Daily Features

JANUARY 17, 2014: A SURVIVOR 1949 GMC TOW TRUCK CROSSES THE AUCTION BLOCK

By on January 17, 2014
49-gmc tow truck27

49-gmc tow truck27

 

* Mark Bach is a veteran of the Arizona car scene and he’s contributed pieces to MSCC in the past. This week he spotted a very unique survivor at the Barrett-Jackson auction so he filed this report:

 

“The car auctions are in full swing in Arizona this week. In just one week six firms will be selling cars and trucks for a collective SEVENTEEN days worth of sales.

 

Probably over $250 million will exchange hands this week.With that many cars on site, you can see just about everything and anything.

 

From over-restored, period authentic, they never “came out of that factory looking that good” art pieces; to cars that make you scratch your head and say why – all sorts of cars cross the auction block.

 

49-gmc tow truck12

 

For some people wanting to emulate the “rat rod” look, they create all sorts of illusions of “aged patina” – with flat suede paint, primer sprays and even some aggressive use of sand paper; a look can be produced but the real look just can’t be copied.

 

This 1949 GMC tow truck certainly has the look; and the background to support it.

 

Turns out the tow truck started out for Wessler’s Auto Body Shop, which opened up in Sacramento in 1942. This all-original truck still had a four speed manual transmission and a 228 cid engine. The Manley wrecker boom and winch were said to be still operable.

 

49-gmc tow truck20

 

We talked to the original owner of the truck, Dennis Wessler, who is the son of Hank Wessler who founded the body shop.

 

49-gmc tow truck19

 

The Wesslers moved out to Sacramento after their honeymoon. Hank Wessler, being an old farm boy, knew enough about machines and welding to work at the shops in Sacramento and learn the auto trade.

 

In 1942, Hank Wessler decided to go into business for himself and set up shop on in a garage behind his house. During the war, he welded airplanes in the day, and worked on the cars at night. After his business grew, he moved to the shop on J Street , which still stands today.

 

49-gmc tow truck25

 

In 1949 Hank Wessler saw the new GMC pickup sitting on the lot of FB Hunt Trucking, after a local farmer had cancelled his order.

 

After a few months of negotiating Hank became the proud owner, paying around $2,000, and after a few months converted it to a tow truck, engineering the winch setup in the bed of the truck and adding eight ply tires.

 

49-gmc tow truck14

 

Hank also engineered the rear end yoke so he could easily tow the Model A’s and T’s without banging them into his rear bumper, like other tow trucks of the day did. At that time a wooden ferry moved cars across the Sacramento River and the causeway and occasionally one vehicle would slip off the ferry into the water.

 

49-gmc tow truck23

 

This truck was designed to help pull them out and helped build his business.

 

Dennis recalls that another source of referrals were the nearby Navy pilots. Seems they would buy sports cars from an importer near the body shop and then race them at the airport.

 

But the end of the airport was rocks and gravel from nearby mining barges, and they needed the Wessler tow truck to haul them out on to the asphalt. Then of course the body shop could fix all the metal damage that had resulted from the run off.

 

49-gmc tow truck19

 

Dennis Wessler grew up in the business and used the tow truck at the local raceways. He used the truck to push start the Indy cars that raced at the state fairground’s one mile dirt track.

 

Dennis stated he used the truck for Mario Andretti’s Indy car as well as for other notable racers. Dennis stated that they used the truck nearly every weekend for the dirt tracks at Capital Speedway and Hughes Stadium.

 

Since they used salt on the clay tracks to firm them up, every Sunday he would take the truck down and power wash the underside to avoid any salt corrosion.

 

49-gmc tow truck13

 

The truck was a workhorse in the business, on call 24 hours a day, until the 90’s when insurance and state registration fees became excessive.

 

Finally, rather than sit unused at the shop, Dennis Wessler sold it to a local shop, James Auto Wrecking in 1998 with 96,000 original miles and was surprised to hear it had been sold this week at Barrett-Jackson. Dennis added it broke his heart to sell the truck.

