It seems like more than ever off-road fans are choosing to build old iron. We see ‘em everywhere. Over the last few months we’ve published features on classic rigs including Bob Davidson’s ’83 Toyota pickup, John Sullivan’s ’66 Ford Bronco, Mike Aros’ ’72 Chevy Blazer, Bruce Johnson’s ’85 Jeep Scrambler, John Simmons’ ’70 GMC pickup, and this month, David Teeple’s ’70 GMC 2500. Heck, even this year’s Top Truck Champions’ Challenge (TTCC) had a good collection of old iron like Geby Wager’s ’86 Jeep CJ-7, Brian Waddell’s ’72 Chevy Suburban, Jerry Duffy’s ’81 Jeep Scrambler, Jason Gray’s ’75 GMC pickup, and Steven Montpas’ ’49 Willys pickup. And there’s more to come. Our files are packed with trail-ready old iron features that are set to publish in upcoming issues.
It’s refreshing to see that the younger generation is showing an interest in old iron. An example is 16-year-old Justin Gwinn of Hollister, California. Gwinn, a high school student who works part-time for TTCC caterer Mansmith’s BBQ, drives this awesome ’62 Chevy pickup that was built 33 years before he was born. He drove by us at TTCC in the chaos of the post award-ceremony exodus and for a moment we were momentarily frozen in awe by the truck’s coolness. We snapped out of it just in time to quick-draw our camera and capture a couple of images. After a bit of detective work we were able to locate contact info for Gwinn so we could ask him a few questions about the truck. Gwinn tells us that he purchased the Chevy for $500 when he was in the eighth grade. He earned the money by pulling weeds and helping his uncle remodel his kitchen.
The truck was found sitting in a field and it had no engine and a cobbled-up wiring harness. The ’62 body is sitting on a ’72 Chevy pickup chassis, so it has power steering and front disc brakes. Gwinn began saving money for an engine, but had little luck. During his freshman year in high school one of his teachers apparently took pity on him and offered Gwinn an ’89 Suburban with a 454ci engine. He accepted that offer and soon, with help from his dad, the 454ci V-8 engine was in the ’62 Chevy, along with a new wiring harness and exhaust. Unfortunately the engine seized in short order. “I was then again out of luck and money,” Gwinn remembers. His dad came to the rescue by donating a 327ci V-8 engine that he had pulled from his project ’69 Chevy Camaro. “After getting the exhaust done and all the DMV stuff taken care of, I started to drive this truck to school and back. I now have been driving this truck every day for almost half a year and have taken it with all my friends wheeling up at Hollister Hills,” Gwinn says. We say Gwinn is a lucky guy with a cool truck that has a great story and lots of character. Gwinn could’ve saved himself a bunch of work and bought something newer, but we have to commend him for resuscitating the old truck.
Since we’re on the subject, if you like stories about old iron that has been brought back to life, stay tuned. The response to our “Cool Things That Lurk in a Barn” Trail’s End column (May ’12) was incredible and it generated a deluge of fascinating stories and photos about old iron “barn finds.” So many, in fact, that they’ll comprise a stand-alone story in an upcoming issue.