CHESTERMERE– Over two decades ago, Bill Steeves was on his way to work when he spotted a 1953 GMC 9300 truck sitting on an acreage on the outskirts of town.
The vehicle immediately caught his eye. It was nearly the same truck he’d purchased second hand in 1955, around the time his son was born.
“It took me back to a time when I didn’t have a dime in my pocket,” Steeves said. “When ya could put $2-worth of gas in on Sunday night and it’d get ya to work all week.”
Despite his obvious allure, Steeves continued driving to the business he owned on the southeast corner of town. The next time he saw the truck, someone was driving it, so Steeves said he immediately pulled over to strike up a deal.
As it turns out, the truck’s owner ran a used car parts business and had gotten it on a bad-debt deal. The man had already taken off several parts in an attempt to hot-rod it. However, Steeves said the owner was more-than willing to part with it when he expressed an interest in doing an original restoration.
It was a deal, and Steeves took it home to his double-bay garage and soon started his first-ever refurbishment. Having a farming and welding background, he said it was a pretty simple job.
“I was born and raised on a farm,” said Steeves, who is now a member of the Chestermere Car Nutz car club. “It’s such a long ways from town, so you learned to do a lot of things yourself.”
“I worked for a long time in transportation associated with the oil patch and we fixed a lot in the bush,” he added. “You can fix any of it with a piece of wire and a pair of pliers.”
The framing was sent out for sandblasting and the painting was contracted out, but Steeves said he did almost all the other repairs, including changing the sheet metal on the body and making mechanical fixes.
He finished it in 1990. Almost everything was original, right down to the 650-16 tread Goodridge Silverstone tire hanging off the driver’s side of the box. Of course, the maroon paint was a few shades darker than original and the box was now lined with yellow oak, but most importantly the 235.5-cubic-inch engine was still intact.
The first time the truck was ever shown was at the Pioneer Acres annual car show in Irricana, and it took home the people’s choice award.
Since then, Steeves has done three other restorations: a 1950 Ford F-47, ’52 GM 9700 and a ’53 Autocar DC75.
“I’ve learned two things are inevitable about restoration jobs — and I’ve done four of them, he said. “They always take longer than you figure they should and they always cost a lot more than you figure they’re gonna.”
However, hard work doesn’t seem to deter him from the hobby.
Ida Steeves, Bill’s wife, said he’ll still “spot something a mile away,” before she gently reminds him of how much work goes into each restoration.
“I never thought we’d get into something like this,” Ida Steeves said with a laugh. “I always tell him I’m not looking for old stuff, I want new stuff.”
Idea said she still enjoys the attention, which comes from having a classic car.
“It’s the colours,” she said. “People don’t know enough about the old vehicles, but it’s the colours that stick out to them.”
Bill and Ida Steeves are expected to be at the Chestermere Show ‘n’ Shine, which will be held on July 23 at the recreation centre, starting at 10 a.m. Visit the Chestermere Car Nutz Facebook page or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.