The Canadian Coasters have been running tours across Canada for 50 years.
The first Coast to Coast tour was organized to celebrate the 100th year of Confederation and it was such a success, they kept the tradition.
The other key to success is to take a reliable vehicle and this ’58 GMC was built for the long haul.
Don Clark is the proud owner of this classic pickup and he explained why he upgraded the truck. He wanted his ’58 GMC to reflect the positive changes in auto technology over the years.
This truck was in great shape thanks to its unique history. Don explained how the first owner was a farmer in Indiana and he used it as a feed mixer in his shed for most of its working life. The body and chassis spent time in the shed but the farmer left the original box outside where it “got rusty” according to Don.
Don spotted an ad for the truck with the caption “call after the 15th”. He did call and the truck was still for sale because “most people gave up” because of the timeline in the ad text. Don found out the 2nd owner “couldn’t pass a safety because it didn’t have a bumper” so he gave up after a year and sold the truck. Perseverance paid off because the GMC generated a lot of buyer interest but Don figured out the fine print in the text.
This ’58 GMC was a great platform for a project but Don had some issues he wanted to address. He completely rebuilt the early 70s 350 Chevy small block, added and new cam and upgraded the compression at the same time.
The truck has a Turbo 400 in place of the old 4-speed farm truck gears because it made more sense to not top out at about 60 miles per hour.
There’s a Ford 9” rear end in the ’58 GMC now so it’s not only bulletproof—it’s also a far more forgiving gear ratio. The rear end is tucked under a new (87-97 Stepside) box because it fit and the old one was such a mess from decades of outside storage.
There are disc brakes to haul truck and trailer down with less drama and the truck has some upgraded Buick seats to make the ride comfortable too.
Don was confident his ’58 GMC would make the grade but he was also cautious because he was “just starting out” on the cross-country run. He said his gas mileage was “around 22 miles per gallon with the trailer and about 17 miles per gallon without it”.
Don is a veteran of the Coasters tour—he did one in 2010 with a ’55 Ford but this time he’s hauling a ’77 Surfside EEE trailer. He remembered “how much fun” the trip was and how many friends they made within the Coasters community.
The Coasters plan for years to make these trips because the logistics are off the charts in difficulty but none of them regret the decision.
Don is what you call a typical Canadian Coaster—plan ahead and make lifetime friends and memories.
By: Jerry Sutherland
Jerry Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer with a primary focus on the collector car hobby. His work has been published in many outlets and publications, including the National Post, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Regina Leader-Post, Vancouver Sun and The Truth About Cars. He is also a regular contributor to Auto Roundup Publications.