By on July 5, 2012

Contrary to popular belief, the patchouli-scented hippies who followed the Grateful Dead around the country for 30 years rarely drove VW Transporters. No, they drove whatever beaters they could scrape up for cheap, preferably trucks or vans that doubled as sleeping quarters. Many of them chose big ol’ Detroit trucks, and this GMC survivor managed to outlive Jerry Garcia by a good 17 years before coming to rest in a Denver self-service yard.
Slapping a whole bunch of Deadhead stickers that you bought at “Shakedown Street” on your truck is a serious commitment; I can say from personal experience riding in (or being ordered to put my hands on the hood of) friends’ Deadhead-sticker-encrusted hoopties that such vehicles attract plenty of law enforcement attention.

Let’s put on a song that the previous owner of this truck no doubt grooved upon often, though no doubt he or she preferred some muffly 17th-generation bootleg cassette version from a live show in 1974.
This thing no doubt sucked alarming quantities of gasoline, but splitting the cost among 11 dudes riding in the bed keeps per-person costs low.
You’d expect a V8 in such a truck, maybe a 327 or even a 396, but there’s a monster V6 under this truck’s hood.
I don’t know chapter and verse about these engines, but I’m pretty sure this one packs 351 cubic inches of displacement.
Nice minimalist instrument cluster here, with very few idiot lights.
How many variations of the “Steal Your Face” skull were made over the decades? This one has a 1982 date on it, which seems about right.

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14 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1968 GMC C1500 Sugar Magnolia Edition...”

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Ahem, Murilee, your education on GMC V6 truck engines:

    Hoping you all pardon the link but do find benefit in the meat of this article.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes, I’d guess it’s a 305. These engines were fairly uncommon by 1968.

      • 0 avatar

        Could very well be a 351. It must have indeed sucked a lot of gas. Here is a link to a wealth of GMC V-6 data.

        Scroll down to “Magnum Engines”. 1968 appears to be the last year of the V-6 in light duty trucks, which makes sense because of emissions regulations. A Chevy engine, shared with passenger cars, would spread the cost of compliance over millions of units. These medium duty engines were huge overkill for a half ton truck.

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        I’m pretty sure it’s a 305, based on the Stromberg WW2 carb and the shape of the manifolds. 351E was an option, though. The data plate in the cab should specify which one the truck was built with.

        IIRC, ’69 was the last year that GMC offered the V6 as a regular option in the pickups, but it could be special-ordered as late as 1972.

        Murilee: go back and grab those V6 fender badges!

  • avatar

    Thanks MM for the earworm.

    Not that that’s a bad thing as I happen to like Sugar Magnolia (and no, didn’t need to play it, just mention it and it becomes one in my head) – and much of the Dead’s work though I’m no Dead Head in that I followed them anywhere, I just happen to have a few of their albums, including Working Man’s Dead and Shakedown Street (both great albums) along with at least one other on CD.

    I have Sugar Magnolia on a mix CD that’s now become a digital file in a mix folder on my thumb drive in my car that the whole mix originated on cassette back in the 90’s.

    As to this truck, looks to have been used up and it also looks to have been repainted at some point and time as the interior color looks to be a goldenrod kind of yellow, whilst the exterior looks to be very faded pale yellow or an off white paint job that has held up for a long while without care surprisingly.

    Nice find.

    • 0 avatar

      I grew up listening to the Dead as a kid, because it was (and is) my mom’s favorite band. To me, it’s Old People Music (and I’m 46, which means it’s for really old people) and not really my thing, though sometimes I can enjoy some of Garcia’s more bluegrassy stuff. In fact, I think it’s a shame that Jerry didn’t stick with the bluegrass instead of going all rock-n-rollish– he was damn good at it.

      I went to a handful of shows in the mid-80s and thought they were OK, if somewhat tedious.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Did it have a long strange trip between production and the junkyard?

  • avatar

    “Contrary to popular belief, the patchouli-scented hippies who followed the Grateful Dead around the country for 30 years rarely drove VW Transporters.”

    Okay, speaking as TTAC’s resident Deadhead, as someone who once actually rode in the back of a pickup truck from Ann Arbor to Detroit, in November, to see the Dead play, my friend Murilee is badly mistaken. This particular Deadhead may abhor patchouli but I’ve had two VW Buses, a ’67 split-window and then a hi-po’d ’72 that my ex custom lettered “Too Much” “Magic Bus” under the left and right sides of the back window.

    One summer, I think it was in ’86 or so, I was working for DuPont and had to drive down to Toledo to get a part for an industrial washing machine we were using to separate water from paint booth sludge. All the way down to Toledo I kept seeing all sorts of VW Buses and I thought it was odd. Then, after I got off of I-75 and onto a two-lane, I spotted an old Furthur style IH schoolbus, wildly painted, that was obviously taking back roads because it couldn’t do highway speeds and the light bulb went on, that all those Transporters were on their way to Pine Knob for the same show that we were going to attend that night.

    Just about every Dead show that I went to had VW Type IIs lined up in the parking lot. I remember, in the Shakedown Street vendor area, seeing one Type II with a full size pizza oven in the passenger compartment and another with a espresso/cappuccino maker in the back.

    As the years went by, you’d see more Vanagons, but even today if you go see the Other Ones or another Dead-remnant band, there will be Volkswagen buses in the parking lot.

    I once made “not wearing any patchouli” a condition for giving a friend a ride to a show near Cleveland.

  • avatar

    Grew up in the ‘Frisco east bay.

    I preferred Jefferson Airplane and Quicksilver Messenger Service to the dead but I was an Alpha Male unlike so many of those wimpy wimps who got all warm and fuzzy with the Dead.


  • avatar

    I think they put tarps over the frame work in the back when It was time to catch some zzz’s

  • avatar

    Q. Why do Dead fans dance that way?

    A. To keep the music out of their eyes.

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