Home » Three-Quarter Tons Of Charm: 1968 Ford F-250 vs 1976 GMC Sierra 2500

Three-Quarter Tons Of Charm: 1968 Ford F-250 vs 1976 GMC Sierra 2500

Sbsd 9 1 2023
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Good morning! It’s the Friday before Labor Day here in the US, so what better time to look at a couple of all-American beasts built for labor? We’ll check them out in just a minute. First, let’s finish up with yesterday’s blackout Toyotas:

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Well, that’s decisive. To be fair, I don’t think the Celica is a bad deal at all, and it sounds like many of you agreed; it’s just that the Supra is even better. And I was wondering if anyone was going to mention Shirtless Guy in the photos.

So yesterday, I found two possible pairs of vehicles: those Toyotas, and a pair of charismatic three-quarter-ton pickups, both manuals, both with fresh and excellent-running V8s, and both at the blue end of the spectrum. I had a hard time choosing which one to feature, and then it occurred to me – just pick one pair, and use the other pair the next day. So today it’s truck day. Here we go!

1968 Ford F-250 Ranger – $2,500

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Engine/drivetrain: 460 cubic inch overhead valve V8, four-speed manual, RWD

Location: Gig Harbor, WA

Odometer reading: 77,000 miles (probably rolled over at least once)

Runs/drives? Doesn’t expressly say, actually…

The fifth-generation Ford F-series trucks have not only aged well; I would go so far as to say that they actually look better all old and scruffy like this. It’s as if Ford designed them with surface rust and dents in mind from the start. Patina gives these trucks character in a way that really suits the shape of them. And teal over white is quite possibly the ideal color combination for them.

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This particular F-250 Ranger has had the same owner for twenty-five years. They built an engine for it, a big-block Ford 460 chock-full of hot rod parts – but they don’t say how long ago that was, or what sort of condition it’s in now. But it has been my experience that if someone goes to the trouble of name-dropping high performance parts in the ad, they’d also tell you if something was preventing it from running, so I have to assume this one runs, and probably pretty well. It will be an appalling gas-guzzler, but I bet it gets up and moves.

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It actually doesn’t matter much if a truck like this is a manual or an automatic, but this one has what I’m assuming is a four-speed manual. If it were a three-speed, it would be on the column, I imagine. The length and shape of the shift levers in trucks of this age is always something to behold; it’s probably two feet long if you straighten out all the twists and turns.

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Like the majority of west coast trucks, this one only has some surface rust. It is lacking most of its paint on the hood and roof, but overall it looks solid. And it has those cool locking compartments built into the side of the bed.

1976 GMC Sierra 2500 – $2,250

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Engine/drivetrain: 350 cubic inch overhead valve V8, four-speed manual, RWD

Location: Centralia, WA

Odometer reading: 58,000 miles (rolled over at least once)

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Runs/drives? Great, according to the seller

I only recently learned that GM’s term for this generation of truck is the “Rounded Line.” Ironic name for a truck that could be convincingly depicted out of cinder blocks, but there you have it. Though in fairness, now that I look at it, there are quite a few rounded lines in the design, but I think I’ll just stick with the “squarebody” nickname.

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This one is a GMC, from before the big redesign in ’81 that drastically changed the shape of the front end. It’s also a three-quarter ton, powered by a brand-new example of the ubiquitous 350 small-block V8, and what I’m guessing is my beloved Saginaw-Muncie SM465 four-speed manual with a “granny” gear. The seller just had the engine replaced, and now is going overseas (in the military, I assume) and wants to sell it before they leave. It runs and drives great, and although the seller calls it “ugly,” I don’t think it’s too bad at all.

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The great thing about these trucks is that as long as GM keeps selling these crate engines, you’ll be able to keep them going. At least, as long as you keep the rust at bay. Squarebodies are notorious for rust, and while this one looks pretty solid still, a new owner should take some steps to keep it that way.

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Or you could just use it as a weekend warrior as-is. It doesn’t quite have the charisma of the Ford, which is hard for a Chevy guy like me to admit, but I have no doubt in its ability to get the job done.

Yeah, I know, I’ve done old trucks a lot. What can I say? I like ’em. And these two strike me as particularly good deals. Mechanically solid, with just the right amount of scruff around the edges, and far more reasonable prices than some old trucks are commanding these days. So which one will it be?

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(Image credits: Craigslist sellers)

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Geoff Buchholz
Geoff Buchholz
8 months ago

A tough choice — but despite my general bias toward F-series trucks, we’ll take the squarebody. GM styling served up bangers all through the 70s, and who doesn’t like a 350/4 speed?

