Vintage Banks Truck Concept

The video below is a “vintage” VHS recording of a local morning news broadcast about a vintage Banks Truck. The anchors pass the segment to The Car Guys, Gale showed off his latest concept beast, the “Banks 502”. The 502 was a C1500 SS454 truck with a modified 1,300 hp twin-turbo Chevy marine 502 big block. It was sporting a massive rear wing meant for speeds over 200 mph. The 1,300 hp twin-turbo roared loud enough to set off all of the car alarms on the KTLA backlot.

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Partnership with GM

During the 80s and 90s, this truck was part of a larger racing effort with GM. History buffs will recall that Gale Banks knows about truck performance. Moreover, having set World Records for GMC in his Project Syclone in 1989 and again in 1990. In the early days of the project, meetings were held at GM headquarters in Detroit. Gale had a flurry of ideas on what he wanted to build to assault the salt. He planned a regular-cab short-bed truck with all-wheel drive, armed with one of his massive marine racing engines built and tuned for the rigors of Bonneville.

Designing a Vintage Banks Truck

A side drawing of the vintage Banks truck

Chevy execs at the meeting said if anyone was going to race in a full-size truck, it was going to be under their banner. That idea ended up evolving into what we know as the famous 454 SS truck sold to consumers, which wasn’t close to Gale’s vision. GMC proposed to Gale that he needed to do Bonneville with the S-15 Jimmy mini-truck, which neither had all-wheel drive nor turbos. They told him it’d have to be naturally aspirated because “We don’t sell turbocharged trucks.”

Sketch drawing of the back side of the vintage Banks truck

“This is the truck that I didn’t get to do for GMC,” said Gale. “But their marketing wanted to do the smaller truck, so that’s what it became. It was quite successful, but I still wanted to do the big block super-truck. And that’s what THIS is!” Gale considered offering a de-tuned version of the concept for the street made that only produced a poultry 600 HP with a target price of $38,000.

The Banks engine that went inside the vintage Banks truck

One only wonders what this concept truck would have done at the Salt Flats, and just how many street-legal versions would have been picking fights with hot rods, even today. Interesting note: GMC actually DID end up selling a turbocharged, all-wheel-drive truck called the Syclone. That truck was followed up with the turbo, all-wheel drive Typhoon SUV. We wonder, where they got that idea from?

Sketch of the interior of the vintage Banks truck concept

Read about another vintage Banks truck build, the Syclone.