but this one is really a once in a lifetime old truck if you are from the Midwest (Illinois) and fool around with old vehicles at all. The backstory.... I have a little vacation camp in northern Michigan in the Manistee National Forest and travel there several times a year now that I am retired. I was in the Ludington, Michigan area and saw this old 1971 Chevy pickup sitting in a front yard of a well kept rural home with a for sale sign in the window.
I usually ignore for sale vehicles in my area of northern Illinois as rust or covered up rust is the norm. Over the years I have saved/restored a few vintage vehicles but found them in other states and made the journey to drag them home and save myself lots of aggravation and some money as the bodywork is the enemy of the budget usually. You know the story...hidden rust..covered rust...bondo...chicken wire and newspaper with filler.. Disaster and extra work.
This truck looked a little beat up, faded paint and some scratches and dents.... but the original paint and patina looked just old and I was amazed that the cab corners and wheel wells were not bubbled or rusty. I saw a hint of light SURFACE rust in a couple of spots but nothing else. The underside was AMAZING... sandy soil near Lake Michigan and the sandy road had left a pretty fair amount of fine sand all over the underside. So now I am intrigued....
I call the number and speak with the older than me gentleman...also retired.. a school teacher... and learn all about Old Yeller.... In 1971, his father orders this truck from the Ludington, Michigan Chevy dealer close by. The family has a fruit orchard with 2 seasonal roadside stands and they need a truck for the working of the fruit harvesting and hauling to the nearby farm stands. His dad ordered the stock 6 cylinder 250 engine, manual 3 on the tree, manual brakes basic truck. He optioned the truck with a heavy duty clutch, heavy duty rear springs, a full foam seat, black vinyl trim, a front chrome bumper and the white factory pin stripe on the solid Ochre color. He splurged and went for the Chrome hubcaps. He had the dealer install a rear step bumper for the workers. Basic work truck.
Okay now here is the really cool stuff (to me and some of you I bet).. this old work truck is still in the family.. (dad passed away in 2006 at age 94 and the son is who I am talking to) has 25100 ORIGINAL MILES ON IT. That is 25 thousand original miles from nearly 50 years ago... I am not convinced as any of us would be dubious..how many times have the ads all said...blah blah blah and its turned over or been broken or worse just liars. ESPECIALLY a truck..they got the wheels driven off them back in the day as nobody was thinking low miles...they were WORKING. So I jokingly ask the gentleman what was so broken for so long that the truck sat for years unrepaired or stolen
.. he laughed and said Dad bought the old hard to steer and brake Chevy truck for the Orchard and Farmstands. The family worked hard every summer for over 40 years in that little orchard business and every late fall the truck was put in the barn and backed up to the doors so no one could get in and the family wintered in Clearwater, Florida for 45 years. THE TRUCK NEVER EVER SAW SALT OR WINTER since new. When his father left him the truck he occasionally took it out in the summer but did not like driving it, so with the exception of gas and a little annual exercise for the last 14 years it was mostly stored in a metal building with concrete floor..... And this man and his wife STILL go to Florida every year also and he is sneaking up on 80. He said the truck got about 500 miles a year for about 45 years or so in the orchard to farm business.
When he finally decides to sell "Dad's truck as the family called it (key tag still said Dad's truck) he did so after he asked the original dealership if they wanted to buy it for display or reference as he knew it was unmolested and sold by them. They did not want to give him a fair price as they said it was too much of a stock basic truck. He said his daughter had no interest in the truck and he knew it was time to let it go. I will tell you I paid twice what it probably was worth to most folks but glad to do so. There are folks in other parts of the country that may run across rust free, low mileage, one owner etc. but not me and I have been in the hobby for 40 plus years.
I test drive the truck and it is amazingly tight, runs good and only needs a tailpipe and new tires that I can determine. (more to come)
I promise to keep the family updated and me and Old Yeller head for home. I have this true survivor with no restoration plan except to enjoy and maintain with a few well deserved perks.... adventure update to follow.. Apologies if this was too long but Old Yeller, the survivor needs the story told. :-)