An 18-year-old today could spend $50 at the gas pump and still not have the tank filled up. For Wayne Lussman, $50 bought his entire first vehicle.
Lussman was 18 years old in 1977 when he spent $50 to buy a 1956 Ford F100. It wasn’t much to look at it, but it may have been the best $50 he ever spent.
“It was in pretty rough shape,” Lussman recalls. “I remember there were big holes in the floor, and when I drove down the road in the rain I got really wet from water splashing off the front wheels up into the cab.”
An 18-year-old in 1977 was just glad to have his or her own set of wheels. And Lussman wasn’t afraid to get dirty and start fixing it up.
“I grew up on a dairy farm, and I’ve been working on machinery my whole life,” he says.
Over the years, the truck has had extensive bodywork, and the interior was completely redone, making it shine inside and out. With his wife, Rita, Wayne enjoys driving it to car shows and ventured as far Pigeon Forge, Tenn., for the F-100 Supernationals, as well as the Hot August Nights show in Deadwood, S.D.
These days, Wayne and Rita each have their own set of wheels after acquiring his grandfather’s 1946 Ford pickup.
“My grandfather bought it used in the late 1940s, right after World War II,” Wayne says.
When his grandfather was done with it, he sold it to Wayne’s uncle, who drove it until it was worn out, parked it in a grove and forgot about it.
“It sat in that grove for 40 to 45 years,” Wayne says.
Rather than trying to restore the truck’s original flathead engine (a model known for getting hot and cracking), Wayne went the more affordable route and had a modern V8 installed. It was running again just in time to give his uncle a ride in it for his 85th birthday a year ago.
The body is still in a rustic state, but Wayne likes the moonshiner feel it has, with authentic Templeton Rye whiskey barrels mounted in the rear. Some day it will be repainted a candy apple green, but for now it wears its age well.