Trucks & SUVs

These Former Military Trucks Make the Perfect Off-Road Toy

While lots of people have heard of the Humvee, not everyone knows about the General Motors “Kuck Vee.” If you need a reliable work truck or you’re an off-road enthusiast looking for a truck that offers something different plus a piece of history and some military swagger, consider the GM M1008. Here’s a look at this fascinating military truck.

History of GMC military vehicles

General Motors’ relationship with the U.S. Army started during World War I, when the company supplied trucks and ambulances. During World War II, GM supplied trucks, DUKW “Duck” landing craft, and armored cars for the United States, Britain, and France.

In the 1970s and ’80s, the military purchased light utility vehicles, first buying Dodge trucks from Chrysler and then later trucks from General Motors.

In the early ’80s, around 1984, General Motors started building 1-1/4-ton light utility vehicles for the U.S. Military, and the name Commercial Utility Cargo Vehicles (CUCVs), or Kuck Vees, came into use. Modifying an existing vehicle saved the military money on its new trucks, since the CUCVs were created out of parts from GM’s light commercial truck lines.

GM produced about 70,000 of their military trucks, which were similar to the Chevrolet Blazer, Chevrolet K2500, and GMC Jimmy. The pickup truck CUCV M1008 was one of the four body types that GM created. The other three were the utility (CUCV M1009), ambulance (CUCV M1010), and chassis cab (CUCV M1031).

The military continued purchasing these trucks until 1987. GM did later create CUCV II trucks, but the military already preferred Humvees by the time the CUCV IIs were introduced. However, the GM Defense division has continued its military involvement in the years since.

The GM M1008 truck

The GM M1008 was the most common of the CUCVs. It was used to carry cargo or passengers, and the truck sometimes had seats for eight troops installed in the bed. While designed for road use, the truck could be used for occasional off-road driving and going through water up to 20-inches deep.

It could also tow a trailer or an aircraft. The GM M1008 was not completely successful when used as a battlefield vehicle, especially in desert conditions, but it did have good uses as a support vehicle.

GM M1008 specs

While the GM M1008 is a modest truck, it is extremely reliable. The truck has a sturdy 6.2-liter Detroit Diesel V-8 engine. It doesn’t get a lot of speed, and it tops out around 65 MPH. It features a long, square hood and two heavy-duty axles. The front one is a Dana 60 front axle, and the rear one is a 14-bolt rear axle with Detroit locker.

The engine produces about 155 horsepower and 257 lb.-ft. of torque, which gives the M1008 the ability to tow 3,000 pounds. The truck even has a bullet-proof TH400 automatic transmission and NP208 transfer case.

This truck does have a couple features not found on ordinary trucks. Some of these include a strong brush guard in the front, towing shackles on the front and rear, a pintle hook in the rear, and a 12- and 24-volt dual alternator charging system with two 100-amp alternators. The electric power let the truck jump-start any NATO vehicle or hook up military radios.

Where to get this military truck today

If you’re interested in buying one of these unique trucks for your non-military, off-road or work uses, they can be found on government liquidation websites and auctions, Craigslist, and eBay. Once you have one, it can be modified easily, since the GM M1008 shares parts with a ton pickup trucks. Options include lift kits, turbo kits, and bigger tires.