It's easy to forget our beloved classic and antique vehicles, now babied and shielded from any harsh condition, were once daily performers for real heavy-duty work.
Even quaint machines like Bill Grundy's 1927 Chevrolet Capital truck -- now restricted to asphalt duty -- once regularly ventured off smooth road surfaces into crop fields and dirt trails.
The vehicle belonged to Grundy's grandfather, Bill Ternes. "He bought it new and it was his first-and-only farm truck," the South Barrington resident said. "He used it to farm in Oshkosh, Wis., until his retirement in 1968."
To transition to a new stage of life, Bill's grandfather held a farm auction later that year to sell off some of his beloved and well-worn tools of the trade. From there, Grundy's aunt and uncle, Marie and Ward Laiten, purchased the truck and stored it in their garage for nearly 20 years, from 1968 to 1986.
Bill purchased the one-ton in '86 and had it relocated back to Oshkosh to his parent's farm. Seeing the old Chevy hauler again brought back many happy memories and family stories.
"I was close to my grandfather Ternes and was lucky to learn many skills from him, such as basic mechanics and woodworking -- both of which were used in the restoration," Grundy said. "I grew up on a modern family farm and remember going to Grandpa's farm working and driving the truck as a young boy."
Grundy took the truck to an auto shop in Bristol, Wis., and began a restoration in the fall of 1989. Despite decades of faithful service followed by decades of little use, the old Chevy gave Grundy a remarkably sound foundation to begin his restore.
"It was in good condition considering it was a working farm truck for 41 years. Grandpa kept all his equipment and the farm in excellent condition."
The majority of the surface paint had worn off but the metal was sound with very few dents and no tears. Even the lights, engine, wood-spoked wheels, tires and glass panes were all in working order. From the start, Grundy knew exactly what direction to take with the truck. "I have a copy of the original sales brochure and wanted to match it perfectly," he said.
Recalling those trade secrets Grandpa Ternes taught him, Grundy, along with two master craftsmen Gino Dellacecca and Darrell May, completely dissembled, refurbished, restored and reassembled the entire truck and all its components.
"Thinking back to my time with Grandpa and what I learned, I restored and re-created the stack rack and the wood frame that supports the inner cab." White ash lumber was used for the endeavor.
Powering the Capital is the original four-cylinder engine, capable of 25 horsepower. "With a three-speed manual transmission, brakes only on the rear wheels and a top speed of 30 miles per hour, you can't be in a hurry."
While its no speed-demon, Grundy happily motors in his antique workhorse to many area cruise nights.
"The fact that the truck is still in the family and that I was able to restore Grandpa's truck has brought me a great deal of fond memories, satisfaction and pride," he said.
Grundy plans to keep his rolling family heirloom and hand it off for others in the Grundy household to appreciate and cherish. "My son Miles and daughter Tara enjoy riding, driving and attending events with me," he says. "I hope to pass the truck on to them hoping they will find as much enjoyment and rekindled memories as I have."