1972 GMC 9500
From Billy :
When I first got my 1946 Chevrolet COE 2-ton flatbed on the road a while back, John Milliman coaxed me into going to an ATHS / Stovebolt truck show in Southern Maryland. I saw all these big trucks and thought, “What am I doing here? I don’t belong."
Well, all that changed. After becoming a member of the Baltimore-Washington Chapter of ATHS, I have been to quite a few truck shows. I have also gained a huge appreciation for the big trucks as well as the smaller ones.
And now, thanks to Grigg Mullen (see his 1948 Chevy 2-ton Detroit Diesel project), I am very fond of the Detroit Diesel engines, too.
I began thinking of a big truck to pull my COE to shows because the pickup that I usually pull with has more than 250,000 miles on it. Plowing snow for 14 years has taken a toll on it. In other words, I didn’t think I could ask it to pull my truck and trailer to shows of any distance much longer.
So this was my latest and greatest dream -- find a truck with a Detroit that I could paint to match my Chevrolet and have some fun with it.
Needless to say, when I told my wife Jennifer about this, I don’t think she shared the enthusiasm.
I found this 1972 GMC 9500 single axle tractor with a 6-71 Detroit, 5-speed transmission and a 2-speed rear on eBay last summer. I watched it carefully and it did not meet the seller’s reserve. I contacted the seller and, with a “partial” blessing from my wife, made a deal.
Now the problem was how to get it here from Tennessee.
We weighed all the options: drive down with the motor home and make a trip out of it and drive the truck back; fly in and drive home; hotels, fuel and food, etc. The seller offered to drive the 10+ hours to us for a fee that was the most reasonable option.
Jennifer and I agreed to meet him and his son right off the interstate, not too far from the house. Then we would take them to the airport.
Even at 15 years old, the son was well over the 250 lb mark and easily 6' tall. Dad wasn’t much smaller. When they arrived, they both seemed to have weathered the trip well. The son did comment that the truck was a rough ride, especially when they encountered a bridge joint. Oh and he commented that it was loud in the cab. (During my initial clean up of the truck, I found several packages of ear plugs. Hmmmm. I also found that the passenger side seat wasn’t bolted to the floor!! No wonder the boy had a rough ride. Probably a good thing he had a few extra pounds on him. Otherwise, he may have become airborne on one of those bridges.)
The seller asked if I wanted to take a test ride before leaving for BWI. Jennifer spoke up and said, “Sure!"
With a startled look, the seller hesitantly got in the passenger side and Jennifer climbed up behind the wheel. With a few quick instructions, off they went.
After the test drive, both the Father and son were smiling and shaking their heads. With a puzzled look, they climbed into our passenger car, waiting for the next move. I guess they figured Jennifer would be taking them to BWI and I would be driving the big truck home.
Before we could get turned around, my wife was driving off in the other direction. By the time we got to the first intersection in our passenger car, all we got was a brief glimpse before us of that white GMC disappearing out of site. (Editors' Note: A variation of the Suzanne Somers/White T-Bird scene from American Graffiti that can only be found here ... in the Stovebolt Zone!)
The seller and his Son talked about that all the way to the airport. I guess they have never seen a tall blonde girl drive a GMC 9500 with a 6-71 Detroit Diesel before. It might help the story to add that she had her CDL and I didn’t. Oh and that she has spent some timebehind the wheel of a loaded dump truck, during her time as a construction estimator.
I didn’t tell them this though……..