By on January 23, 2014

21 - 1974 AM General FJ-81 Ice Cream Truck Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinWe see quite a few AM General DJ-5 mail Jeeps in this series, but what about all the big FJ-series mail trucks built by AMC with help from its Overland-Willys-Kaiser ancestry? For that, I had to venture to Southern California. Most of those 1970s FJ-8s seem to have become more or less sketchy ice cream trucks, and it’s hard to find a creepier Junkyard Find than a dead ice cream truck.
BoogieManIceCream-1280px-4The ice cream trucks that aren’t in the junkyard yet can also be pretty scary. Here’s the “Boogie Man Ice Cream” truck, which I spotted on San Leandro Street in East Oakland a few years back. For the full effect, you’ll need to download some authentic ice cream truck music files.
18 - 1974 AM General FJ-81 Ice Cream Truck Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinIt’s hard to beat this seat for simplicity.
05 - 1974 AM General FJ-81 Ice Cream Truck Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinJust a big steel box with an engine, a seat… and ptomaine.
14 - 1974 AM General FJ-81 Ice Cream Truck Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinI’m sure this truck distributed many a stale Choco Taco in its day.
11 - 1974 AM General FJ-81 Ice Cream Truck Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinThe newest Long Beach food-vendor license seems to be 2005.
02 - 1974 AM General FJ-81 Ice Cream Truck Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinAm I looking at this wrong, or is this AMC six installed backwards?

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41 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1974 AM General FJ-8A Ice Cream Truck...”

  • avatar

    Awesome find. Wasn’t this the ice cream truck in GTA Vice City?

  • avatar

    Isn’t this Borat’s truck?

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    Considering the large diameter circle in the bottom photograph is either a degree wheel or bellhousing attachment point, I’m going with the latter; the engine is still oriented normally.

  • avatar

    “I scream, you scream… but mostly you scream.”

  • avatar

    This is in a junkyard? You’re kidding, right?

    It looks exactly like the truck, or even better than the ones the convicted felon/child molester/ice cream “men” drive in our area!

  • avatar

    Somewhere, theres a clown with a flaming head looking for his truck.

  • avatar

    My old office was next to an extremely sketchy ice cream truck repair shop/junk yard. A few dozen dilapidated ice cream trucks were there at any given time, and the building was boarded up and surrounded by abandoned industrial sites. I worked there for five years, and the creepy factor never decreased.

  • avatar

    Saul always got the short end of the popsicle stick.

    Saul pulled his pickup into the back lot at L.B. Ice Cream, lit by the early morning sun. The pavement was already heating up. That’s good for business. Other drivers were already preparing their trucks and taking inventory. At the same time, Rafael was trying to get an early start to the day. He blew the horn on his shiny Freightliner MT-35, forcing Saul to pull towards the wall to let him through. The Freightliner stopped, jerked forward a few feet, and stopped again. It’s rooftop swayed like a drunken sailor from the abrupt actions of the frustrated man at the helm. Rafael threw his arms up and screamed something unintelligible in Spanish at Saul. Saul threw his Mazda pickup in reverse, and backed out onto 15th Street to let him pass. He muttered “Aye, Diablos!!” as he watched the Taj Mahal of ice cream trucks pull out. “Estas tarde!!!”, Rafael yelled. Saul looked at the clock on the dash. It was 8:35AM.

    Saul sulked into the building. There was no cause for concern regarding his late arrival. Rafael was the top dog, on his way to the beach, where the money was. Saul was just a street soldier. Nobody cared so long as he pulled in some sort of profit. He was in charge of the Eastside. A place where Nate Dogg, Warren G, and the like had been forced to regulate. Saul tossed his tamales into the microwave. While he waited for them to get piping hot, he prayed to not get mugged today.

    Saul walked out to “Doncella” (“Old Maid”), still chewing a Tamale. He carelessly tossed ice cream in the freezers during his accounting of the previous day’s damage. Thirty items sold with three “runners”. Not bad. After re-stocking, it was time to get underway. Saul reached underneath the control panel to hold the ignition cylinder in place with one hand, while twisting the key with the other. The inline six awoke and the familiar noise of what must have been a 15-foot diameter Hamilton Standard propeller under the hood filled the steel cube. The TEMP light flickered to life. While Esteban carefully checked all the vitals on his Grumman-Olson stepvan next to him, Saul simply pulled the bare metal shifter into drive.

    Saul propped his left foot upon the doghouse. He relaxed to the sound of trumpets and maracas on the boombox radio while he cruised down the PCH towards Eastside Long Beach. A black-n-white passed him in haste with lights, but no siren. Just an everyday sight out here. Saul made a right onto MLK Avenue. Up ahead was another black and white Crown Victoria that prowled at a steady 4mph. Saul thought little of it after it turned off down an alley. He turned down a neighborhood street to begin his custom route. He checked his phone, 9:12AM. It was a good time to start, since few people would be woken by his attract music. It’s best not to anger people in this area. Saul flipped the switch that made it all happen.

    Do your ears hang low?
    Do they wobble to and fro?
    Can you tie ’em in a knot?
    Can you tie ’em in a bow?
    Can you throw ’em o’er your shoulder
    Like a continental soldier
    Do your ears hang low?

