Home » Cold Start: Just Hear Me Out About GMC Cabover Truck Hatchback

Cold Start: Just Hear Me Out About GMC Cabover Truck Hatchback

Cs Gmchatch
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I don’t really know what it is about these old flat-faced GMC big rig tractors that I find so appealing when relieved of their trailers, but it’s something. Maybe it’s the odd proportion of large height to short length, forming an almost square shape? Maybe it’s the peculiar, bemused-looking face on these things? I’m not sure exactly, but whenever I see one driving sans-trailer, I think about what it would be like to turn one into a little everyday-use car, a hatchback, like what you see I’ve sketched above there.

It would be kind of like those Freightliner truck-based SUVs; remember those stupid things?

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Freighlinersuv

Like that, but going for something smaller and more humble, less opulent and, while still huge, it can fit into a smallish footprint, kind of like a full-grown dog trying to cram itself into a puppy bed.

Also, look how incredible the dash area is in these GMC Astros, like the 1972 one I drew over up top there:

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Astrocab

Sure, if you want to get handsy with your passenger, this design makes it tough, but you can get these with a bunk in back, so I suppose there’s an opportunity to make up for that in there.

If anyone has one of these and is looking for a suitable project, I hereby authorize you to use my sketch there to create a fiberglass hatchback rear for one of these, and come up with the world’s tallest compact hatchback.

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notoriousDUG
notoriousDUG
1 year ago

Those day cab cracker box Jimmys were one of the worst riding things ever put on public roads.

Semi-truck camper or station wagon would only work for me if it included a complete rework of the suspension

Diana Slyter
Diana Slyter
1 year ago

Drove a few of these over the years- It was an inspired design for it’s time with the excellent visibility but fell apart on the details. The worst riding were the UPS version because the rubber cab mounts failed and were replaced by solid steel, even with the rubber mounts they were pretty rough. Only good one I drove was a tandem with air ride, was a Ryder rental and with a 350 Cummins it moved along pretty well too. The tall windshield is a mixed blessing as the defrosters are poorly designed so it’s hard to defrost that tall windshield.

I’ll agree with a previous commenter and recommend an Isuzu crew cab instead- Seating for 7 or swap the back seat for a bunk with all the mod cons and still plenty of cargo space behind the cab.

marathag
marathag
1 year ago
DysLexus
DysLexus
1 year ago

Do you still need a CDL license to drive one of these legally?

Just asking…for a friend you know.

Slow Joe Crow
Slow Joe Crow
1 year ago
Reply to  DysLexus

IIRC if it has air brakes it requires a CDL but covering/removing the fifth wheel makes it a straight truck you can drive on a class C instead of Class A

beachbumberry
beachbumberry
1 year ago
Reply to  Slow Joe Crow

Not quite, but not far off. Depends on the state if it can be driven on a car license based on weight and how it’s been titles. No state requires a cdl specifically to use air brakes BUT if you have a CDL you have to test with an air brake truck or you get an air brake restriction on your license.

Sauce: had to get my air brake equipped school bus titled and did the research to be safe. I’ll dig it up if you’re interested.

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
1 year ago

I prefer the looks of Freightliner cab overs, particularly the FL86. Cold just be a nostalgia thing though.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
1 year ago

Well, this would be one way to get Americans to buy hatchbacks. Would still have anxiety about being too low to the ground vs pickup trucks though.

MrLM002
MrLM002
1 year ago

What we all need is more cabover vehicles.

The new Ford Maverick Pickup should of been a cabover pickup. Hell, it hardly turns tighter than some current production F-150s FFS.

Cab Over and Cab Forward are both the best automobile layouts.

Dave Edgar
Dave Edgar
1 year ago
Reply to  MrLM002

Tough to make those pass crash tests.

MrLM002
MrLM002
1 year ago
Reply to  Dave Edgar

Smart managed to do it. It can be done.

Arch Duke Maxyenko
Arch Duke Maxyenko
1 year ago

It looks like an old stubby Dakar truck.

Man With A Reliable Jeep
Man With A Reliable Jeep
1 year ago

True on the hitch solution. I remember old Autocars would sometimes be fitted with a telescoping/adjustable frame, allowing you to relocate the fifth wheel hitch.

Der Foo
Der Foo
1 year ago

Not sure if any of the models you are considering have one of the Detroit “Screaming Jimmy” diesel engines, but if they do, consider straight pipes. {snikering}

B3n
B3n
1 year ago

The cabover hatchback reminds me a bit of the gigantic Brazilian sedan conversions by Tropical Cabines.

Gary Moller
Gary Moller
1 year ago

These cabovers tilt forward to access the engine. Possibly an issue to add length to the cab….

