A million thoughts raced through my mind for the whole drive. Would the truck really be there? Could it be bought? Was this really happening? This story began three days ago. You know how some stories are remarkable, and some journeys are epic? Even as I write this, I’m still struggling to contain my excitement.
The story begins when a potential client called my office in North Dakota with an inquiry about some parts he needed for a very rare truck. I was traveling, and received a message to call a customer concerning something about doors for an International truck.
I was in a seminar at the time, and called a few minutes later. I told the gentleman who answered the phone that I was currently in Arizona and was not sure what I could do. He quickly asked, “Where in Arizona”? I replied that I was at the Barrett-Jackson auction, and he snapped back that he was also at the Barrett-Jackson auction. Continuing, he asked where I was, “Exactly”. When I replied, he said, “That’s exactly where I AM TOO!!!”. He proceeded to wave his hand and we were standing no more than fifty feet apart.
Stop and think about this for a minute. You have to agree that this is a great beginning for a truly remarkable story. Needless to say, we quickly sat down and began talking about our passion for cool cars, trucks and tractors. His original call was for some doors that he needs for a rare International truck that he is restoring. That story and any associated journey is still in process and I’ll have to wait to tell that one. Trust me. It might be a good one too. But here is where today’s most incredible story and journey really begin.
As we talked for about forty five minutes, he pulled out his phone to show me a picture. As he scrolled through his pictures, he told me that he needed one last truck to finish out his collection. He told me this had been an ongoing search, and he considered this to be his Holy Grail of trucks. He asked if I’d ever seen an International Sightliner. Not being familiar with that model, I said no, but that didn’t seem strange to me as there are lots of cars or trucks that none of us has seen or heard of. Then I saw it. The unmistakable big white, flat faced International with enough glass to be mistaken for an overgrown aquarium. He then quickly flipped past it to a couple other pictures of ones similar to it, as I said I knew exactly where that truck was. Yes. (Dramatic Pause for effect) The words fell out of my mouth. “I know exactly where that truck is”.
Have you ever felt time stand still. Everything goes quiet. Nothing moves for a second. He slowly turned to look at me, and I saw his mouth moving. He was saying something again about the Holy Grail. I didn’t really think he was suddenly finding religion, but I was beginning to understand that he had been looking for this exact white International, and he was verbally confirming that I knew the exact location of this exact truck. I shrugged and said it was only about two hours drive from where we were sitting. Again, time stood still and everything went quiet. This was almost too much.
Now understand that just because you see a truck on a property over a year ago doesn’t mean that it is still there or for sale or could even be bought for any price. I know this because I personally worked for over four years to buy one of my trucks. After a little more conversation, he asked if I would be willing to take him to the truck a few days later. We made the arrangements and set time aside for a day trip.
Two days later my daughter and I met my client along with his wife and father. We led the way as they followed us. I was as nervous as a teenager on his first date. A million thoughts raced through my mind for the whole drive. I didn’t even know if the truck was there anymore and I might look like an idiot if it wasn’t. Soon enough, we arrived. We were in Jerome, Arizona. A beautifully renovated mining town hanging on the side of a mountain. I first found this place in 1989 and spent an afternoon there on more than one occasion talking about cool trucks and tractors with the original owner. He would never sell anything, and as anyone opened their mouth to ask, he would simply say, “No”, and give them the look. You just knew there was never any reason to ask a second time. He passed away a couple years ago and his family now runs the place. I had heard from someone that a few select items could now be bought, but you never know what that really means.
We paid $5.25 each to enter the Gold King Mine property, and as we stepped out the back door of the gift shop it felt like we were going back in time. It was like another world, hanging on the side of a mountain, surrounded by clouds that were whipping by and spitting small cold rain drops. We were in the middle of a fantasy land for car and truck lovers. We hiked up the first hill to find some great vehicles in buildings, and some more remarkable trucks parked under trees. The enormity if it all was hard to grasp, and then from around the corner of another building we saw it. Large, white and seemingly all alone, the International Sightliner we had come to see. There was no need for words to be spoken for the next few minutes. I took a couple pictures, and thanked the Lord it was still there. A calmness came over me, and I began to relax. Now, there was only one last question. Was it for sale?
We slowly made our way back to the gift shop and after a call, we met with the person who had the answer to our question. We were told that, “Yes, a few select items were for sale”, and that this truck was on that very short list of sale items.
Incredible. What more can be said? I should just end the story there. Unbelievable. Over the next couple hours we were able to make a fair deal, and spent some time looking at everything else on the property in more detail. I’m very happy to say that this International will given a good restoration and will be back on the road again.
I also look forward to adding this to our Customer Projects page as the restoration begins to unfold. Experiences and stories like this are what fuels the passion that burns in my soul. That might sound a little sappy but it’s true. Follow us as we go on even more epic journeys tell many more remarkable stories about the lost, but never forgotten vehicles sitting in fields and barns across America. Also remember that this story isn’t over yet, there’s still one more rare truck that this customer needs, and I might be able to help him.