By on June 2, 2016


US23 in Ohio has expressway speeds, but it’s not a limited access highway like it is in much of Michigan. In Ohio, you have to watch out for farm vehicles and other cross traffic. On the other hand, unlike on a limited access road, you can turn around without having to drive miles to the next exit.

I was on my way to drop off a lime green guitar for someone who likes guitars and that particular color when I passed the scene pictured above. Running late as I was, I drove past, but there was something poetic about those two pickup trucks that made me go back. The symmetry of the two trucks’ hoods both being open stuck in my mind’s eye. Also, the old truck’s paint matched the guitar.

Some things are meant to be.


A couple of older gentlemen were hauling the 1961 Ford with a dump bed on a flatbed trailer behind a Chevy C/K pickup that itself was maybe 25 years old. They weren’t sure yet what they were going to do with the old truck, as it was still farm fresh. They might restore it, they might restomod it. It had one of the venerable Ford inline sixes that powered working trucks for decades. The men were retrieving it to Columbus, but the Chevy’s cooling system wasn’t up to the towing task. About 45 minutes from their destination, it broke down. My guess is that they popped the hood of the Ford hoping to find a compatible thermostat.

The timing was fortuitous. It was early evening and the sun was casting that golden light that movie directors love so much. Also, had I passed the scene five minutes later, I would have missed it. While I was there, a son of one of the men showed up with his own pickup, which they proceeded to hook up to the F-100’s trailer.

Who knows? What goes around often comes around again in slightly revised form. Maybe 20 odd years from now that Chevy will be on a flatbed behind a Ford F-150 made in the 21st century.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view over at Cars In Depth. – Thanks for reading – RJS

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26 Comments on “Sometimes You’ve Just Got to Stop and Take a Picture...”

  • avatar

    Oh man, I need to get this to our marketing department…

    Ram Trucks: Because some things never change.

  • avatar

    Nice rural economy metaphor. Probably the owner was once a flying farmer.

  • avatar

    Those last gen C/K’s before the GMT800’s sure were pretty, at least on the outside. I like the looks of these nearly as much as the GMT800’s. I can’t say l know a whole lot about them, except they used the 5.7 and that they were a GM product of the 90’s so I’m guessing nothing electronic has gone unreplaced.

    • 0 avatar

      These were GMT400s. 1988-98.

      First generation GM full-size with torsion-bar 4-wheel-drive instead of a solid front axle.

      Also first generation GM full-size with 5-speed OD stick.

      TH700R-4 was in its second generation and was pretty much indestructible unless you overloaded it towing and such. This became the 4L60 and then, when they connected the computer to the tranny circa 1993, the 4L60-E.

      The Vortec 4.3 (IMO) was a better choice than the 305 (5.0). All the 4.3s had a roller cam and swirl-port heads. The 350 (5.7) was rated at 210, maybe 225 HP depending on year. Only larger models and the 454SS had that big block available. Today many 4-cylinders make more HP than that 454SS did.

      For the 1996 model year, Vortec heads finally came to the SBC V8. A Hot Rod test said they were good for 55 HP over stock SBC heads and actually recommended them over Edelbrock and other mild street performance heads.

      The Gen III “LS” engines began with the GMT800 in 1999. I don’t think they had the oiling issues experienced by the very early 1997-99 LS1s in ‘Vettes, Camaros and Firebirds.

      IMO the ’88-’98 models were quite pretty – the last full size GM truck you could say that about. Build quality and appointments were typical GM for that day. This era really represented the beginnings of the public-at-large using trucks as passenger cars.

      This was also the final generation where you could tell a 4×4 from a 2-wheel-drive just by looking at the wheels. Regular 2wd 1/2-ton models still had 5-lugs and deeper offset.

      I vastly prefer the ’07-’13 full-size to the current generation.

      • 0 avatar
        Hogie roll

        The 4L60E was never good in the gmt400. Not up for lots of towing or offroad use. It was fixed in the 800.

        The 5.7s in vortec and pre vortec guise were very good. The vortec had 255hp and 330ft lbs of torque. They were stronger than the early 5.3s.

    • 0 avatar

      The GMT 400 (’88 – ’00) was, to me, a great series . I owned a ’90 C1500 ex-cab with a 4.3, 2 wd and 5/mt. I ran it to 275k miles from new. Only cost me for 3 clutches over the period of ’90 to ’06. Still running pretty strong at 350k miles with the second owner.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t like the looks on most of the current crop of trucks – they look like post-drugs Mark McGwire to me – but anything from the early 90s all the way back – the more rust, the more battle scars, the prettier that thing looks. Of course, I’m going to fantasize about replacing it with a wood bed, and, if you were to throw in a peroxide blond, it would be a vision of heaven – but, like seeing a John Deere and imagining the putt-putt in forgotten memories, I do have a little soft spot for those trucks.

    • 0 avatar

      My brother has a 1997 GMC Sierra 4.3L/auto/2wd. 360K+ miles, original engine. The trans has been rebuilt, and the rear axle replaced at least twice, but its a damn good truck. The most work done to the engine itself was an intake gasket.

      It died on the way to work one day, was towed home and it sat for five years. Everyone had a suggestion. Replace this, replace that. I finally told him if you’re sick of throwing parts at it, let me know. So, one day, he did. I went over, tested for fuel, got fuel. Tested for spark. There was none. I replaced the ignition coil, truck cranked up and ran like it was parked yesterday. He had replaced some module attached to the coil, but that wasn’t the problem.

  • avatar

    The smarter thing to do:

    Take a video.

    Make a vlog on Youtube.

