Courtesy of Bonhams

Manufactured during the abbreviated 1942 model year, this GMC ¾-ton pickup is quite a rare sight. Upon purchasing the vehicle in 2010, the owner commissioned a full restoration of the already clean and solid truck.

The body was brought down to the bare metal and finished to a very high standard. Under the freshly manicured body, the powertrain was subject to an extensive refurbishing, where anything that was worn or tired was replaced. During this process the truck received a new clutch, new brakes, and the electrical system was converted from 6 to 12 volts.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1942 GMC Series CC-150 3/4-ton pickup
Years Produced:1941–42
Number Produced:1941, 5,353; 1942, 855
Original List Price:$740
SCM Valuation:Median to date, $25,740; high sale, $34,650
Tune Up Cost:$250
Distributor Caps:$20
Chassis Number Location:Passenger’s side frame rail, aft of the bumper bracket, weight-rating plate on passenger’s side of the cowl under the hood
Engine Number Location:Driver’s side of the block, behind oil filter canister
Club Info:American Truck Historical Society
Alternatives:1941–47 Chevrolet pickup, 1941–47 Dodge WC pickup, 1941–49 International K or KB pickup
Investment Grade:C

This truck, Lot 212, sold for $22,000, including buyer’s premium, at Bonhams’ annual “Preserving the Automobile” sale at the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum in Philadelphia, PA, on October 2, 2016.

The new-for-1941 GMC trucks shared a cab and most sheet metal with their equally new cousins from Chevrolet, but GMCs were different trucks under the skin, due to GMC’s own overhead-valve 6-cylinder engines. But there were some differences in cosmetics that really set the two trucks apart.

Chevy followed the rage in automotive styling at the time with a waterfall grille for the main lower section, but GMC used vertical bars for both upper and lower sections. This gave the Chevy something of an exaggerated rounded chubby-cheek frontal look, while the Jimmy had more of a broader, massive look. Call it more businesslike if you will, and from the truck people at General Motors, that was certainly the target.

Save the chrome for the cannons

While mechanically unchanged from 1941, the 1942 trucks started a very rapid evolution of cosmetic changes until civilian production was curtailed in February of that year. Initially, these model years were all but identical, yet within weeks, stainless steel and chrome gave way to painted trim.

The first to change was the grille, becoming painted body color. This started even before the Pearl Harbor attack, as American industry as a whole was becoming heavily involved in military production domestically and for Lend-Lease countries, which stressed the availability of chromium and copper. After the U.S. declaration of war, use of chrome and stainless on cars all but ended — especially on trucks.

At GMC, bumpers, headlight rims, door handles and hubcaps became painted rather than plated — more often than not in black. Shortly before the halt of civilian vehicle production, there was no brightwork at all — all trim was painted. In addition, the front steel bumper became an extra-cost option. On some other cars and trucks, bumpers were a wood plank.

A 1942 on paper

Delving further into our featured truck, all of this about 1942 proves to be a moot point. Researching the VIN, serial numbers for CC-152 series trucks for 1941 went from 0001 through 5353, with 1942 production spanning from 5354 and up. In short, serial number CC152-3142 here is a 1941-production truck.

However, since it was built relatively late in the model year, it was likely first sold and titled in 1942. This is even more of a possibility, as if it was still on the dealer’s lot after Pearl Harbor, it fell under control of the War Assets Board, and its sale was rationed.

In this era, there were several states that would automatically title vehicles to the year sold. Others (such as truck-heavy North Dakota) issued titles indicating both the year of manufacture and year the title was generated. Hence, since this truck was made in 1941 and if one of these states issued the title in 1942, it would then become a 1942 on paper.

I have encountered this numerous times — mostly with trucks — since model-year changes are less cosmetically apparent, especially decades later. That being the case, our example is generally correctly restored as it was presented here.

The varnished-wood cargo-box floor is still artistic license, but at worst, a can of paint can cure that if it was desired to be a factory-stock concours lawn ornament.

Seven decades post-war

Over the past decade, truck prices have continued to move up. Even during the recent market correction, vintage pickups were one of the few genres of old iron that stayed the course and defied downward trends. In today’s relatively flat market, old pickups at worst are holding their own and not retreating.

Always playing second fiddle to Chevrolet, GMCs have traditionally traded for less than commensurate Chevys. And that trend has stuck, even when pickup values moved smartly up over a decade ago. Indeed, the best analogy is that GMC values are like trailers behind Chevys: No matter how fast the Chevy goes up or down, the GMC is always just behind it.

I’d expect an identical 1941–42-era Chevy to be a few bids either side of $30,000, so I would have pegged this between $25k and $30k. The few modifications from bone-stock (minor cosmetics, seat belts and 12-volt conversion) make it easier to live with in the 21st century, so they shouldn’t affect values appreciably — for or against.

I suspect that the final bid here was less about quality and due more to this being a duck out of water. While Bonhams has sold several vintage light trucks that have knocked it out of the park in pricing, those have occurred at venues with heavy auction competition, such as Scottsdale and Monterey. Selling a Jimmy pickup around high-end cars at a stand-alone event at the Simeone Museum is like wearing a new pair of Red Wing work boots to the opera. I’d suggest there was more on the table here, especially at an event like Scottsdale.

If a dealer was the buyer, we may see how this really pans out, but I get the feeling that it was a collector who bought it. Dealers seem to shy away from GMCs simply because they’re not “no-brainers to sell” like Chevys. Regardless of who bought it, and whether it’s really a 1941 or 1942, my final take is still the same: A good buy on a nice GMC.

 (Introductory description courtesy of Bonhams.)

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