Vintage pickup truck gets second life

Bob Vockeroth with his 1952 GMC, finished in Super Yellow with Yellow Pearl ghost flames on the hood and front fenders. (Photos by Larry D’Argis / Winnipeg Free Press)

Bob Vockeroth with his 1952 GMC, finished in Super Yellow with Yellow Pearl ghost flames on the hood and front fenders. (Photos by Larry D’Argis / Winnipeg Free Press)

Following the end of the Second World War, new cars were in high demand and most manufacturers turned to their pre-war designs to meet production. To meet the needs of tradesmen and handymen the same was also true for pickup trucks.

It wasn’t until mid-1947 that General Motors Corporation finally had a totally new truck offering. The “Advance Design” styling was smooth and attractive. Devoid of excess chrome and trim, it was all business and a capable hauler with a new suspension system and improved visibility. It was an impressive run — GMC trucks would go largely unchanged in styling, with only mechanical upgrades until the 1953 model.

Today, these ’50s trucks enjoy a steady following of enthusiasts who often take these old work horses from the field to the show arena. Whether it’s a stock restoration or an all-out resto-mod build, these trucks present builders with a blank canvas. Rarely do two end up alike.

For Bob and Debra Vockeroth of Winnipeg, they’d been driving the wheels off their 1954 Chevrolet 210 until 2010, when it was decided to take the car apart for a full custom restoration. “I said to my wife, Debra, maybe we should look around for something in the meantime, and while looking through Kijiji she found a yellow, five-window pickup that caught our attention,” Vockeroth says. Turns out it was a well-built 1952 GMC 9300 five-window pickup which had been in the same family since new. They agreed to view it in Roland and, following some negotiating, it was soon on the way back to Winnipeg.

“My wife had two requests, air conditioning and seat belts,” Vockeroth says. A call to the Old Car Centre in British Columbia supplied those items and Vockeroth also felt it was a good time to upgrade the truck’s electrical system. A new Haywire wire harness kit was used to rewire the truck and a new electric windshield wiper kit replaced the original vacuum wiper system. It’s also now a cool ride thanks to the Vintage Air air-conditioning system.

The running gear in the truck was the tried and true, 350 cubic inch small-block Chevrolet V-8, backed by a three-speed Turbo 350 automatic transmission. Previously rebuilt and in good running condition, Vockeroth added a new Edelbrock aluminum intake manifold with a 600 c.f.m. Edelbrock four-barrel carburetor, a new MSD electronic distributor and custom valve covers and air cleaner from Softy’s Speed Shop. An exhaust upgrade included Speedway Tru-Ram headers leading to dual Magnaflow mufflers, installed by True-Way Muffler on Plessis Road.

The suspension system included a front clip from a 1977 Chevrolet Nova, giving the truck modern power steering and power front disc-brakes. In back is a 10-bolt Chevy rear axle which Vockeroth had rebuilt by his friend Doug Arbuthnot. The older style mag wheels were replaced with a set of custom-offset, chrome reverse wheels with spider caps, from Rallye America in California. Completing the vintage ’60s hot rod look is a set of ¾-inch wide, whitewall radial tires from D Arbuthnot Auto on Chevrier Boulevard.

For paint and bodywork, Vockeroth turned the truck over to Don Salisbury. While the truck was solid, the two-piece hood was welded up and smoothed, and now with an air-conditioned cab, the cowl vent was eliminated. A new louvered tailgate was purchased from the Old Car Centre and Vockeroth eliminated the vent windows by installing a one-piece side glass kit from A&H Glass in California. Salisbury finished the pick-up in Super Yellow with Yellow Pearl ghost flames on the hood and front fenders. An added touch in the paint on the lower edge of the front fenders is the pearl Mooneyes logo, made popular in the day by Moon Equipment Company. In back, 1950 Pontiac taillamps were installed and up front a new chrome grille, front bumper and dual sideview mirrors add some bling.

Inside the cab were a pair of tired Nova bucket seats and after some measuring, Vockeroth found a split bench seat from a Ford Ranger truck fit perfectly after fabricating new brackets. Kerry Gluck at Sew Fine Interiors cut down the headrests on the seat and finished the complete interior and a tonneau cover for the truck bed with black leather. After reading a how-to article on shrinking steering wheels, Vockeroth took the old and huge 17-inch wheel and reduced the diameter to a manageable 15-inches. With power steering the large diameter wheel isn’t needed and it gives a bit more room in the cab. Completing the interior is a dash-mounted radio, classic Moon gauge package and a big yellow Moon shift knob.

Members of the Manitoba Street Rod Association since 1987, the Vockeroth’s would like to welcome everyone out to see their GMC pickup at the club’s 19th Annual Rodarama Car Show being held this weekend at the East End Arena. Located at 517 Pandora Ave. E., the show opens today at 6:00 p.m. and runs to 5:00 p.m. Sunday. Entry fee is $10.00, with children 12 and under free when accompanied by an adult.

For more information visit msra.mb.ca

57ford@mymts.net

The running gear in the truck was the tried and true, 350 cubic inch small-block Chevrolet V-8, backed by a three-speed Turbo 350 automatic transmission.

The running gear in the truck was the tried and true, 350 cubic inch small-block Chevrolet V-8, backed by a three-speed Turbo 350 automatic transmission.