1945 Studebaker US6 Military Truck Takes First Drive in 20 Years, Mud Is Not an Issue
24 July 2022 - autoevolution
If you're into classic military trucks, I bet that the GMC CCKW is at the top of your list.
At least when it comes to 6x6 beasts. But while the CCKW is indeed the most iconic hauler from World War II, I have a thing for its direct competitor, the Studebaker US6.
Both the CCKW and the US6 were introduced in 1941, right before the U.S. joined WWII. And both were produced until the conflict ended in 1945. They also look very similar, so what exactly sets them apart, and what makes the GMC the more popular truck?
Well, the CCKW became the 6x6 hauler of choice for the U.S. Army. And GMC eventually built more than a half-million units in four years. The US6, on the other hand, spawned only 220,000 examples. Most of them were put together by Studebaker, but about 10% of US6 production was handled by REO, the company founded by Ransom E. Olds after he left Oldsmobile.
In addition to that, while the GMC CCKW was primarily operated by the U.S. Army, the Studebaker US6 was exported under the Lend-Lease policy. Many of them were sent to the Soviet Union, where they hauled everything from artillery pieces and anti-tank guns to troops.
But was the US6 inferior to the CCKW? By no means. The U.S. Army simply found that the GMC was more suitable for Western Front conditions. But some US6 trucks were also operated in North America, mainly for construction purposes (including the Alaska Highway).
With most trucks shipped to Europe during WWII, the Studebaker US6 is quite the rare truck in the U.S. nowadays. Especially when compared to the CCKW. They're not extremely valuable, but some diehard fans are not only chasing these trucks but also hoarding them. Which is a good thing, because the US6 needs to live on in as many examples as possible.
YouTube's "AlaskaTrucker" is one of those guys who owns quite a few Studebaker haulers. And while many of them are waiting to be fixed, some are running like they just finished military service.
The truck you're about to see below was rebuilt back in the early 1980s with parts from two different haulers. It may not be a proper survivor, but it does rely on an original 320-cubic-inch (5.2-liter) Hercules JXD engine. An inline-six of the L-head variety, the JXD was rated at 86 horsepower and 200 pound-feet (271 Nm) of torque when new.
Yeah, that's not a lot of oomph for a truck of this size, but this US6 has no issues strolling through muddy terrain and uneven fields. Which is a big deal given that it hasn't been driven in almost two decades. This hauler deserves a full-blown restoration, but until that happens, see it running like a champ in the video below.