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Leonardtown, Maryland


1951 Chevrolet 1.5-Ton Wrecker

Owned by

Luther C. Smith
Pelion, South Carolina

"Little Barrell"


01 January 2008
# 2166


From Luther :

           Howdy guys and gals.  Here are the pictures of my 1951 Chevrolet Wrecker.  [ front view ] My guess it is a 1 1/2-ton.  I named her “Little Barrel.”[ rear view ]

           I have had my eye on this truck for about 12 years.  I have wanted it from the first time I saw it.  On the back of the truck is a hoist for hauling cars and things. I will move that trailer and take more pictures of her. Here is some of the story.

           Well, where do I begin?  When I was a boy about six years old, my Dad came home with a model kit of a 1936 Ford pickup truck. (Did he say FORD ??!! ~ Ed. ) I can't explain it, but from that day forward I fell in love with every old truck I saw. 

           Needless to say, it took some time before I was able to get an old truck. In 1978, shortly after I was married, I found a 1958 Chevrolet Apache shortbed pickup truck.  Her name was LILA (I name all my trucks). She was hard to find parts for but she looked real good and ran like a top. She leaked when it rained and the windshield wipers didn't even work. 

           We moved from Columbia, South Carolina to the town of Florence, SC where I worked at a tool and die place and could make some parts for her as needed. I ended up selling her because of some knee surgery (couldn't clutch it anymore) and I got a 1966 Dodge Van (automatic) in 1981. 

           We moved back to Columbia in 1982 and I was out looking again for another truck. I found a 1951 Chevy truck in Camden, SC that was owned by a shop mechanic. After talking and running my mouth for so long, I guess he was ready to get rid of me. He took me around back to "sweeten the pot" as they say. I was looking to buy one truck when he showed me another one just like the first one.  Her twin! It doesn't happen often but when it does, I get all excited.

           Here the man was giving me the second truck for free if I buy the first one. Boy! The money couldn't stay in my pocket. I had to make two trips but the second one was to get her twin sister.

           The first truck I named “Jessica” after Roger Rabbit's wife. You know ... because she had those curves. Her sister I called “HT” short for Hard Times. Jessica was my other love so to speak. Everywhere I went, she went and I was proud of her. I showed her off to everybody. 

           But like hard times, we all find them. In 1991 my house caught fire in Gilbert, SC and I had to sell my love to fix the house for my family. With despair, I think about her often and I hope she has another good home and someone is really taking good care of her. 

           We again moved to where we are today in Pelion, SC. In 1995, I bought the land and my neighbors were clearing the land down the road where I first saw the truck I have now. So my guess is around 1996 is when I first asked about her (Little Barrel). It sat in the woods at the shop down the road from me for about two years. I lived right down the street and had to pass by it everyday. Whenever I stopped and asked about it, I was told that it was not for sale.  

           The owner, who's name is Jack, said he had gotten her from a friend that lived in Seneca, SC in 1978 or 1979. He was going to get her running again and drive her. He bought her from a lady named Izora Land. He got the truck running and even had changed her over to a 12 volt system. He was driving her around in the field again and again. I was going nuts watching him drive her. I had friends that came over and I would take them around to see the truck. I kept asking as time went if Jack wanted to sell her.  But he kept saying "NO."  So I stopped asking about her.

           Three weeks ago Friday, I was going out to look for a 55 gallon drum when I saw the owner loading it onto a trailer.  Sad and disgusted, I pulled up thinking that he had already sold the truck. There was another fellow there helping him out, so naturally that was my thought. When I asked him about it, he said he was hauling it to the scrap yard because he needed the cash.

           My shock and surprise! Wow, I felt like a kid in the candy store with no pennies. (Dollars for you younger folks )  I asked him how much he would get at the scrap yard for it and he said he could get around $300.  

           So that is how I got her and how she is now mine and now I am the proud owner of my “big” little truck. I named her “Little Barrel” which is another story. Years ago, it was tradition to name things like boats and planes after ladies. She is a lady and will be proper when I finish putting on her make-up. 

           So, the name -- a friend of mine that I use to help drive vehicles for, we were always going through small towns and seeing different names that were pretty amusing. This particular time I read a sign wrong. I thought it said we were entering the Town of Little Barrel. It wasn't until we came back through the area and my friend, Jimmy, started laughing at me. He stopped to read the sign.  And, of course, it did not say Little Barrel but Litter Barrel. 

           'Til this day it stuck in my mind.  And as with tradition, when I got her (MY Truck), I named her Little Barrel.  She looks like one doesn't she? 

           My plans are to paint on the side of her ... Town of Little Barrel, S.C. Pop. 4.  When people ask me where the Town of Little Barrel, South Carolina is, I will say you are looking at her.

           Anyway, we all have dreams about things as time goes by and I have always wanted another old truck.  I hope I can say that I know how a lot of the guys and gals feel when it comes to these old rides. They are from a time that is nearly gone and a time that we all try and hold onto. 

Your New Friend and Stovebolter,

Luther C. Smith.


           ~Congrats on the truck! Patience pays off sometimes! Keep us updated… Gallery Gal / What a great and funny story. I think I could listen to your yarns all day, and sit and watch you tinker on Little Barrel. Thanks for the great write-up. ~ Editor