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1965 Chevrolet 1/2 Ton

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Here is a Feature Truck of the Month that was truly saved from the salvage yard. It had been outside deteriorating over 20 years behind the out of business Dellwood Dairy in Copiague New York (on Long Island). Because of some mechanical problems it had been left in the back lot of the abandon dairy.

Now enters Vinny Tumminia of nearby Lindenhurst that had once worked for the dairy making daily milk deliveries in the neighborhoods. (We would have called him a milkman) On his way to his US Post Office job each day he passes the empty dairy building and always notices the tired ½ ton in their back lot. It brought memories of his younger days as a dairy delivery person. He dropped off milk and related products on front steps of homes between 3 am and 9 am so the glass bottles were always there when the customer got up in the morning.

One day after passing the empty dairy building on the way to the post office, it just hit him. Now with just a little disposable income, why not try to buy the old delivery truck, get it running and use it for driving to work? (Just for old time memories).

Therefore, one Saturday Vinny began to hunt for the widow of the once owner of the dairy. The search was successful and he became the pickup’s second owner for $200.00. It was towed to his home the next day.

Vinny’s excitement now began to grow! The more he looked at it the more he wanted it better than a very rough driver to get to work. He had seen 1965 Chevy ½ ton’s at local car and truck shows and they were so nice. He would change course, take his time, and as money permitted restore it to be new again!

As parts were removed, another item was usually found that also needed attention. When he got down to totally worn out body mounts and the cab needing lifting to replace them plus bed wood and cross sills a total loss, it was time to get to the bare frame rails. Thus, this would now be his oversized model kit.

The pickup’s condition even got worse when rubber parts of a few old floor mats were removed. Surprise! Water had been in the cab so many years from a damaged windows. All floors and rocker panels had to be replaced. That was in addition to both cab corners that he already knew about. Six months in the body shop. (As Vinny said, he saved it from the crusher!)

The frame became even better than new. It was transported locally to be sand blasted and then to a powder coating company.

On weekends and many evenings each week for three years, Vinny was in his garage building his new truck. In the first year he knew it could not stop the project. The pickup was in so many pieces in his 12’ x 24’ garage and in the back yard. To try to sell it at that time would have brought him scrap metal price per pound for abut the $200.00 he had first invested. This wasn’t going to happen but he sure hoped he did not accidently walk out in front of a bus! His very supportive wife, Elizabeth would even have an additional loss, with iron parts filling the garage and yard. Where would she sell all of that stuff?
Three years later it was beautiful. It became Vinny and Elizabeth’s new 1965, ready for Sunday drives and local weekend car shows.
Factory available upgrades were added as chrome bumpers and grill. The largest expense was eliminating the factory 250 six cylinder engine plus 3 speed column shift transmission. The replacement was an optional factory 283 V-8 and 4 speed transmission that he found in Central Kansas. It was all shipped by truck line to his home in New York.

Color is Teal Green and updated modern deluxe wheels make the total package just right.

CHANGE IN LIFE 2004

After many years outside delivering the US mail in New York, the cold winters became less enjoyable. Many below zero days and snow blowing sideways was becoming a real challenge! So because most towns have a post office he was able to transfer his job to the south. Vinny and Elizabeth now live in Melbourne, Florida. What a change! Their “new” little ½ ton now goes to car shows in winter more than summer. They had it hauled from New York in a large enclosed truck. No extra miles place on the odometer. This ½ ton has never had it so good.

What’s the future plans for another restoration? They just completed a 3 car garage behind their Florida home. We suspect he wants to be ready, just in case another special vehicle comes up for sale.
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Nice view!

How did Vinny have the confidence to think he could build this 1965 (destined for the crusher) with never doing a restoration before? There was a reason. Check the following and see how his early years made it all possible. This is

The Rest of the Story.

School is out for summer and 11 year old Vinny Tumminia is usually riding his bicycle around the neighborhood. By chance he stops by a local auto repair shop and asks if he can now mow their over grown yard.  (A little spending money is always nice).

To Vinny’s surprise the owner Richard Fellner said yes. The mowing was done so well, Richard said “See you next week and you can mow it again”.

This began a 3 year relationship that molded Vinny’s interests in life. Soon he was sweeping the shop, carrying out trash, and doing misc. clean-up projects in this repair shop near his home. Richard was impressed with Vinny’s upbeat attitude, wanting to learn about cars, and being on time when it was necessary. This opened a new world for Vinny. He loved every minute of being in Richard’s shop.

Then a great opportunity occurred the next summer. The shop’s one employee left for another job and Richard needed help until he could find a replacement. Vinny was ready to tackle any auto repair. He just needed guidance. In addition to continued yard mowing, Richard taught him light jobs like oil changes, tire rotation and lubrication of car and pickup suspension, etc. Vinny was like a sponge and he did not forget!

This would be his summer and after school enjoyment and very close to his home.  He would even help Richard on numerous more difficult repairs like replacing a clutch, pulling an engine head and removing a radiator.  Of course, Vinny became the number one mechanic for his family’s sedan.

Thus, a 1965 Chevy ½ ton setting for 20 years did not scare him. He already knew how to replace parts and how to diagnose problems.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

It is so interesting how one little occurrence can point us in a different direction for life!

This is certainly such an example as Vinny ask to mow a yard!

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All looks good.

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Optional V8 engine

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Sitting in sunny Florida

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Signs on the new side racks

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