What’s your real name? (What’s your online screen name?)
Mark Brazelton (markeb01)
Where do you live?
Spokane Valley, WA
What GM(s) do you drive?
Currently I own a 1960 GMC short bed ½ ton stepside. My first car was a 46 Chevy two door sedan in about 1964, followed quickly by a 47 Chevy coupe. I tore the coupe down to just the body and frame ready for a V8 installation, but with no money, garage, income, or drivers license my parents got tired of the car and it had to go.
I got a bargain on a 54 Chevy two door utility sedan with a busted transmission for $35. I repaired the transmission and that became my first driver/high school car. After joining the Marines the car was sold to pay the phone bill. My girlfriend inherited a 57 Chevy 150 four door, so I completely rebuilt it, which was relatively simple during the period when everything at the wrecking yard cost $5.00. Mint condition fenders, hood, grille, Bel Air seats, and trunk lid were all $5.00 each.
After that came a series of five more 54 Chevys. The last was the best. It was an original owner 210 sedan. It was in beautiful condition with only a few worn spots in the paint. It ended up in the January 1976 issue of Street Rodder magazine in the Early Iron section. Along the way I also had time to buy a green over yellow 54 Olds two door hardtop from the original owner, a 57 Chevy ½ ton short bed stepside, 64 Impala, 67 Chevelle, 68 Firebird, 76 Firebird Formula, 83 Chevy C10, and an 86 Trans Am.
How long have you had your GM(s)?
I got my first GM car over 45 years ago. I’ve owned my present truck for 18 years. It was a birthday present from my bride. It was in the care of the nephew of the original owner, and was in remarkable condition for a 32 year old truck.
What got you into GM(s)?
I grew up in a GM family. My parent’s first car was a 48 Oldsmobile model 66. It was the small version with the Chevy body, and had a flathead six and Hydramatic transmission (my mother never learned to drive a stick). They owned that car from 1949 until 1962 and never had the head off. During ownership of the 48, my dad had a 39 Chevy coupe with a 54 Chevy Powerglide engine. It was a beautiful car with dark green metallic paint, whitewall tires and 54 Chevy wheel covers. Replacement for the 39 came in the form of a brown 52 Chevy four door. The 48 Olds was replaced by a 52 Olds Super 88 two door hardtop. I was in love with that car. My dad was a life insurance salesman, and purchased the engine from the estate of one of his young policy holders. It was a race engine with Jahns pistons, McGurk rockers, and a ¾ cam. The transmission was beefed up with Buick clutches, and really slammed into gear when pushed. It had a Sun tach on the dash, and truly was a rocket.
Eventually it was sold when a nearly new 59 Buick two door sedan became available. A man named Hempy was the best friend of our next door neighbor Joe, and bought a new Buick every five years. He barely drove, and each 5 year old car had roughly 2,000 miles on the odometer. Joe bought the 49 Buick Roadmaster when Hempy bought a new 54 Buick Special four door, and bought the 54 when it was replaced with a new 59. When the 59 became available Joe wasn’t interested in another new car so my dad bought it. The car was virtually brand new, and still had the delivery plastic covering the lower half of the door panels. It turned out however, to be just too much iron for my mother. She was about 5’ tall and maybe 100 pounds, and the 59 was so big she couldn’t see to drive it. It was soon traded in on a new 64 Buick Skylark two door hardtop, along with a 62 Buick Special sedan for my dad. After I left home they bought a 70 Buick GS, which was my mother’s all time favorite car. With that history it was somewhat inevitable I would end up preferring GM cars.
Have a favorite story to tell about your 1960 GMC?
It would probably be our first shake down run after completely rebuilding the truck. It had been down and apart for a year, converting to a 1975 front suspension with power disc brakes, and complete disassembly for new paint. We traveled over 2500 miles round trip without a single problem. At the time I had a Gaylord hard cover on the bed, which made for the biggest trunk ever seen. It was fun being in it for such an extended period, and returning with no problems after having such extensive changes and having been disassembled for so long.
What was your favorite modification to your 1960 GMC? Why?
The chassis/power train improvements. Power steering allows it to go places it couldn’t before, the discs brakes allow it to stop on a dime, and the 350/4 speed/4.09 Dana 44 allows it to accelerate like a bullet. In stock form it was durable and loaded with torque. As a street rod it’s just plain fun.
What have you learned about yourself while building your 1960 GMC?
