Ever since I was in high school, I've liked old trucks. I guess it started with my dad's '49 Chevy that I used to play in all the time. One day, at the ripe old age of four or five, I was playing in the truck and knocked it out of gear - and had my first solo experience "driving" as the truck rolled down an embankment from our driveway and (luckily) made a soft stop into some bushes. The tow truck snapped a cable trying to tow it out, and I won't even mention what I got when my dad came home!
Today, my truck is a 1954 Chevy 3100 Series half-ton pickup. This body style was built from 1947-55, and because of their round shape we dubbed these trucks "Round Kinds," a name that has stuck in my family ever since.
Over the years, I've had several '50s Chevy trucks in various conditions, including a couple for restorations that never materialized. Then in 1994 I got the bug again, and I bought my truck after seeing an ad in the newspaper from a guy in Fremont. He was the truck's second owner and was sad to see it go, but he was just starting a family and needed the money. He was emphatic that he would only sell to someone who wanted to restore it. I assured him that was my intent.
What made the truck so desirable was that it was in totally original shape. No alterations whatsoever - just a work truck that was complete down to the original wheels. The truck started its life on a walnut orchard, and the owner's widow eventually sold it to the person who sold it to me. It ran, and for a while I thought about just rebuilding the engine and making it another driver. However, due to the popularity of this body style, I found that there was a plethora of reproduction original parts available from many sources.
After I replaced the rubber moldings and floor mat, one thing led to another and before you knew it, I was down to the cab and chassis. Over a period of four years I worked on it in my garage, and it was like building a full-size model. By the time I was finished, it was back to like-new condition. The only non-stock components in the whole truck are all the nuts and bolts - they're stainless steel.
While I worked on my Chevy I learned as much as I could about the truck and scoured swap meets and car shows for original parts like an unused clock in the original packaging. I also found out in my research that the truck was built right here in Oakland at the GM plant that became Eastmont Mall back in the '60s. Since the '54 was a slightly different truck from previous years' models, certain parts are hard to come by so I'm always searching. I recently acquired an original radio. Mostly, though, I just drive and enjoy it now.
The truck dressed up real pretty for a 4th of July parade this year, which was a lot of fun. I get a lot of looks and thumbs up as I drive the "Round Kind" down the road, and when I stop, someone always has a tale about how his or her dad or grandpa had one just like it.