All of us have more projects than we can ever hope to finish. The reality is we figure we have time or at the very least the skeletons will make great trade material for future projects. But what about the "one that got away"? We are haunted by the idea of what could have been.
For starters, for me that's a 1929 Ford roadster pickup, which probably explains why I have so many trucks in my hot rod barn. At last count I have five projects that are in various stages of "don't run" and two that are in the "it's driveable" category. And of the five only one is a car and the other four are trucks. Hey, I like my trucks, and maybe it's because of the one that got away.
Oh well, the best laid plans and all of that sort of stuff. My goal is by end of summer (best case, end of year) I would like to have three more running. Aggressive desire to say the least, but doable. But it still doesn't help me with the one that got away.
The one that got away for me was a 1929 Ford roadster pickup; not one but two. The first one came from the farm fields in Idaho. I know what you are thinking, "Tex Smith found it on one of his vintage tin hunts and brought it home."
Actually it was the late-Joe Mayall of NSRA StreetScene fame who when he first moved to California worked with me on a magazine titled Rod Action. Mayall was moving down from the Idaho Falls area and had found a roadster pickup in a farmer's field. The farmer was thrilled someone would take this rusting hulk out of his field and clean up the mess. Well, to Mayall and me, this was a blessing. It didn't take Mayall long to relay the story to me about having found the cab portion, no bed or frame, but that didn't bother me; it was the basic body section and that was a great place to start. I spent countless hours dreaming of what it looked like (yes, I realized it was resurrected from a farmer's field after years of Idaho winters, but it was a start).
One night Mayall showed up at my house and on the trailer being pulled by his Suburban was a Model A pickup cab alright. A tad rougher than I had expected and one side was caved in (apparently the farmer's tractor came up close and personal one day) but it was mine. And the price was right—it was free. How could I go wrong?
I spent hours taking it apart and I can vividly remember listening to a nighttime pro football game from the L.A. Coliseum. It was the Washington Redskins versus the L.A. Rams. I can still remember the Rams taking a 7-0 lead on an intercepted pass run back for a touchdown, but that was it for my home team. From that point on the Redskins continued to thump the Rams and in time it was all over but the shouting. But it didn't dull my enthusiasm for taking apart this relic of vintage tin and begin my adventure to have a hot rod.
While stumbling along on my rpu I had the good fortune to come across another rpu but this time it was a complete hot rod. It was originally built in the 1960s (remember this was 1971) and was parked outside a garage in Burbank. The truck was complete right down to a Buick Nailhead for power. Now this was a project. The asking price was $900—a lot of money in the day, especially given that was more than a month's salary and I had a mortgage and a curtain climber on the way. So, this one would escape even before I could get it, but for several weeks it was exciting to dream.
In the meantime, I would go outside and look at the Idaho rpu and it wasn't long before I realized I may not have the skills required to resurrect this farm relic. Of course, while this was running through my mind I was exposed to a fiberglass Model A roadster body built by Ai Fiberglass. I thought, "I could get it on the road faster and for less money and effort than the rusted steel hulk", how naïve. So, I parted company with the rpu, it went to Tex, and at last recollection it went to another rodder who tried to piece it together, and off I went on the saga that would become my first highboy roadster.
There have been lots of hot rods since the first highboy but with the one that got away I always find myself thinking about what could have been. The moral to the story for me, "Never get rid of any project, and never stop dreaming about new ones."