sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Friday, October 25, 2013

What was your First Car?

Mine was a 1957 International Travelall, nicknamed the Green Monster. My grandfather bought it for $150.00 as US Government surplus. The Federal Communications Commission owned it, used it and put it out to pasture. At age 15, he thought that it was high time that I had a car of my own to work on. So it became a joint project. The Travelall ran, but needed some work. We started with a paint job. At the time, Earl Scheib painted "any car for $19.95, so we took it there and had it painted dark green. 

The truck pictured (above) is not the Green Monster - but very very close, so I included it for reference.
  • There was no air conditioning.
  • Gas mileage was 10 mpg with a stiff tail wind (down a steep grade).
  • Top speed about 50-55 mph on any grade or the straight and level.
  • We added a 15 gallon auxiliary fuel tank because the original 15 gallon tank gave it very short legs.
  • The low gearing meant that in the mountains you could push over aspens and spruces with a 6" trunk as if they didn't exist.
  • It was the perfect hunting and fishing truck - which was what you did when I was a kid. It was cold as a witch's tit as I recall. The truck's heater was inadequate and barely warmed your leg.
  • Leaf springs all around - rough ride - but not much to break.
The original bumper didn't stand up well to rough use, so we replaced it with a steel i-beam that my grandfather located in a metal scrap yard and added a winch. In the winter I was stopped at at stop sign on an icy road and a new Buick sedan slid into the edge of the bumper while making a left hand turn in front of me and it opened the Buick like a tuna can. I didn't notice much but a nudge as the car rubbed past. The paint transfer was about a one inch smudge on the i-beam.

The Green Monster hauled hay to the horses from the house to the lower pasture, hauled dead deer, elk and antelope, dead pheasants, chukar partridges, and quail. Dead german brown trout, brook trout, rainbow trout, striped bass, lake trout (mackinaw), graylings, small mouth bass, large mouth bass, cutthroat trout, pumpkins and squash, etc. My coyote rode in it as did my Rhodesian Ridgeback and sleeping in the back worked just fine. Better if the dog was there to keep you warm in winter.

The truck did not impress girls, but boys thought that it was very cool. My first girlfriend (Susan) threw me over for a boy from a rich family whose father gave him a brand new pick-up truck. History and present circumstances taken into account, she might have been better off sticking with me and the Green Monster.