Vintage Trucks

Text + Photos: Mike Blanchard

Spotlight  |  For several years the American Truck Historical Society meet in Plymouth, CA was a highlight of the spring. It was held at the Kirkland family ranch. Great BBQ and what almost seemed like a curated bunch of folks. The meet passed from my consciousness when it moved. 

This year I was excited to discover that the truck meet was on at the Amador County Fairgrounds in Plymouth. We took out the RUST Magazine ’64 Dodge D-100 pickup and headed East on Jackson Highway. Plymouth is a an old gold rush town that is at the center of the burgeoning Amador County wine country. The great thing about the ATHS meet is the variety. You have everything from light pickups to fantastic vintage tractor trailers. The feel of the meet is agricultural rather than the “Lost in the Fifties” vibe that pervades many hot rod shows.  All the great makes were represented. Fagol, Ford, Mack, Chevrolet, Diamond T, International, Kenworth, Peterbuilt, General Motors and so many more were spread out under the trees of the fairgrounds in bursts of color and chrome.

The feel of the meet is agricultural rather than the “Lost in the Fifties” vibe that pervades many hot rod shows.

An interesting display was the machine shop owned by the Amador Sawmill and Mining Association. It is mounted on a nice trailer made of rough sawn lumber as an educational display and contains a power hack saw, milling machine, lathe and drill press all beautifully restored and in perfect working condition. Dave Lindquist ran the display of belt driven machine tools. “This is a demonstration of a maintenance shop for a sawmill around the turn of the century,” said Lindquist. “At one time there were several shops in Amador servicing the mills.” The show also featured a steam powered saw mill cutting boards. One of the last operating machines of its like

One of the older and more interesting trucks to the RUST crew was the 1920 Mack AC fuel truck owned by Don Pereira of Castroville. The truck has fantastic patina that drew the attention of everyone who passed by. It is a testament to the quality of Mack products, and Pereira’s stewardship, that the truck is still running and on the road. It is absolute rolling sculpture like many of the trucks on display. One thinks about the cost and difficulty of restoring a car. Well you can multiply that effort several times over when discussing the restoration of a large truck. Parts are hard to come by and some of them very expensive. 

In the end it is the history and tradition of these vehicles and what they represent to the working men who made their living with them that gives them dignity and gravity. They are so sculptural and show off wonderful details despite being tools and hard used. Like any good tool they have style.

The show of the Central California chapter of the American Truck Historical Society is held annually on the last Saturday In April at the Amador County Fairgrounds.