The United States was experiencing the bad economic years of the 1930’s Great Depression. GMC, the leader of big truck sales, is feeling a market drop with no end in sight. Many of their dealers have either gone out of business or are trying to survive on customer mechanical repairs and selling other products.
The GMC Truck Division must do something soon to save their dealers and themselves. A solution was to enter into the small truck business in 1936. No doubt the GMC engineers had been under much pressure to create a light truck that would save this truck division of General Motors. The result: a very attractive truck that they hoped would be a step above the competition.
This finished product had more engine power for a light pickup, attractive trim and eye catching colors. The ½ was referred to as the T-14. It came only in a long 126” wheel base. The short bed GMC ½ ton 112” wheel base was not introduced until 1937.
GMC was so proud of their new little ½ ton, they even added an emblem with four fasteners on the lower right side cowl panel.
This month’s featured truck is one of these first pickups, a 1936 GMC T-14. Very few have survived. The proud owner and restorer is Pat Kroeger of Palm Harbor, Florida. His GMC has attracted so much attention it has been chosen as the Hallmark All-American Truck Keepsake Series Christmas tree ornament for 2013.
Here is Pat Kroeger’s personal story on his 1936 GMC T-14:
When I retired from the Fire Dept. in 2003, I started to look for another truck to have fun with. I had previously restored a 1922 American LaFrance Fire Engine for the Department that I worked for, but wanted something smaller.
I was looking for a late 40’s to early 50’s Chevrolet truck since a friend of mine had a 1953 Ford F-100 and I wanted to a bit competitive with him. While searching the
Internet I found my current truck, a 1936 GMC T-14 in Queens Creek AZ. My father in law lived part time close by in Phoenix AZ so he went and looked at it for me.
After his inspection, I decided to buy the truck and had it shipped back to Fla. I found out from the buyer that he was the second owner of the truck and that the original owner had bought it new in June of 1936 for $695 and it had been registered in Pinal County since new. The original owner restored the truck in 1989 and the second owner had done a few repairs.
The paint and body work was very good when I got the truck, but mechanically it was in poor condition. Every seal and gasket leaked, the brakes were shot, the head had a crack, the tires were dry rotted and the wood in the bed was dried beyond recognition.
In the last 10 years that I have owned it I have taken care of the above items plus have rebuilt all of the gauges, replaced the tail gate, rechromed the radiator ornament, repainted the wheels, rebuilt the carburetor, rebuilt the fuel pump, replaced the rear glass and surround, added the passenger side mirror, rewired the tank sending unit, replaced the 8 volt battery with a 6 volt Optima battery with new battery cables, replaced the bed wood and strips, replaced the clutch and rebuilt the pressure plate and reupholstered the seat. I have plans to disassemble the bed, fenders and grill and refresh the paint, since 20 years of nicks, bumps and scraps need to be taken care of and install four single action shocks.
Most of the mechanical items I have taken care of myself, but have farmed out the paint and chrome work.
I had no idea of the significance of this truck until I got it and started to research more about it. GMC offered this truck in two versions, Standard and Deluxe with the Deluxe version having chrome headlights and stands, chrome center grill gars, radiator ornament, polished stainless hood louvers and chrome hood handles. In addition to that, GMC also offered a Deluxe Cab option that included a chrome inside rearview mirror, arm rest on driver side, chrome windshield frame, sun glare shield, dome light and chrome wiper arm. The chrome front bumper was an added cost accessory, also. The standard color was Green Murant with black fenders, but eleven other colors were offered either as a single color or two tone.
From what the original owner told me, mine is the original color combination.
I also found out after getting this truck, that 1936 was a very bad year for GM due to a labor strike that lasted for months. Production of this model GMC was limited to 11,250 of which mine is the 3229 in the production run. 1936 was also, for the most part, a single year design for GMC. Few items came from 1935 and few items transferred to 1937.
I attempted to do a decent job of restoring this truck and although not a daily driver, I do put around 100 miles a month driving around to cruise ins and on weekends. I have thoroughly enjoyed working on this truck and like the fact that it is somewhat of a unique truck.
Patrick Kroeger, Palm Harbor, FL
Radiator Cap – a work of art
Hallmark 2013 Christmas ornament
A farmer could haul one horse!