It took 20 years to build the Great Pyramid of Giza, 21 to build St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York, and 22 to build the Taj Mahal. You can't rush the great ones, as proven by the fact that it took 23 to build this incredible 1956 GMC 100.
"In 1989, a co-worker asked if I was interested in a 1956 GMC truck," said Lantz Jackson. "I told him that I needed to ask my wife. I bought the truck the next day and drove it for the next six months. Whenever my best friend Kevin Dearmon saw it, he'd ask me, ‘What are you going to do with that old truck?'" That was all the push Lantz needed to start a project that would last through 23 years and five donor trucks, and end with a walk across the stage at the 2013 Sacramento Autorama.
The first step in the buildup was buying another GMC for parts, scavenging the best and unloading the rest. Lantz asked his friend Steve Santos at Tekni-Kolor Body & Paint in Fairfield, California, about getting the truck painted, but Steve didn't have the time.
Lantz had owned the truck for two years when he and his wife Lisa had their first child. That same year, he took the body parts and panels and fenders from another donor to Lou Dual's body shop—one piece at a time—to have the sheetmetal ironed out and the doors shaved.
Turning his attention to the frame, Lantz originally pulled the subframe out of a Camaro and got a co-worker who to graft the subframe onto his GMC frame. That was replaced by a different frame from a donor. The 'rails were boxed and powdercoated glossy black, and a TCI Mustang II-style independent frontend, with 2-inch drop spindles and airbags, was added. Lantz pulled the 3.55-geared 9-inch rearend out of a Lincoln Continental. A friend narrowed it to fit the GMC. The rear is located by a TCI four-link, with rear airbags to step up the quality of the ride. Walt Schwarz assembled most of the components.
Lantz had owned the truck for nine years when he and Lisa had their second child and work stopped on the GMC. Four years later, they had their third. His friend Kevin laughed and said the truck wouldn't be done until the kids were out of the house. Lantz laughed back and said he was wrong.
He had owned the 1956 for 14 years when he bought another truck for its big rear window. Today that window is in the 1956 along with one-piece power door glass. The custom rear rollpan is flanked by stock taillights with LED lenses. Lantz used ash from Horkey's Wood and Parts to finish the floor of the shortbed.
The project was sweet 16 when Lantz painted the 1998 LS1 engine with high-temp glossy black paint. "I read on LS1 online forums that they have a reputation for burning oil. The recommendation was to replace the valley cover, so I installed the cover from an LS6. I also installed a powdercoated LS6 intake." Street & Performance provided the EFI, as well as the headers. ABC Muffler installed MagnaFlow mufflers. The engine is backed up by a 4L60E transmission.
When it was finally time to paint the truck, Lantz called Steve at Tekni-Kolor. After 22 years, Steve couldn't believe Lantz still had the truck—and he now had time to take the job. Lantz delivered the GMC piece by piece, hauling the bed in the back of his Yukon, then the front sheetmetal, and finally the cab, towed on the frame. The color is Sunburst Orange; the GMC nose and fender emblems and tailgate lettering were painted to resemble gold leaf. The massive front bumper and grille was sent out for fresh chrome—that's right—a couple pieces at a time.
Lantz had decided early that he wanted the largest wheel and tire combo he could fit. In 2011 he ordered Budnik Knife wheels, 18x8s in front and reversed 20x13s for the rear. Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires have enough meat to wrap the rims—with 225/40ZR18 and 345/30ZR20 low-profile rubber to give Lantz the look he'd always wanted. Twelve-inch Wilwood discs are visible through the wheels.
That same year, Lantz's best friend Kevin passed away, motivating him to make a final push and get the truck done. ABC Interior in Vacaville, California, upholstered the split bench from Glide Engineering in light tan leather, also used on the door panels and Budnik steering wheel. The custom center console contains a Pioneer navigation system, plus controls for the Pioneer audio setup and Classic Auto Air A/C, and the RideTech controls for the air suspension. A Boese Engineering billet dash insert houses VDO Heritage Gold Series gauges. The switch for the Advanced Keys keyless ignition is below the dash.
Lantz had owned the truck for 23 years when he entered it in the Sacramento Autorama in February. Steve Santos painted his display sign that included the words In Memory of Kevin D. "At the awards ceremony, I heard my name," Lantz said. "As I walked across the stage I couldn't believe that they were acknowledging my time and work, and was sorry Kevin wasn't there to see the award for the work he motivated me to do."