Although Jack Tomczak says he can’t claim to be an old-time hot rodder, things with wheels have been a part of his life since going to work in 1946. He was a Pontiac field rep and crewed for a NASCAR Winston West team, but after dealing with customer complaints all day, satisfying commitments to a race team and raising six kids there wasn’t much time or enthusiasm for anything else. But deep down there was an unfulfilled desire, and by the time he was well into his Seventies, Jack decided he had waited long enough to scratch than nagging itch and commissioned John Nissen, of Nissen’s Hot Rod Garage in Williams, California, to build the truck seen here.

This ’49 GMC started life as a series FC-102 long wheelbase (125.25 inches) ½-ton pickup. But, like most trucks its age, when John found the five-window it was well used—the running gear had been stripped, the cab corners were rusted, the tops of the fenders were caved in, and what seems to be mandatory for trucks found in rural areas, there were a few bullet holes to repair.

In May 2006, John and his crew started to bring the Jimmy back to life, the original framerails were fitted with a Mustang II IFS from Total Cost Involved while in back the original torque tube-equipped rearend was replaced with a 9-inch Ford. Underhood a GM Performance Ram Jet 350 V-8 backed by a 4L60E automatic transmission, replaced the original 228-inch inline six-cylinder and manual gearbox.

One of Jack’s goals for the truck was that it would be comfortable, so Sanford’s Custom Auto Upholstery installed a Chevy Tahoe split bench seat after covering it, the door panels and the headliner in tan cloth. A Vintage Air heat and cool unit keeps the cab’s confines cozy and the windows are now power operated.

Once the truck’s sheetmetal was perfectly straight, it was time to pick a color and with everyone involved the choice was unanimous, it was then simply a matter of having paint mixed to match the cap on Budweiser beer.

Some might think that a truck this nice sees little use and is under a cover more often than not, but Jack wanted a truck to drive and that’s what he does. Not long after completion in May 2007, Jack pointed the pickup east for a trip to Grand Rapids, Michigan. On that inaugural trip in the middle of Nevada the pressure began to fluctuate about the same time the driver of another truck flagged him down. Thinking the new engine was blowing out oil Jack pulled over only to find out the other driver wanted to buy his truck.

Ultimately, the erratic oil pressure was traced to a loose wire on the back of the gauge and Jack reports for the next 24,000-plus miles the truck hasn’t missed a beat. He’s already making plans for events to attend next year and told us, “At 78 years old I’m going to drive Ol’ Red ’49 until I can’t anymore.”

It just goes to prove when it comes to fulfilling a dream, it really is better late than never. CCT