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T & R Footnotes x July 2012 x 5 HAULING HISTORY Little Brown Truck Our hauling historian now has his own hauler BY JOHN GUNNELL After writing many stories and one book about recovery vehicles, this long-time Footnotes contributor (“Hauling History”) finally has his own tow truck to play with. It may have been my visit to the Wisconsin Towing Association tow show that pushed me over the edge or maybe the time was right. No matter; my computer took me to a number of trucks on eBay and Craigslist and eventually to a 1975 Ford F350 wrecker. The trucks on Craigslist had the ad-vantage of being for sale more or less in the local area. However, they were either too rough or too new. My goal was a truck with the right image for an automotive writer who owns a small classic-car shop offering restoration and appraisal services. To my mind, the right tow truck had to be at least 25 years old and in good condition. I had the idea to own a tow truck as far back as 1998, when my first Hauling His-tory articles app-eared in Footnotes. Many car collectors own vintage trucks, including tow trucks and more than a few towers collect old tow trucks as well as towing memorabilia and collectibles. It was a natural for a collector who writes about clas-sic trucks to add an old tow truck to his stable of cars and motorcycles. After about two days of brows-ing the Net, the time came to hone See HAULING HISTORY, page 7 This antique was always garaged PHOTO COURTESY OF INTERCITY LINES. The Old Motor A fine pair of what appear to be pre-war trucks from City Towing Service of Springfield, MA, are shown in this 1947 photo. The heavy-duty truck on the left is a Brockway, which was produced in Cortland, NY. The towing body on the Ford truck on the right appears to be on at least a one-ton chassis. The top of the headlights appear to possibly still be blacked out from wartime use, or they may be accessory lenses. This photo is from David Greenlees’ comprehensive website of historic ve-hicles at www.theoldmotor.com. For these and more tow trucks on the site, see http://theoldmotor. com/?s=tow+truck. Greenlees’ other interesting site is “Garage” at http:// www.roadinosaur.com/Site/Roadi-nosaur.html. His email is dc.green@ comcast.net. V

Little Brown Truck

John Gunnell

<br /> Our hauling historian now has his own hauler<br /> <br /> After writing many stories and one book about recovery vehicles, this long-time Footnotes contributor (“Hauling History”) finally has his own tow truck to play with. It may have been my visit to the Wisconsin Towing Association tow show that pushed me over the edge or maybe the time was right. No matter; my computer took me to a number of trucks on eBay and Craigslist and eventually to a 1975 Ford F350 wrecker.<br /> <br /> The trucks on Craigslist had the advantage of being for sale more or less in the local area. However, they were either too rough or too new. My goal was a truck with the right image for an automotive writer who owns a small classic-car shop offering restoration and appraisal services. To my mind, the right tow truck had to be at least 25 years old and in good condition.<br /> <br /> I had the idea to own a tow truck as far back as 1998, when my first Hauling History articles appeared in Footnotes. Many car collectors own vintage trucks, including tow trucks and more than a few towers collect old tow trucks as well as towing memorabilia and collectibles. It was a natural for a collector who writes about classic trucks to add an old tow truck to his stable of cars and motorcycles.<br /> <br /> After about two days of browsing the Net, the time came to hone in on the proper truck. Searches were done under both the term “tow truck” and “wrecker.” My high-bid limit was $5,000 and my searching was narrowed by putting in a low price of $1,000. Eventually, the lower number was dropped to $100, since many sellers seemed to start their bidding there.<br /> <br /> A Real Find<br /> <br /> Eventually seven trucks were added to my watch list. Interestingly, all seven were being offered by sellers with 100-percent positive feedback ratings.<br /> <br /> In auction-ending date order, the trucks were a 1975 Ford F350, 1966 Ford F350, 1937 Chevy 1-1/2-ton with a Manley crane, 1956 Ford F350, 1948 Chevy COE “Bubble Nose,” 1993 Chevy 3500 heavy-duty wrecker, and 1967 Ford F800 with a Holmes 600 wrecker.<br /> <br /> Only three of the trucks seemed to be in really good original condition; they were the first two mentioned above and the redone yellow 1993 Chevy. All the other trucks had obvious modifications, rougher-than-desired spots, or needed some work, such as brakes or a fuel tank. My sights were set on a get-in-and-drive rig.<br /> <br /> The 1975 Ford was whistle-clean, with 39,000 miles on it and only two prior owners. It had been used as a racetrack push truck; there were images of it doing such work. An email sent to the seller to get additional information was answered quickly, revealing that the truck had been fitted with safer single-piece rear wheels and new tires. Also important was the fact that it had been stored indoors since it was new. It had a full complement of functional towing equipment and used a 390-cid V-8 and four-speed gearbox.<br /> <br /> The 1966 Ford Custom Cab truck was a bit funkier looking but in very nice shape, with under 60,000 miles on it. The owner, a car collector, indicated that it had been used until the mid-‘90s by a single Iowa owner. It had its original NoMar boom with accessories and a Body Guard wheel lift.<br /> <br /> It came with factory manuals, flashers, cab lights, fog lights, old flashlights, numerous NoMar accessories (tow chains, brake lock, Boost-n-Start built-in jumpers, running boards, snatch block, rubber-covered front push bumper), an orange-flashing roof light, flare containers, chains, and all the rigging. The body had minor spots of surface rust. It had a bigblock 352-cid V-8 with a four-speed.<br /> <br /> The yellow Chevy was nice, too, but my sights were set on something older. And timing was everything. The 1975 Ford sold first and stayed in my price range, so I bid on it and got it.<br /> <br /> This truck was closer to home; it was the right color for my business logo and had no lettering that would require repainting. I liked the 1966 Ford also, but in the end, it went higher than my budget would permit, so my decision to buy the 1975 Ford was the right one.<br /> <br /> My main reason for buying the truck was to promote Gunner’s Great Garage, my classic-car shop, by parking it outside the shop, and also taking it to a few classic car shows. In order to drive it, we have to register it as a collector vehicle and obtain collector truck insurance, but the process of buying and now owning my first tow truck has already been great fun!<br /> <br /> John “Gunner” Gunnell is the owner of Gunner’s Great Garage Restoration Shop, Automotive Book Shop, and Art Gallery at Highway 110 and E6110 Fuhs Road in Manawa, WI. Call 715- 281-5925 and visit www.gunnersgreatgarage.com. See his blog “Gunner’s Garage” at www.oldcarsweekly.com

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