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keep on truckin’

by LiveModern Webmaster last modified Jan 04, 2012 02:35 AM
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by Kevin last modified Sep 21, 2010

Most guys about to have their 50th birthday get the Porsche. I’m just a little different. First off, with a couple seasons of racing Formula Mazdas under my belt, and having owned one of the first Dinan supercharged M3s for 12 years, the sports car thing is fun, but not essential. (No, honey, this does [...]



Most guys about to have their 50th birthday get the Porsche. I’m just a little different. First off, with a couple seasons of racing Formula Mazdas under my belt, and having owned one of the first Dinan supercharged M3s for 12 years, the sports car thing is fun, but not essential. (No, honey, this does not mean that I no longer want the Aston Martin, and my birthday is coming up…)

I was so much slower then; I’m faster than that now.

Second, I never have to worry about convincing my wife that we should have a sports car. Evidence? Kevin’s car = a practical, comfortable five-passenger station wagon. Laura’s car = bright red two-seater convertible sports car. See? The girl likes to go fast. One test drive in the Aston Martin and it’ll be a done deal. (Hmm, I wonder if she’ll read this?)

Third, Fred is going to have a studio. The studio will be for furniture design, photography and other artistic pursuits. It will have tools; the big and heavy kind, and it will need to be fed a steady diet of wood, metal and money. (Nah, I’m pretty sure she doesn’t read these…) In order to assist in the care and feeding of the studio, I need a method of conveying the above staples of studio-existence.

In short: I need a truck.

Of course, what with me being me and all, not just any truck will do. I need a special truck. I know this, because whenever I tell Laura I need a truck, she just looks at me and says “Now isn’t that special?”

I learn a lot from her.

You see, a pickup truck won’t do, because I need to convey things, like woodworking machinery, that are too heavy for most pickup trucks. And sheets of plywood, MDF, OSB, and other similarly three-initialed voluminous items that are too large to fit in the bed of a pickup truck.

“Well, how about a van?” you say. (I’m pretty sure I heard one of you say that…) Well, that’s a little better, but we still have a weight and size issue. (No, with the van smart asses, and I’m dieting, OK?!) Anyway, a van wouldn’t do the trick either.

So we then move up the truck food chain to a box van, technically known in the truckbiz as a cutaway van. Heavier load capacity, and adequate size. Should do the trick, right?

Well, honestly… Yes. And so I’ve been looking for one. The problem I’ve encountered is that finding a good one is tough. Really tough. On the other hand, crappy ones are plentiful. What is crappy? Ones that have over 100k miles, no cruise control or power-anything, and have been used as rental vehicles until their transmissions, engines, springs, shocks and rear-ends are as reliable as an offshore oil rig or a NorCal gas main. Lots of them also have rust issues. All in all, not so good.

A few months ago, I found a good one-owner Ford diesel box van, complete with the essential hydraulic liftgate, in Pennsylvania, but one day before I was scheduled to fly out and buy it, the dealership sold it out from under me. That really sucked, and I vowed to not let that happen again if I ever found another truck of similar quality.

And so I looked, and looked. And then looked some more. If anyone needs a good, cross-indexed set of search parameters and terms for finding a used box van, feel free to write to me; I got ya’ covered.

My new baby

Big wheels keep on turnin’

And then it happened: I found a truck. Of course, as these things tend to happen, it wasn’t a box van at all, but rather the big brother of a box van, known as a ‘medium-duty’ truck. There it was, right on the home page of (I’m kind of surprised you didn’t notice it there yourself; it was right on the front page. Geez!)

A 2004 Chevrolet Kodiak C4500 8.1L V8 gasoline-fueled 19,000lb GVW not-so-little piece of truck heaven.

And, most appealing to me: It was weird. Waaay weird. It’s a Hollywood film truck, hence the LA location and my rebound trip right back to the West Coast just two weeks after leaving it.

In Hollywood, the major studios and their vendors all use big, five-ton capacity trucks to move around all the paraphernalia that it takes to make a movie. They are big and white and shiny, driven by teamsters, with all kinds of diamond-plate aluminum and polished wheels and lower box compartments to store stuff in. If you’ve ever stumbled across a production site for a movie or TV show, you’ve seen them before. They’re really large, really fancy, and really expensive.

Well, it turns out that there was a celebrity photographer in LA that was enamored with these trucks — and he needed a truck — so he went out and had a baby version of a five-ton movie truck made, with only a twelve-foot long box, but with all the same fancy fixins’ that the big trucks have, including a 2,200lb capacity, dual-hydraulic-ram liftgate at the rear. Up front, it’s got A/C, CD stereo, power doors and windows, cruise control and a bunch of other stuff that you might not expect to find on a big heavy work truck.

Once he got this truck, he went to load it, and found out that he really needed one that was 14ft long, not 12ft — talk about a big “Oops!” — so he sold it, with a whopping 4,000 miles on it, to a prop company that was located on the Paramount lot and used it to do deliveries… to production companies that were, for the most part, also on the Paramount lot.

It made a few road trips, but now in 2010, the truck has a whopping… 24,000 miles on it.

And now, as I type this while waiting for take-off in Nashville on the return leg of my journey, the pink slip is in my pocket and that sucker is mine!

Stay tuned for future episodes of ‘Pimp my Truck’. I’ve got big plans for it; I think I’ll get a license plate frame for the back that says:

“My other car fits inside this car!”




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