By on January 9, 2010

Before

Yesterday’s pursuit of ugliness is going to spill over a bit into today’s TTAT. I consider the late’55- ’56 Chevy’s face to be one of the finest ever in the history of trucks. It’s a terrific adaptation of the remarkably clean ’55 Chevy sedan. The classic egg crate grille is nicely balanced by the single headlights, and ornamentation is kept to a minimum. GMC has been in the business of trying to differentiate their otherwise almost identical trucks forever, usually to poor effect. The other day, I ran into what has to be the most egregious example of ruining a fine face. Brace yourselves:

after the GMC uglification studio got finished

I guess GMC’s 2010 Terrain comes by its ugly mug honestly.

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44 Comments on “Curbside Classic Truck Saturday: How GMC Uglified One Of The Most Handsome Trucks Ever...”


  • avatar
    paul_y

    GMC was redeemed in the 60-66 trucks, I think.
     
    For the most part, I’ve always considered GMCs to be slightly better looking than their Chevy equivalents. However, I was blessedly ignorant of the mid 50s GMCs, apparently.

    • 0 avatar
      Pig_Iron

      I bet it looked fabulous in clay. It also had on of  the nicest GMC logos (not shown in picture).

    • 0 avatar
      jjd241

      I may have already shared this here, but it seemed appropriate to post it again…

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGi9iNXdJn4

    • 0 avatar
      spousta

      it may not of been the most buetiful but it was the most practical. you cannont compare these 2 trucks. the gmc second series 100 was a farm truck. the big bumper was made so you can push things without damaging your gmc. also the most gmc’s were long beds and had the 261 straight six. the most common largest v8 was a 268. wich produced more hp but less torque. gmc made this truck to be abused. you cant compare the two chevy and gmc second series. there 2 diffrent trucks with diffrent motors and diffrent purposes. its like comparing a donkey with a horse. horse is better to look at but you use a donkey to carry a load and do the work.

  • avatar
    JSF22

    The best comment so far on the Terrain’s appearance came in this week’s scathing review by Dan Neil of the LA Times (well worth reading.) He says it looks like they strapped a window air conditioner to the front end.

    • 0 avatar

      +1… that review made me wish (and not for the first time) that TTAC had the budget to buy Neil’s considerable talents. Thanks for posting the link!

      Also, that truck looks like Cthulu after a night of heavy drinking. Yikes!

    • 0 avatar
      mpresley

      You put a cord behind it and the Terrains’s a dead ringer for my old man’s Remington electric razor from the late 50s.

    • 0 avatar
      ChevyIIfan

      Not sure I would trust a writer for the LA Times as an expert, lol.
      That said, I have not driven a terrain yet, but I have driven an edge and a murano (both about 1k miles each) and I couldn’t wait to get out of either one. So when he says they are better options I either think the terain really is that bad or he really doesn’t know what he is talking about. I’m inclined to go with the latter, given his position.

    • 0 avatar
      Runfromcheney

      Chevy II Fan: I don’t think you know Dan Neil that well. Aside from this site and Jeremy Clarkson, he is the only auto critic out there that is really worth a damn,

    • 0 avatar
      AccAzda

      Autolinedetroit had a couple of decent writers on their show about a month or so back…

      He’s won a Peabody for his writing about cars.

      NTM, I dont think there is a single decent car reviewer out there.
      I get feeds from Phila Inq (theyve sold out to CARS.com 15yrs ago), NYTimes (If Micheliene Maynard isnt writing..l not worth it. They botched the review on the “new” Taurus.. COMPLETELY), DETNEWS (is decent although a bit halfassed)

      Dan Neil doesnt b.s and will tell ya straight out about his opinion.

  • avatar
    getacargetacheck

    I’d have to agree about these trucks.  Wow.  I’ve always thought that the GMC front clips were more handsome from 1988 on because of their less fussy grills.  However, the latest Silverado to me is more handsome for some reason.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    Yes, that model GMC was particularly ugly. But in 1957 they pioneered a new low-cost line for GMC that didn’t have any of the scoops etc. What it did have was a plain piece of wire mesh for a grille, something that looked like it was designed and manufactured before breakfast.
    I thought the best-looking GMC’s were the 1954 and early ’55 curved-windshield models. They had a fine-looking instrument panel too. My father had a dump truck in that style; short-wheelbase 6-yard; 11.00×20 tires that stuck out from under the front fenders; electric fuel pump; a powerful, good-working rig. He kinda got screwed on it when he bought it, paid too much because it was low mileage, in spite of the Alaska plates on it. Turned out it had wintered on a construction job somewhere around the North Slope, and had simply been left running all winter. After the engine rebuild though, it gave us no more problems.

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    Even though that front end may be ugly it was also very distinctive. You could tell a GMC truck from as far away as you could see it without any doubts.

  • avatar
    jpcavanaugh

    I was starting to wonder if you had forgotten about Truck Saturday.  Yep, that is one ugly truck.  It looks like GMC sent three designers out for ideas.  One went to the Cadillac studio, one to the Buick studio, and one to the Oldsmobile studio.  Each made a sketch and returned.  GMC then used them all on the front of this truck.
    Somebody at TTAC needs to apologize to the Datsun F-10, because it is nowhere near as horrid as this truck.
    I am starting to wonder if this truck was the inspiration for Mater in the Pixar movie Cars.  The inspiration for the buck teeth is easy to see.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    The GMC front end kind of reminds me of a stylized Chinese dragon head. Could GM’s past have presaged its future?

