1952 Chevrolet half-ton pickup (stock)
My dad helped me get the truck out of the woods in Bon Aqua, TN in May 1982. I’d just graduated high school. A friend of mine had introduced me to the owner, who’d been using it as a daily driver to Nashville and back…about 100 miles round trip before parking in the woods where it sat for five years till I came along.
I had a part time job and not much money. So the owner ended up giving it to me for free. I couldn’t believe it. He’d said it would run, just needed tires and a battery. In truth it needed much more, as I would soon find out and continue to realize for the rest of my life. These trucks never stop needing stuff.
Believe it or not, the flat retreads held air long enough to get it home. My dad drove, and as I followed behind in his car I noticed chunks of mud flying off the tires. Once home we saw it wasn’t mud…it was chunks of tire tread. Fortunately, the truck had 15 inch wheels at the time, with the same size G78-15 tires as my dad’s car. So I was able to use his bald rejects as new tires for my truck.
The bed was rotted out (including most of the metal strips), it had no side windows, no horn, no speedometer, no door panels, no floor mats, no turn signals, and only one tail light.
The prior owner had side windows made and “ready” to install, but the doors had no weatherstripping of any kind, no felt window channels, and the doors required slamming to close. So I wedged the new glass into the channels with folded bits of newspaper. Therefore, they cracked terribly by summer’s end but at least kept out the rain. I would get tiny shards of glass in my lap every time I slammed the door.
It was just a plain old truck without a fancy pedigree. It had lived a hard life and had the lumpiest fenders I ever saw. The odometer was broke when I got it, stuck at 91,000 miles and change. The three-on-a-tree transmission had the loudest scream in 1st and 2nd gear…I’ve never heard another one as bad since.
My dad had owned a similar truck years earlier to haul garbage to the dump. I was 6 years old then. He got a bucket of red and painted it with a brush. Of course it looked great to me. That idea stuck with me, and as a result my truck’s first paint job was red tractor paint bought from the co-op and applied with a brush. It also looked pretty good to me. It faded fast, and my friends called me Fred Sanford for obvious reasons.
Getting the truck without my father’s help would’ve been impossible…starting with the drive back home. I didn’t know how to drive a straight shift, so he taught me, along with every other thing the truck needed for the next few years. We did it all together. His advice and mentoring never stopped until 1998 when he died of cancer. Really, it didn’t stop then, as I’ve continued to remember all the quality times we spent wrenching that truck.
In 1982 I felt the truck and myself had something to prove. When my father died I realized driving it to Alaska was the perfect tribute to him, and would also prove the abilities of the old 216 engine. So I made a big deal out of it, got sponsors, and did it as a cancer benefit in 2000. Links to articles and more pictures below in my signature.
Today (2021) this truck still has the same 216 she rolled off the assembly line with. She enjoys a comfortable and active retirement in Arizona…a retirement I personally don’t deserve but the truck certainly does. The Lord has blessed me in many ways.
Kingman, AZ (with heartfelt ties to Bucksnort, Nunnelly, Grinders Switch, Dickson, Charlotte, and of course Bon Aqua, TN.)