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1954 Chevy 3100 5-Window Hydromatic

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Owned by Therese and John Kingsbury
Oak Harbor, Washington


Took first place on Sunday! It was a big show too! We took 1st place in our category yesterday! I think it's the third we got on open class was a little better, but it was a 205 car Car Show, and the open class was 104 cars.

I think Roy will be sending me something this week.

25 February 2008
# 2248

From Therese :

          My Father wanted this 1954 Chevy 3100 5-window hydromatic pickup truck [ pix ] from the time he was a boy. It belonged to the Terra family in Sacramento (as the first owners). He was able to purchase it in 1971 when I was 10 and he was in his 30's. So, our family is the second owners. My Dad's name was Jerry Litell and he was a Sacramento Firefighter. The truck has been in our family for 36 years.

          About six years after Dad got the truck, I took the truck joyriding (I was 16) and totaled it. You should have seen the look on Dad's face when he got home and found out about that. I will never forget how mad he was. He was devastated. It took him a few years to rebuild it. Five years after that, in 1983, he was killed on duty. He was 44 years old. There is a street named after him in Sacramento now.

          My brother Vincent inherited the truck and he drove it for many years between Hermiston and Sacramento. He swears it is the most comfortable ride on the planet. The truck threw a fan blade through the hood and then it sat for more than a decade. The engine was a giant puzzle.

          Vincent gave the truck to our sister Mary and I talked her out of it. (She says "I stole her truck" !) Now she is a tad bit jealous and says she would like to take it to Boulder City. No worries, she will get it in the end .... well, if she out lives me!

          We were inspired at Reno's Hot August Night's and began scheming how to get it done. We were excired and motivated to restore the closest thing the Litell's have to a family heirloom. We look forward to caring for it this generation and do our best to keep it in the family for decades to come -- as long as the hopefull future owners save up their nickels and dimes.

See what $20,000 can do for a scrappy old relic?

          The restoration project began [ before pix ] in early 2005. We did alot of the legwork with the transmission and engine. The major stuff was done by a childhood friend that knows and appreciates the truck's history. Rick Hawkins of Hawkrod in Sutter Creek, California has painstakingly rebuilt it to my specifications and against his painter / buddies' wishes -- even my color choices. You should see how he wrapped the old window chrome with marine vinyl, and the strips slid in between the fenders. He was a fan of my Dad back when he was a kid. I guess he needed a cherry picker once and my Dad loaned one to him no questions asked and that really impressed him as a teenager. I hadn't seen Rick in 20 years and we ended up going to a party he throws every Fall called Hawktoberfest, just to see the old gang. We started to talk about the truck and after alot of corresponding, and then begging, he agreed to work on it for us. I was very afraid to pick just anyone for the job. It's VERY sentimental. Rick now has two oldy moldys just like it that he is going to get started on, but I think he needs a break.

          I saw an old Chevy Nomad on the Internet with the color scheme and fell in love. Oddly, the new front end my Dad found, had a very similar color originally.

          The upholstery and wood work are spectacular. Here is a picture of the interior -- before and after. Amazingly when I picked the colors for the truck, Rick had had the fabric laying around his shop for a ton of years. It matched perfectly and was just what I described. Here is a close-up of the inside of the door -- before and after. I don't have any photos, but Rick tucked and rolled the whole wall behind the seat [ pix ] , even tho no one will ever see it. The old photos of the interior upholstery (pink and maroon) were the two tone exterior colors before the unfortunate accident when I was 16.

          Here's a good before and after of the nose of the truck. And here's a close-up of the side-rails and the spare tire. Rick used poplar for the bed [ pix ] (with stainless steel strips) and side rails since it matched the color of the truck. The rails were an after thought of mine. I really wanted a visor but we couldn't find one before the headliner went in.

          We moved the gas tank to the back. The sun visors are going to be a work of art as well. Rick was working on the finishing touches when we saw him a few weeks ago.

          The parts that are not new came back to life with an eerie spirit that is embodied in this hunk of steel. I can't wait to bring it home onto the island and give it a new life. The truck should be finished next month (March 2008). Rick and his wife are towing it eight hours to Redmond, Oregon and we are driving eight hours from Whidbey to meet him. Then we are towing it back here.

          No one ever met a bigger dreamer than my Dad and one of his many dreams was to live in the Pacific Northwest. So now I will be bringing this reincarnated piece of family history home and proudly cruise in the most amazing old truck on the road today.



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