Sister, Brother Find Dodge Pickup Keeps them Together
By Jeff Barnes
After their father passed away a couple of years ago, Janice Lopez of Omaha wondered if she and her brother would still have the connection to keep the siblings regularly talking with each other. As both liked muscle cars, she decided that could be the common denominator; in the course of looking for a car, she found a truck – a beautifully restored 1965 Dodge A100 cab-over pickup.
“I figured cars would be a good way to keep us together, and we both have cars now,” Lopez said. “But it started with the truck.” It worked, laughs her brother John Quade, who keeps truck in storage at his home. “She’s over here every Sunday morning for coffee, nice and early.”
When Lopez saw the ‘65 listed for the Kansas City auction (she was also born in ’65), she called John. “I told him we HAVE to go see this truck,” she said. This is not your typical cab-over Dodge – this has a 426 Hemi engine, an incredible tuck-and-roll upholstery job in the cab, and an ultra-stylish racing fin over the tailgate. “When I go to a car show, I want to see something unique, out-of-the-ordinary,” she said. “That’s what this is.”
The story behind the truck is unusual as well. Its meticulous restoration was carried out by an 80-year-old Iowa farmer who did two of the trucks at the same time, keeping one stock and making Lopez’s into a craftsman’s showpiece.
That included getting the crated 426 for the engine transplant. The original slant-six could be pulled from its “doghouse” housing, lifted over the passenger seat and out the door. If the Hemi ever needs serious servicing, however, the body would have to come off the truck to get to it.
“He did EVERYTHING on this truck,” she said. “A lot of times you’ll find restoration projects where some of the work gets farmed out, where they rebuild the truck, but someone else does the painting or the interior. He did it all, though – the body, the painting, the interior, all of it. He knew what he was doing.” She explained that when the farmer got so that he couldn’t drive anymore, he sold the trucks to a local Dodge dealer to display in his showroom. When the dealership closed a couple of years ago is how they got to auction.
“We were told not to call the original owner or he’d start crying,” John said. “But (the farmer) wanted to make sure it went to someone who’d enjoy it, keep it, love it, which is what we plan to do.”
Lopez shares her enjoyment for “Big Red” (as she calls the red-and-white truck) by taking it to shows – four in the past year including last year’s Riverfest in Bellevue where the truck took Best in Show. “The comments are really nice,” she said. “You get the old timers who smile and reminisce and then you get the young ones, and a lot of them ask ‘Where’s the motor?’”
She also took it to the recent World of Wheels at CenturyLink Center at the request of her Mopar club. They made sure it was seen, by placing it on the corner on the front walk.
She hasn’t done and doesn’t plan to do anything apart from oil changes. What about opening up that hemi? “I haven’t, but my brother has,” Janice said. John says he’s done it once or twice. “It’s fun – a bit squirrely, though, since the back end is so light.”