Wilder by Far

A look at life with the Wilder family. Updated most weekends and some vacation days. You can contact me at movingnorth@gmail.com..

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Location: United States

Sunday, June 24, 2007

"This truck has given me 20 years of faithful service: nobody can put a price on that. Now who's gonna tow me home?" - Hank, King of the Hill

Wondertruck getting forest first aid.

This weekend was about saving the life of an old friend. Wondertruck. Wondertruck is a 1985 short-bed F150 4x4. It’s grumpy, and as a person who’s driven stick shift vehicles most of my life (they’re way cheaper), this particular stick shift is perhaps the most cantankerous I’ve had the chance to drive. It guzzles gas at a prodigious rate. The AM/FM/Cassette is installed upside-down. “That’s the only way it would fit,” Bill told me. Bill sold me the truck, up in Alaska.

Wondertruck has an exterior that can best be described as bits of flaking paint tenuously held together by bits of rust.

Houston hasn’t helped with the rust part, though Wondertruck (amazingly) still starts on the first try (except for that whole “dead battery in the woods as the hornets were taking turns stinging The Boy because he’d tramped on their nest incident”).

When moving from Alaska to Houston, I couldn’t bear to leave Wondertruck. It had helped me haul over twenty cords of wood, and it’s been loyal to me. I thought I could return the favor.

Turns out that when you move to Texas they want the vehicles to be inspected, for such pesky things such as meeting emissions (which Wondertruck passed in Fairbanks) and making sure all the various safety features work.

So, back in February I took Wondertruck in to get tested. Like a surgeon coming in with bad news, they told me that Wondertruck needed major surgery.

In the case of Wondertruck, the tail pipe and muffler had rusted through so utterly completely as to make it unlikely that there’d been more than a suggestion of metal holding them together for years. No wonder the vehicle passed the tailpipe test in Fairbanks – it was pretty unlikely that any emissions were making it to the end of the tailpipe.

Wondertruck also needed an emergency brake cable, which is odd, since in all of Texas (outside of an overpass or two) I have yet to see one place one could park a vehicle and worry much about it rolling anywhere – there’s just no up and down to this state.

I waited until June. Did I want to spend $340 on a vehicle that was worth maybe $400?

The Lexus driving guy made up my mind for me.

Something about a rusty old hulk of a vehicle seems to drive some fraction of luxury vehicle drivers just a bit insane. Perhaps it’s the graceful way that Wondertruck shudders to a start from a red light? Perhaps it’s the fine lines of primer and rust? Perhaps, just perhaps, it’s the fact that they don’t have enough self-confidence for a ride like Wondertruck.

So, with only a week left until Wondertruck’s Alaska tags expired, I took it in to get the repairs done.

The Boy has told me on several occasions that he wants to have Wondertruck available for him when it’s his turn to start driving. Wondertruck has that effect on people.

Until 2016, then, Wondertruck is mine.


Blogger BIKE NUT 2 said...

I own a 1990 f-150 super-cab that could be a close cousin to wonder truck. I think It's is funny how people get out of the way when they see you coming. It's not like we're afraid to have another dent or two. Fortunately where I live there is no emissions testing or nine would be headed to the scrap yard.

4:33 AM  
Blogger Dame Koldfoot said...

I am happy to report that the vehicle formerly know as the Wildermobile (the one that lost out when you chose to take the Wondertruck with you to Texas) is still running. It is now know as the Exploder. Got a great deal on real tires, so no more of the oversized-low-rider-hard-to-steer tires. This also did wonders for the gas milage. Instead of going though 2.6 tanks a week, the Exploder only consumes 1.3 tanks per week. Love the all-wheel drive and anti-lock brakes, which had the chance to prove their worth last winter. We've had some issues with the battery (you warned us) and a fuel injector. Otherwise, I love the Exploder. Can't wait to see what it will do on the road to Denali this weekend.

10:18 AM  
Blogger shawnkielty said...

You know -- a certain respect of "truckness" is deserved at any intersection -- but old ugly Fords take the cake.

May the wonder truck live forever.

11:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good luck with that! Also having a second hard to pass inspection car, I feel ya. If your son wants to drive it, you better take it easy and only drive it a mile a week till then. :)

6:44 PM  
Blogger John said...

bike nut2,
Yup. Mine is headed back home after repair, just to sit beside my house and annoy neighbors.

dame koldfoot,
Yay! I'm glad the Exploder is moving along!! As of now, our Exploder is missing AC, too.

In Houston.

In summer.

Good thing The Mrs. drives it.


It'll probably be half that, since it's not often I scoot to Home Despot.

5:43 PM  

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