 

When I asked if Dennis had access to the Internet to see the auction listing he replied “Absolutely not!” The Wessler’s finally shut down the shop after the son had been in the business for fifty years.The shop still has twelve cars in the bays and is ready to start up again for the right buyer.

 

49-gmc tow truck30

 

The side driver’s window had a nice crack and some obvious delamination showing and the truck had lots of paint transfer and dings that would take a body man weeks to hammer out. Dennis probably recalls where every one of those dings came from!

 

But it caught people’s attention. And since it was near the food trucks, more than one spectator thought nothing of leaning against it while eating their greasy hamburger.

 

49-gmc tow truck24

 

The interior was spartan but sported a clip board to allow the driver to write down his next tow order.

 

It sold on Wednesday at Barrett-Jackson for $12,650 and even included the original title and a company business card”.

 

Mark Bach

More of Mark’s automotive meanderings can be found at http://route66pubco.com/

Like us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter

Follow us on Pinterest

print

3872 Total Views 7 Views Today

About admin

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Facebook

Featured Ads

Rear View Mirror

mar13-mileimgp9365-001

MARCH 22, 2013: DEAR UNCLE SAM, WE USED TO MEASURE IN MILES PER HOUR TOO..HONEST

  I realized how far we have come off the tracks from that golden era of miles per hour when I had to cuff my over-30 nephew after he...

March 22, 2013 View more...
mar13-com64 chrysler-002

MARCH 17, 2013: COMMITMENT TO THE CAUSE–WHY WE LOOK FOR CAR STORIES WITH COMMITTED OWNERS

  We attended a vintage vehicle auction in our town recently and it was a nice break from the grim reality of a winter that was a guest that...

March 17, 2013 View more...
mar13-cudaimgp9406-003

MARCH 17, 2013: THE UNLOVED MOPAR: THE 1967-69 PLYMOUTH BARRACUDA-A FISH WITH A SMALL FOLLOWING

  I was at a recent car auction and two 1969 Barracudas came up on the block.   These were Formula S 340 cars and they were clearly in...

March 17, 2013 View more...
mar13-kddsc_0386-002

MARCH 14, 2013: THE CAR CULTURE IN ALBERTA EXTENDS TO AN INTERNATIONAL STAR-KD LANG’S 1964 METEOR

  I was born and raised in an area where the car culture is huge.   The region known as central Alberta Canada has one of the highest ratios...

March 14, 2013 View more...

Most Viewed

My Star Showcase

products-IMGP5647

MSCC Products and Services Showcase

These are all great businesses and they support MyStarCollector Car through their advertising  so we can continue to bring you our  insight into the old car hobby 365 days...

July 13, 2016 View more...
AD-contactIMGP8080

ADVERTISE ON MYSTARCOLLECTORCAR

Do you have an automotive-related business? If so, you should seriously consider marketing through MyStarCollectorCar.   We are currently averaging 61,000 impressions per day on Canada’s leading online car...

March 31, 2016 View more...
IGP2993-NOVA SC

CONTACT MSCC ABOUT YOUR 2017 CAR SHOWS, CLUB MEETINGS AND CLUB RELATED EVENTS

  CONTACT MSCC ABOUT YOUR 2017 CAR SHOWS, CLUB MEETINGS AND CLUB RELATED EVENTS   Have you already scheduled your car show for 2017?   “Send MSCC the information...

October 26, 2015 View more...
IMGP9613

JUNE 2017 CAR SHOWS AND EVENTS: MyStarCollectorCar

Help us out and give us your information about your show so it’s accurate. The sooner we have it, the more exposure you get. These pages get massive traffic...

October 11, 2015 View more...

