Cars

Keep it on the road

Erika Weber-Sprinkle and her 70 Chevy pickup
Erika Weber-Sprinkle and her 70 Chevy pickup Courtesy

Well, I asked for it and you let me have it. I wanted to know how many of you use vintage vehicles as your daily drivers. We got a nice initial response, complete with photos.

But you threw me a bit of a curve: All but two of the first batch of submissions focused on old trucks.

I guess I should have known. Trucks are not just cool, they are handy and they don't ask to be babied.

I sort of forgot that and recently sold my beloved little Subaru Brat to a friend. It didn't take long for me to realize we really needed a little truck to help with chores, so we now have an older Ranger pickup in the lineup.

We would like to see more daily driver stories from readers. They don't have to be about trucks, they don't have to be restored or pristine. They just need to be earlier than 1980 and something you use for regular transportation.

Send me a couple paragraphs explaining what you've got and a good picture or two. You can email me at mberry@wichitaeagle.com or send me hard copies addressed to: Mike Berry, Wichita On Wheels, Wichita Eagle, 820 E. Douglas, Wichita, Ks., 67202. If you need your photos back, include a self-addressed, stamped envelope.

Okay, here we go with our first batch of daily drivers.

1970 Chevy pickup

Friend and co-worker Pattie Knauff sent us the following information about Erika Weber-Sprinkle, who drives a 1970 Chevy 4X4 half-ton pickup with an 11-inch lift and a 350 motor to work every day. She calls it the "Bear Claw."

Erika, her husband and a good friend rebuilt the truck. Even though the lifted truck doesn't have air conditioning and she gets horrible gas mileage, Erika says she would not trade it for anything — "It's easy to fix, easy to troubleshoot and the tax value is 12 cents!"

She painted it herself because she likes the primer gray. All the mechanical work is done by Erika and her husband. It doesn't have to be hooked up to any computer to see what is wrong with it — they just use a Chilton's manual.

1954 Ford pickup

Mike Hennesy of Mount Hope wrote, "My old truck fits the bill as a dependable source of regular transportation when I can not ride my Harley. She handles the 60-mile round trip for work with ease. And it is just plain fun to drive. I get a kick out of the clunk of the clutch and the slight grinding when dropping into first.

"She is built like a tank, but runs like a deer down our old country roads, city streets or highways. The best part of this F-100 is anyone who can shift through the three speeds on the column can handle most of the maintenance on the 223 in-line 6-cylinder. Who does that anymore?

"With the exception of the wheels and the dual exhausts, everything is original or replaced as such. Born the same year as myself, the truck was originally used to run parts for an auto parts store in Topeka. Recently, myself and my truck turned a combined 114 years old."

1996 Pontiac GTO

Gary Buck, a Wichita high school teacher, sent this photo and info: "My daily driver is a restored 1966 Pontiac GTO sports coupe (2 door post). 'Jersey Girl' has under the hood the original 389 with a 4-speed and a 4:11 posi. Other than a modern radio, the car is pretty much original. I drove it almost daily to school.

"Like all my other cars, it has to work and is used daily for town runs and is a common sight around Valley Center. It's called `Jersey Girl' because it was originally from northern New Jersey and runs best when playing Bruce Springsteen.

"I totally agree it's one thing to have a nice classic ride that never leaves that garage except for shows and club events but the true test of metal is to use it daily, have everything working and it starts every time."

1952 Chevy pickup

John Cowdin sent us a snapshot and this info: "I have a passion for the old AD Chevy trucks and restore them to drive. They are far from show cars but are rust-free, as I feel I am preserving a bit of history.

"I love going to car shows but if I take mine, it sits in the parking lot. I drive them back and forth to work and sometimes I just drive them.

"The black 1952 Chevy is as original as I know how. It is a 216 babbitt-pounder, 6-volt AM radio. I took it down to a bare frame six or seven years ago."

1959 Corvette

Mitch Crouch, a local banker, kept it short and sweet: "I drive my '59 Corvette daily and have for almost 18 years. It has a 283 with a 2-speed Powerglide transmission and it just keeps on running."

1965 Ford Econoline

Our old friend Roger Mingle contributed this account: "This is my everyday driver. It is a 1965 Ford Econoline pickup. They came as a 3-window or a 5-window... the 3-windows were the cheapie model.

"Mine has been modified with a 1980 Ford 302 motor with an automatic transmission and a 9-inch rear end. It has a 1966 Mercury dash and gauges, a Dodge van shifter, a Caddy tilt column with a 1955 Hudson steering wheel, Oldsmobile bucket seats and Volvo seat belts. It has Chevy bumpers and Olds tail lights. It is driven in rain and snow and only gets in the garage when it needs worked on.

"I bought it on Valentine's Day '96 and it's been a non-stop love affair since."

1963 Ranchero

Larry Rozell sent us this: "I've owned my 1963 Ranchero since '06 and have driven it daily since day one. I've modified it extensively over the past five years. It's actually all Mustang running gear with power assist steering and front disc brakes. That's a 302 under the hood with a lot of upgrades to it. New camshaft, modified 1'68 heads, Edelbrock four-barrel, beefed up C-4 trans with a shift kit, Champion aluminum radiator, etc.

"And, it's been very useful, as it is a pickup as well. Just thought your loyal readers would enjoy knowing that a car doesn't have to be a 'trailer queen' to be loved and enjoyed on a daily basis. And in Ark City you either love your wheels or you can just leave town, 'cause we're car lovers down in these parts."

1959 Ford pickup

Wade Jones summed up the appeal of an old truck this way: "I have driven a '59 Ford F-100 every day for the last four years. I live in Andover and work on McConnell AFB, so I end up with 6,000-7,000 miles a year on it.

"It came out of a farmer's field five years ago with 1977 plates on it. It was rough (still is) but you just don't see the '57-'60 Ford trucks, and this one is a short Fleetside with the original 292 and the truck 4-speed. Its flat black from rattle cans. No attempt to fix rust. After 20 years of farm use and 30 years of sitting, just about everything that could be rebuilt has been (tranny was fine). It's painfully stock, with the exception of chrome valve covers (my hot rodder dad just couldn't resist) and '55-'57 Packard Clipper wheel covers on '85 F-100 steel wheels. I changed the final drive ratio from the stock 3:70 to 3.00:1. Gets 15 mpg!

"Everyone loves it, I don't have to worry about where I park it or what the sun is doing to it all day at work. I can walk into Poorman's and they have in stock nearly everything I need. I'm not a fan of new things and I just appreciate the simplicity of it. It's a good, honest, reliable old truck and I can't imagine owning a 2010 with leather guts and all that other fancy stuff."

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