Christy Barden’s 1954 GMC Series 100 longbed
Submitted to The Union
A lot of guys feel they need a truck. For car guys, this is especially true.
They need something they can throw greasy parts in the back of and haul them to their shop. Although it might be a late-model, luxury four-wheeler, it also might be something less glamorous and more utilitarian.
For Christy Barden, his truck of choice is a classic. And his current truck is a 1954 GMC Series 100 longbed.
Five years ago, Christy saw it for sale at the big Reno swap meet. He already had a ’59 Chevy pickup that was great for general hauling but says when he saw the “Harley” grill of the ‘54 GMC, it was love at first sight.
The legendary Earl Harley was the head of the styling department at GM and is well known as the man responsible for introducing tail fins to the ’48 Cadillac, modeled after the P-38 fighter and which later became the epitome of ’50s design, and for the introduction of the Corvette.
He also promoted “Dynamic Obsolescence” and the “Annual Model Change,” which made cars look dated a year after they were first made.
So that Earl won’t be considered dated himself, he did state that smaller cars were the wave of the future before he retired in 1959. Unfortunately, the powers that be at GM did not agree. He also loved chrome.
GM cars of the late ’40s and ’50s prove that. And the ’54 GMC does so in spades. It was the last year of the Advance Design pickups, which were introduced in 1947, and the first year for the one-piece windshield.
Christy’s ’54 GMC was in original condition with 73,000 miles on the odometer because the previous owner kept it at the Reno airport for occasional use. Christy bought his love and drove it to Colorado, where he was living.
He said it “steers like a truck. Some nice little lady just couldn’t have done it.”
Such niceties as power steering, power brakes and automatic transmission were not available on the truck when it was made. It has the 248 CID overhead-valve inline-six engine and a manual four-speed trans with a “granny” first that was put in on the assembly line.
The electrical system is still 6-volt with a generator and even has bias-ply tires.
The only major work Christy has done on his GMC was an in-frame overhaul of the engine. Yet this GMC has served him well since he bought it, including hauling a load from Colorado when he moved here.
Lest it seems that Christy’s GMC is the strip-down model for that year, it was not. In fact, it is loaded with the best available. GMC itself was an upgrade from the Chevy trucks, which had the same body. With things like self-cancelling turn signals (which Chevy didn’t), a bigger engine, better instrumentation setup, dual sun visors and a better interior, it was the best pickup General Motors made that year. Christy’s GMC even has the deluxe two-tone paint.
While Christy’s GMC is no show truck with the same paint and interior it had when it was sold in 1954, it is a classic.
He says he gets a lot of “thumbs up” when he drives it and says “people see the grill and go, ‘Whoa!’”
Not only that, Christy has no problem throwing greasy parts in the back and hauling them to his shop.
For more from Ron Cherry, visit http://www.rlcherry.com. For more information about the Roamin Angels Car Club, visit http://www.roaminangels.com of call 432-8449, write to Roamin Angels, PO Box 1616, Grass Valley, CA 95945, or just stop by IHOP on Taylorville Rd. Some Friday at 6:30 a.m. for breakfast.
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