My Truck in a Box Story
Fatherly favors can take strange turns. Mine turned into an eight-year truck restoration adventure.
My son needed to borrow some money and offered up his Chevy truck as collateral. It was a rather ugly hunk of metal, missing its doors, up to the frame in mud, and filled to the brim with junk. But it was collateral nonetheless. So hauling the truck home, a spark of “I wonder what I could do with this hunk of junk” began.
Step one seemed logical- pull the motor and transmission to see what I could salvage. The cab came off, but it was too far gone to restore as well as the rest of the truck. The motor ran but was bad, but the transmission worked so I had it rebuilt. I found a Vortec block and had the motor rebuilt with old-style double-humped heads.
Then I located another truck on eBay that had a new frame, good cab, and as the ad touted “the vehicle is currently unassembled.” It had lots of parts, all in boxes!
So from Missouri, with 15 minutes notice, my wife and I headed to Michigan to bring home our “truck in a box.” This adventure included seeing the Northern Lights, a lake effect snow, and our tow vehicle breaking down in a not so perfect area outside of Trenton, MI, at about midnight. Being prepared for any emergency, I used a small bit of washing machine hose and a couple of clamps and within the hour we were back on the road. Deciding that 2 am would not be the ideal time to knock on the truck owner’s door, we slept for a couple hours and picked up the truck and its many boxes by 7 am that same morning.
Now the frame was new, cab was partially done, old motor and transmission rebuilt and put into place. Voila, a running vehicle.
The bed was rusted beyond repair, so the search for a better bed led us on a road trip to southern Oklahoma. All kidding aside, this town was sooo far off the beaten path that the closest gas station was self and resembled something out of a Stephen King novel. Not needing fuel that badly, we headed into town, got the truck bed we came to get, and headed back to civilization.
Once home, I delved into the many boxes looking for the pieces and parts to begin putting everything together. Amazed by the many bags that were labeled with exactly what they contained, I finally found everything I needed and started assembly on my “truck in a box.”
I became very good at putting on and taking off the various parts making sure each one was on and aligned just right, but as anyone who has attempted a restoration knows, where one part fits well, there’s always another gap that’s not as it’s supposed to be. So on again, off again went the cab, bed, fenders, and doors until a few years later it was finally ready for primer.
Now began the search for a body shop to give her some finishing touches and a paint job. First shop wasn’t the best choice. After six months and the cab sitting outside the entire time and promises not being kept, I retrieved my cab and most of the parts. A few months later finally got the rest of the parts and began searching again.
For our second attempt we contacted a local shop who sent a representative out. He hummed and hawed for a few minutes then told us it would cost approximately $30,000 just for the paint job.
NEXT! A friend at work referred me to a couple who ran a “mom and pop” shop that did body work and paint as a hobby. I contacted them. They came to the garage where my truck sat and I shared my vision with them. They seemed to understand what I wanted, agreed that I had a good plan and we struck a deal. Later that year my truck would go reside in their shop to be cared for by them.
R&J Kustoms appeared to be the perfect answer. I saw examples of their work and it was nice! Anxious to see my truck look that good I knew I had to be patient.
It’s tough to be patient when your truck is third on the list, but it is a must when you want the work done, and done right. So I waited.
Patience was a good thing. There were little glitches and setbacks here and there, but there were also small touches that were added to the final product that when I finally saw my completed truck, there weren’t words to express my excitement. What started as a rather ugly hunk of metal turned into this beautiful piece of work.