1952 Chevrolet 3100 1/2-Ton
26 November 2007
From Bob :
When I was a lad of around 12, there was a farmer who lived just down the road. I helped around the farm some (my Dad worked for him). The old man had some really cool old trucks around -- a couple of '40's and '50's F*rds and the beautiful old AD Chevys. He had a 1950, a 1952, and a 1949 "Big Bolt." His favorite was a 1952 3100. I remember riding around the farm in the old truck and me and Daddy taking it to get feed for the cows.
I tried many times to talk the old man into selling that truck to Dad (he tried too), but the answer was always the same. Sam (the farmer) would look at me, mentally calculate how much money a poor little country boy could come up with, then double the figure and name it as his price. This way, he knew I couldn't buy the old truck and he could tell the missus (who didn't particularly care for the old trucks) that he'd offered to sell it but "the kid didn't have the money." Crafty old goat.
Fast forward about 20 years, and suddenly, I'm a thirty + year old cop with a wife, mortgage, small child, - and still have a hunger and obsession with Advanced Design Chevrolets. I get a call from my Dispatcher telling me I need to respond to a minor accident. When I arrive, it's my old friend Sam, driving a new Toyota.
After doing the required paperwork, I casually ask about the old trucks. He tells me he's still got all of them. His wife, who has walked over and heard the conversation, smiles at me, and while Sam's looking over the damage to the Toyota, tells me I've been talking to the wrong person about the trucks, and not to give up. I'd be able to buy one yet.
About a month later, I sold my '84 Corvette project because I could see that it wasn't filling in the hole in my heart for an old pickup. As the man drove off in the 'Vette, I told my Dad that I was going to go buy me another project. When I told him the one I had in mind, he just laughed.
Dad said "Son, that old man won't part with that." But he agreed to ride along with me and watch me try. I'd driven by the farm two or three times that week and saw the object of my desire -- the '52 -- parked next to the house. When I pulled up this time, it was gone! I saw Sam working down in the field, so I drove back and asked him about the truck. He told me it was parked back behind the barn because his wife didn't think it needed to be by the house.
As usual, I asked if he'd sell it, and, as usual, he smiled and told me I wouldn't give what he'd have to have for it. I told him to try me. He scratched his head, spit, and said "I'd hafta to have a $1,000 for it." (This was said as if it were all the money in the world.) I asked if I could look at the old truck up close and he told me sure.
We walked over to look at the truck. As Dad talked with Sam, I gave it a critical going over. Father Time hadn't been any kinder to my old friend than he had me, but under the surface rust and cow dents, the old truck seemed fairly solid. I reached in the cab and twisted the key. The little 6 banger fired off like it'd been run five minutes earlier, not the two weeks Sam told me it had been since he moved it. I was sold.
Sam told me the brakes didn't work, but everything else did. I asked him if he'd take $800, acting as if that's all I had. I could see the old gentleman's smile trying to come out as he rubbed his chin, thinking how he just couldn't do that. You could almost hear the words in his mind, "I still get to keep it!"
He returned to conversation with Dad while I looked around some more. Finally, I told him, "Well, I guess I'll just have to give you your price." I pulled $1,000 and Sam nearly swallowed his chew. He stammered around a bit, then told me, "Bobby, I don't want you to be unhappy. I don't have to sell this old truck." I assured him I wanted the truck and reminded him that I'd tried to buy it for 20 years.
He shook my hand and said "It's yours then." I think I saw a tear as he walked away to move one of the other trucks so I could get out with my new toy. As I pulled through the gate, I discovered he wasn't kidding at all about the brakes. I asked him how long it had been since the brake fluid was checked and he told me, "Son, It ain't had brakes in 10 years. If I needed to stop, I just hit something."
After driving it home six miles without brakes, I found a tiebolt had broken on a front spring. Dad and I replaced the springs, entire brake system and changed the oil. I painted the wheels red, painted whitewalls on a used set of tires I had laying around the house, and have driven it several times, to my 15-month old daughter's delight.
I discovered that instead of a 216, it has a 1953 235 out of a Powerglide equipped passenger car (thanks to Stovebolt.com for the help figuring that out).
This winter, the old truck will get the T5 I have in the shed installed, along with a newer rearend, hopefully. I've had several people try to buy it, but my wife won't let me sell. I don't want to anyway. I figure I'll drive it as a ratrod shop truck until I get all the mechanicals restored, then I'll tackle the bodywork.
Oh, and the truck has been name Sam, a/k/a "the Junkyard Dawg" in honor of the old man that fought so hard to keep him. As a side note, every time I see the old gentleman, he asks about the truck and my progress. I think I've got him talked into selling me the much straighter but not running mate to Sam, a 1950. Won't my wife be thrilled?
Glad to see you found a worthy restoration project truck. You were able to hold out all those years and wait patiently for the truck you really wanted. That must have been a great feeling to be able to put your money where your mouth was, so to speak. That's a fair price, but like you stated the old man thought he'd scare you off again. Glad to hear he didn't and that he was a man of his word. Ya gotta love those old school guys. Love the paint job by mother nature by the way. Hopefully the second truck will follow you home, too. Sounds like the old man is happy with what you've done to the truck so far. ~~ Mike "Burgandybolt" Allen, Stovebolt Welcome Panel Wagon
July 1 addition: Bob got another truck ... a daily driver! A 1946 Chevy on an S-10 frame. Lot of bang for his buck! ~ Editor