It was just another work day for the crew at Arrow Grinding that summer morning in 1972. Nothing special was scheduled at the busy machine shop in Franklin Park, other than a lot of hard work and a scheduled parts pickup by an area customer.
While it all seemed run-of-the-mill, that delivery turned into a magical moment for a young Art Cichon. Art was only 12 and liked to hang around Arrow, a steel grinding and supplies business owned by his dad.
Most of the time he was pretty bored but when the bay door raised that morning, his heart skipped a beat. Arrow was a supplier for Metric Tool & Engineering, located in nearby Broadview, and the company's owner, John Kostelny, had one cool parts pickup rig.
Kostelny's ride of choice was a Ford Ecoline F100 he bought new in 1965. "That was the first time I had seen it and right then I knew I had to have it," Art recalls now. "I thought it was the greatest truck I'd ever seen."
Naturally, John wasn't ready to part with the quirky workhorse at the time, but by 1984 he was ready to retire and actively getting rid of inventory. Naturally, Art still wanted the truck. He purchased the Ford from Kostelny and drove it occasionally the first couple of months after the sale.
When he started hearing some bearings grinding in the engine, Art shut it down and stored it in his parent's Chicago garage. After he moved out and purchased his own home with garage, his parents, Art recalls, "vigorously insisted" upon him taking the truck with him.
All told, the truck sat for nearly 30 years. Its only real use was providing entertainment for Art's son, Max.
"Ever since I was born, it's been in the garage," Max says. "It was a playground when I was growing up. I'd climb up into it and pretend to drive. It was just a weird, cool thing that dad had."
Art's intention was to fix it up but he never found the time or funds. "I didn't want to do it piecemeal," Art says. "I wanted to wait until I could do it all at once."
Finally, last year, Art had the cash to get serious about getting the pickup roadworthy. He brought it to the crew at Custom Classics in Island Lake for a proper overhaul.
The main item addressed was getting the truck's six-cylinder engine running, which is located between the front seats. A few other components were replaced but the truck is largely in all original condition and wears several throwbacks to its time on the clock. Besides the hand-lettered artwork on the side, there's maintenance logs from the 1970s taped to the dash and Kostelny's original clipboard he used to organize his paperwork can be found between the seats.
"Whenever I'm driving it, I immediately become everyone's buddy," Art says. "They get a big smile on their face and come up, wanting to find out more about it. It's still the greatest truck in the world."
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