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1972 GMC K2500 - Backward Glances

Posted in Features on March 1, 2013 Comment (0)
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It wasn’t such a big deal when General Motors retired the ’67-to-’72 truck line for the new ’73s. The hoopla came later, when ’67-to-’72 Chevrolets and GMCs became just about the most popular and valuable GM collector truck of all time.

The truck was built in November, 1971 and ordered with the 350 Invader V-8, TH350 automatic, heavy-duty rear springs, heavy-duty shocks, tinted glass, gauge package, AM radio, Custom Camper, side moulding, door edge guards, locking hubs, power steering, chrome front bumper and Custom Deluxe trim. That’s a bit more than $700 of extra equipment. With the base price and extras, that’s $4,400 in 1972 dollars. Doesn’t seem like much, but that’s about $19,000 in today’s dollars.

The ’67-to-’72 era was when GMC trucks gradually lost the last vestiges of independence from the Chevrolet line. They had long (and grudgingly) shared body shapes, but GMC sourced its own powerplants, some of them produced in-house. The legendary GMC inline-sixes and the innovative 305ci V-6 are but two examples of that. For many years, GMC had sourced its V-8s from Pontiac, disdaining the Chevy small-blocks in favor of big-car big-block torquers. The GM bean counters finally realized the financial benefits of badge engineering in the late ’60s and began breaking down the wall between GMC and Chevrolet. By the end of 1969, the 305ci GMC V-6 had been replaced by Chevy inlines, and only a few minor independent technical touches remained.

The Edelbrock Performer intake, cam, valve covers, HEI ignition, and dual exhaust are modern power-adders to the 190-horse Invader 350. With 4.10 cogs and the warmed up 350, the truck is a spirited performer.

For 1972, the GMC 4x4s were divided into two lines, the K1500 ½-ton and the K2500 ¾-ton. In this era, there were no 1-ton 4x4s, though GMC offered them as a 4x2. Within the two payload classifications were the KS and KE designations. KS was a six-cylinder powered 4x4 with the 250ci inline as the base engine, with the 292ci optional for an extra $90. The KE line started off with the 307ci two-barrel “Invader” V-8, with the Invader 350ci four-barrel as the $49 extra. A base KE cost you $120 more than a base KS.

The truck was optioned with the heavy-duty rear springs and shocks, which raised the GVW from 6,400 to 7,500 pounds; with the 8.75-16.5 load range D tires, it earned the right to carry the “Custom Camper” badge. You could order the springs, tires, or shocks a-la-carte and not have the badge. To get the badge, though, you had to have all the required equipment.

The ½-ton came on either a 115- or a 127-inch wheelbase, and the ¾-ton came only on 127 inches. Bed styles were optional between the Fenderside (stepside) or Wideside (Fleetside) types, and you could order wooden bed floors on both types. Cab and chassis models were available for commercial buyers, of course. Trim levels varied from the bare-bones Custom, with a barely padded vinyl bench seat and rubber floormats, to the Super Custom that added better interior trim, a nicely padded seat with cloth inserts, a bunch of brightwork, and some extra insulation—but still a rubber floormat. The top-dog Sierra Grande package had woodgrain inserts and nylon houndstooth inserts in the seats and carpets. Air conditioning was a $400 option.

The truck was optioned with the heavy-duty rear springs and shocks, which raised the GVW from 6,400 to 7,500 pounds; with the 8.75-16.5 load range D tires, it earned the right to carry the “Custom Camper” badge. You could order the springs, tires, or shocks a-la-carte and not have the badge. To get the badge, though, you had to have all the required equipment.

The K2500 drivetrain consisted of choices between the Saginaw SM330 three-on-the-tree, the SM435 four-speed or the TH350 automatic. Up front was a Dana 44 set up with eight lugs but this was still the era when Dana used the small 260X axle U-joints. One of the last vestiges of GMC independence came in the form of the full-float Dana 60 rear axle. Chevy trucks of the era used the 14-bolt. The KE2500s came standard with 4.10:1 axle ratios with 4.56:1 optional. A rear limited slip was optional for $135. All the trucks used the now-legendary NP205 transfer case.

This ’72 GMC K2500 belongs to Dan Marcum. Correction, it now belongs to his daughter, Emily Marcum, who will take the truck when she finishes college. How’s that for a dad? Dan bought the truck in very good original condition, with a few ’70s-era upgrades, in 2008. It came from Oregon, so was considered a rust-free truck by Southern Ohio standards. Marcum didn’t do a frame-off restoration, but with the help of a good friend, Bill Tootle, they redid the body in its original Hugger Orange and Corvette White. From there he went thru the interior and mechanicals as needed.

This is the middle-level Super Custom interior in a color called Parchment. Marcum had the seat redone in the same material as original. Fortunately, the ’67-to-’72 GM trucks are very popular, and repro parts are readily available if you want to go back to stock. The only upgrade here is a vintage-looking Sun tach.

Few trucks remain bone stock when they live a long life. Rather than tear out all the ’70s- era mods, Marcum decided to embrace them and added a few of his own. Among the period mods are a vintage Warn 8274 winch in a Warn Combo Mount, Fenton Gyro five-slot mags, a rubberized gun rack, and bedside tie downs. The auxiliary fuel tank is also a vintage piece. A few engine mods are more modern in nature, as is a generic 4-inch lift.

The venerable Warn 8274 winch debuted just a couple of years after this truck was built and could be considered a classic in its own right. The old-school winch with the accompanying mount and good ol’ KC Daylighters harken back to simpler times. Four Wheeler tested a ’72 Chevy K20, which was essentially the same truck as this, and Editor Bill Sanders said the off-road performances was “…nothing short of a Sherman tank.” In a pre-gas crunch world and 36-cent-per-gallon gas, 7.8-9.8 mpg in all testing venues barely elicited a comment. The Four Wheeler test truck was upfitted with Uniroyal 10x16.5 off-road tires, which cost $400 for the set of five.

The Hugger Orange truck turns a lot of heads in Ohio and probably induces chiropractic distress wherever it goes. That’s right and proper, given the ’67-to-’72 era truck’s popularity. Funny thing is, the AM radio only plays disco music.

The Details
Vehicle: 1972 GMC K2500
Owner: Emily Marcum
Estimated value: $17,000-$20,000
Engine: 350ci Invader V-8
Power (hp): 190 @ 4000
Torque (lb-ft): 310 @ 2400
Bore & stroke (in): 4.00 x 3.50
Comp. ratio: 8.5:1
Transmission: TH350, 3-spd automatic
Transfer case: NP205
Front axle: Dana 44
Rear axle: Dana 60
Axle ratio: 4.10:1
Tires: 8.75-16.5 (OE), 33x12.50-16 BFG All-Terrain
L x W x H (in): N/A Wheelbase (in): 127
GVW (lbs): 7,500 (6,400 was std.)
Curb weight (lbs): 4,392
Fuel capacity (gal): 21
MSRP: $3,703 (base), $4,414 (as built)

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