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January 4, 2014

1950 GMC pickup restored

NORMAN — Ron LaPratt’s 1950 General Motors truck is arguably the finest pickup in Oklahoma.

It may not be the biggest, fastest or strongest, but it has undeniable personality-plus from having been restored as a labor of detail-focused love. And with only a minor addition for modern safety considerations, the GMC half-ton truck was refurbished to be exactly as it was when it rolled off a Michigan assembly line.

LaPratt first learned about the truck several years ago from deer hunting buddies. It was owned by a Kansan and stored in a Wichita shed from which it hadn’t moved in more than 17 years.

As soon as LaPratt saw the old truck he knew he was going to buy it. The Kansan’s plan had been to restore it as a first vehicle for a 16-year-old, but all he’d actually done was turn the truck into a true basket case.

“We used a Jeep to pull it out of the shed and three wheels were just sliding,” LaPratt said. “They were locked up tight.”

He had to jack the truck up and break the rusted brakes free from the drums. Many of the parts, such as the original radio, seats, bumpers, hood and fenders, were in the owner’s basement.

“The engine and drive train were still on the chassis,” he said.

LaPratt towed the GMC back to his rural northeast Norman home on acreage and began removing every nut, bolt and screw. He took upward of 400 photos to document the process of tearing it apart and to help him remember how to reassemble it.

“I wanted to put it back together exactly how it came out of the General Motors factory,” he said.

Part of the desire to accomplish it in that manner may be the fact that LaPratt retired after decades working as a skilled trades carpenter in GM plants both at Pontiac Plant No. 6 in Michigan and Oklahoma City Assembly.

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