Jeremiah Tichy
Jeremiah Tichy
1 year ago
Reply to  Gary Moller

Isuzu’s N-series trucks have been & are offered in a 7(!)-seater crew cab, and they maintain the cab-lifting feature. There’s obviously a size and weight difference between that old GMC’s and the Isuzu’s cabs, but I imagine it can’t be that much of a delta. Especially considering those old trucks were one solid, low-hanging branch away from opening up like a box made of aluminum foil.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
1 year ago

What I always liked about these guys is how surprisingly spry and quick they seem, sans trailer.

We’re used to seeing that locomotive style propulsion when they’re trailered, so I always enjoy watching one just take off (combined with the rapid shifting), as if the driver is enjoying the lightness too. Like when your dog tear-asses around the yard after taking a big one.

Arrest-me Red
Arrest-me Red
1 year ago

Interesting idea. How do you handle the hinged front to stop all the crap in the back coming forward?

I am thinking a divider than can be closed off to allow the cab to move, open for max hauling.

Cool Dave
Cool Dave
1 year ago

Does it have to slope on the back? Can’t we just make it a huge cube? The aerodynamics are already shot, we may as well maximize functionality!

Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
1 year ago
Reply to  Cool Dave

Even better, make it look like a Borg cube from Star Trek!

Dusty Kornphartz
Dusty Kornphartz
1 year ago

How about a cabover stepvan? Mobsteel FedEx truck

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4AYsXvrah0

V10omous
V10omous
1 year ago

Torch, I love you and the site, but slandering the Freightliner pickup models as “stupid” cannot be tolerated. Those (and the Internationals, and the rest) were and are awesome.

Lew Schiller
Lew Schiller
1 year ago
Reply to  V10omous

If you want one and you intend to park it at your home which is in a typical suburb you might want to check to see if that’s allowed.
I knew a guy who bought a GMC 5500 with a flat/stake bed on the back that he used as his daily. Got into a dick measuring contest with the woman from Code Enforcement. Turns out if you push them far enough they can put you in jail over it.

V10omous
V10omous
1 year ago
Reply to  Lew Schiller

I would never willingly live anywhere that restricts my choices in vehicles.

My Goat Ate My Homework
My Goat Ate My Homework
1 year ago
Reply to  V10omous

If you are in the US then your choices are already restricted. emissions and safety regulations already exclude cars you can get elsewhere.
Time to move to the middle east I guess?

V10omous
V10omous
1 year ago

Do they have everything we get in addition to other stuff? I guess I figured no market has it all.

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
1 year ago
Reply to  V10omous

As someone who has been to the Middle East, I can tell you that yes, they do. The country I visited, however, had a %100 tax on all cars, new and used, when bought by a foreigner – even foreigners who moved to the country. So expect to pay twice what any vehicle is worth to buy it.

But, that said, there was a great variety of vehicles from pretty much the entire world. Plenty of the usual American and Japanese cars, but also a ton of Korean cars, including brands like Daewoo which barely sold anything stateside and Ssangyong which never sold vehicles in America. I even saw the occasional Indian trucks, and got to drive a Lada Samara. Mercedes of all ages were the most interesting though, there were a TON of classic Mercedes everywhere with many being in surprisingly good shape. BMWs were also all over the place, and lots of them were modified. There were also a handful of Chinese cars here and there.

SCJeff
SCJeff
1 year ago
Reply to  Lew Schiller

Not too surprising that she won the dick measuring contest.

Root
Root
1 year ago
Reply to  V10omous

Gotta agree with Torch’s original assessment on those. They’re pretty stupid.

notoriousDUG
notoriousDUG
1 year ago
Reply to  V10omous

110% stupid.
The bed sides and floor are so high it renders the bed difficult to use and its massive size makes it wildly less maneuverable than a normal pick-up without any real additional cargo space. The super tall bed size also prevents you from using a gooseneck trailer and making good use of the greater towing capacity over a normal truck.

It is the absolute perfect picture of a truck made to bolster poor self image.

667
667
1 year ago
Reply to  V10omous

Nop

Gilbert Wham
Gilbert Wham
1 year ago

I’ve actually SEEN a rig a bit like this back in the day on the free festival scene in the UK. Artic tractor with half a caravan bodged on the back. It was one of the less alarming vehicles around, weirdly.

beachbumberry
beachbumberry
1 year ago
Reply to  Gilbert Wham

There are most definitely some hokey Skoolies out there, but there are some incredibly well thought out ones that take far more into account than just sticking cabinets in. Far higher quality and superior construction to any Rv you could buy.

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