According to Thoughtco.com, Gotlieb Daimler was a German automotive pioneer who built the first truck in 1896. It was a four horse-power engine and belt-driven, with two forward speeds and a reverse.
Trucks have accentuated the world’s history and most assuredly have influenced the outcome of many scenarios, including wars, economies, and of course mobility and all that it entails. Considering that the Civil War ended in 1865 and the first truck was made just a little over 3 decades afterward, what a different history it has empowered us with after the horse and buggy!
Nearly 125 years later, trucks are a critical part of our society and our economy – only now we have Bluetooth, satellite radio, DVD players, and even more. What used to be strictly utilitarian has become both a necessity and a luxury item at the same time. We haul our kids and our horses in them. They are both grocery getters and business assets. So while we tend to take for granted the heated seats and air conditioning, there is indeed a history that is compelling.
Though we all love shiny new paint, there are trucks over forty, fifty, even seventy years of age that still run the roads. Mostly due to the dedication of those who truly know the mechanics under the hood and have a love of rusty metal, examples of history on wheels are out there and gratifying to see – perhaps not always original, but truly awesome all the same.
Take the 1938 two and a half-ton Chevrolet owned by Mike Labagh. It is a monster indeed, with a personality all of its own. Though the 454 big block is not original to the truck, it adds life and real horsepower to a pickup that has been around longer than well, most of the trucks on the road. Two four-barrels, dual carburetors, a four-wheel-drive dually converted to an automatic, this truck has serious torque.
This Chevrolet has had an extensive overhaul mechanically and physically right down to its frame – yet still looks like it might have come from someone’s cornfield. For character, bits and pieces of farm life decorate the truck…but this is not just a Sunday driver. Mike uses this truck on a regular basis and it is certainly a signature piece of the Labagh household. At the time of my visit, it was loaded with reclaimed wood which Mike uses in his business.
Mike Labagh, who also does tractor work like land clearing and maintenance (as advertised on the side of his ‘38), is also an artist who takes wood and creates atmospheres for those who like the feel and patina of old wood. Whether floors, walls or kitchen cabinets, Mike adds personality to his client’s homes. While his business is certainly creative, his flair does not end with reclaimed wood. It is obvious when you visit his residence, where he also conducts his home-based business, that old trucks are a creative passion.
These rusted pieces of history become works of art at the Labaghs, strategically placed amongst flowers, rock gardens; the front end of another is placed on the outside wall of a barn. Each vehicle has a story and at one time, was a necessity to someone else’s way of life. Whether driving to market or hauling feedstuffs they had a job to do.
It is people like Mike Labagh who keep the past alive and pay homage to the workhorses of the past.
Even if it is “rev’d up”.