  • avatar
    educatordan

    I have always preferred the GMC front ends but then my frame of reference has always been the 1970s n up models.  My father talks about my departed grandfather having a 1953 GMC for most of the time he was growing up but I’ve never even seen a picture of it.

  • avatar
    Bergwerk

    It looks like they raided the Oldsmobile pars bin for some bumper bullets.

    • 0 avatar
      jjd241

      DAGMARS! (with inverted nipples)
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dagmar_bumpers

      http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&rlz=1T4ADBR_enUS310US310&q=dagmars%20bumpers&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wi

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    I have to agree the Chevies of those years are cleaner/better looking.    But, the GMCs with chrome grills look at least marginally better than with painted grills.
    http://piecemakerz2.com/catalog/images/56%20pickup%20004.jpg

  • avatar

    My grandmother once owned one of the ’57′s. She assures me it was dreadfully unreliable.
    To it’s defense, I’ll bet it’d be a great fishing truck. That front clip sure looks like a catfish face.

  • avatar
    2Goldens

    That GMC has the mug of a sad, old bulldog. Typical GMC brand engineering. <Sigh>

  • avatar
    Syke

    Actually, the small GMC pickup was uglier than that mid-line truck.  Try to visualize that front end, only it’s done in CHROME!  What can I say, it’s was the 50′s.
     
    As to the rationale for GMC, I remember asking my dad (the Chevy dealer) about that.  He couldn’t give me an answer, because he had no idea why GM divided it’s truck lines into two nameplates back then.  The closest thing he had to a rationalization was that in some markets, GMC’s sold well while you couldn’t move a Chevy.  Go figure.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    In those days, GMC was Pontiac’s truck division. They were built in Pontiac, and this generation used the original reverse-cooling (or something) Pontiac V8 instead of the SBC. GMCs didn’t really become rebadged Chevys until the late ’60s.

  • avatar
    AccAzda

    God…
    Nothing HAS changed.

    This… is exactly why I think GMC should have been canned… theres no reasn for this ALSO ran to exist.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    “This… is exactly why I think GMC should have been canned… theres no reasn for this ALSO ran to exist.”

    Bullship! If it wasn’t for GMC I would have been forced to buy a Chevy 2500HD in ’04 with that fugly Avalanche front end!…LOL

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    “Ummm..
    “You CAN go out and BUY a front clip from the aftermarket to turn ya GMC into the Chevy it was meant to be….without the Avalanche b.s”

    Yeah right.  I’m gonna tear apart a brand new 40K truck and spend money to lower its resale value. NOT! 

  • avatar
    Jimal

    How many designs from when this truck was new are considered timeless today? Is it considered ugly by today’s standards? Sure. Was it considered ugly back then? I don’t think many people cared. It was a tool; nothing more, nothing less.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Chevrolet or GMC? I buy whichever one I can get the best deal on. Can’t figure out why GM bothers with two versions of the same truck.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    GMC is GM’s #2 division in sales – and was even before the demise of Pontiac and Saturn.
    GM makes clones of Chevy trucks and calls them GMCs because they sell.   Why do they sell?   I have no idea.
    But you can’t argue with success.

    • 0 avatar
      fincar1

      I think this is a question that will never be answered satisfactorily. Certainly at one time GMC had the full line of trucks right up to the biggest line-haul rigs, and for a long time I think the GMC light-duty rigs benefited from that association, to the point where Chevrolet made a few forays into the heavy-truck market. Also in the 50′s and 60′s the GMC’s had heavier-duty engines, whether they were redesigned, beefed up stovebolt motors or the unique V6′s of the early 60′s. But from the end of the truck V6…1966 iirc…GMC’s have simply been rebadged Chevies. That is a lot of generations for the big-truck aura to surround GMC especially since the GMC heavy truck lines were sold off quite a few years ago.
      Perhaps it will simply have to get to the point when the old farts like me who can remember when they had good GMC trucks are all dead or in the home before it becomes obvious that GM continuing to make both truck lines doesn’t make sense.

    • 0 avatar
      Juniper

      I don’t pretend to be a marketing guy, but with pickups the  #1 and #3 selling vehicles is this a way to “share the wealth” with the Buick ex Pontiac dealers? The GMC truck  sales per dealer have to be pretty good. Does the owner /business manager of the construction company check out GMC trucks while he is having his Buick serviced? Maybe.

  • avatar

    that is one thugly truck mug.

  • avatar
    Andy D

    I t does remind me of a bulldog  or a boxer. In ’57, the GMC had a different  drive  train than Chevy.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    I might add that this was the only truck on which the stylists ever integrated the grille and front bumper to any extent. I think it’s an indication that the stylists were riding pretty high at GM in the mid-fifties. They did achieve the largest visual difference ever between Chevy and GMC light trucks.
    The GMC truck pictured is a medium truck that has a taller face to accomodate the larger fenders necessary to cover the larger truck wheels. The vertical stretching of the bumper/grille to fit the added height didn’t help its looks.

  • avatar
    NickR

    GM product planners.  Perhaps you’d better look at getting the 3.6 in there, stat!  EVERY review I’ve read comments on the disappointment with both engines.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    “Its only marked up by about 7-10g”

    Your completely clueless, but I kind of suspected that by your first post. I bought a new GMC in ’04 and a Chevy in ’07.   Similarily equipped they are the pretty much the same price. Anyone in the know, will tell you the same thing. 

     

    • 0 avatar
      AccAzda

      My question is..

      What is the point is equiping BOTH trucks with the same goods.. and basically paying the same price?

      Then again..
      What is the point of selling TWO trucks from the same automaker…

  • avatar
    MusicMachine

    My favorite is the thin white walls and the true hubcaps.


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