FOUND: Vintage Tin

FOUND: Vintage Tin

“No waaaaaaay!” I blurted as we barreled north on a two-lane highway en route to the heart of the Pacific Northwest. After driving all morning, I had settled in shotgun while my roommate took the wheel and our other friend played DJ in the middle seat. We were jammed shoulder-to-shoulder in my single cab pickup with one of my old motorcycles strapped down in the back. We still had a ways to go.

“What is it?!” they both asked, startled.

“I think I just saw something in that field on the right,” I said. “I’m not sure, but it looked like an old hot rod.”

We’ve all been friends for years, and they’re used to my outbursts whenever we come across an old car/bike/building/garage sale/estate sale or anything of that nature. We didn’t slow down. Shacks, pole barns, cows, cars and a crumbling castle came and went as we pushed forward.

“Want me to stop?” my roommate finally asked.

“No, no that’s okay.”

“You sure?”

“Okay. I’ll make it quick. I promise.”

He slowed the truck and swung it around in the lot of an abandoned café. My heart started beating faster and my thoughts twirled and sparked like a magneto inside my head. I don’t have any money on me. There’s no room in the truck. My shirt’s too clean to be convincing. How can I look older? How can I look tougher? Maybe I can work out some sort of collateral? Maybe I can come back up here next weekend?

This wasn’t just any old car; this was a 1932 Ford three-window coupe. No doors, no chassis—just a red-primered body sitting near a barbed wire fence in a sea of golden grass. With the mountains way off in the background, it was a bucolic scene. After overshooting the coupe the first time, we hooked back around and crept down the street. My mouth dried up and I could hardly speak.

During my Midwestern years, I had come across plenty of Vintage Tin. There was the long-forgotten V8 Falcon convertible in the apple orchard in Michigan, the overturned ’40 Ford sedan off the highway in Missouri and, of course, the little Crosley that I wanted to build into a fire-breathing Altered. This was different. This was a Deuce. Relax. Don’t get too far ahead of yourself.

My friends stayed in the truck and cheered me on as I approached the front door of the single-story farmhouse. With each step, I felt more and more like Tex Smith on one of his Vintage Tin hunts. I looked back at the truck, then across the street at the neighbor’s hydroponic farm. They too had a little farmhouse, but they had spray painted their address in big black numbers right next to their storm door. Come on Joey, focus! I swiveled around. This is it.

It was time for me to put everything I had ever learned about hot rodding and negotiating and—most importantly—manners to the test. I jumped onto the front porch, walked past the bale of hay and prepared to knock. Before I did, I noticed a piece of lined paper taped to the window. All the writing had completely faded. Oh well. It’s now or never.

 I knocked.

Are they going to quiz me about early Fords? Ask me about my Circle City Hot Rods T-shirt? Or chase me off their property with a scattergun? Is this how it’s all going to end?

 I waited and waited. Nothing. Nobody was home, or at least nobody who wanted to talk to me. A cat slinked across the gravel driveway. The street was quiet. I felt myself returning to reality. Maybe I wasn’t meant to start my Deuce project just yet. Sayings about level-headedness and proverbs about patience battled an onslaught of disappointment with everything they had. While that mini war waged, I jumped back in the truck and we were off.

As the farm got smaller and smaller in the rear view mirror, positivity prevailed. I couldn’t help but smile. Why? Partially because I got to hunt for Vintage Tin just like my hot rod heroes, and partially because I never missed out on a Deuce after all—it was actually just a ’32 Chrysler.

Joey Ukrop

Note: Yes, yes I know. Pics or it didn’t happen, yo! I have two reasons why I’m substituting my pictures with this one from the Rod & Custom’s trip to the first Street Rod Nationals in Peoria.

 1) Even though it wasn’t a ’32 Ford, I’m almost positive this car was still on someone’s property. Therefore, they probably wouldn’t be too happy about all of us salivating over their VT.

2) When I’m looking for a body for my next project, I want it to still be there!

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