The highlight of my classic car fever isn't about a high dollar purchase or a rare vehicle. My story is rather simple and involves a simple 1949 Chevrolet 3100 truck I call Johnny.
Johnny is a 1949 Chevrolet 3100 truck named after my late great uncle John. John was a man of the land, earning his living as a farmer for himself, his brother and a sister. The little 3100 truck was used to travel the 3 miles to town for groceries, feed, going to the local creamery and church on Sunday. Since my uncle was the only licensed driver, the little 3100 was all his pride and joy.
My uncle John passed away in the winter of 1976. Soon his elderly brother and sister moved off the family farm and into a small town. The 3100 was now no use to either of them. I was a sprouting teenager with a farmers drivers license in hand when I decided I'd like to keep the 3100 on the road. I purchased the truck from the family and was my first vehicle. I was so proud of the little truck, driving it to school and everywhere else I thought I needed to go.
As time goes along and needs change, I soon found Johnny parked more than operating. I made a handshake deal with my brother in law to trade the little truck for a car. My brother in law started going through the motor and filing in the years of character (dents) Again as time change, so do our priorities. My brother in law lost interest in the truck and parked it in a back corner of his shop. In 1998 I repurchased the truck from my brother in law and parked it, always on the to do list.
The fall of 2012 I decided it was time to get Johnny road worthy once again. I have a young nephew starting out in the automotive restoration business and wanted to give him a project. I wanted to keep Johnny simple and as low budget as possible. The plan was to get it road safe, and keep as much as the patina as possible. Well the years of storage allowed rust to eat through the primed areas and didn't help our cause in keeping the original look of a 63 year truck.
We were going to restore a patina by layering paint and sanding down to reveal the colors we wanted to show. I delivered parts one night to nephews shop to find Johnny sitting with the rust areas sanded down to bare metal. The idea struck me, why not keep what paint we have and clear coat the bare metal? My nephew was on board with this idea.
Jump forward to the summer of 2013. Johnny is back on the road after sitting the past 32 years. One of my first trips was to visit my 94 year old mother. It was her uncle that originally owned the 3100 truck.
Mom was all smiles as Johnny and I rumbled into her driveway. I slowed her down enough to capture one picture before we went for a ride. The route we chose was one that this little truck made most of its life. Out to the country where my great uncle farmed.
It was a a beautiful day for us, both filling up the little cab of the truck, both in full smiles. As we neared the old farm, I could feel a sixth sense of my uncle smiling down from the clouds above, seeing his little truck putting down the country dirt road. As we neared the grass covered driveway, I could almost feel the steering wheel pull towards the right. It seems like Johnny was home again, wanting to again drive down that grass covered driveway that it did so many times, only with my great uncle behind the wheel.