More At My Star

GOOD NEWS: AN OLD CAR IS NOT SMARTER THAN YOU

  Today’s cars are a marvel in technology that almost seem like science fiction to those of us from a bygone era.   They live up to everything Popular Science predicted in the 50s and 60s-except for the anti-gravity flying car option-and the car manufacturers are working on that George Jetson angle.   New cars See More

THE 1955 AND ’65 FORDS: YEARS OF BIG BLUE OVAL CHANGES

  There is a world of difference in the ten years that separate a 1955 Ford from a 1965 Ford because a 1955 Ford does not resemble a ’65 Ford in any way, shape or form.   The two cars were built during an era when the Big Three wanted a new look every year See More

MY TO-DO LIST FOR VINTAGE VEHICLE EXPERIENCES

  Every car guy has a list of classic vehicles that we want to drive before we head to the Big Garage in the Sky and I am one of them.   There are unfulfilled car dreams in every one of us who embraced the internal combustion engine in its various forms at a young See More

MSCC JUNE 21 “WHAT’S IT?” WEDNESDAY—DON’T BE FOOLED BY THE PERSPECTIVE

2017 MSCC “WHAT’S IT?”   WEDNESDAY MSCC What’s It? Wednesday is back for 2017.   This is a weekly guessing game for car guys and it was one of the most popular new MSCC features in 2016.     MSCC JUNE 21 “WHAT’S IT?” WEDNESDAY—DON’T BE FOOLED BY THE PERSPECTIVE   Nothing is exactly as it See More

Editor’s Picks

42-001

4 CAR SHOWS IN 3 DAYS: IT WAS THAT PERFECT KIND OF WEEKEND

  One of the finest reasons to love the month June is the abundance of classic rides on the car show circuit.   The sun, the moon, the stars...

June 18, 2017 View more...
police

KEEPING IT REAL: EX-POLICE CARS—A HOT TREND IN THE HOBBY

  The car hobby is like any market because it has trends.   These trends can go up and down plus they can be very unpredictable so the key...

June 12, 2017 View more...
milner-001

FIVE QUESTIONS WITH AMERICAN GRAFFITI’S PAUL LE MAT—LIFE AS A CAR GUY SCREEN LEGEND

  American Graffiti debuted in August, 1973 and no one could have predicted that a simple look back at 1962 would turn into a piece of cultural history.  ...

May 11, 2017 View more...
IMGP7641

HOW TO GET YOUR CLASSIC READY FOR AN AUCTION

  January is definitely a high profile month for car auctions.   TV paved the way years ago when Barrett-Jackson started broadcasting prime time shows from Scottsdale, Arizona.  ...

January 16, 2017 View more...

Car Shows and Events

ClassicCar-001
MICHENER ALLEN COLLECTOR CAR AUCTION JULY 29, 2017

MICHENER ALLEN COLLECTOR AUCTION JULY 29, 2017   Phone: 403-226-0405 Fax: 403-226-0707 Toll Free: 1-877-811-8855 13090 Barlow Trail NE Calgary, Alberta  T3N 1A2 Click here for auction details  ...

June 19, 2017
2017-Raffle-Car-Artists-Rendering-1024x425
ST. ALBERT CRUISERS–GIVING BACK TO THE COMMUNITY

  The St. Albert Cruisers host one of the largest annual car shows in Canada every August.   They call it Rock n’ August for a reason because this...

April 30, 2017
71-img_7552
10TH ANNUAL CALGARY PREMIER COLLECTOR CAR AUCTION AT THE GREY EAGLE CASINO

EG Auctions Is Proud To Present: Our 10th Annual Calgary Premier Collector Car Auction at the Grey Eagle Casino! June 16th – 18th, 2017 INDOORS!!!! CONVENTION CENTER – 2...

April 21, 2017
IMGP9613
JUNE 2017 CAR SHOWS AND EVENTS: MyStarCollectorCar

Help us out and give us your information about your show so it’s accurate. The sooner we have it, the more exposure you get. These pages get massive traffic...

October 11, 2015

Ads

Ads responsive