After suffering many component problems with a non-GM street rod for 8 years, I was determined my next daily driver would be a 60-66 Chevy or GMC truck. I wanted something durable, with better engineering. It’s been proven over time to be one of the smartest automotive decisions I ever made. We’ve put over 165,000 miles on our 60 and it remains in tip top condition. I’ve also learned picking the right wife can make or break a car hobby (and overall happiness). My wife has been involved in every aspect of the build, ownership, travel, and participation in street rod events. I understand patience, determination and knowing when to walk away can see you through just about anything.
What’s next for your 1960 GMC? Why?
My truck has been through many phases during our ownership. It was originally a work truck, then a polished street rod and long distance daily commuter. I spent 10 years trying to keep my truck at an immaculate level, to the point I wasn’t really using or enjoying it enough.
Forced retirement also had a sizeable impact on the hobby budget (killing my new engine project), so last summer it went through another conversion back to a simple street rod. Gone is the bed cover and shiny paint, and concerns over chips and scratches. I repainted it with John Deere Blitz Black so it would be cheap to paint and easy to fix. Since it is no longer needed for daily service, it’s stored in the winter and will be my daily driver during the non-winter months. I may still fabricate a diamond tufted headliner and firewall cover. If finances allow I’ll rebuild the engine with better heads/cam, and get exhaust cutouts installed.
After nearly 20 years of ownership it’s the closest I’ve ever been to having a finished street rod. There isn’t much more I would do to it beyond drive and enjoy it constantly. That is unless I win the lottery of course, in which case I’ll install a supercharged roller motor with dual quads and a BDS scoop sticking through the hood, a 59 Impala dashboard, and dip half the truck in a chrome tank!
If you could build any car or truck – what would it be? Why?
If I had the money and enthusiasm I’d love to build a 1948 Chevy Fleetline Aerosedan. I spent most of my childhood in a 48 Olds and always loved the body style, but preferred the more proportioned nose of the Chevy. I have a model of what it would look like – black paint, full trim, fender skirts, spotlights, in fact all external accessories except for the windshield visor. Two sets of wheels – stock wheels with white walls, and 54 Chevy Bel Air wheel covers, and a set of American Torque Thrust 5 spokes that could be switched back and forth. Drive train would be a 327/4 speed. The interior would be dead stock with only a Hurst shifter poking through the floor to indicate the performance potential. I think it’s one of the most beautiful automotive designs ever created, and was a revolution when it was introduced. Legions of loyal fans remain today.
Do you spend time on any GM sites? Which ones?
1960 GMC Mod list
- 305 V6 replaced with GM Targetmaster 350. Basically stock with Pete Jackson gear drive, engine modified to look like a 327 via hidden smog connection at rear of passenger side valve cover.
- Original 1960 torsion bar front end upgraded to 1975 Chevy C10 disc brake suspension, including all steering linkage.
- Granny 4 speed replaced with a Turbo 350 for about 15 years, converted back to manual with installation of Richmond Super T10 four speed, with custom hydraulic clutch setup.
- Original Dana 44 rear axle changed from 3.73 to 3.08 with automatic, then to 4.09 with addition of Richmond 4 speed.
- Rear axles redrilled to 5×5 bolt pattern.
- Heavy chrome steel differential cover.
- Custom wound rear coil springs for soft ride.
- Custom 2.5” exhaust system with Flowtech Terminator mufflers.
- Custom Rock Valley 33 gallon stainless fuel tank under bed floor.
- Custom brackets mounting four 1959 Cadillac tail lights.
- Optional bumper guards and Unity fog lamps added.
- Eliminated Barden bumper in favor of original deluxe style.
- Ron Francis wiring system.
- Police car headlight flashers wired into Ron Francis yellow bright lights at top of stake pockets for collision avoidance.
- Chrome radiator aprons and hood latch.
- Original style recirculating heater adapted to Fiero motor and fan, along with electrically operated controls.
- Several custom fabricated instrument panels.
- Handcrafted diamond tuft upholstery on door panels and behind seats.
- Procar Lowback bucket seats.
- Moon tachometer adapted to original Sun cup mounted on dash.
- Cal Custom gas pedal adapted to original throttle linkage.
- 1960’s era Covico steering wheel.
- Custom made handle for Hurst Street Super/Shifter.
- Red aircraft switch covers for electric choke, wig wags, and electric exhaust cutouts.
- Perrycraft mini-tube bed rails.