Some have huge sentimental value, a reminder of cherished childhood memories.
Some are workhorses, used for their muscle and valued for their dependability.
Some are closely guarded, kept out of the elements during the winter, making fair weather appearances for shows or a leisurely drive.
Three men in Clive share the stories behind their vehicles, and what makes them special.
A ride too unique to pass up
It was in early 2001 that David Baum first saw drawings of the Chevrolet SSR.
It was so different, he knew he wanted to have one.
“I had gone to several Chevrolet dealers at that time, and even before I knew it was going to be built or available, I put my name in to buy one,” says Baum.
The SSR, or Super Sport Roadster, came out as a concept vehicle, Baum explains, with some of the features found in pickups of the late 1940s and early 1950s.
“It was so popular as a concept vehicle that Chevrolet decided to build a limited amount of these,” he says, and they were produced for just four years.
The vehicle’s uniqueness was what sold it for Baum. It’s a pickup with a design featuring a front end that’s a nod to the past, blended into a contemporary look, he says. Baum bought his 2003 SSR in December of the same year.
“It was distinctly different,” he says. “The neat thing about the SSR is that it’s a hardtop convertible pickup.”
His red truck has every factory installable option on it, including running boards, a completely carpeted bed liner with wooden rails, tow hitch, Bose sound system and saddlebags, which are special containers in the bed of the truck you can stow items in, he says.
Baum uses the SSR strictly for “pleasure driving and showing,” he says. The vehicle sees limited time on the road, getting stored in the winter and coming out in only nicer weather. It’s racked up fewer than 5,000 miles and has taken just one long trip, a 900-mile trek.
“It’s just a fun vehicle to drive,” he says. “It’s just a nice, firm ride that has a lot of luxury ambience.”
Others have admired it as well.
“You get a lot of ‘thumbs up’ because a lot of people haven’t seen one, and a lot of them don’t know that Chevrolet built it,” Baum says. “So it’s a conversation piece, too.”
Baum has shown his truck at the annual Salisbury Concours d’Elegance, an invitation-only exhibition of vehicles that takes place at the Salisbury House in Des Moines. The cars are reviewed by a selection committee that looks at originality and level of restoration, says Baum, who has co-chaired the Concours for the last 12 years.
He has also shown his 1936 Ford Tudor Touring Sedan at the event, and, in addition, owns a 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air. Baum, a hobby mechanic, restored both cars.
Each of his three cars is so unique that he likes them all equally, he says. He plans on keeping the SSR in his collection.
“Right now I don’t have any desires or thoughts of selling it,” Baum says.
Breathing new life into a childhood relic
It was Oct. 4, 1953.
Kent Sandburg was celebrating his sixth birthday. All he wanted to do was play with his new toy, he recalls. But his dad had other plans. He wanted to head down to Des Moines to check out a truck.
That was the day they bought a 1949 Ford pickup.
Sixty-one years and a full restoration later, it’s back in Sandburg’s life.
Sandburg grew up on a farm outside of Lohrville. They used the pickup mainly for farm work. Sandburg first started driving tractors before graduating to the truck, which was the vehicle he used to learn how to drive.
“The truck was made before there was synchronized transmission,” he says. “So when you change the gears, you have to ‘double-clutch’ it.” (Which means that whenever you switch gears, you have to press and release the clutch twice.)
Then one day, his dad came home with another truck. The ‘49 pickup was parked in the machine shed, Sandburg says, and he believes his dad had every intention of taking it out again. Instead, it sat there for more than 30 years.
“I had wanted to restore the truck for a long time, and I finally said, ‘You’re either going to do this or not do this,’ “ he remembers telling himself. Sandburg, who describes himself as “kind of a closet gearhead,” thought it would be neat to have an old vehicle.
When he went to retrieve the pickup in 2002, it was in shambles.
“It was a mess,” he says. “It resembled a truck, but the paint had started to fade so the paint primer was showing on it. It had quite a bit of rust on it. The mice had gotten into the interior” and made a nest in the headliner.
The truck was put on a trailer to Lohrville, where a high school classmate of Sandburg’s tended to the mechanical repairs. Scotty’s Body Shop in Des Moines took care of the body work. The restoration was complete by the end of 2003 and included replacing the wood in the pickup bed and some of the hardwood on the car’s undercarriage, the latter of which Sandburg made himself.
There were some challenges along the way, such as trying to locate a tailgate and running boards for the three-quarter-ton truck; more half-ton pickups were made back then, he says.
Sandburg wanted the pickup to be as close to the original as possible, down to the color, “Meadow Green.” There’s no radio, air conditioning, power locks or power steering.
“It didn’t have those things then in 1949,” Sandburg says. “I know some people take and modernize it, and put all the creature comforts in it, but that’s not the case in this.”
The Ford is driven mainly in the spring and summer and is put in storage for the rest of the year. When it does come out, it sees short drives at a more leisurely pace — the top speed is 45 to 50 mph.
“It’s basically a parade truck now,” says Sandburg. “And we do get it out and drive it around a little bit. But it’s not going to be doing any more work. It’s retired.”
While it may not be flashy compared to other cars, Sandburg is enjoying this piece of his childhood.
“It’s not sexy like a GTO or a Dodge Charger or some of those muscle cars,” he says. “But it’s fun to have, and fun to have to drive.”
A dependable business investment
Jordan McCann’s truck is a workhorse.
McCann specifically bought the 2012 Chevy Silverado for company use to do a variety of tasks at his business, Earl’s Tire West in Clive.
The truck is used to haul tires from their warehouse, transport customers and deliver tires to customers’ homes, McCann says. Since buying it in August 2012, they’ve put 15,000 miles on it.
“In the wintertime, I keep my car in the garage and use the truck to drive back and forth to work,” he says.
McCann has owned the business for three years. They offer personal tires, custom wheels, lift kits, leveling kits, steering and suspension service, and a variety of automotive accessories.
The Silverado is a dependable work vehicle, and the customers like it, McCann says. It’s had some modifications made to it, including a leveling kit, custom wheels and tires and power folding running boards, which retract beneath the truck.
“Our older customers like those, so they don’t have to jump up in it,” he says.
McCann has been happy with his truck’s performance.
“I love the business use of it,” he says.