Rob Manson: 1953 Tatum GMC Special

Charles “Chuck” Tatum was a decorated Marine Corps veteran of Iwo Jima from Stockton, California. He built the Tatum GMC Special in late 1952-early 1953 on a dare from friends Phil Hill, Sammy Weiss and Doug Trotter. Pre and Post War Ford suspension and drum brakes are mounted on a Tatum, designed and built, tube frame chassis. The engine, originally from a truck, is an inline 6 cylinder GMC. For the 1954 and 1955 seasons, Wayne Engineering of Los Angeles, supplied full race 302c.i. versions with its 12-valve cross flow cylinder head. Jack Hagemann of Hayward, Ca. built the all aluminum body.

The Tatum GMC Special was an active road racing participant and occasional winner, throughout California, from 1953 through 1955. During that period it also won the Best Sports Car Trophy at the 1954 Oakland National Roadster Show and was Hot Rod Magazines’s Cover Car for October 1953. The Tatum turned 157 mph at the Bonneville Salt Flats and co-starred with Tony Curtis and Piper Laurie in the Hollywood epic JOHNNY DARK. Chuck Tatum raced his Special in the Del Monte Trophy feature race at the 1954 Pebble Beach Road Races. The Tatum GMC Special has been an active vintage racing participant since the mid-1980’s and is entered in the Del Monte Trophy Race Group for the Monterey Reunion 60th Anniversary Laguna Seca Races. 

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