Across the United States are garages filled with the best of intentions gone awry. You know the story: Someone starts an automotive restoration only to end up stalled, owing to lack of funds, perhaps, or just as often to a lack of time, knowledge, or initiative. The disassembled car ends up spread across boxes full of jumbled parts. After a few years, the whole mess goes up for sale on Craigslist or Facebook.

Curtis Vicknair is the patron saint of these basket cases.

Even most competent mechanics, seeing these “For Sale” listings, will just keep scrolling. Who, after all, would want to add to the already complex task of restoring a car without knowing it’s all there and hoping that there’s some method to the scattered madness in those crates full of parts?

Curtis Vicknair, that’s who.

Curtis Vicknair's 1940 Chevrolet Pickup
Aaron McKenzie

Take, for instance, his 1940 Chevrolet pickup. While relaxing one evening at his home in Reserve, Louisiana, Vicknair was sniffing around on Facebook Marketplace when a photo of an iconic grill caught his eye. Before long, he had purchased the truck that went with that grill. Of course, when he took possession of it, it was less a vehicle than a grab bag of parts and bolts and metal.

Vicknair loves driving these olds cars but he loves this part of the process—the puzzle-solving, the building, the creative workarounds—even more.

“My motto,” Vicknair says, “is built, not bought.”

While Vicknair’s raw fascination with cars is innate, his skill in building them came to full flower as a young man when he began working on, and eventually driving, circle track dirt cars. For 20 years, Vicknair spent his free time sliding around dirt tracks across Louisiana, an experience that taught him how to build reliable, powerful American engines, especially Chevrolets.

Curtis Vicknair's 1940 Chevrolet Pickup
Aaron McKenzie

Vicknair has mellowed with age and his racing days are now a thing of the past (well, mostly), but he still spends his evenings and weekends out in his shop. In addition to this 1940 Chevrolet pickup—with the tidy small-block Chevy motor that he built for it—Vicknair is also hard at work on an 800-horsepower drag car that he cobbled together from pieces of a 1934 Chevrolet and a 1959 Dodge Coronet. It’s all held together by a homebuilt frame and powered by a turbocharged LS engine, which shoots flames and terrifies onlookers whenever Vicknair fires it up, something he is always happy to do.

As much as he loves building these old cars, however, Vicknair takes an ambivalent attitude towards painting them. In fact, he outright refuses to paint his pickup.

“The way I look at it,” he says, “it took 80 years to get it looking like this. Why would I ruin it by putting a different color of paint on it?”

That question—Why?—is one that comes up a lot during any visit to Vicknair’s shop. Why take on the headaches? Why this lifelong compulsion to build cars? Why build a 800-horsepower drag racer? Just … why?

Curtis Vicknair's 1940 Chevrolet Pickup
Aaron McKenzie

“Building something yourself, there’s a lot of pride in it,” Vicknair says. “It’s just that pride that you built something, and now you’re driving it down the road. You can’t go buy a new car and have that feeling.”

So if you ever happen to wander up to Vicknair’s house and spy a dozen boxes of parts scattered around the shop, just know that that’s his next creation. Come back in a few weeks and he’ll give you a ride.

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Pickup trucks were designed to get work done. Bare-bones and sturdy, a pickup like Kacy Smith’s green 1972 Chevrolet C10 has years of service in its wake, but now it is in semi-retirement and gets to relax—and help Kacy relax at the same time.

More than pure happenstance, there’s a reason that Kacy and I share the same last name. She is my sister. You might even recognize this pickup from a few of our Hagerty DIY videos. It’s a pickup that has been a part of Kacy’s life for more than a decade now, and her history with it is a story some might recognize.

“I was looking for a project car to work on during my time studying for my Automotive Restoration degree at McPherson College,” Kacy says about the hunt for a fun project. “We had a blue ’59 GMC for years when I was growing up [in Kansas], but it had been sold before any of us were old enough to fix it up.”

That blue GMC might have been the start of Kacy’s love for the utilitarian beauty of pickups. This particular Chevrolet, however, was not a beauty when Kacy exchanged $500 for it and drove it home. It required careful entry and exit to keep from catching either skin or pants on the rotten rocker panels, and the paint was in pretty terrible shape. It was reliable though, starting each time the ignition was turned.

Kacy Smith's 1972 Chevy C10
Kacy Smith's 1972 Chevy C10

Kacy Smith's 1972 Chevy C10
Kacy Smith's 1972 Chevy C10

Kacy drove the Chevy a lot in those first years of ownership, back and forth to summer jobs while doing the necessary maintenance to keep it roadworthy. Even while studying at McPherson, the truck got anything it needed, but a restoration was not yet in the cards. Until…

“I was taking sheet metal fabrication as an interterm class in January 2008, and the professor gave me the option to replace the rocker panels and cab corners,” Kacy says in Hagerty’s latest Why I Drive video. “The only problem was it spiraled out of control from there.”

The ensuing restoration kept the truck in some state of disassembly for almost 10 years. A classmate’s restoration shop in Kansas kept working on the pickup after Kacy moved north to Michigan to work on Hagerty’s claims team in 2009.

“It is rewarding to use my restoration experience to help fellow owners through tough times as they repair their beloved rides,” she says. “It used to wear me down a bit though to talk about classics all day but not be able to enjoy my own.”

Kacy Smith's 1972 Chevy C10

That all changed when she had the truck shipped from Kansas in 2016. While there were still some finishing touches that needed to be done, it was ready to cruise. And cruise it has. A lot.

“Getting out for a drive in this truck is just relaxing for me,” kacy says. “It’s not fast, so I just have to take it easy and relax for a bit whenever I take it out. It might be a lot shinier than it used to be, but I still feel like those days when I was using it on the Kansas backroads.”

Who would have thought a big green pickup would be the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of life? It might be a bit unconventional, but that’s fine by Kacy. The enjoyment of driving her vintage Chevy is a lifelong passion now.

Kacy Smith's 1972 Chevy C10
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