Dashboard Confidential
More fun with cars and trucks

By Dave Sweetman, columnist

Dragging cool cars around the country has its share of laughs.

I got an order to load an old fire truck for a collector. Calling the shipper the day before the scheduled pick up would allow him to get the vehicle gassed up, battery charged, and ready to load.

At least that was my intent. Upon arrival the next day, the kindly gent jerked his thumb toward the back 40 of the farm and told me his son was clearing out the nest of rattlesnakes. RATTLESNAKES? Yep! And momma just had lots of little babies. Those squirmy little critters were everywhere.

Now, I’m not scared of snakes, but that doesn’t mean I want to haul them. I respectfully declined loading the fire truck, as my other customers would be rather cranky if we missed a few and they found their way into new car territory. Not to mention the many places in my trailer for them to hide. That squawking sound you hear was me chickening out.

Another time, I had an order to pick up a vintage car for a young lady who had saved her lunch money to buy her dream car. She found it on an online car website, the pictures showing a complete car in good shape.

The seller told her the car needed a few minor touches. I arrive and the seller leads me to the field behind the house and points at the “prize.” One side looked good, but the other side was riddled with bullet holes, glass was shattered, and the engine compartment had been the object of someone’s bad temper.

I excused myself for a moment, went to the truck and called the lady, explaining the situation. She was upset over the deception, obviously. I then noticed the seller hooking a chain to the front end tugging it with the Farmall. Making it even more exciting, a big crash echoed across the field as the car broke in half.

In a sorry example of humor, I told her that as the car was in two pieces I would have to charge her a two-car rate. She laughed, then cried, then laughed.

After some banter between shipper and buyer, he did the right thing and promised to return her money.

On a more positive note, I went to Kansas to a restoration shop to load a freshly done Model A Ford that was showroom new. I was given strict orders to speak only with a lady at a certain phone number and no one else. Great … James Bond bought a Model A, I guess.

The day before the arrival, I called and the lady asked if I could be there at noon the next day but to park two houses up from their address. I agreed. I could see it coming.

When I eased up the street, the man of the house was up on a ladder cleaning gutters. I parked where I was told and prepared to unload and heard the man say, “Oh look, honey … the neighbor got an antique car.” I prepared to offload, and the neighbors and the unsuspecting fellow crowded around.

The gentleman made a comment that his dad had one just like it when he was a kid. The wife bit her lip and winked at me as I backed the car off. I handed her the ignition key and she turned and handed it to her husband. She then told the crowd that she had tracked down the very car his dad owned in Kansas and had it restored for him.

He had no clue. There was not a dry eye in the crowd. The man just beamed and said he couldn’t believe it, over and over. All of the neighbors got a ride; I got a hug.

I looked skyward and said, “Beam me up, Scotty; my work here is done.” It doesn’t get better than that. LL