    At least, that’s what would have been said if there were words blasting from the scratchy PA loudspeaker nestled in the engine compartment. It was a maddening sound, particularly for the man who hears it all day, every day. Saul cringed. “Ice cream!!”, was yelled somewhere off his rear quarter. He turned to see where it came from. Three kids were running up the sidewalk. They had no parent or guardian in sight, no money in hand. Saul continued to drive away, leaving the winded and disappointed looky-loos in his mirror.

    Another police car was on the next block. This one was vacated on the wrong side of the street, and had it’s door ajar. It was cause for alarm. Saul’s senses heightened, and he cancelled his jingle. He drove East towards the other areas on his route. A helado pusher was already working the sidewalk. He gave Saul a death stare when he drove past. The jingle was employed once again. Some unsavory characters on a porch step glared at him, but within moments, he had his first customers of the day. He took the money from the mother of three and gave her three Mutant Ninja Turtles in return. One of the turtle heads was truly mutated. An eye was down near it’s freezer-burned mouth. “This one fu$%ked up.”, the woman complained, wanting to be reimbursed somehow. Saul simply shrugged, as most were all likely in similar shape from when things got a little warm last month. “Thas some bull$5it.”

    The jewel of his route was surely the basketball court at the park. The man he previously saw with the ice cream cart had somehow passed him, and was making a beeline for it. Saul smiled and poured on the gas. The man wore a panicked expression while being passed. Saul cleaned up at the park, making $30 in sales. He could have made more, but somebody tried his door handle while he dolled out his frozen confections. He recalled what happened the last time he heard that sound. His nerves shot, Saul drove away early, leaving the sweaty cart-pusher a bone to chew on.

    “Ice cream!!” Saul pulled to a stop in response. A man gave him cash, wanting a Choco Taco, and 3 bomb pops for his leaping children. As he passed out the taco along with the man’s change, another young man swooped in, yanking the goods from his grasp before sprinting away. His customer looked unsurprised, and demanded another taco, along with what was owed to him. Saul had no choice but comply.

    Saul zipped up his lunch bag, and stowed it away. He re-started the AMC six with a two-handed twist. Suddenly, there was a rapping, tapping at his caged door. He knew what it was before he saw it. The man’s face was blurred from his fright-induced tunnel vision. One thing was perfectly clear, the barrel of a 9mm handgun pointed right at him. Saul’s reaction came from instinct rather than sense. His hand fell to the metal shifter. He yanked it towards him and floored the gas pedal, while coiling his upper body out of the way of any bullets that might fly. Saul was shocked when the truck ran out of gear. He had pulled it into low. The assailant hadn’t fired a shot. Saul watched him in the mirror as he accelerated away. Holding the pistol to his side, he postured aggressively, then fast-walked out of sight.

    Saul headed back to base. The cellphone trembled in his grasp while he talked to his wife Maria. “I can’t do this anymore.” Maria knew something terrible had happened. She didn’t inquire further.
    “Come home.”

    • 0 avatar

      Bravo! *applause*

    • 0 avatar

      Good stuff..crab!

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve read every DOTJ piece and comment since Murilee came over from Jalopnik, but never was inspired to actually register with TTAC and comment until I read this story and the Biturbo.

      You are a true talent Crabby…when you name dropped Warren G and Nate Dogg I could picture the neighborhood setting immediately. I was that kid sitting in a dilapidated exotic (rusty Porsche 912 in my case instead of the Maser Ratty) imagining I was driving it full tilt.

      Keep up the amazing work!

    • 0 avatar

      Crab, you are an amazing writer. Please tell me you have a book or something, more of your writing collected somewhere. ANd I signed up just to compliment you on this, I think it’s the best thing I’ve read on the internet in a long, long time. Keep on keepin’ on.

  • avatar

    Wow. IMO one of your very best. Reading that actually transported me there, I could hear and see it all clearly. I actually got nervous right along with Saul while READING this…


    Edit – So jumpy I goofed up the login/reply process

    • 0 avatar

      Well done as always Krab ;

      I think this happened at the tiny triangular park on Blinn just West of PCH ~ , no ? .

      I’m always digging for gold at the Pick-A-Part Junkyard on the South side of that park (& Rebeccas Closet too) .

      Because they simply _refuse_ to _EVER_ clean the trucks , I stopped eating off them 35 years ago .


  • avatar

    Here’s a really fun browser game call “Cream Wolf”

    You are a werewolf who’s an ice cream man between full moons. When you’re human you lure kids into loyalty by selling ice cream, and when you’re a werewolf you eat said kids.

    The music is awesome.

  • avatar

    I’m always amazed that junk yards just randomly pile vans, trucks, and SUVs together in one section. The car section of the yards is always sorted by manufacture, the truck section not so much.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    This truck bring a new meaning to the term “utility”.

  • avatar

    I suspect the ghost of a lot of fat little kids that where made fun of haunt that truck. (lol)

  • avatar

    Hey MM, will we be seeing the airbrushed van in the background in a future article?

  • avatar

    Now more than ever 1974 tricky-dick cones? Bet the dam thing only did 11 mpg city. Bet it could be turned on a dime. But backing looked awkward – small rear windows and I don’t spy any rear convex mirror.

  • avatar

    Wake me when you find a Helms Bakery truck.

  • avatar

    Couldn’t stand it. Ran a street view lookup on the address for Sauls, and it’s still there as an Ice Cream business:

    1416 West 15th Street
    Long Beach, CA. 90813

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