Cars

K-State pride on wheels

Fritzler Body Shop found that the perfect shade of purple for Ron Kimball's pickup was an Indian Motorcycle hue, accented by silver below. Plans call for a K-State football logo to be airbrushed onto the tonneau cover.
Fritzler Body Shop found that the perfect shade of purple for Ron Kimball's pickup was an Indian Motorcycle hue, accented by silver below. Plans call for a K-State football logo to be airbrushed onto the tonneau cover. The Wichita Eagle

WELLINGTON — It wasn't as if anyone questioned Ron Kimball's allegiance to Kansas State athletics, especially K-State football.

He already had a custom K-State golf cart awash in purple and silver and an enclosed trailer with a Power Cat logo emblazoned on either side.

But now he has exactly the right truck to haul the other two pieces to football games at Manhattan. It's a 1970 Chevy pickup finished in just the right shade of Indian Motorcycle purple, accented by a silver lower half and featuring a full-on football-inspired interior, complete with K-State football headrests and armrests.

"I had originally bought it for our daughter as transportation during her high school years," Kimball said. "It was just a young kid's pickup. There was nothing special about it. But I held onto it after she graduated."

Kimball admits he wasn't really a "car guy" at the start. "My son-in-law, Kendall Koerner, is the brother of Kraig Koerner, who runs the Black Widow Garage and they're both car nuts," he said.

"They said, 'Let's do a K-State pickup...' they're the ones who got me pumped up on this," Kimball said. "It took a little over two years to build it."

The truck was treated to a full frame-off restoration, with virtually every nut and bolt removed and replaced. The frame itself was sand-blasted and powder-coated purple before an all-new front and rear suspension was bolted on, including new power steering and a set of Cragar salt-flat style aluminum wheels mounting Cooper tires.

New floor pans, cab corners, rocker panels, doors and fenders were necessary, with Fritzler Body Shop of Wellington handling the body work and spraying all that purple and silver paint and the Black Widow Garage putting everything back together.

A 327 V-8 out of a '63 Corvette was rebuilt and dressed out in all kinds of chrome and polished aluminum, including a new serpentine belt system that drives the aftermarket air conditioning and power steering pump. A vintage Cadillac-style twin snorkel air cleaner was painted silver with purple football helmet stripes and a K-State football logo attached to it.

Kendall Koerner, who is handy with an airbrush, plans to paint a large K-State football logo on the purple tonneau cover that tops the long pickup bed.

When it came time to do the interior, Koerner said it should have footballs for the headrests, Kimball said, "that that would look cool through the back glass."

That task fell to Auto Furn. of Derby, which resculpted the original Chevy bench seat to accommodate a pair of official K-State footballs as headrests. In the process, another pair of those footballs was modified into armrests for the cab, which is covered in vertically pleated white vinyl with purple piping. A Power Cat emblem occupies the center of the backrest.

Kimball is a member of the Golden Cats, an association of former K-State football players. "I was recruited to K-State in football. That's where I met my wife, Debbie, who was from Wellington," he said.

He wore jersey No. 28 during his time on the team, so when Bill Newman agreed to create a one-of-a-kind steering wheel for Kimball's truck, it was only appropriate that the horn button be etched with the number 28, to go with the K-State Wildcats horn ring.

"They all did a great job on it," Kimball said. "This is the first time I've ventured into the car world. In fact, we haven't showed it at a car show yet."

"We took it up to the UCLA game and they went crazy over it. I'll bet there were 400 or 500 people who looked at it and hung around to talk about it. I'm thinking about going to the Central Florida game this weekend. My old coach, Vince Gibson, is going to be there. It would be a lot of fun to see him... and show him the truck," Kimball said.

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