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

4081 Total Views 1 Views Today

About admin

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Facebook

Featured Ads

Rear View Mirror

53-imgp2686

MAY 24, 2014 (JUNE 2014): WHAT IN THE WORLD IS ‘WILD THING’? YOU HAVE TO SEE THIS TO BELIEVE IT!

  We see many unique custom rides over the course of a year, but this 1953 Buick may well be one of the most striking custom cars we have...

May 24, 2014 View more...
apr12-firebimgp6736-001

MAY 1, 2012 STAR TRUCKIN’: 1975 GMC 6500 PUMPER TRUCK- A POST-RETIREMENT JOB FOR A FIREFIGHTER

  Frank Westphal wrote a song with the lyrics “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away. They just end their day.”   General Douglas MacArthur used this line...

May 1, 2012 View more...
car guy bros imgp0021

MAY 15, 2010: YOU’VE GOT A FRIEND:THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE CAR GUY

  I have yet to meet a genuine car guy who has never spent time on the side of the road.   “You want to join the old car...

May 15, 2010 View more...
63 forddsc_3861800

MAY 6, 2009: ’63 RUM RUNNER 427 FORD- THE “REVENUERS” WORST ENEMY

  We are reprinting this article about a very rare “Rum Runner” 1963 Ford Galaxie in its entirety.   Many many thanks to The Ford Galaxie Club of America...

May 6, 2009 View more...

Most Viewed

My Star Showcase

IMGP8518

MSCC SEPTEMBER 2017 STARS OF THE SHOW: THE SUMMER OF 2017 PART ONE

MSCC SEPTEMBER 2017 STARS OF THE SHOW: THE SUMMER OF 2017 PART ONE   There were many car shows in 2017 and MSCC put on a lot of miles...

September 15, 2017 View more...
My Star logo1-001

MSCC MARKET REPORT 2017

  MSCC MARKET REPORT 2017   Welcome to the newest feature at MyStarCollectorCar.   This will be a regional look at prices for collector vehicles based on actual sales...

August 3, 2017 View more...
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...
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...

More At My Star

SEPTEMBER 21 MSCC FIVE FOR FRIDAY: FIVE REASONS WE LIKE THE SEPTEMBER 1973 EDITION OF CAR CRAFT

  It has been many years since MyStarCollectorCar inherited a collection of old car magazines because of a series of events that started with a disgruntled bride who told her husband the old magazines were no longer welcome in their house.   We were happy to get the magazines because they covered the Seventies very See More

CONVERTIBLES WITH THE ROOF UP—HAVE WE BECOME TOO SOFT FOR SOFT TOPS?

  There was an era when virtually every car was a convertible.   It was called the horseless carriage era and very few carriages had a roof so the automobile followed suit.   Eventually every car had a roof unless you opted for the convertible option—then you ended up paying more for something that came See More

MSCC SEPTEMBER 20 “WHAT’S IT?” WEDNESDAY—TAKE BOTH CLUES IF YOU NEED THEM

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 SEPTEMBER 20 “WHAT’S IT?” WEDNESDAY—TAKE BOTH CLUES IF YOU NEED THEM   There’s a good reason See More

SELF HELP: HOW YOU CAN BECOME A BETTER PERSON-TACKLE A CAR PROJECT

  There is an entire industry devoted to people who need to climb out of life’s swamp and become a better person along the way.   We at MyStarCollectorCar are not exactly experts in this field, but we know self-help involves challenges and conquering same, so we pick a car project as a great way See More

Editor’s Picks

IMGP0224

SEPTEMBER 2017 MSCC ROAD WARRIORS—SOME OF THE SIGHTS FROM SUMMER 2017

  Summer 2017 was a spectacular time for old iron on the streets because there was one sunny day after another.   Car guys love warm summer days so...

September 7, 2017 View more...
IMGP9655

SEPTEMBER 2017 COASTERS 50: THE ORIGINAL CANADIAN COASTER—A 1929 CHEVROLET LANDAU

    Regular MSCC readers are well aware of the Canadian Coasters Tour.   2017 marked the official start of the 50th Anniversary Tour but the Canadian Coasters lineup...

August 31, 2017 View more...
IMGP6224

THE ELUSIVE DODGE POLARIS: HOW A CLASSIC CAR BECAME A SNOWMOBILE

  Time is the sworn enemy of memory and accuracy.   I was at a self-serve gas station in a 1963 Plymouth when I met a friendly old cat...

August 30, 2017 View more...
IMGP7176-001

THE GUILD GARAGE: WHEN A HALF HOUR CAR SHOW JUST SEEMS LIKE AN HOUR

  Restoration Garage always lived up to its non-car guy producers’ goal to produce a docu-drama.   The producers appeared to believe in the standard TV playbook wherein a...

August 3, 2017 View more...

Car Shows and Events

IGP2993-NOVA SC
CONTACT US TO LIST YOUR 2017 CAR SHOWS

CONTACT US TO LIST YOUR 2017 CAR SHOWS AND EVENTS info@mystarcollectorcar.com 846760 Total Views 696 Views Today

June 23, 2017
609e4f8088b24a37a91610d0d6454e15_1-001
MICHENER ALLEN AUCTION SEPTEMBER 20, 2017: 1985 CHEVY SILVERADO

1985 Chevrolet Silverado Regular Cab Make:   Chevrolet            Model:                 Silverado Drivetrain:           RWD      Ext Color:             Black Engine:                 5.7L 8 Cylinder Engine    Odometer Reading:...

June 19, 2017
BACH2
10TH ANNUAL RED DEER FALL FINALE & SPEED SHOW

 10TH ANNUAL RED DEER FALL FINALE & SPEED SHOW     COLLECTOR CAR AUCTION – CLASSIC CAR AUCTION The 10th Annual Fall Finale Classic Car Auction September 8th-10th, 2016 –...

April 21, 2017
IMGP1515-001
SEPTEMBER 2017 CARS SHOWS AND EVENTS: MyStarCollectorCar.com

It’s never too early to contact us about your club or community car show for 2017. Get your listing to us and take advantage of the exposure you’ll get...

October 9, 2015

Ads

Ads responsive