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1982 GMC 2500 - The Truck GM Never Built: Part 1

A ¾-Ton Short Bed 4x4

Jerrod JonesWriterAlex KreidlPhotographer

My dad is a car guy. He’s had a number of cool ones from the ’60s and early ’70s, but he’s specifically a car guy. In fact, when I was little, he bought an El Camino for work duty, and it has served him faithfully to this very day. And that has sort of always irked me a little: An ElCo is a car with a big open trunk, if you ask me. It’s not a truck; it’s something that can’t make up its mind. I’ve always wanted my dad to have a real truck.

And that’s not to say my family never had a 4x4—my mom had a couple different GMC Suburbans in the ’90s, one of which my parents still own. But my dad has always preferred cars and that’s what he’s driven. When he sold the last of his toys a few years back, I knew it was my time to strike. And now that he’s in his mid-70s, he’s finally relaxed (a little) and has time to do things like enjoy a cross-country drive in a cool GMC 4x4.

I can’t think of a better gift to give him right now than a hot-rod GMC truck. I actually planned on this one being a surprise, but that plan failed when he walked into my garage one day and saw me dropping the new engine into this truck. Finding the right truck and finishing it has taken longer than I thought (three years, so far). But it’s getting close now, and I’ve gathered most of the parts I need. It’s time to finish the coolest truck I could for my dad.

I have to stick to one important rule: You don’t build a vehicle for someone else the same way you would for yourself. Examples: I can remember multiple times where a friend got into one of my vehicles and I had to explain, “Hit ‘this switch’ and then ‘push this’ and then start the truck.” Or having to explain to someone how to shift the truck into four-wheel-drive and lock the differentials because there are three shifters and two knobs. Those are just the types of things that would annoy my dad. He’s a car guy, not a truck guy. This has to be a single-key, crank-the-ignition, shift, and go type of vehicle for him to enjoy it. There can only be one shift lever on the floor for 4WD, and any locker engagement better be a simple switch mounted conveniently on the dash. Also, this truck will have to be clean—so clean even his yuppie neighbors will admire it. This has to be something that a hot-rod guy would drive.

This month, the engine compartment is going to see a bunch of new parts, and next time, the suspension and axles are going to be addressed. It should be one killer fullsize GMC 4x4 when completed.