1979 Ford F-150
Owners: Ward and Urs Gunter
Resides in: Vero Beach, Florida
The story: Ward Gunter says, “This is truly a great story, long winded, but I think excluding the details wouldn’t be right. When I was 10 years old we joined a hunting club in central Florida. I can remember staring at the old wooden intercom on the classroom wall waiting for it to call out ‘Ward Gunter to the office, your Dad is here to pick you up’ every Friday. We would blast up the highway in what Dad used for the woods; one of his old pickups, a ’79 F-250 with a 400M bored 0.40 over with an RV cam. We painted it tiger stripe camo. It was awesome. Now this is where the story begins.
“This particular hunting club was filled with some of the states richest characters, one of these was John Land, who we lovingly referred to as ‘Uncle John.’ Uncle John would bring Pinwheels, chocolate-covered marshmallow and graham crackers, to the fire every night. He’d say, ‘How ’bout a Pinwheel pal, you touch it, it’s yours…don’t knuckle em.’ You see, John Land was the mayor of Apopka, the longest serving mayor in Florida and the longest serving full-time mayor in the history of the USA.
“Uncle John used a ’79 F-150 as his hunting truck. As a 10-year-old I could not understand why my Dad would choose to run 9.00-16 militaries, when Uncle John’s 17-40 Gumbo Monster Mudders looked so much cooler.
“Fast forward 25 years. I have graduated college, been married five years, have two beautiful children, living the American Dream and am still a member of the hunting club in central Florida. Just north of camp we have an area we take all of our animal carcasses. I was making a trip out there when I saw ‘Old Black’, which is what Uncle John called the old ’79, sitting in a clump of palmettos. I couldn’t believe it. I immediately contacted the Land family and got a title for $500.
“This may be the best part of the story. I took a fresh battery, air compressor, and 20 gallons of gasoline to the hunting camp that day and drove Old Black out of the palmetto patch for closer inspection. I added some fresh oil, rolled down the windows, and drove that Ford 75 miles back south to Vero Beach. It had been in the woods for 25 years and the gumbos about beat me to death running the blacktop. The bumpsteer was so bad that the wheel would rotate ¼ to ½ a turn before the steering box woke up.
“Repairs Made: The old truck needed a new steering box and Dana 44 solid front axle, which I robbed from a Bronco. Lots of interior pieces from LMC truck. A new set of 10x16.5 white spokes and a set of 16x38.5-16.5 TSL Super Swampers made her ride a little more true. We also put some new lumber for the flatbed. When discussing with one of my friends what paint scheme to run he suggested ‘You want people to look at it, make it look like a stop sign.’
“Here’s what we ended up with, ‘The Dixie Ghost.’ I figure I have $4,000 in it. This is proof that you can take a cow pasture find and bring it back to life. I would like to thank my dad for all his hard work, and my wife who tries not to question my intentions when I show up to the house with old junk.”
1985 Dodge D350
Owner: Jeff Fandrich
Resides in: Johnsburg, Illinois
The story: Fandrich says, “Though it’s not a Jeep I did buy a neglected old truck and I’m in the process of bringing it back to life. I purchased an ’85 Dodge D350 crew cab from a construction company last March. It had been sitting in their back lot for at least 10 years. Since I got it I have stripped the whole frame down and converted it to a W-series. I’m currently painting the frame before I set the ’92 Cummins 12-valve and five-speed Getrag transmission. Progress is slow but steady. It’s hard to get a lot done when you’re only 23 years old making $15 an hour and doing it by myself, ha ha. But nonetheless, you were interested in hearing about rare/unique trucks and I hope one day to have my truck worthy of being in your magazine. I’m hoping to have the motor and trans in and bodywork done on the cab by fall. I don’t think in the six years I’ve been a subscriber I’ve seen a first-gen Dodge crew cab grace your pages, especially Cummins-powered.”
1977 Jeep CJ-7
Owner: Pete Bach
Resides in: Black Forest, Colorado
The story: Bach says, “I bought the Jeep out of a storage yard in Monument, Colorado, about a year ago after it was abandoned by its original owner. We spotted it behind some old RVs and other rotting piles. We (myself, my wife Misty, and three kids) live in Black Forest, Colorado, and have a Jeep shop (Bach Crawlers, Inc.) in Monument, Colorado.
“The Jeep had been sitting for about five years collecting all kinds of junk in it. Lots of motor parts, beat up soft doors, etc. It sat in Woodland Park, Colorado, for many years prior to that and is a native Colorado Jeep. It had very little rust compared to most Jeeps of this age—a little on the rockers and the corners. Floorboards are like new. We bought it for $500 and towed it home because the owner said it wouldn’t run even after trying to get it started. We got it running after new plugs, wires, and fresh fuel. It has the 258ci and Tremec T-150 three-speed tranny, along with the Dana 20 T-case. Everything works flawlessly. It is a ’77 and only has about 70,000 original miles. We did all the work ourselves but had FastBlast Sandblasting prep the sheetmetal and Tri Lakes Collision and Paint applied the ’12 Mopar Sahara Sand paint. Misty did all of the initial bodywork! We rid the Jeep completely of any rust and the body is now like new again. We found the semi-rare factory CJ wheels in Texas and had them painted to match the body. It has 2½-inch springs, 33x10.50 BFG KM2s, Bestop Supertop and soft doors, all new seating and carpeting throughout, along with bedliner on the interior tub. The Jeep is mostly stock but everything has been restored to like-new condition or replaced with new OE parts. I drive it daily and it runs perfectly thanks to some engine TLC as well. People stop in their tracks when they see it and want to know all about it. We even take it on the trails and don’t baby it like most people would expect.
“Lastly, you might notice a small, green, military-like trailer in the background of the picture when the Jeep was in storage. I recently showed someone that picture and noticed the trailer. I tracked the owner down last week and bought the trailer. Turns out it is a Willys Overland Knight trailer based off of the Willys Whippet truck that was built in 1931. It still has the Whippet flanges on the axle. We are restoring it to match the CJ with the same Mopar Sahara paint, wheels, tires, pintle hook, etc.”