(AP) Johnny Bolton gets some funny looks as he drives his pickup around this northeast Missouri town but he also gets the last laugh. He built the truck himself, using little more than spare parts, a tape measure and a welding torch. “And a lot of thinking,” Bolton told the Hannibal Courier-Post.
It’s a real-life version of the Johnny Cash song “One Piece at a Time.” But unlike the hero in the song, Bolton didn’t sneak out parts from an auto plant; he just used anything he could get his hands on.
Like the old license plates that serve as the floorboard or the bedpan that works as an air cleaner.
It took Bolton eight months to build the truck in his one-car garage. He used Ford axles, a Chevrolet bed, an Oldsmobile engine and the frame from a 1949 International.
He calls it the “Mississippi River Rat.”
It’s no thing of beauty. The general color is red, but welded spots stand out. The bed is a mix of colors, including natural rust. The cab is squat, big enough for just two.
Then again, it gets Bolton from Point A to Point B. And there’s the added bonus of no car payment.
Bolton works at the power plant for Hercules Inc. plant in Louisiana. He said he comes from a long line of tinkerers: His grandfather was a mechanic, his uncle works on hotrods and his father enjoys working on engines.
“I’m always building something,” Bolton told the newspaper. “I’ve never seen a lot I couldn’t do. If I put my mind to it, I can do it.”
Bolton previously put together motorcycle engines and worked on cars. He began collecting parts for the truck about a year ago, using some from relatives, friends and the junkyard, and even forged a few items himself.
Once he began building the truck, girlfriend Melisa Constable never had to look far to find him.
“She knew I was in the garage,” he said. “It was something she turned her nose up at, but she rides in it.”
The biggest challenge was figuring out how to wire it. Bolton rigged his own system.
The first time he turned the key, the engine turned with a roar.
“It runs good,” he said. “It’s a sense of pride when you get it done and it works.”
There have been glitches. The engine overheated on the first out-of-town trip to a car show in Wayland in May.
But Bolton said the work was worth it, especially when he sees the reaction to his truck.
“You get a lot of thumbs up and waves,” he said.
Constable added: “The old people get a kick out of it.”
Bolton is already considering his next project: a made-from-scratch camper.
B.S. Report–I don’t care what it looks like–it’s awesome. It never ceases to amaze me what some people are capable of. Perhaps that’s because I’m so helpless in that area…