To paraphrase a John Hiatt song, it breaks my heart every time I see a movie star smash a perfectly good old truck. For the folks who aren't familiar with John Hiatt, I'll excerpt some of the lyrics from his song "Perfectly Good Guitar," and then I will break into my tirade on whatever it was I going to write about this time. "Oh it breaks my heart to see those stars smashing a perfectly good guitar-I don't know who they think they are smashing a perfectly good guitar-There ought to be a law with no bail-Smash a guitar and you go to jail-With no chance for early parole-You don't get out till you get some soul."
When I get home from working on Custom Classic Trucks, I usually end up out in my garage working until about 10 p.m. or so and then coming into the house to watch TV with my girlfriend to unwind a little before I go to sleep. The other night when I hopped in bed she was watching Jeepers Creepers II. Debbie knows I really don't care too much about those types of movies, so she told me I could change the channel if I wanted to. Vaguely remembering that there were a couple of old trucks in the movie, I told her no and settled in to watch it. Sure enough, there were two old pickups. The first I saw of one truck was enough to identify it as a '66 Ford with a V-8 emblem on the hood. The view was straight on from the front, and the camera panned around to the rear where I could identify it as a shortbed Styleside. While I was getting a pretty good gawk at the vintage Ford, there was a fatherly-type feller in the back of the truck firing a giant harpoon bolted to the bed floor at a big creepy flying monster in dive-bombing mode. Bam, slosh, squirt, splort! The cable-tethered harpoon hit the flying monster smack in the middle of his chest, and now the thing was really mad. It took off straight up into the night sky at about 1,000 mph dragging the '66 like it was a rag doll. As the intensity of the assault rapidly escalated, the camera focused on the inside of the cab, where there was a wholesome kind of kid with a pretty young girl yanking away at a compound four-speed gear lever. Just about the time that I recognized the '66 was an extremely desirable shortbed Styleside with a V-8 and a four-speed, the three occupants bailed out of it at the last second as the flying creepy monster pulled the truck end over end and smashed it completely into oblivion. With the '66 Ford totaled and out of the way, the process repeated itself with the boy and girl jumping into a '70 C-10 Chevy that met with a similar demise.
I don't mind-in fact, I think its kind of neat-if the cars or trucks they smash up in an old flick were almost new when it was made, but at the end of Jeepers Creepers II, the credits revealed the movie was filmed in 2003.
In '03, I would have gladly bought a '66 shortbed Styleside F-100 if I could have run across the right one. It's kind of funny how things work when it comes to a guy finding a truck he really wants. In '69, I had a '59 Chevy panel truck that was bought new by a guy who used it as Helm's Bakery truck. For those of you who have never heard of a Helm's truck, think of it like an ice-cream truck that sells donuts instead of ice-cream cones. By the time I got ahold of the panel, the rear doors were so worn out that the latches couldn't keep them from flying open-every time I power-shifted into second gear they would fly open, allowing my giant bean-bag chair and eight-track tapes to fall out into the street. When I sold the '59 in '70, I didn't worry about it too much because I really preferred the looks of a Tri-Five Chevy panel.
As the years went by, I kept my eyes open for a '55-57 panel, but they were either too much money or way too rusty. Before I knew it, 30 years had gone by before I found the right truck. In '99, a good friend of mine sold me a really clean '56 Chevy panel for a lot less money than they were going for at the time. Every time I drive the '56 I still cringe a little when I flash on my '59 as I hit second gear, but amazing as it is, the rear doors are so cherry that they don't even rattle.
The other day a weird-looking skinny fellow asked me if I wanted to sell my '56; he said he would pay top dollar for it. All that I could think of was that poor ol' '66 Ford flying through the air in Jeepers Creepers II, and how much the skinny guy reminded me of Quentin Tarantino... "Naw, that's OK," I told him. "This old Chevy panel will probably make me a good coffin some day."