Courtesy of Barrett-Jackson

For sale at auction: 1970 GMC 2500 Sierra Grande long bed with factory air, factory bucket seats, big-block 396, power brakes and power steering. All original.


SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1970 GMC 2500 Pickup
Years Produced:1967–72
Number Produced:121,833 (all 1970 GMC trucks)
Original List Price:$2,680 base
SCM Valuation:Varies significantly, from $5k to $40k depending on options and condition; $10k–$15k for a better-than-average driver with these options
Tune Up Cost:$200
Distributor Caps:$12
Chassis Number Location:Tag in door jamb, driver’s side frame horn ahead of engine
Engine Number Location:Pad on passenger’s side of engine, forward of cylinder head
Club Info:
Website:1967–72 Ford F-series, 1968–71 Dodge D-series, 1969–75 International D-series

This GMC truck, Lot 300.2, sold for $4,070, including buyer’s premium, at Barrett-Jackson’s Hot August Nights auction in Reno, NV, on August 6–8, 2015.

At first glance, this truck looks like pretty much any other old, used-up GM hauler you’d find listed on Craigslist for a couple grand. But there’s more to it than just that, and in a complex changing market currently dominated by shiny, high-dollar restorations, looks can be deceiving.

There’s nothing all that special about this GMC’s configuration. It has some good options such as its big-block engine, bucket seats, shoulder belts, a/c, bedside tool box and Sierra Grande trim, but even so, it’s not the most desirable of 1967–72 GM trucks. The top of that pecking order in the current market consists of half-ton short beds with high options, glossy finishes, and big-block engines — like the $61k ’72 Cheyenne Super I profiled in the July-August 2013 issue.

This GMC, as a three-quarter-ton long bed, sits on the opposite side of the desirability spectrum from that shiny half-ton showpiece. But I still think this rig was a fantastic buy, and not just because it was silly cheap at $4k.

It’s only original until restoration

If you’ve been to any car auction over the past five years, you’ve seen many GM trucks for sale. The company built a whole lot of them, so they’re more or less everywhere, in all types of configurations, even 45 years later. But highly restored trucks tend to be the most valuable ones when the auctioneer’s hammer falls, and for that reason, a lot of trucks just like our subject rig end up restored.

You can make a pretty good argument that American trucks are, right now, in a similar spot in the market to where many muscle cars were back in the early 1990s.

At that time, factory-original condition wasn’t valued as much as the shiny paint of a high-dollar resto, so a lot of LS6 Chevelles and Hemi cars were given the shiny treatment. Ten years later, when the originality and patina movement gained traction, cars showing originality and evidence of the passage of time became desirable, and values then followed suit. Now, original patina on a rare car can bring top dollar.

Trucks have seen some of this shift — just look at some of the six-figure prices that trucks achieved at the Lambrecht Chevrolet sale in Nebraska a few years ago. But generally, the truck market hasn’t matured to the point where originality is valued on par with restoration — at least not yet. As such, we see a lot of trucks pop up at auction either wearing fake patina and air springs, or fitted with all kinds of repro parts on top of shiny new paint.

How it was is how it is

That doesn’t mean generally original trucks like our subject are now rare, but they are getting harder to find — especially solid examples that haven’t changed much from their original configurations.

That is basically what we’re looking at here with this mostly unrestored GMC. According to Travis Shetler, our ACC analyst on the ground in Reno, it’s wearing original paint, save for the white sections and the rear bumper, both of which have been touched up and look crisp.

But the typical rust areas, such as the floors, rocker panels, cab corners, bed-side toolbox door, and windshield surround all look solid, and all the original trim is present, if worn. Even the original hubcaps are still in place, and the body looks more or less straight other than a reported hood-shut issue that apparently happened after the auction-house photos were taken.

This thing clearly lived life in a dry climate, and it appears to have been pretty well cared for over the years considering its worker-bee status — but it’s generally been left alone other than a few minor touch-ups and a set of incorrect seat covers. The result is a truck that isn’t beat but shows its age evenly. That’s scarce in today’s market.

Blue-collar blue chip?

A big part of the collector car world is made up of people who are buying cars that they’ve always wanted to own. L88 Corvettes, most Hemi cars, LS6 Chevelles and Boss 429 Mustangs all fit into this category. That $61k Cheyenne Super I profiled in 2013 probably does, too.

But trucks were never supposed to be special. They were workers built in big numbers, and today, most live on the other side of the market — a place full of buyers attempting to recapture part of their past. These buyers bounced along on the front seat of one of these trucks next to Grandpa or Dad, back in those rose-colored days when the trip was the destination and all that mattered was the project at hand. These buyers want to relive that experience. For them, trucks like these are not aspirational buys — they’re sentimental ones.

The market has been trained on shiny trucks, so that’s what we see sell in the biggest numbers. But the truth is that if you’re out to buy back some of the past, a fully restored or modified truck won’t provide a better rerun of your memories than something like this. And you can’t argue with the price difference between this and a $20k restored rig, either. Best of all, unlike a glossy repainted truck with a high-dollar wood bed, you’ll be able to actually use this to haul things without worrying too much about destroying its value through wear and tear.

In most parts of the country, $4k will buy you a decent running rust bucket of a ’67–’72 GM with needs. That alone makes this presumably rust-free rig a steal of a deal, with the added bonus of the look of originality driving some potential upside in the future. And in the meantime, the new owner can take the kids along and load it up with lumber or bricks or whatever the project at hand dictates. I just hope he or she resists the temptation to completely restore it. Very well bought.

(Introductory description courtesy of Barrett-Jackson.

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