I remember each and every one of my dad’s pickup trucks while I was growing up, he was always a Chevy man through and through. I remember his dad’s old pickup too, it was a beat up old Ford that he had for years. Anything that you could think of was hauled in the back of those trucks: aluminum cans for recycling, mulch, dirt, leaves, limbs, firewood, trash, lawn mowers, vegetables, Cub Scouts, Christmas trees, pumpkins, groceries, yard sale stuff. We pulled everything you could think of with them as well: utility trailers, boat trailers, broken down cars (including one that I wrecked in a ditch when I turned 16), old car hoods with kids holding on to a rope in the snow, trees that needed uprooting (a poor man’s tractor). We grew up poor, but even a poor man can get just about anything done with a pickup truck.
Now that I’m older, I have an old pickup of my own. I saw her (all old pickups are females of course) sitting in the front yard next to my doctor’s office one afternoon a couple of years back, the truck looked in great shape for its age. A 1986 Chevrolet four wheel drive, half ton, K1500 with a 305 V8. Pretty red and black paint job, no frills, no air conditioning, no power anything. Just a nice looking truck looking for a new owner. I came back with a friend of mine a couple of days later to give it a going over; the owner had put it up several years ago because he was now running a work truck all the time. We talked about all of the work that he had done to it already, then took it for a test drive. She didn’t have much power, but I could tell the rebuilt transmission was tight, and the four wheel drive worked good. 170,000 miles didn’t seem bad for a truck over 20 years old, and the owner proceeded to bring out a couple of beers for us to work on while we talked about it.
We leaned on the sides of the bed, and haggled back and forth, like only a pair of good old boys can do. As he pointed out everything that had already been fixed, I proceeded to point out everything that was still going to need work. We laughed and finished off a six pack, and finally came to an agreement; I signed off on the check in my pocket, and he signed off on the title. We shook hands and were happy.
The truck started off as a big headache of mine; the Holley carbeurator that the previous owner had installed wasn’t adjusted properly, the truck liked to stall out in the worst moments. When we pulled into my friend’s garage and started pulling apart the motor, the sludge build up from sitting for so long was awful. We spent many a night that fall and winter getting everything cleaned up and adjusted. I bought a nice black diamond toolbox for the bed that my dad found at a yard sale for her, and slapped a trucker gal plate on the front, then installed an old 8 track player for some good old tunes, nothing but country for this gal. A nice back window outdoor scene vinyl sticker and a gun rack finished off my personalization. We finally got that carbeurator tweaked right; the motor purs like a kitten nowadays.
The truck turned 25 years old this year, I’m probably going to get antique plates for it soon. I don’t drive it that much for work, mainly for hauling things and pleasure; Eight miles to the gallon adds up quick! Yesterday was Sunday, and I took my girlfriend for a spin on some back roads for the afternoon. With Alabama’s “Dixieland Delight” playing on the radio, one arm on the wheel, and her under the other in the middle of the bench seat, the magic of an old pickup came back to life once again, it’s something that feels just right.