Custom Car Builders

January 16, 2018

Gil Ayala 49 GMC Restoration Started




In 2011 the Historic Ayala GMC Shop Truck changed hands once again. The new caretaker is in the process of a full historical correct restoration.
Progress Report Part 1.

In the Summer of 2017 we did an Feature Article on the Gil’s Auto Body Works GMC shop truck. At the end of the article we mentioned the good news that the current owner of the truck, Jim Bobowski, was in the process of restoring the car back to how it originally was restyled by the Ayala’s in the early 1950’s. Jim recently send the Custom Car Chronicle some update photos of the cars restoration process. And we are very excited to be able to share it here with you.

Color photo of the Gil’s Auto Body Works from the early 1950’s. (faded colors)


Jim and the team is doing a complete frame-off restoration, and all changes made to the car after Gil sold it, are going to be taken away, and everything is being brought back to the cars first restyled version. Painted metallic dark green with soft green flames. When Jim started to sand down the body, they discovered that most of the body was stripped down to metal at some point. But fortunately they came across all the previous colors used on the car between the body and the cab. Also behind the interior some of the original green has been found. So they will be able to perfectly match the Custom Mixed Color Gill created for the shop truck.

Taking the truck apart…


The cabin is still in very good condition.


The headliner that is in the car is still the original that Chavez did in the early 1950’s, only it has been dyed dark gray by Geisler in the 1980’s. Hopefully the dye will be able to be removed, or perhaps it has to be re-dyed back to how it used to be. Time will tell. The Frame had to be backdated using on original GMC front section. In the 1980’s Bruce Geisler had added a Nova front clip and a 6-71 blown small block Chevy, a TH350 transmission and a Ford 9-inch rear end. The engine is now replaced with an Jimmy straight 6 , a hot 270 CID with a Howards cam and 5 Strombergs. Everything will be exactly as it used to be on the original engine, when Gil created it.

Look careful and you will be able to see the original Custom mixed Ayala green paint topped by pink added by Bruce Geisler  in ’57. Followed by Candy red in the ’60’s, Geisler green primer ’80’s, then Geisler pink (primer) again in the ’90’s.


The headliner is the original one done by Chavez in the early 1950’s, but was later dyed dark gray by Bruce Geisler.


How the interior looked in the early 1950’s.


The original dark green interior piping. This photo shows that the green has been fading over the years.


Close up of the green piping, originally installed by Chavez.


Frame ready to be backdated.


Removal of the third brake light installed by Bruce Geisler in the 1990’s.


Freshly painted dropped front axle.


Rear axle in the paint booth getting a new coat of semi gloss black.



Rear axle back on the frame. Notice the deep and large C-Cut the Ayala’s made into the frame, to clear the lowered rear axle.


New GMC engine test fitted in the painted frame. Front suspension has been installed.


Engine is now painted and aftermarket and chrome plated parts are being installed.


Looking very good.


More details added.


Test fitting the carburetors on the intake.


Picture of the original engine in the car.


We will report back on more progress on the restoration as soon as we hear from Jim again… stay tuned.

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About the Author

Rik Hoving
Rik is the CCC editor in chief. As a custom car historian he is researching custom car history for many years. In 2004 he started the Custom Car Photo Archive that has become a place of joy for many custom car enthousiasts. Here at CCC Rik will bring you inspiring articles on the history of custom cars and builders. Like a true photo detective he will show us what's going on in all those amazing photos. He will write stories about everything you want to know in the realm of customizing. In daily life Rik is a Graphic Designer. He is married to the CCC webmaster and the father of a 10 year old son (they are both very happy with his excellent cooking skills)


  1. So if thats a G.M.C. engine 302 c.i he is running, I would say the original manifold would be a ” HOWARD ” 5 carb intake Or McGurk did one also, You will notice they were the only intake that put the 3 carbs right above the intake ports and were unique manifolds that was one of the reason they ran so well on the G.M.C. JIMMY engines and stove bolt six banger 235 and 216.

    Awesome truck …… It would be really nice to see if finding ” SHOP TRUCKS ” Becomes the new FAD because the customs have nearly all been found and the one that have not as time goes by and rusting some were slowly dyeing…..



  2. That engine will be stunning !
    Great to see another old custom being brought back to the way it was.
    I hope that they keep us CCC fans in the loop on further progress.


  3. I am glad guys like Jim, who are sticklers for putting them back the way they originally were, are buying these cars and trucks and having them redone.


  4. I’m so glad this is happening. Historical custom losing the streetrod treatment for the sake of history. It will still be a great driver and trust me… will be getting driven.


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