After buying Twin Cities Rod and Custom in 2012, I was convinced that the only way to haul our booth from show to show was by truck and trailer. It's what every parts dealer does, right? I spent hours, days, weeks searching Craigslist for used enclosed trailers and the only thing that ended up happening is that I realized that used trailers were just as expensive as new ones! Considering the fact that after I bought TCRC from Ed, I made the drastic geographical location change from Newport to Pine Island based solely to keep costs down for my customers, this idea of an expensive enclosed trailer just didn't sit well with me. I was forced to think of another way and that is what got me wondering what did parts dealers like me do back in the 60's to get their product from show to show?
With this new idea rattling around in my head, I started doing research on auto part stores, hardware stores and delivery businesses from the 50's, 60's, and 70's and I found the greatest solution that any car guy could find: that most companies used panel trucks and sedan deliveries to deliver their products!
Back on Craigslist I go! I started looking at my options and was disappointed by the lack of old panels and deliveries available but I refused to give up. Fast forwarding through several months of searching and it is right after MSRA's 2013 Back to the 50's in Saint Paul, Minnesota. (If you were there, you remember it well and if you happened to visit my booth that weekend, you know that I will always remember it well because it sucked! 75 mph straight line winds came in Thursday night and destroyed our booth and scattered our product across the fairgrounds causing $25,000.00 in damages!) Frustrated and disgruntled by mother nature, I spent even more time during those weeks following the 50's doing some Craiglist therapy and it paid off in a big way.
I came across a listing for a 1968 Chevrolet Panel in Saint Cloud, Minnesota. I immediately sent an e-mail to the owner of the truck for more information and I waited...and waited...and waited to hear back from him. By this time, it's the week of July 4 and like so many others, my family and I were on vacation enjoying Minnesota's river life when my cell phone rings. It was the owner of the panel! I was so excited that not even my wife's evil eye as I asked the owner on the phone if I could come up and look at the panel that day could stop me from turning our family vacation into a family working vacation. And while there may have been a glare, like everything else in my life, my wife supported me 100% as I asked her and our kids to drop what we were doing and make a four hour drive to Saint Cloud. Within minute we were on the road.
We arrived at the owner's house and I looked over the truck. I asked the owner, after the panel started and we drove it around the block if he would trust it to go from Saint Cloud to Rochester? He responded with, "Oh yeah! No problem!" I bought it. I stopped at the first gas station I could find to fill up, I checked the oil, the antifreeze and felt that I was good to make the 150 mile run.
Jumping on I-94 and running down the interstate I was excited about the new panel. Unfortunately, my excitement lasted all of 5 miles down the road as my new panel truck began spitting and sputtering, Pulling off the road, I popped the hood and noticed that I was not getting any fuel through the carb. I quickly cleaned out the fuel filter, popped it back in and and got back on my way. 150 miles later, I was home without any more problems and after another hour's drive back to the river, the working part of our vacation was over.