10 November 2005

A 1968 Chevy Short Bed Gets Remade

It all started with a visit to my wife’s parents…

My father-in-law (who was 84 at the time) and I were having a conversation about his truck; he said he was going to take his old truck to the dump! He had bought it new in 1968. But now it hardly ran and was on its last legs. I let him know that I really wanted his truck, as it was a classic; and if he gave it to me, I promised him I would fix it up. He agreed, and on my next trip down to visit, I took my flatbed trailer and hauled the truck 1,000 miles to my home in Idaho.

The truck sat in my backyard for approximately seven years, as I didn’t have the time or money to devote to fixing the truck. Sitting in my backyard for that length of time, I had many offers to sell it as-is, but I declined. (I had made a promise to Tony, my father-in-law.)

My wife and I decided to do something with the truck, because my father-in-law was now 90 years old and while still in very good health, I wanted to fulfill my promise. So we had the truck towed to our mechanic in Mountain Home. Owner Lonnie Black of C&A Automotive and I had many conversations [about the truck]. We decided the engine was on its last legs, in addition to the brakes, clutch, and more. Lonnie and his crew did a fantastic job for us, and he will always have my business.

After we got the truck running it was time for mufflers, wheels, tires and alignment. So the truck was off to G&G Tires. Cliff installed the tires and wheels, and complete dual exhaust system. He did a great job, and I also recommend them because they care about your vehicle as much as their own.

It was very difficult to find a good body and paint shop. We looked for months to find just the right one for our special truck. We finally lucked out and found a young man who was just starting a new business. This great craftsman’s name is Justin Baldwin, owner of Precision Auto Body in Mountain Home. We were his second or third customer. We told him we weren’t in a hurry but he said that there was a show coming up that he wanted to enter our truck in. We agreed.

Justin was meticulous in work, disassembling the truck, sanding it down, getting rid of all the rust that had accumulated over the years. He fixed all the dents, etc. so well that we couldn’t remember where they were. The truck was painted. It was so beautiful! We couldn’t believe it was the same truck. Justin and I worked on the truck bed for two days; it is solid oak that I stained with teak oil. While re-installing the windshield, disaster struck. We broke it! But Ace Glass came to the rescue.

Auto Marine Upholstery fixed the inside of the truck, and Wayne recovered the seat so nicely that one might think it was brand-new. For all the parts and accessories, I ordered online from LMC Truck. It’s a great resource for restoration needs.

The Lions Club was having The Rumble & Roar Car Show, and we needed to put just a few finishing touches on the truck so we could enter it. We were 1 ½ hours late, but we made it in time. And we won the Rodder’s Choice Award for the best Rodder in show; there were about 115 entries.

The best part of this is that I kept my promise to Tony, my father-in-law who is now 91 years of age. I made many new friends along the way with the restorations and hope to make more friends in the future showing my ’68 Chevy Short Bed Side Pickup.

– Richard Harbert
Hammett, Idaho

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