16 January 2012

"The Beast" - Tom's Chevy Pickup

From the cozy confines of Daddybearsden comes this story of Tom's first car. Or, um, er, truck. These old Chevy pickups were, and are, great. They were fairly simple in execution, hence easy to work on, and robust enough to withstand even  teenage boys. Like a Timex, 'they just keep on ticking'. Plus, they look good . Thanks for sharing your story and some fond memories with us Tom.

My first car was a 1959 Chevrolet Apache pickup, with a HUGE straight 6 engine and a manual 3 speed transmission.  

Mine wasn't this pretty, but might be its original paint scheme.  I found hints of white and red paint under the primer.

I got it the day after my 15th birthday in 1986 from a farmer outside of Grand Forks North Dakota for $200.  It had a two-tone paint job, primer red and primer gray.  It leaked more fluids than I did, smoked like a chimney, required gasoline to be poured directly into the carburetor to start, and had a top end of 15 miles per hour. It had been rolled onto its side at least twice, but the body didn't have a lot of rust on it other than the fenders and parts of the bed, which were almost transparent.   

My buddies and I spent over a year tearing that car down and making it right.  I did a lot of the body work using a ball peen hammer, a slide hammer, and bondo.  I buffed off the rust that wasn't too bad, and spot-welded sheet metal to the places that I had to cut off then ground the edges down and added a layer of bondo.  My two partners in crime were real motorheads, and when I could afford parts, they'd work on the engine and transmission.

We dubbed it "The Beast".

After about 14 months of on again off again work, The Beast would start without having a fire extinguisher handy, the body was back together, and we put four retread tires on it.  My parents still didn't want me driving it, so it sat in the garage.  Luckily for me, they were heavy sleepers.  We'd put my step-dad's Jeep in neutral, push it out of the way, then push The Beast about half a block from the house before starting it up.  We'd go pick up some other friends and go for rides in it.  This was back when you could still ride in the bed of a moving pick-up.  When it was time to come home, we'd stop half a block from the house, kill the engine, push it back in the garage, then move the Jeep back.  As far as I know, my parents never knew.

One night we almost became a statistic when the darn thing stalled out as I was trying to get across a highway.  A semi came around the corner just as we finished pushing it to the other side so we could figure out what was going on... 
Just when my parents started to believe that it was safe for me to drive, my step-dad came home from work, announced that he'd quit his job, and we were moving to be near his family in California.  Since the top-end on the pickup was probably less than 60 miles an hour, he told me we had to sell the truck because he didn't want to be going slow on the trip west.  After much wailing and gnashing of teeth, I called my motorhead friends.  Their dad bought it for what I'd paid for it.  It was in memory of The Beast that I started taking the step-dad's Jeep after he fell asleep once we got to California.  Again, due to deep sleep, I don't think they ever knew!


  1. Hmmmm, somehow MY parents never slept that well... ;)

  2. nice truck!i love it.thanks for sharing.keep it up.regards.

  3. We had a '59 Chebby pickup when I was a kid.

    I remember laying under it one night. Dad was working on it in the driveway after dinner. He was drilling holes for something. I was steadily holding the droplight- while he screamed that I wasn't.

    All of a sudden the drill must have gone haywire and started shocking him. I vaguely knew what electricity was, but had never seen the effects firsthand. I was totally freaked and just remember watching him try to get that damn drill out of his hand while scooting out from under the truck.

    I always think of that whenever I hear someone reminisce about those cool looking drills with the all-metal housing. Some things are better in plastic!