Vintage GMC Cab Over trucks are rare. The truck featured in this article is a 1937 GMC COE with a Chevy 454 engine that could make a great restoration project.

1937 gmc coe
1937 GMC COE

Mergers and the Creation of GMC

General Motors was founded by William Durant in 1908. Later that same year Durant started to buy stock in and takeover the Reliance Motor Car Company and Max and Morris Grabowsky’s Rapid Motor Vehicle Company. The Grabowsky brothers built their first prototype truck in 1900.

GMC as a truck brand was created out of both the Reliance Motor Car Company and the Rapid Motor Vehicle Company within GM. The GMC brand was officially introduced in 1912 at the New York International Auto Show. .In 1912, GM produced about 20,000 trucks.  Prior to the time of unveiling the GMC brand, trucks from GM were produced from the merger of both the Reliance and the Rapid companies. By 1913 all GMC truck production was done at the Rapid Motor Vehicle Company plant in Pontiac, Michigan. By 1916 General Motors created the GMC Truck Division.

Two events in 1916 helped publicize General Motors relatively new truck division. In 1916 a GMC truck traveled from Seattle to New York in just over 30 days. In 1930 another  GMC truck drove from New York to San Francisco in 5 days and 30 minutes. Such were the technological advancements made from 1916 to 1930.

Chevrolet was also building trucks for General Motors and by the year 1920 the Chevrolet brand and the GMC brand trucks looked almost identical except for their grilles. During those years Chevrolet was marketing their trucks to individuals while GMC targeted commercial buyers.

The GMC brand obviously is one of the few that started in the first decade of the 1900’s and is still a popular name today. Today, the GMC brand is over 100 years old.  To give you an idea of GMC production during it’s very early years, a total of 759 GMC trucks of Rapid and Reliance designs were built from 1913 through 1915.

The 1937 GMC COE

The first GMC Cab Over Engine truck was produced for the 1934 model year. General Motors introduced 11 COE models in 1937. In that same year GMC introduced their first Suburban Carryall utility vehicle. This was the model that would later become the GMC Yukon XL.

As far as pickup trucks of the 1930’s is concerned, the primary difference between the GMC and Chevrolet models was in the trim. Another interesting fact about the pickups was that the beds on 34 to 39 Chevys interchanged with 36 to 39 GMCs. The GMC’s are the rarer models.

1937 GMC Cab Over’s were used as tanker trucks, flat bed haulers, tow trucks, trailer pullers, beer trucks and more. There were 1930’s GMC COE Tow Trucks with 20,000 lb winches. A company named the Ranier Breing Company at one time owned ten 1937 GMC COE beer trucks. It’s said that there is one in existence today.

See additional AutoMuseumOnline articles on the links below…

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1937 gmc trucks
Grille on the 1937 GMC COE

Values of the 1930’s GMC Cab Over Engine Trucks

If you’re looking to pick up a 1937 GMC COE, there are typically not a large number on the market. There are some that have been restored and others offered that are the cab unit only.

There was a project vehicle that would need a total restoration from top to bottom offered at $2,300. Another full restoration project vehicle is a 37 GMC COE that was once used as a water truck listed at $3,000. A 37 GMC cab only was listed at $1,600. A totally restored 37 GMC COE that is between show and cruise condition was offered at $50,000.

1937 GMC dashboard
Dashboard on the 37 GMC COE

An interesting website you might visit when searching for 1930’s GMC COE project vehicles is …..

Our reference material and an excellent book is…..GMC : The First 100 Years by author John Gunnell. Another excellent book includes…..The Deal Maker : How William C. Durant Made General Motors by author Axel Madsen.

(Article and photos copyright AutoMuseumOnline)