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  • August 2008 On The Floor - Don't Do It

August 2008 On The Floor - Don't Do It

Editor's Letter

Mike Finnegan
Aug 1, 2008
Photo 2/3   |   on The Floor caterpillar D8
I just got done watching one of those short Internet video clips made famous by websites like YouTube. The video invloved a guy driving a 36,000-pound Caterpillar D8 tractor over the shell of a Chevy Tahoe and crushing it instantly. The tractor mowed over the body of that SUV like it was a Pepsi can caught beneath the wheel of a freight train. When run in slow motion, the video caught the destruction in all its menacing glory. The hatch and rear pillars first succumbed to the grip of the steel tread tracks, which ripped through the sheetmetal like a sharp knife through a tomato, then the roof caved in and forward. As the D8 moved forward and gained momentum, clawing its way across the roof, it slammed down onto what would have been the windshield (had it been there still) and finally obliterated the Cadillac Escalade front fenders and hood. You read that correctly. This Tahoe was custom, and it had new Escalade front sheetmetal.
The SUV wasn't a theft recovery. It wasn't part of some lame reality television prank either. The owner was simply tired of pumping cash into the buildup of his Chevy, and rather than sell it to some lucky soul who might finish it off, he took a route none of us would have. It was a grand project, the genesis of which was the idea of laying it out on 26-inch wheels. When the owner burned out on going any further with it, he pulled the chassis, suspension, drivetrain, and interior away from the body and smashed the remnants into oblivion so no one else could have the glory that would have come from rollin' in this awesome ride. It was a move that was bold, outrageous, and insane, and it was something that likely would piss off the average fan of custom trucks. And I completely understand why he did it.
Photo 3/3   |   on The Floor chevy Truck
Pretty much every truck project I've ever undertaken has come with sink-or-swim moments. Those are the moments when you're in over your head and staring at a year's worth of fab work and paychecks to get your truck back to something that resembles... well, a truck. I'm not a rich man, so I couldn't afford to just destroy any of my creations rather than risk them going to another truck fan. But, I can understand the motivation behind what that guy did. My '67 has been sitting in the garage for months because the next few stages of its build are costly ones. There have been moments when I thought about saying, "Screw it, let's pull out the 'bags, install some coilovers, and spray a quick primer job on it and just drive." Pride has kept me from doing that.
Selling my half-finished project is a viable option. God knows the cash could go to something worthwhile like buying a home. But everyone knows that you put your soul into these hunks of steel, plastic, glass, and rubber, and cash in hand can soothe the wound of not finishing your work of art only for so long. At some point, you're going to regret giving up and selling your ride. Pride might keep you from doing the unthinkable, but adversity is a powerful detractor.

In some small way, I've regretted getting rid of each of my projects even though it was the right thing to do at the time. The ones that were in one piece when I gave them up went to places I wish they hadn't and to people that in my mind never cared for them as much as I did. The reality is probably the opposite of what I just wrote, but the mind of the original owner of a custom ride isn't the sanest place in the world. Once you've spent years cutting, fabricating, plumbing, wiring, and/or going through the agony of watching someone else do that work on your truck, you're never the same. Even the waiting game you have to play while your truck is being painted or upholstered can change you. So if you let the truck go after going through all that, how could anyone expect you to be cool with someone else racing, dragging, jumping, or scratching your pride and joy?

Most of my trucks funded other projects, and I'd be lying if I said it wasn't a relief on some level to be out from under the stress of starting something I might not be able to finish. I'm serious when I say I understand why the guy who owned the Tahoe in the video did what he did. The alternatives are not any better, depending on your point of view. Could I ever crush my '67 instead of just finishing or selling it? Of course not. But I can see the attraction of driving that D8 for a few seconds. See ya next month.
- OF



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