Like many of you reading this, Larry Putter is a family man-and lucky to have such a good one! He and his wife, Tammy, have raised two sons who have grown up to be gearheads, so much so that Larry made sure each one held the keys to their own classic trucks when the time came before building one for himself.
After sending his '71 Chevy off to Colorado with their oldest son, it was time for Larry to seek out another truck to have his way with. He wanted something a bit more vintage than the previous '67-72 GM models he'd rehabbed and had his eyes peeled for a candidate from 1947-54.
In April 2005, Larry came across an ad in the nearby Wichita, Kansas, paper for a '51 GMC five-window pickup project. The low price was right, but the truck turned out to be far from it. What he found was a complete basket case of a '51 in the seller's backyard. Essentially, the cab was held to the substandard Chrysler-clipped frame with two bolts and was laying in the dirt with parts scattered around it, as well as having some in the garage, and even in the seller's basement. Larry negotiated an even lower price for the neglected Jimmy and made two round trips to haul his newfound investment home.
Larry got busy and decided to remove the torsion bar frontend and replace it with a G-body clip from an '84 Grand Prix, complete with power disc brakes and power steering. To do this, he enlisted a bit of help from his good friend Larry Crockett one Saturday. There was a 1 1/2-foot gap in the stock frame and the new clip after the old one was cut out, but needless to say, they prevailed. Larry (Putter) also rebuilt the clip, added Firestone airbags, boxed the stock frame in strategic places, C-notched the rear, added an Air Ride Tech triangulated four-link, and made two more crossmembers from custom-bent 1 5/8-inch DOM tubing to mount the 'bags and shocks, just to name a few of the mods. After all, he wanted the truck to sit low. To control the 'bags, he plumed 3/8 DOT tubing to each corner and installed Air Ride's RidePro E controller.
The truck came with an old Dodge 318 motor that Larry got running, but not being much of a Mopar guy, he decided to go the small-block Chevy route and soon got a line on an ultra-low-mile '04 5.3L LS engine and 4L60E trans combo. Bingo, he was in business! A set of stock '98 Camaro manifolds were installed, and Wally over at Bill's American Muffler in Wichita bent up an exhaust system out of 2 1/4-inch tubing that included a pair of stainless MagnaFlow mufflers. A custom-built aluminum radiator from Wizard Cooling in New York keeps the modern, efficient drivetrain running at a reasonable temp, and the 19-gallon under-bed tank Larry fab'd up from 0.125-inch 3003 aluminum keeps it fed. A custom harness was built by John at Speartech so the computer could be mounted under the stock seat, and he also installed a performance chip to pep up the otherwise stock motor.
Meanwhile, Larry whittled away at the bodywork/rust repair. He wanted the body to be fairly stock looking with just a few refinements like pulling the bumpers in, modifying the splash apron, moving the grille bars forward, and subtly altering the inner fender panels to clear the motor while keeping them factory looking. Larry's original plan was to hose the truck down in semigloss black and call it good, but with that look so rampant these days-and with a little prodding from his wife-he wound up spraying the truck in what they like to call "Compost Green." With all the above wrapped into one package, wheels would make or break the '51. To complement the color, faint body mods, and low stance, a set of 18- and 20-inch as-cast American Racing Torq-Thrust wheels and Goodyear rubber were carefully picked to round out the whole package, literally.
With over six pages of additional info from Larry on the GMC in addition to our standard tech sheet, we could go on and on, but due to the space we have here, we'll let the pictures fill in the blanks. There's also a good chance of seeing the truck at any number of events in the Midwest since the Putters do what the truck was made for-drive it!