As General Motor's stalwart and devoutly focused truck brand, GMC has produced years of tough and innovative trucks that are often completely overlooked by classic car collectors. But when it comes to exceptionally rare halo vehicles, the 'Professional Grade' division has a rich legacy of unique offerings that have kept brand awareness high and showroom traffic brisk for almost 110 years. In 1955, GMC wanted to capitalize on General Motor's newly redesigned 'Task Force' trucks and decided to commission an exclusive line topping model called the Suburban Carrier. Emphasizing car-like comfort and an upscale exterior appearance, the Suburban Carrier brought a new sense of class to large trucks that has since become a cornerstone of the full-size segment. As one of only 300 1955 Suburban Carriers produced, this immaculately restored, reference grade GMC features some of the coolest and most innovative design to ever leave GM's storied Argonaut styling studios.
Before we go any further, I'll go ahead and break down the trucks serial number for you:
101 8P Y4616
101 – Model specifications: 114 inch wheelbase/288 or 316 V8/GM T89 3-speed, 4-speed or Hydra-Matic/1777 cowl
8 – Engine: 288 cubic inch V8
P – Assembly: Assembled in Pontiac, Michigan
Y – Series: 100 (1/2 ton)
4616 – Production sequence
Logging just under 200 miles since a complete 2010 frame off nut and bolt restoration, this 1955 Suburban Carrier is one of the finest GMC trucks in the world. It's rock solid, highly stylized panels have been professionally sprayed in a date correct Dover White and Flame Red color combination which highlights the trucks classic appeal while not appearing comically overdone like many 50s restorations. While the Suburban Carrier was designed to appeal to more sophisticated buyers than the average GMC, it was still intended as a working vehicle, and it's newly strengthened chassis was heavily promoted in GMCs 1955 marketing materials. That adherence to strength and rugged execution makes for great panel fit which gives the sculpted body an expressly handsome profile.
Dubbed 'GMC Blue Chip Styling', the trucks original contours really speak loudly without resorting to overly busy trim, and you can see that Harley Earls design team had a great eye for both style and proportion. At the front of the truck traditional hooded headlamps sit at the sides of a heavy chrome grille that features prominent hollow tip bumper bullets and a red inlayed “100” emblem. Above the grille, a domed hood centers a large “GMC” hood inset and leads the eye to a swept back 'wide-horizon visibility' windshield. At the sides of that windshield, straight stainless trim flows from just above chrome door mounted mirrors all the way around the back of the cab emphasizing the trucks swept side glass and massive curved rear window. On the trucks fuselage, 'flow through' fender lines divide color coordinated “GMC HYDRA-MATIC” and “V8” fender emblems in front of pristine chrome door handles and vertical stainless bed caps. Behind the cab, a 6.5 foot steel cargo bed that features a wood floor and Flame Red detailing is housed in fiberglass fenders that were pinned by legendary GM designer Chuck Jordan. At the back of the truck, impossible to find hand fabricated chrome trimmed tail lights sit at the sides of a “GMC” branded steel tail gate that is secured with hidden retractable cables. Below that tailgate, a body matched and chrome capped rear bumper cleverly conceals the trucks spare tire behind its removable center panel.
All eight cylinder Suburban Carriers were powered by performance proven Pontiac V8s which were a complete transplant all the way down to their “Pontiac” scripted valve covers. And while this particular Suburban Carrier was in fact a V8 truck, it's original 288 'Strato Steak' has been swapped for a more powerful 1958 Pontiac 'Tempest' V8 that measures 370 cubic inches, runs a modest 8 to 1 compression ratio and produces 240 horsepower. At the top of the motor a correct Rochester two barrel carburetor sits under a correct satin black air cleaner. Below that carburetor, the Pontiac block presents a chip free coat of dark green paint and still wears its correct Pontiac valve covers. At the front of the engine, a correct radiator sends water through fresh hoses and at the back of the engine, a correct points distributor sends fire through Delphi Packard wires. At the sides of the motor cast iron exhaust manifolds send spent gases into a free flowing true dual exhaust system, and on the firewall, you'll find a new washer fluid bottle and great looking battery topper. While this truck is not grossly overpowered, it is a very versatile machine that has a healthy torque range and can navigate interstate traffic with ease.
General Motors new for 1955 'Task Force' truck line was designed to sell on looks, but it was also one of their most capable designs to date. The sturdy full parallel frame boasted six cross members instead of the previous trucks four, and it featured expanded track dimensions with longer front and rear leaf springs. At the front of this '55 GMC you'll find a rigid GM F022 axle that when combined with GM's robust SS H033 Hypoid 10 bolt rear end allowed this truck to go places and haul things that would make other trucks weak in the knees. The transmission is a premium Hydra-Matic 4-speed automatic, which greatly increases driving characteristics and provides smooth acceleration, and exhaust is handled by a welded true dual system that runs from cast iron manifolds to rear mounted turbo mufflers with aluminized tips. For the sake of authenticity, the trucks manual steering was preserved, but a new frame mounted brake booster feeds upfitted power front disc brakes and upgraded power rear drums. At the corners, Flame Red 15 inch steel wheels wear new stainless hubcaps and trim rings inside of modern 215/75 front and 235/75 rear American Classics white wall radials.
Climb inside this GMCs completely restored interior and you're immediately enveloped in a bright and airy cockpit that is both simple and timeless. The correct red and white upholstery is an excellent mixture of vinyl and cloth that is draped over a completely rebuilt bench seat and extended onto slick looking stainless trimmed arm rests. Behind those stainless trimmed arm rests, correct two tone doors hold new chrome window cranks, and new chrome door handles. In front of the seats, a smooth and clean two-tone dash holds a simple aluminum instrument binnacle above chrome knobs for the trucks accessories and a correct GMC AM radio. In front of the driver, a correct two-tone steering wheel is topped by a pristine chrome trimmed GMC horn button and sits on a red column above a GMC Truck Hydra-Matic shifter and gear indicator. New correct carpet is underfoot, and a fantastic looking white headliner sits between a stylized dome light and a roof mounted speaker. This interior must have cost a fortune, and it is one of the many highlights of this amazing truck!
It's easy to imagine this cool old GMC hauling a vintage Airstream or sitting next to a graceful farm house on a sunny day. It was designed to turn heads in the 50s and it's guaranteed to create double takes and stares everywhere it goes today. With a low production run and years of virtual invisibility, Suburban Carriers are becoming very hard to find, and there can't be many with expensive, high-quality restorations done to this level. If you're a GMC fan, an old truck enthusiast, or just someone who wants to drive something nobody's ever seen before, this '55 GMC is your hot ticket! Call now!
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