Still Hammerin’
Rob Fortier and his sun riding in his'69 C10
It’s Not the Destination … it’s the Ride Quality

or the past few days I’ve been keeping tabs on the recent border-to-border Motorcycle Cannonball run—it’s an antique motorcycle (pre 1930) endurance run from Canada to Mexico. Really intriguing, as the motorcycles must be 100 percent “as manufactured” stock … no modern amenity upgrades, so to speak. Above and beyond the obvious toll it takes on each rider, participants must know their machines like the back of their hands, which control the throttle, clutch, and timing for however many days they’re saddled up on the road … or, as can be the case, on the side of the road making necessary repairs.

What’s that have to do with classic trucks? Well, it’s pretty simple actually. It got me thinking about the aforementioned modern amenities—from creature comforts to basic suspension and drivetrain qualities—in the old trucks we drive … emphasis on drive. I’ve driven everything from bone-stock, granny-geared, straight-axled ’30s trucks to LS-powered, fully climate-controlled and airbagged ’70s trucks and I have to say, I love them equally for exactly what they are. Yes, I’d take the stock truck on a long-distance road trip any day … but I would not be opposed to taking the same trip in the more luxuriously equipped pickup. I’m not spoiled by creature comforts; to be honest, oftentimes I’m a bit more standoffish when it comes to anything electronically automated or programmable or, well, non-manual. If something were to break down or go wrong, I like having the peace of mind knowing I (or whoever’s with me!) can fix it on the side of the road—which is where the Motorcycle Cannonball connection comes from. And that even applies to preventative maintenance, as knowing the inner workings of any particular said part typically gives you a good idea of what, if anything, could go wrong and what you can do to avoid it. That said, I can count how many times I’ve fixed my laptop or cell phone without even looking at my hands—zero!

I guess the old saying “it’s not the destination it’s the journey” applies here in more ways that one. Sure, enjoying the mechanical aspects of an old truck on the road is one thing, but if you’re also interested in enjoying nature’s offering along the way, maybe you want to enjoy that ride in comfort. On longer trips, it totally makes sense—even to my antiquated stubborn self! While I can endure endless miles in excruciating heat without having air conditioning, I will be the first to admit the adventure I embarked upon with my son last summer to/from the C10 Intervention in Auburn, California, (with temps exceeding 100 degrees for most of the eight-hour drive … each way!) would have been a lot less detrimental to our bodies (and minds) had I figured out the fan switch was wired backward and the A/C actually blew ice cold! At least I know that bodes true for my son, despite the fact he was able to “sleep” for any amount of time along the way!

I’m saying (writing) all this as I build my ’69 C10 with all the bells and whistles a brand-new truck would have! At the same time, my recently acquired ’48 Chevy has no A/C, its airbag setup runs on manual valves, and, heck, it doesn’t even have side windows, carpet, or insulation for that matter … and I’m OK with that. Given the choice between the two for a local cruise or any destination within 100 or so miles, I’ll likely take the ’48; any real long-distance road trip and I’m sure I’ll be grabbing the keys to the C10, at least if my son has anything to say about it. Yes—it’s nice having the ability to make those choices, I know. But what I’m really getting at is, if you, the reader, only had the choice between a rudimentary, bare-bones classic truck or a fully modernized cruiser, which one would you choose—and why?

Bottom line is, no matter what your choice is, all that really matters is that we’re keeping classic trucks on the road and as far from the scrapper as possible, right?!