    If your vlog is interesting: Earn Money

    • 0 avatar

      I’m not really into the whole taking pictures of everything and posting it online thing. I think I last updated my Facebook photo in 2014. However, when I first started making improvements to my house, I began taking a series of selfies featuring me holding some kind of tool and looking at it askance, with a concerned “I’m not too sure about this” look, and sending them to my friends. I’ve since taken to compiling quite a collection of these, holding tools, children, key fobs from high performance cars, household items…

      Maybe I’ll start an Instagram and make literally pennies upon pennies.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m on record as saying payday is the best part of any job, but it’s not all about money, sometimes it’s about aesthetics. I have hundreds of videos on YT and it’s nice when I get the small amount of money they generate, but still photography has its own worth. I just don’t think I could have captured the same feel with a video.

      There is a reason why the traditional teaching of artistic drawing includes still life studies.

      Color didn’t eliminate the use of black and white, and while I’m a 3D advocate, 2D will still be around long after most families have autostereo (i.e. glasses-free) 3D televisions.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I love poetic photos.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    That’s too much tongue weight for a half-ton. Would have been better off towing the Chevy home with the Ford.

  • avatar

    That thing reminds me of the 1953-ish International Harvester dump truck that used to be for sale at a farm in town. I’m hoping it got fixed up, because it just vanished one day…

  • avatar

    As a former farmer those dually shortbeds were usually referred to as 1 tons even if they were converted 3/4 tons. Or they were a county/state rig with a 3 yard tilt bed picked at a auction. Or bought as a bare frame dually and had a bed added. Anyway, sure looks like a dually 1 ton and possibly has a 223 straight 6 with a 4 speed. And the four speed has a really really low non-synchro first gear. They are the true work trucks of countless farms…just as the trailer it sits on. All up I’d say the Chevy is towing about 8,000. Swap thermostats? Those guys are in over their heads. Maybe coolant or a battery. But as anybody knows…when picking up a project…bring lots of tools.

  • avatar

    Yeah, that’s not an F-100, as others said, its probably a 1 ton (F-350).

    Also, those Chevy trucks were either a C or a K, not both.
    C = 2wd, K = 4wd.
    That truck is a K1500. As others stated, 6 lug = 4wd.

  • avatar

    This past weekend, on a trip to Alpine, Texas and back, I stopped in Barnhart, Texas to photograph a water tank that was used to refill the Santa Fe’s steam locomotives, and was still standing. There is also a machine shop in another town that used to work on tank cars that has six railroad cranes on the property; four were built as steam cranes, out of which two were still steam powered and one could still be ran on compressed air. (We were supposed to see it in action on Thursday, but the constant rain postponed our visit.)

    Over the past twenty years, I have documented much of the world’s surviving steam powered machines in a set of databases; and on our road trips, I would look up our route, and stop to take pictures of the ones along the way. But one in particular stands out in the family lore.

    We were staying at Toledo Bend lake in June of 1995, and I had to be in New Orleans on business the next day. Looking at a road atlas and my database, I convinced myself that a site that had three steam locomotives and simply listed as “sawmill, Long Leaf, LA” was on our route, so I made a detour to photograph.

    What I did not know is that the sawmill was actually off of the main highway. After two hours of futile searching, I stopped to ask a local person where it might be. They directed me to da irt road with a closed gate across it. I crossed over the gate with my camera, my wife fully expecting me to get shot; I instead found someone else who directed me to the entrance.

    It turned out that the Crowell family sawmill had been closed in 1969, and was basically in the same shape as it was left in. The workers simply put down their tools and machinery and walked away, leaving the surrounding woods to take the site over. It reminded me of the Aztec ruins you see in the jungle in photographs.

    I met the person who would be the museum’s curator, and he agreed to show me the locomotives. We drove through the lumber drying shed that was still stacked floor to ceiling with the last timber that was cut by the sawmill before they shut down. We then drove past the overgrown planning mill, with the main sawmill visible in the distance through the tress, vines growing up the wires that stabilized the smokestacks.

    I was in our Chevrolet Celebrity wagon we drove at the time, with my wife, daughter, and infant son. I had to straddle a rut in the middle of the road to reach the “roundhouse” at the top of a hill; there next to it sat a steam locomotive still wearing it’s “cabbage stack” smokestack like you see in the movies. I then was then lead back into the woods where another steam locomotive sat, trees growing up in the tracks around it, along with a steam powered skidder (basically a steam winch mounted on a flat car.) The scrapped remains of a Shay logging locomotive were also there, along with a stationary steam engine and other machinery that were taken out and dumped in the woods when the mill was electrified. The other steam locomotive was not yet accessible.

    It was even later in the day than when Ronnie took his pictures, and we were in the woods as well. I took my pictures, doubting in my mind that they would come out; to my surprise later they all did. I put them up on a webpage, and for several years, it was the only website for the museum. It was also included in an online feature the Discovery Channel was doing when they were airing the “Connections” TV series.

    We then continued on our way; and did not stumble into New Orleans until 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning; thanks in part to being stopped by a policeman who thought we looked suspicious. The site is now the Southern Forest Museum and Research Center in Long Leaf, LA; my sons and I have visited a few more times after that, but my wife and daughter refuse to go back after that trip.

  • avatar
    CV Neuves

    Great photo, the top one. Thanks for taking the time and thanks for sharing!

  • avatar

    Cooling system problem? Been there. That looks suspiciously like when my upper intake manifold gasket blew out on my ’99 Suburban in Kansas while towing my LeMons car home. I poured coolant in the radiator and it came out of the engine. $700 and a day wasted.

  • avatar

    I will say I think this is a later Chevy given the wheels on it. Don’t think those directional alloys came around until ’95 or so.

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