This short and stocky brute, a GMC L7000, can be found at Pioneer Acres Museum in Irricana Alberta. A bit tattered with faded orange paint, it looks as though it’d be ready to get back to work with minimal notice. Where’s that next load going? Hidden from view behind some exhibit halls, perhaps it’s waiting its turn to be restored? The museum has an extensive collection of trucks and you never know it might be next. I’m sure it’d look good all done up. Still, we like them in that sort of neglected “dirty old work clothes” type state it’s currently in.
The museum is a forty five minute drive northeast of Calgary. It sort of flies under the radar it seems, and is not that well known. The theme there is varied with heavy emphasis on vintage tractors, vehicles and machinery. They have numerous huge halls filled to the bursting with old metal. It’s well worth a visit.
The L7000 model was introduced in late 1959 and was in production with minimal changes until the 1980s (some sources say ’81, others ’84). This example is from the early to mid ’60s.
Most of this model found work as straight vocational trucks set up with garbage bodies, flat decks, enclosed vans, tanks and so on. Some were made into fire trucks.
This one is configured as a tractor, which seemed to be a common application as well. It has a rather short wheelbase, which suggests it needed to be highly manoeuvrable and with that, one can guess it worked as a shunter as some large trucking facility. It’d be safe to say most “L” model tractors found work in industrial or city settings like that (and so were also similarly compact in size). They were not really well suited for over the road or highway work.
The truck is powered by GMC’s uncommon and rather legendary “Twin Six” V12 gas engine, noted for its incredible low end torque rivalling that of many diesels of the era. It was, I guess, an overbuilt monster, reliable and robust (if not a wee bit complex). Still, a diesel powered drivetrain was typcially a better choice and reflecting that GM discontinued the engine in the mid-1960s after a five year run. It never sold all that well. Interestingly, many of those V12s were made for industrial use powering irrigation pumps for example. Shoehorned in under the cab, it’s hard to fully appreciate it in our pictures. Note the V12 logo on the truck’s doors.
These engines, being somewhat rare, are highly prized by collectors. Just waiting for someone to ask how they can get their hands on this one. Just Paypal $1k to…never mind.
The serial number plate on the truck mentions it was built in Canada (see photos). This author was unaware that GM once made medium duty trucks in this country. Are they rare? Where was the factory? What years? Googling the subject sheds no real light. Anyone know more?
The L7000 was the largest of the L-Series, all of which used the same cab. A Chevrolet model was also made and differed little in respect to most details. The cab tilted forward, as with most “Cab Over Engine” (or COE) style trucks, allowing access to all the mechanical bits underneath. The L-Series (and Chevy kin) were moderately popular and even today we run into ones now and then in collections, junk yards, back lots, and even recall seeing one on the road (in Saskatchewan, a working farm truck).
The truck is painted up in Canadian National Railway (oh so retro) colours, the company’s stylized “wet noodle” or “lazy three” logo still somewhat visible. No doubt it was put to work at some CN run warehouse facility or trailer-on-flat-car loading ramp. It almost looks like another firm acquired it after CN, based on other lettering (too faded to read much) found on the its side.
Surrounding our subject are a good number of old pickups, waiting perhaps for restoration or maybe being used as parts sources for others. Also seen is group of medium duty trucks which we’ll touch on briefly. They include a 1970s/1980s GMC “C” series and a 1960s/1970s Dodge “D” series, resplendent both in bright orange paint (I see a pattern here). Both are pretty unremarkable and fairly common work-a-day trucks of the era. We see a lot of the former still at work today.
Lastly, a Ford “C” Series tilt cab is seen. This model was made from 1957-1990 with little change and was a direct competitor to the GMC we’re looking at here today (and outsold it by a considerable margin). We still these on the road from time to time. Subtle hints tell us this is an early 1960s to early 1970s example.
It’s the same colour…
Big and Orange Dodge Bighorn.
If you wish more information on what you’ve seen here, by all means contact us!
Date: May, 2016.
Location: Irricana, AB.
Article references: TrucksPlanet, TruckFax by Mac MacKay, Hank’s Truck Forums.
This truck can be viewed when the museum is open.