Mack’s by the Trax body shop owner Mack Gardner, right, and Oneonta antique car and truck hobbyist Jeff Horn discuss Gardner’s recent acquisition of this 1948 model Willis Overlander. | Clif Knight
Mack’s by the Trax body shop owner Mack Gardner, right, and Oneonta antique car and truck hobbyist Jeff Horn discuss Gardner’s recent acquisition of this 1948 model Willis Overlander. | Clif Knight

Archived Story

‘Ain’t it a beauty?’

Published 12:00pm Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Gardner plans to make old pickup into memorial

That rusty old truck parked in front of Mack’s by the Trax body shop on East Main Street may not look like much to the passerby, but it’s a jewel in the eyes of owner Mack Gardner.

“Ain’t it a beauty?” Gardner questioned a stranger who stopped at his shop for a close-up look on Thursday.

“You bet it is,” answered Jeff Horn of Oneonta, a disabled Vietnam War veteran who spends a lot of his time restoring old motor vehicles. “I’ve got one like it I’m working on back home.”

“I pulled it out of a local barn,” Gardner explained. “It’s a 1948 Willis Overlander with 44,000 miles on the speedometer, and these are the original tires.”

You won’t believe this,” he added, opening the driver’s side door, closing it and then reaching through the window opening and pressing a button. You see, it has no handle inside the door. You open it by pressing a button.”

“That’s not all,” added Horn. “This model was made to work in the fields on the farm much like today’s tractors. A drive shaft, which extends to the rear of the truck’s bed, was used to operate farm implements like the hay baler.”

No longer strangers, both men talked freely at length about their passion of taking damaged or very old motor vehicles and making them look like new.

However, Gardner said he didn’t buy his ’48 model pickup to restore it to its original condition but rather to use it to convey a patriotic message.

“I’m going to put it in the shop and take off some of the rust.” he said, “and paint it, dents and all, Army green.

“I want it to look like an old Army vehicle that has been through lots of battles, complete with Army markings and the words, ‘Remember 9-1-1.’

“When I’m through, I’ll park it in front of the shop so it can be seen by the public as they drive by. I also plan to show it at the next Depot Days Antique Car and Truck Show.”

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