The 1949 GMC Suburban was among the fourth generation Suburban. For the 1949 model year there were 75 different GMC models produced.

General Motors Early Truck and Commercial Vehicle Business

1949 GMC Suburban
1949 GMC Suburban

The history of GMC goes all the way back to the year 1909, shortly after William Durant formed General Motors as a holding company for Buick. This was when General Motors purchased the Rapid Motor Vehicle Company. This company had been formed seven years earlier by Max and Morris Grabowsky.

That company was acquired by a company that built the Pontiac automobile in 1907 and 1908. In 1909, the company would be bought again, this time by General Motors. GM had also purchased the second ancestral branch of the GMC Truck business, the Reliance Motor Car Company, which was founded in Detroit, Michigan in 1902. These two companies would serve as the basis for GM truck production. The General Motors Truck Company was then organized as a sales company for Rapid and Reliance Trucks. It would be three years later that the brand name GMC would emerge.

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Rear view of the GMC Suburban

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 in 1913 through 1915.

The argument of whether which was better for hauling, the horse or the motor vehicle, lasted longer than some people may have expected. During 1917 to 1919, GMC produced 8,512 trucks for the US Government. It were these vehicles that did a lot to prove that motorized vehicles were far superior to horses and mules for military transport as well as for civilian use.

gmc suburban fourth generation
GMC Suburban

The Story of the Suburban

Chevrolet first introduced the Suburban in 1935. Two years later in 1937 GMC came out with a Suburban model. The first Chevrolet Suburban had a wheelbase of 112.0 inches and a 206 cubic inch six cylinder engine. Collectors might refer to this as the first SUV although the term SUV would not come out until later. The GMC model had a pickup type front end with a station wagon type body mounted on a pickup chassis. An interesting side note is that there were more automakers than General Motors who used the name “Suburban”. What they were building was a windowed station wagon type body on a commercial frame. It was finally in 1988 that GM was given an exclusive trademark since all other automakers dropped the name. It’s interesting to note that the Suburban name is one of the longest running nameplates in automotive history.

Two GMC Road Demonstrations

Incredibly, in 1916 a GMC Truck crossed the U.S. from Seattle, Washington to New York City in thirty days. In 1926 a two ton GMC Truck made it from New York City to San Francisvo in five days and thirty minutes. When you look at these travel times you have to appreciate them because of the general conditions of roads during those years. Route 66 itself was built in 1926 as essentially a patchwork of roads and trails.

Post World War Two GMC

Like all American automakers they were eager to begin civilian vehicle production as soon as World War Two ended. General Motors was no different but the UAW/CIO union struck GM and the result was six months of production lost.

Production resumed in 1946 and GMC was able to offer 48 models with up to 55,000 lbs. GVWR.

Between 1939 and 1950, GMC Trucks were built at the GMC Truck Plant in Pontiac, Michigan.

1949 GMC Suburban Specifications

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1949 GMC Suburban Chrome grille

The 1949 GMC Suburban was built with a GMC 228 cubic inch six cylinder engine. This engine produced 95 horsepower.

Transmission was a three speed manual.

The one-half ton 49 GMC Suburban’s wheelbase was 116.0 inches. The Suburban’s weight was 3,710 lbs. New car price for the 49 GMC Suburban was about $1,700.

See the AutoMuseumOnline articles on the links below…

A 1962 Studebaker Champion Pickup

A 1955 Studebaker Pickup

A Restored 1914 Model T Depot Hack

A 1937 GMC COE Truck


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.

1949 gmc suburban interior and dashboard
Dashboard on the 49 GMC Suburban

GMC Suburbans as Collector Vehicles

The 1949 GMC Suburban featured in this article is an excellent restoration of what is today a rare collector vehicle. Asking prices for models for sale will vary greatly due to degree of restoration.

We do see a 1949 GMC Suburban with original parts that went through a body off restoration with a price tag of $49,000.

As of this writing, 1949 GMC Suburbans, non-restored, might be found anywhere fro $5,000 to $15,000 depending on mileage and general condition, both interior and exterior.

We also see a wide range of asking prices for 1949 GMC Pickup Trucks. Prices are in a range of about $13,000 to $30,000 depending on whether the vehicle has been restored or not and to what degree of restoration.

(Article and photos copyright AutoMuseumOnline)