Mafia Secrets
Budget build. Big-time cool factor.

By Bryan 'Boss Man' Martin, contributing writer

Based out of Jasper, Mo., brothers Jeremy, Brad and Adam Atnip operate the business that was started 35 years ago by their parents, Tim and Janet.

When the Atnip gang went on a road trip to possibly buy a used Peterbilt 378 with plans to build another dump truck, they randomly caught a glimpse of this old relic, peeking out of a barn on the property.

They had to ask the owner: “What’s up with the Diamond T?” He cheerfully let them have a closer look. He explained to Atnip that it had been a California Forestry Department truck and only had 37,000 actual miles.

Powered by the original 252 Cummins, with the 5-and-4 transmissions, the truck was a little crusty, but overall in pretty fair shape.

Just minutes after they saw the rig, all three brothers knew; they had to own this truck.

After some negotiations with the fella, they struck a deal. One of the brothers told the owner they would bring a low-boy trailer back and haul it home.

The seller immediately flared up and said, “No you won’t!” The Atnips sensed that they had struck a nerve. He continued, “You can drive this ol’ girl anywhere. She don’t need to be hauled on no dang trailer.”

So, after a quick battery charge and fresh fuel filter, off they drove! Jeremy Atnip said it was a stressful 40-mile drive home with little to no brakes and tires that felt like they had one flat side on them.

The original plan was to restore the rig to authentic, like-new condition. But every time they would nearly get started on the project, the recurring idea of going with a ’50s Rat Rod look came up.

In just one week, the truck transformed into what you see here. Classic hot rod colors – bright red chassis with flat black body – provided the cool look they were after. The wide super-single rear tires gave it a drag-strip stance. The bumper, exhaust and grille provided just enough shine to finish it out perfectly.

The Atnips say they have no further plans to enhance the truck other than maybe a smoother-riding rear suspension someday. After all, isn’t this pretty much a storybook build?

An inexpensive truck and minimal mechanical expense; only 40 to 50 hours of total shop time; grab a few spare tires and wheels from around the shop; add a mere $1,500 worth of chrome goodies; and they’re done. Sounds like a perfect project to me.

Atnip Enterprises runs over 35 units in the southwest Missouri area hauling construction materials, aggregate and farm commodities. As if that wasn’t a full-time commitment, they also stay busy with an excavation and general contracting division.

I asked Jeremy what advice he’d give someone just starting out in trucking.

“Always have a plan B. If something goes wrong, and it will, don’t get caught with all your eggs in one basket and no backup plan. Stay focused on your job and be prepared to weather the ‘ups and downs.’ Trucking can provide a great living, but it’s seldom easy. It’s a great life if you don’t weaken!”

Truer words have rarely been spoken. LL