The Norman Transcript


May 4, 2013

Sturdy truck still running after six decades on the open road



“It makes a great parade truck for the Midway,” Thompson said. “We’ve got it running pretty smooth.”

The flathead in-line six cylinder 230-cubic-inch engine hasn’t required any overhaul or major repair. It runs fine burning non-ethanol unleaded gasoline. The vehicle ID plate reads, “80 certified net horse power at 3200 rpm. Dodge Trucks built by Chrysler Corporation, Detroit U.S.A.” It’s from the same foundry of freedom that helped win two world wars.

Many of the car’s fundamental features are unrecognizable to modern drivers. A floor-mounted ignition switch is operated with your foot. The windshield cranks open slightly from the bottom to allow a breeze through. Its air filter is an oil bath type and the engine oil filter is a removable metal screen designed to be cleaned and replaced. The twin section hood lifts separately from either side for easy access to the entire engine.

“We had new seats done at Bob’s Seat Covers on Flood,” Thompson said. “It’s had a bit of a political career because some friends have used it in their campaigns.”

This day the Dodge was sporting signs for an incumbent’s city council race.

“Al Atkins used to work on it but doesn’t live in town anymore,” Thompson said. “We miss Al. Now, Eddie and Gene at Master Tech work on it.” Atkins taught Thompson how to take the one barrel carburetor apart and put it back together.

“I’ve never been able to do that before,” Thompsons said. “That’s how simple it is. I could have been a mechanic … maybe.”

That mechanical minimalism reminds Thompson of an earlier time in his life. He grew up in Bemidji, Minn., but had his first taste of living in Norman while working here as a young man in 1974. Thompson was employed at his grandfather Abe Martin’s Phillips 66 Service Station, 402 E. Main (now Ole Town Gyros). Martin wasn’t comfortable with his grandson not having a ride while here and hooked him up with pal Reg Cotton, who had an old car for sale. Thompson bought a cherry 1957 Oldsmobile Holiday Coupe that had been sitting unused in a garage.

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