mind that at the time extended cabs did not exist, and crew cabs were usually not required. 

What sort of options did such a pick up have? It always started with a 454, a 4 speed manual transmission, usually a 4:10 ratio in the differential, dual gas tanks, camper mirrors. These pick ups would easily deal with a GCW of 25,000 to 30,000 lbs.

When you see the current ads on TV of a dually pick up towing a 5th wheel trailer with some huge object on the trailer...its been done for years.

Why the 4 speed manual with a deep low 1st gear? The truck has to "lift the load" as the saying goes, and a 3 speed Turbo Hydramtic 400 of the day did not not provide enough reduction in 1st gear and especially reverse even with the torque converter to lift the load. 

While casually reading about the Liberal convention in Montreal with Justin Trudeau, and the various opinions.

Having had the opportunity to meet Justin's father on a few occasions, and perhaps even Justin when he was a young boy accompanying his father. 

How do dually pick ups relate? 

Seeing a variety of names, and who is married to who, and so on, must be social media.

Suddenly from a quick search "Saraguay Farms" grasps the attention. 

From back in the day, sold a dually pick up to pull a 28 foot livestock trailer to haul show cattle that 

Fascinating how connecting seemingly unrelated dots...leads to a pick up from a few decades ago.




The Vandoleros

If you are of a certain age...going back a few decades you surely remember these addition to having a serious cool factor they were also great work trucks.



The Love Affair Endures

1962 Lincoln If you are of a certain age, you remember the various comments that cars in North America, were huge, with monster engines, not refined, heavy, land barges, gas guzzlers, and another gazillion describers. 

Back then the difference between a luxury car (Cadillac) and a regular car (Chevrolet) was substance with most components and size being bigger on the luxury car, than the regular car. Those old school luxury cars had a size advantage, as well as a performance advantage compared to regular cars, or European cars with 4 cylinder engines. 

They had an imposing physical presence, accompanied by performance to substantiate the presence.

The best selling vehicle in Canada is a Ford F Series (a pick up), could you compare an F Series to an old school Lincoln with a 460 cubic inch engine, and suicide doors on the 4 door version. 

Is a Ram the equivalent of an Imperial with a 413 cubic inch wedge motor, or a 440? 

Is a Silverado the equivalent of an Oldsmobile 98 with a 394 V8?

Is a GMC Sierra the equivalent of a Cadillac Fleetwood with a 429?

The old Cadillacs, Lincolns, Oldsmobiles, Imperials would pull any kind of trailer, same as a modern pick up. The old cars easily accommodated 5 passengers, same as a modern crew cab. The trunks were positively huge, comparable to a 5 and a half foot box on a modern crew cab with a short box. The old luxury cars were from the Detroit 3, same as modern pick ups...perhaps some things never change!

The old cars were body on frame, same as a pick up. Solid rear axle, some with leaf springs same as a pick up.

The old luxury cars were physically imposing, similar to a modern pick up.

Need we mention big gas tanks...

In 2012 F150's, Rams, Silverados, Sierras are 15% of the Canadian market, back in the day Lincolns, Imperials, Buicks, and Cadillacs were 15% of the Canadian market? 

Can we conclude that the love affair endures with vehicles that have morphed from old school North American luxury cars to modern North American pick ups.

What do you think?




The 1 Ton Crew Cab

A while back we did a review of a Silverado HD Crew Cab with a short box, which we called "Clifford" for the big red dog, since the truck was red. 

While driving around with Clifford, I was reminded of another crew cab a few decades earlier, in a previous life when I was selling trucks. 

Here is the story...

This individual owns a building maintenance, snow removal, landscaping company, and requires a truck to perform several applications from transporting a crew of workers to various sites, hauling materials in the bed, to plowing snow with a 9' plow. 

The snow plowing is the most important function since he has contracts to clear several sizable parking lots, usually during the night. The truck has to be "idiot proof", it will be operated by different individuals as the need and scheduling develops. 

The major points that were agreed upon...

> You need a crew cab (extended cabs did not exist).

> You need a 1 ton, you plan on putting a good amount of weight in the 8' box, and you will have constant weight in the box during winter.

> A 9' plow is on the bigger side of plows, and clearing parking lots involves more pushing than a residential entrance + to make it idiot proof and easier the truck will have an automatic transmission. Back in the day it was a THM 400 3 speed automatic. 

> Engine not many options a venerable 350 with a 4 barrel carburetor.

> Axles ratios 4.56's to make it easier to push snow, work the torque converter less, keep the transmission oil temperature down.

> Double gas tanks to alleviate chasing gas stations in the middle of the night while plowing.

> Tires 9.50 x 16.5 tubeless, wider for better traction.

The truck is ordered and arrives from the factory in late summer, ready for the winter season. Its late summer this fellow decides to go on a few fishing trips with his new truck, and friends. 

Obvious that this truck does not go fast enough on the highway, and he is pouring an obscene amount of gas in both tanks. Just imagine the comments from his friends....

Calls, and visits me, complaining bitterly that I sold him the wrong truck, I'm the truck expert and this truck is useless, besides using an obscene amount of gas.  

I said to him the truck is supposed to push snow with a 9' plow, not go fishing "I sold you a truck to push snow, not to go fishing", and proceeded to tell him that if the truck did not push snow as I told him, and he expected then he can tell me that I sold him the wrong truck.

You can imagine that after his friends made sarcastic comments about his new truck on the fishing trips, he was anxious to discover the snow plowing capabilities of the truck.

The next phone call from him "You were right never had a truck that could work with a 9' plow like this one, its so strong that one of my operators ripped a tire off a rim trying to make a mound of snow". My question "How hard are you working that truck?"....his reply "This truck is doing a night shift and day shift (16-18 hours)".

My comment "I'm glad that its making money for you, and pushing snow better than your expectations".




Do you remember Cannonball? It was a Canadian program...enjoy a restored GMC "Cannonball Truck". Those were the days when a Detroit Diesel or was it GM Diesel, it was a time when an inline 6-71 was huge!

Part 1

Part 2

A clip from the "Cannonball"




Thunder V12

If you have been around long enough, you perhaps remember when GMC was using V6 engines in trucks, there was a 351 cubic inch, and a 478 cubic inch (Magnum) V6, one interesting feature of these engines, the spark plugs were inside the V. Another distinctive feature was the distributor, which was also required expert maintenence. 

At some point GM mated two 351's for a 702 V12 with excellent torque, and low RPM's, at the time several transport companies  had a sizeable fleet of GMC 702 V12's; still the days when dieasel powered trucks were the exception. 

Its cool that some folks have revived the 702 V12 as the Thunder V12.

Spend a few minutes reviewing the Thunder V12 site.




Old Bus 

Do you remember these old GMC buses? Did you ever ride in one?



GMC Granite

This concept caught our attention, it caught everyone's attention at NAIAS '10 in Detroit. An informative video on the design of the Granite.