Our 1929 Chevy Truck Is a Family Heirloom

Deacon Fancher

Hagerty is celebrating its first-ever HDC Days from June 21 to June 23, with great discounts from our partners, choose-your-own adventure experiences, contests, and more. We’re also celebrating all this week online with some terrific cars and trucks owned by Hagerty Drivers Club members. Like this one . . .

Deacon Fancher
Clarkston, Michigan

My maternal great-grandfather, Eugene Keech, was active in the local car community around Waterford, Michigan, at the time of his passing in the 1990s. He owned about half a dozen vehicles, including a 1929 Ford Model A, an Austin-Healey from the ’60s, and this 1929 Chevrolet International Series LQ. 

The International was one of the first Chevys to use the Stovebolt Six powerplant. This particular example is a one-and-a-half-ton stake truck. Its 9-by-6-foot bed, “tight” turning radius, and versatile four-speed gearbox would have made this truck equally useful on a farm or a commercial urban environment. Some of those same features serve an entirely different purpose today. A 45-mph top-end means that it is relatively practical to take on main roads, while its large bed makes it ideal for shuttling friends and family around car events. 

The funeral home that held Eugene’s service had a coachbuilt Packard hearse. Plans to use it to transport his casket fell through after the Packard had mechanical troubles. Rather than switching to one of the home’s newer hearses, my family asked if the ’29 Chevy could be used to take Eugene to his final resting place. It was eventually agreed that the truck’s bed racks would be removed, casket rollers would be temporarily installed, and an official hearse would follow in the procession. 

1929 Chevy International Series LQ covered bridge
Deacon Fancher

Eugene had left the truck to his daughter Jerri and her husband Jim Fancher—my grandparents. Being that neither of them were familiar with operating the truck, my grandpa asked his father, Lewis (who was comfortable operating anything) if he would pilot the Chevy for the funeral procession. My dad, a teenager at the time, was given the honor of riding shotgun. This was the first time that he had ridden in a vehicle with Lewis and Eugene—both of his grandfathers.

Although no photos have been found from the procession, it is said to have been very moving. Being that Eugene was a veteran, his casket was draped with the Stars and Stripes. Passersby pulled to the side of the road, with other former servicemen saluting the flag-shrouded ’29.

My grandmother admits that the truck initially left a sour taste in her mouth. To her, it represented a time in her dad’s life that followed her mother’s passing; a time in which she felt he had buried himself in his hobbies and left little time for the family. Her feelings eventually changed, as the truck began a new life surrounded by our family.

1929 Chevy International Series LQ
Jerri and Jim Fancher with the Chevy in the late ’90s.Deacon Fancher

Starting in the late 1990s, my grandparents began taking the truck to The Henry Ford’s Old Car Festival. They haven’t missed a show yet (other than 2020, when it was canceled). After I was born, I took an almost immediate liking to the truck. I was immersed in the world of antique cars, taken on truck rides regularly, and have been brought to the Old Car Festival since I was in a stroller. Because of these experiences, my biggest automotive interests now reside in anything built before the Great Depression—the “Brass” and “Veteran” eras of motor vehicle history.

1929 Chevy International Series LQ Deacon Fancher and
Deacon Fancher with his grandfather, Jim, at the Old Car Festival in 2019.Deacon Fancher

Now that I am 20, I have taken on more responsibilities involving the old Chevy. I have learned its quirks and personality enough to comfortably cruise both on public roads, and within the busy, narrow streets of Henry Ford’s Greenfield Village. I have assisted my grandfather with a head gasket replacement, a steering box rebuild, a clutch replacement, and many of the regular maintenance tasks that the truck demands. I take pride in being able to help with the management of the vehicle and find it satisfying to set it up for our favorite shows. The truck’s beautiful, restoration-free “survivor” appearance serves as a reminder of the labor that has been put into it over the years. Wherever it goes, it never fails to gather attention and produce smiles.

Whether Eugene could have predicted it or not, our 1929 Chevrolet International has become a member of the family. It is, to our knowledge, the only vehicle from my great-grandfather’s collection that has not been sold off. It has gifted us with countless unforgettable experiences and has helped to inspire my professional aspirations. It is an honor to know that I will be able to carry on its humble legacy.


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