Back in February I was contacted by Nate of Great frogs Winery in Annapolis. He asked if we could do a restoration on a truck. Within a day I was talking with John Still, our new mechanic, about coming on board so we could handle more projects like this. The goal of this job was to keep the rough, farm-used patina of the truck, but to make it reliable and driveable. Without seeing the truck (it was being shipped from California) I was unable to give an estimate and we awaited delivery to see what we were getting into.When it first arrived I had no idea what to make of it. The interior was a shambles, glass was missing or cracked, the drivers’ side floor was a massive hole, tires were low or flat, and the key had disappeared in shipping.
The truck spent its life on an Avocado farm in California of all places. Happily this meant it was somewhat solid, and contained less bondo than rustbelt vehicles.
When we set to doing a compression check (this shows the health of the engine) the compression was horrible and the starter burned out halfway though the check. The engine was a replacement Chevy straight six and we managed to source a good one quickly.Soon we found that the radiator was bad as well, and numerous small issues popped up. As we worked our way through brakes, a bent driveshaft, electrical issues and more we did not know we would fall totally in love with this truck.
Then we found out that it had to pass Maryland inspection! This involves the inspector taking apart, testing, prodding and poking most of the vehicle. Many hours went into getting it perfect for inspection. Despite the trucks battered appearance we managed to present a solid and reliable vehicle.Nate told us to drive the truck in during this time and so we did. Every one of us fell in love with the truck. Despite a lack of speed, its character, reliability, and ability to climb straight up a wall made us bond with it.My girlfriend and John’s wife both decided they wanted one. People in town were asking about what it was as they had never seen one. But as we fixed the final details for inspection we knew that the truck would eventually have to leave. As a gift to the owners and the truck John added nice details like the Great Frogs logo on the stickshift.Eventually the day came where the wipers finally worked, exhaust leaks were sealed, rattles and squeaks tightened, inspection was passed and it was time for the truck to go. I felt like I was losing a favorite pet as they loaded the truck on the flatbed for its trip home.Nate said he began driving the truck at 5:30 in the morning after it arrived. He placed to wine barrels in the bed to advertise the vineyard at Farm markets. While I enjoyed driving it, I am much happier that the folks at the vineyard can finally enjoy their new mascot. If you are in Annapolis keep an eye out for the Great Frogs truck, and be sure to try their wonderful wines as well. Dear truck we shall miss you.