Custom Cruise Friday
In a career spanning more than 35 years, Bob Young worked to preserve and protect the forests and natural beauty found within the boarders of Alberta. Young was gracious enough to allow his 1971 Chevy Custom 30 Longhorn pickup to be profiled for this week’s Custom Cruise Friday. Young’s restored pickup truck is pretty special on a few fronts. First, it is a retired Alberta Forest Service vehicle which served in a communications support role. The truck would have been tasked with providing necessary radio equipment to outlying areas. Finally, the provincial agency purchased the truck from Don Wheaton brand new in April of 1971.
Serving the province
When the Alberta Forest Service purchased the truck, it had only a few, but stringent, specifications. The truck had to have high capacity axles and a limited slip differential for traveling where there might not be much in the way of roads. However, all of the extra gear that was added was custom built by the team of mechanics and welders from the Forest Service. This includes the winch, canopy and the racks on top of the canopy.
“When I think about it, I had the best job in the world,” Young said.
Young worked in the forests, prairies and mountains of Alberta for nearly 40 years. While he never crossed paths with this particular truck during his time, he is very familiar with the vehicles used in the fleet. During his time with the Forest Service he was responsible for lookout placements, panoramic photography, fire detection and even assisting in open heart surgery. Though the latter may be a story for another time.
Preserving provincial history
Prior to Young taking ownership of the Chevy truck, it was owned by his boss at the Forest Service who used it for hunting and other outdoor recreation activities. Young purchased it in 1985 and began the process of restoring it to how it would look as a forestry vehicle. This includes adding a new grille, steering wheel, rubber floor mats and Chrome sill plates.
When the forestry service celebrated its 75th Anniversary, Young proudly displayed the truck as part of a historical exhibit. During the show he was approached by a mechanic that used to work on the truck with fond memories as well as person who now works for the service after getting their start in the Junior Warden/Junior Ranger program. Young happened to have been in charge of that program for that last several years he worked for province.
Living the good life
The days of the 1971 Chevy Custom 30 Longhorn busting trails and pulling itself through muddy bogs are long gone.
“I see guys with these $75-$100,000 truck out in the rain and mud,” Young said. “I’d never take my baby out there”
Now, this is the most well-cared for light duty pickup truck in western Canada. Beyond the occasional trip to haul some lumber, Young doesn’t rack up many more than 500 miles per year on the truck.
“It’s final years are going to be good years,” Young said.
In the near future, Young plans on keeping the truck and doing is usual routine. But if the time comes for the truck to find a new home with a current or retired member of the forest service. Even though he’s had the truck appraised, as required by law, the actual cash value is of little importance to Young.
“For me, it’s not for the sale,” Young said. “The memories I make are worth a lot more than cash.”
Do you have a special or classic vehicle in your garage? Would you like us to tell your story? Send photos and pertinent information to Don Wheaton Brand Manager Melina Kawecki by email – firstname.lastname@example.org – and we will get back to as soon as we can.