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I picked up another damn project today! This is a 1963 Dodge Town Panel truck...I know, you are asking yourself "WTF is a Dodge Town Panel?" It's a panel truck (also available as a Town Wagon; a windowed Suburban-style wagon) that retained the old Power Giant styling from 1955 to 1966, while the pickups went to the new Sweptline style in 1961.

The trip- to get the Townie started by asking over on the HAMB and a couple of other forums if anyone had a car or truck that needed hauling to anywhere between Oklahoma City and Corpus Christi. One of the HAMB guys wanted me to go to Tulsa to pick up a very rusty Triumph Spitfire parts car, and bring it to CC with me, where he’d pick it up and I’d pick the panel up at the same place where the panel was – easy for everybody involved…right!

After work on Friday, my boys and I drove the 110 miles up the turnpike to Tulsa to get the Spitfire. To say this was a rusty hull would be a gross understatement! NO floors, period! Just the remains of the outer frame rails, along with the latched doors and the intact driveline were the only things holding this car together! It was a burn-out, so the interior; or what was left of it, was gone. The front and rear of the car, plus the doors, were intact. The tires were rotted off the rims, and the rear axle was locked up! Thank God for electric winches! I drug that thing up onto my trailer, and it ended up sitting sideways! I strapped it down and proceeded back to OKC. Rusted remains of this thing were littering I-44 as I was driving down the highway! I got the rig home and surveyed the car. I was very concerned that the car would literally fall apart before I could get it to the coast! I snugged the car down with straps and chains, and got ready for Saturday’s trip – 610 miles of road fun with the youngest son!

The first 200 miles were reasonably uneventful. The car wasn’t shedding rust anymore, and it was looking good. Got to a town north of Waco called West, Texas where we stopped for a burger and to check on the Triumph. The flip hood had separated from the cowl nearly five inches! Holy Crap! I looked inside the car and the frame was starting to separate the car into two parts! Only the doors and the drive shaft kept the car from coming completely apart! My long strap was not long enough to run under the car and keep the two halves together, so I found a Tractor Supply Company store and got a 40’ cargo strap and strapped the car front to back, wrapping the strap completely around the car longitudinally. It sure as hell wasn’t going anywhere now!

Then, the notoriously bad Austin traffic, where I’m pretty sure the local Wally World issues the driver licenses in lieu of the Republic of Texas! On to Corpus! Oh, wait, we see smoke on the horizon. Range fire, maybe? Nope…a Ford Exploder caught fire on the side of I-37 and burnt to a crisp. The Texas DPS and the local fire department were just getting ready to put the truck, and the resulting five-acre grass fire, out as we were driving by. My son got some good pics!

Once in CC, we off-loaded the car onto another trailer that Joe brought with. He bought this and another, much better, Triumph on ebay about a year and a half ago. The burnout has a lot of good, hard-to-find parts on it, despite its advanced decomposition! It took him about a half-hour to get it strapped securely. The panel truck had several yellow jacket nests in the engine compartment, which I dispatched with a can of defrost liquid – works great when you don’t have a can of wasp spray! I got my trailer lined up and got the panel winched up and secured. It’s a little more dented than I’d hoped, but it was worth the trip to pick it up…despite nearly five bucks a %^@)*!-ing gallon for Diesel!

My son had never seen the ocean, so we stopped and got our feet wet at the beach, then went to see the USS Lexington war museum across the bay. Hung around a little, then headed out again on I-37 towards San Antonio.
We hit the thunderstorm from Hell about halfway back to SA, where the wind picked up to over 60 knots and rain poured like mad! We stopped at a Valero to fill up and get off the highway for a few minutes. I had just finished pumping fuel when all of the power went out! Seeing as there was a tornado warning for that area at that moment, and having survived an F-4 tornado hit, I was more than a little apprehensive at that point! Well, the lights flickered on and the wind died way down, so we hit the road once again. We stayed on base in billeting in San Antonio…nice thing about being retired military! Nice, cheap beds are just one thing!

Next day – hit the Country Kitchen and then press on home! The Sunday portion was pretty boring, really! Apart from a jackass in a new Mustang cutting me off in a construction zone with one lane, then stopping in front of me! I damn near ran his ass over, and let him know about his stupidity, too! Why do people think that a pickup with a truck and trailer on it can stop in the same distance as their damn car?
So, that was my weekend. The plans for the panel are to give it to my younger son for his birthday in July! He took a liking to it immediately upon seeing it, so I believe it’ll be his.

Enjoy the day!