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
8 months ago

Sorry I am not abandoning my granny. That is a feature that signifies working truck still working as opposed to that Ford which is a forty year old stripper ready to hang it up. I apologize to any 40 year old strippers offended by my comments.

Slow Joe Crow
Slow Joe Crow
8 months ago

If the GMC is local it’s unlikely to be rusty. I’ve seen a similar vintage Suburban pulled out the bushes in Mitchell Oregon

Masterbuilder
Masterbuilder
8 months ago

Gotta go Ford. There’s no replacement for displacement.

I’m surprised that this one missed the rusty fenders, or maybe it already had them replaced.

460 / T18 is an indestructible combo.

Take my money.

JDE
JDE
8 months ago

assuming the motor runs as good as it looks, the GMC is a better flip opportunity. Square bodies are crazy and a basic tractor paint garage job is not the worst thing.

Phyrkrakr
Phyrkrakr
8 months ago

I had a ’76 Chevy in high school, short bed 2wd, that my brother and I were going to hot rod. First thing to check is the rockers, second thing to check is the cab corners. Third place to check is over the rear wheel wells. All will be rusty, probably.

A neat trick I saw on one at a car show that had been hot rodded with a 454 was they took off the sidesaddle gas tank and replaced it with a full-size Blazer tank between the frame rails, deleted the fuel door, and ran the filler neck to a flip-out tail light.

Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
8 months ago

Ford sucks…always Squarebody

OrigamiSensei
OrigamiSensei
8 months ago

The right answer is “both” as they are both good deals. There are no losing choices here.

Though the GM product is objectively the better buy and the poll is appropriately reflective of that I have an irrational love for that generation of Ford pickup so I chose it. Even at 8mpg that 460 should be some fun; my dad absolutely loved the 460 in his 4WD service body work truck from that same era. He said it would climb walls.

DDayJ
DDayJ
8 months ago

Both. I want both of them. I can add to my collection of shit boxes. If I have to pick one, the Ford is undoubtably cooler, but I grew up in a GM family so it’s the Chevy for me.

UnseenCat
UnseenCat
8 months ago

At those prices, why not both? I’ve driven ratty work trucks, by choice, since forever. Both have charm and points in each of their favor; I have no brand loyalty and just love old pickups — There’s something to love for everybody in both of these survivors.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
8 months ago

My vote goes to the Ford as the seller for that one actually has interior shots. Also a Ford 460 beats a Chevy 350 in this case… unless the Chevy 350 happened to be a more modern fuel injected one from a late 1990s Corvette or F-body or something like that. But this 350 doesn’t appear to be that. Looks like it’s probably a used 350 pulled from another vehicle.

George CoStanza
George CoStanza
8 months ago

I’ll take the GMC, but you can’t really go wrong with either. Not too many basic, honest work trucks like this anymore.

Rich Hobbs
Rich Hobbs
8 months ago

Chebby! The crate engine was probably close to the asking price! Labor to install it(depending on the shop) probably close to the purchase price! Body pretty straight. Should get better gas mileage than the Ford. Still been my experience that the 350 gets bout 10 mpg no matter what you’re doing with. The Ford who knows…probably in the single digits! Of course you could probably pull down a house with it in granny low.
Another no brainer…The bow tie wins!

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
8 months ago
Reply to  Rich Hobbs

How do you know it’s a crate engine and not some used engine pulled from another old vehicle and cleaned up?

SageWestyTulsa
SageWestyTulsa
8 months ago

It’s a 350 in a solid pickup for under $3k – Who cares? If it runs good it runs good, and if it doesn’t you can go pick up another one for a few hundred dollars. As the old saying goes, “a smallblock Chevy will run poorly longer than other engines will run at all.”

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
8 months ago

First thought was VGGarage’s ‘CraigsList Rebuild in a Can’ here: “Yeah…lost the receipt…”

Mike B
Mike B
8 months ago

Surprisingly touch call for me, since I’m a huge squarebody fan. I think these trucks are both bargains, here in the northeast you can barely get parts trucks for this price.

I REALLY dig the patina of the Ford, those trucks really do look great when they’re crusty.

The GMC won out though, because even if the interior is trashed, it could be a very nice driver with minimal work.

For the money though, I kinda want both.

Last edited 8 months ago by Mike B
Vic Vinegar
Vic Vinegar
8 months ago

GMC. Even if the interior is straight trash it is definitely worth $2250.

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