5 Coolest Classic GMC Indy 500 Official Trucks
General Motors dominated the Indy 500 pace car game for decades, showing off a wide variety of vehicles under its massive brand umbrella by placing them at the front of the popular race's pack. Indianapolis Raceway has historically contracted the pace car supplier to provide support vehicles for the rest of the event, too, and starting in the mid-'70s GM decided it was time to start capitalizing on all of the pickups it was lending to the track and offer something special to the general public.
Thus was born the 'Official Indy 500 Pace Truck,' haulers that never saw the green flag wave but were still, for branding purposes, linked to the yearly May spectacle. Doled out to dealerships in relatively limited quantities (and almost always to GMC), these pickups offered period-correct flair and a hint of exclusivity in a world where special editions ruled supreme.
Of course, some designs have stood the test of time better than others. Here are our picks for the collect classic GMC Indy 500 Official Trucks.
5. 1974 GMC Indy 500 Official Truck
1974 marked the inaugural year for GMC's Official Truck concept. Previously, the company had simply supplied unmarked, run of the mill trucks to handle clean-up, towing, hauling, and other support duties, but starting in '74 a full livery was designed to commemorate the event and get the pickups into the public eye.
On top of getting bonus points for being the first, the 1974 GMC Indy 500 Official Truck also scores big with its Hurst/Olds paint job.
Decked out in blocky gold stripes over a white base, the pickup was a match for the earlier Hurst/Olds Oldsmobile collaborations. Civilian trucks didn't get the roof and hood numbers found at the track, but it was a handsome overall look that pointed the way towards the aggressive sticker packages that came to dominate the decade.
4. 1976 GMC Indy 500 Official Truck
You might have thought that the 'Screaming Chicken' decal affixed to the hood of the Pontiac Trans Am was the only way to get fowl with a GM product in 1976, but the automaker decided to go all-out and plaster the barnyard performance icon on the GMC Indy 500 Official Truck, too.
Not only did the GMC pace truck feature a stylized version of the hood-chicken, but it also offered a swooping eagle along the sides in addition to its GMC OFFICIAL TRUCK badging and a set of aluminum rims. The overall effect was a mixture of racing adrenaline and vague bicentennial pride, although few examples survive today.
3. 1977 GMC Indy 500 Official Truck
Things got decided different for the GMC Indy 500 Official Truck the following year.
Gone were the outlandish stickers and in their place was a white-to-grey-to-black gradient stripe that ran the entire length of the black-painted truck. A much smaller decal denoted the pickup's Indy 500 provenance, and it had moved from the flank to the front fenders.
More interesting, however, was the availability of the Indy 500 package on more than just fleetside body styles. GMC offered stepside and fleetside versions of the vehicle, and it even added small flared fenders and aggressive street tires to go with it. It's the first real 'hot rod' pickup to emerge from the Indy 500 program, and it fit in well with the 'Street Coupe' style models that would arrive in 1978.
2. 1980 GMC Indy 500 Official Truck
After a couple of years off, GMC returned to the Indy game with its second massive hood bird. This time the link between the Indy 500 Official Truck and the Trans Am was more clear, as the Pontiac performance car paced the field for 1980.
The Official Truck didn't bring back the side-hawk decal from '76, but it did introduce the term 'Indy Hauler' into the pace truck lexicon with a massive sticker proclaiming such on each side of the box. The truck itself was painted white with black bottom trim, a black cab, and a blacked-out grille. A front chin spoiler was attached underneath the bumper to provide a semblance of aero to the very square truck.
1. 1988 GMC Sierra PPG Pace Truck
PPG had a long history of producing over-the-top pace vehicles for the Indy 500, so it's no surprise that its collaboration with GMC resulted in the most extroverted model in the brand's history. The Sierra single-cab offered T-tops and a set of seats bolted into the cargo bed that looked out over a custom tonneau cover that also served as a one-piece duck-bill spoiler and integrated lightbar.
The pickup's engine was punched out from 350 to 400 cubic inches and produced 400 horsepower, which was enough to keep it comfortably ahead of idling CART-series open wheel racers, and of course the suspension drop and bolstered chassis ensure it wouldn't fall on its face in the corners.
GMC would produce an Indy 500 Official Truck that same year, but since the Sierra handed over its Indy pace duties to an Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme for '88 (it would be used at other tracks instead), the replica truck looked quite different from PPG's machine. It featured a stepside body wrapped in black paint job with grey highlights on the lower body and front spoiler. Overall, the look was very similar to the highly touted 1978 Chevrolet Corvette pace car that was later ignored by collectors largely due to its Malaise Era performance deficits.
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