Throwback Thursday: Little truck that could

Throwback Thursday: Little truck that could

January 3, 2019

By Lori Baker / ADOT Communications

Like the children's classic, “Little Engine That Could,” ADOT has its very own “Little Truck” story to share. This article and photos appeared in the December 1988 issue of Newsbeat, ADOT’s employee newsletter at the time:

It was ''the little truck that could,'' but didn’t look good doing it.

The little truck, a 1959 Chevrolet Apache pickup assigned to the Grand Canyon Airport, was doing its job transporting maintenance personnel around the airport to do their work.

Its little heart, a straight six engine, was strong and had only 76,000 miles on it. The airport personnel like the truck. Deputy Director Jim Creedon liked the truck, but was skeptical about its appearance.

The truck wasn’t pretty on the outside. It had many bumps and bruises. The color had faded. A door needs to be replaced. The bed was rotted out. The seat had all but collapsed.

ADOT’s Aeronautics Division could not afford a new truck so Jim Creedon suggested painting the little vehicle so it would look more presentable and so the ADOT seal could be placed on its doors.

But, the men in Equipment Services in Phoenix wanted to go a step further. They liked the little truck, too.

They replaced the windshield; put on a different door and fender; installed a metal bed; filled in the cracks and bumps; painted the truck; rebuilt and reupholstered the seat; cleaned out the interior, and put down a new floor mat.

The little truck looked like new. Gary Adams, director of ADOT’s Aeronautics Division, said the little truck not only will continue to be used for maintenance work, but also will be parked in front of the terminal as the best looking vehicle at the airport and will be equipped with fire suppressing equipment.

The little truck is very proud.

So is Jerry West, administrator of Equipment Services.

His men spent only $700 for materials for the truck. They fit in the repairs when they had free time, so the labor cost wasn’t much. It would have cost the Aeronautics Division $4,000 to $5,000 to replace the truck.

Not only that, but West’s men put tender loving care into repairing the truck. Some volunteered to work on weekends. Some volunteered to donate parts. All did the very best job they could.

After reading this old newsletter story, we reached out to Equipment Services to see what happened to the pickup. We were happy to hear that the 60-year-old truck still has a special place at ADOT, with just 87,866 miles on its odometer.

“We still have the truck, and I have it stored in one of our shops with it covered. We make sure to take very good care of it as it represents our history. At times, we take it out to run and exercise it so it stays nice. We use it for different events, and it has been in many parades,” said Equipment Services Administrator Devin Darlek.

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