In June of last year I finally fulfilled a long time dream of purchasing an old GM truck.
I’d been looking for a while and kicked a lot of tires. I’d almost got a ’71 with a 454 (passes everything except the gas station) but when a dark olive ’72 with a 350 came up on Kijiji I knew it was the one. Only problem – it was in Saskatchewan. Regardless I contacted the owner and purchased it based purely on pictures (he was *very* patient and took lots). The following weekend my (also very patient) wife Janis and I drove the four hours on the quiet scenic highways from Calgary to Flaxcombe.
“Olive” had sat on a neighbour’s farm unloved and forgotten for many years until she was discovered, fixed up and turned into a daily driver by the fellow I purchased it from. However with too many toys (a fantastic ’57 Chev, another truck and a ’54 Ford which according to *his* wife was somehow too many) Olive had to go to a new home. So after a good inspection – which mainly consisted of “wow that’s a lot of dirt stuck on there” – off we went! For about 5 miles.
So, apparently a daily driver to a 70 year retired farmer going into town for coffee doesn’t really need to do the speed limit and Olive probably hadn’t seen 110 km an hour in a quarter of a century – if ever. Poor Olive couldn’t take the excitement and overheated. Being prepared for this (and, really, only this) I contacted the chase car – ok called back Janis from 10 km ahead of me – and let Olive cool off before refilling the rad. And off we went again.
One other fun thing about going (now) 90 km an hour in a 45 year old truck is when you find out it still has the stock control arms and ball joints. Now these weren’t particularly performance parts when they were new and somehow hadn’t improved over the following 1/2 century. However by starting my turn prior to actually having to turn I found I was easily able to tack my way down the highway. Another benefit to this approach was I could hear the gas sloshing in the in-cab gas tank behind the seat. Which was handy because the fuel gauge didn’t work either.
Next stop was the gas station in Marengo where relying on my keen sense of hearing I was able to fill the gas tank. Then off towards home!
I never realized just how big and empty the eastern part of Alberta is – like, not even a farmhouse empty – until I was driving through it on a Sunday evening in a 45 year old truck with poor steering and a questionable radiator. But Olive was a trooper and after 6 hours – with a fill up and supper in there – we reached Calgary. BTW, if you ever wondered if Calgary drivers are polite try driving an old truck with less than precise steering down Deerfoot at 90 km an hour. They were all slowing down to honk and wave a welcome to Olive arriving at her new home.