Corbett earned the nickname of "Gentleman Jim" due to his college education, as well as his impeccable dress sense and speech - in an era when most boxers were the complete opposite!
In defeating the great John L. Sullivan (in 21 rounds) in 1892, Corbett not only secured the heavyweight title, but also became the first boxer to win a major bout organised under the newly-adopted Marquis of Queensberry rules.
So, what does boxing have to do with this issue's feature vehicle? Well, in much the same way that Corbett defied the conventions of his sport, the GMC "Gentleman Jim" Sierra pickup also broke the mold of workaday vehicles by offering comfort, luxury, style and a little bit of panache, hence the name!
In the early 1970s, GMC/Chevrolet saw there was scope to expand their pickup range beyond the 'utility' market into the realm of the daily driver and even family vehicle markets. Proof of this shift came in the dealer brochure for the 'Gentleman Jim'. The cover featured an illustration of a natty couple - her in evening gown, him in a (very 70s) tuxedo. Inside, the brochure offered a verbose description of the Gentleman Jim's "sparkling, mirror-like blending of black & gold highlighted by the warm, but subtle glow of burnished steel"!
But wait, it gets better - "a limited edition vehicle that reflects the richness and style of contemporary taste".
While there was a bit of embellishment there, the "limited edition" nature of the Gentleman Jim was spot on. Actual build numbers have been hard to confirm, but it's believed only around 1,000 were produced, and only for the 1975 model year. As such, a Gentleman Jim is a rare sight today, even rarer in this condition.
Our feature vehicle has been subject to an external resto prior to its arrival here. The black w/gold accent paint (a colour combo unique to the Gentleman Jim) is in excellent condition, and all the chrome grille & side mold trim is in similarly top order. There's no indication of rust, even in the usual wheel arch and pickup bed trouble spots.
The interior features 'Sierra Classic' trim, which means deep pile carpeting, door storage pouches, sound-deadening insulation and wood grain applique trim on the dash, doors and steering wheel. Saddle (brown) upholstery, custom floor mats and bucket seats were standard on all Gentleman Jim models, as was air conditioning, factory-fitted tacho, tilt steering wheel, AM/FM radio and a factory-fitted 8-track tape player.
While not quite up to the standard of the exterior, the interior is still in very good, used condition
Under the bonnet, this vehicle is powered by a 350 SB - 'Invader V8' in GMC parlance - in 2bbl, 145hp spec, that has covered 80,000 miles. A 4bbl, 160hp version of the same V8 was also available.
A turbo-hydramatic 3 spd auto was standard on all Gentleman Jims.
The C1500 designation means our feature vehicle is officially a 'light duty' truck, but there's nothing light, or small, about this vehicle. A little over 16' long and 6' wide, with a 6 1/2' deep tray area, Gentleman Jim GMCs certainly have the size and carrying capacity to back up their visual impact, while the auto transmission, power-assisted brakes and power steering make it less truck-like to drive.
But it's the visual impact that makes this pickup such a winner. In a local market clogged with F-Series Fords, any GMC will stand out, one in this specification even more so. It'll even give the newer Chevy Silverados and Dodge Rams a run for their money in the 'eye appeal' stakes - at a fraction of the cost, too. In that sense alone, this vehicle definitely punches above its weight.
WHAT, WHERE, WHEN & HOW MUCH
Model:GMC C1500 Sierra Classic"Gentleman Jim"
Dealer:Muscle Cars Australia
Ph: (02) 9525 9988
Mob: 0419 771 942
0-100 kph:about 14 seconds
Best point:A very rare pickup
Worst point: . . . but it's still a pickup
Recommendation: An interesting & attractive alternative to a Silverado, C10 or F-Series
Trivia: Think Gentleman Jim was a weird name? Try 'Desert Fox', 'Beau James' and 'California Sundancer'! All were actual limited edition or dealer special models in the GMC/Chevrolet pickup family from the 1970s & 80s.