Municipal vehicles have always had a reputation of being ill cared for. Over their years of faithful service, they are subjected to a myriad of driving conditions and, sometimes, lack of proper maintenance. When the vehicle is deemed no longer useful for the municipality, it is usually auctioned off.
Earl Shiflett of Port St. John, Florida, acquired this ex-municipal vehicle from his uncle, Barrie Keller. Originally, this truck did duty as an Orange County, Florida, vehicle before Barrie bought it around 1991.
It was Barrie's daily driver for many years, and he used it for hunting and towing his airboat. it had served both the county and Barrie well, despite the minimal-to-no maintenance it received.
Earl and his wife, Kristi, moved to Florida in 1996. They were visiting Barrie one day, when Barrie asked Earl if he wanted the truck. Of course, Earl said yes and promised to take care of it. Earl went to the backyard to see his prize and found it in poor condition, but the indestructible Slant Six was still in running condition. Uncle Barrie gave Earl the keys and title.
The odometer had been rolled-over twice on the original Slant Six. Yep, it was showing 235,000 miles on the original drivetrain. The roof, bed, floor, and radiator support were badly rotted. Since it had been a work truck all its life, not one body panel was straight. Earl and Kristi drove it daily the next year and put another 30,000-plus miles on it. "Finally," Earl tells us, "I got sick of getting beaten at traffic lights by pedestrians." So, in 1999, Earl built a 400 low-deck for the little hauler and drove it like that for another year. But Earl felt it still did not have enough power and grew tired of the rough look of the truck. He decided to go full tilt, take it all apart, and do this truck justice with a good restomodding. The task of bringing the truck to its righteous condition took a year and a half of Earl's spare time.
A large portion of the parts were found on the Internet, and Earl also purchased a parts truck for good measure. He replaced all the rusted pieces and straightened all the bent metal. The wheeltubs were widened, using metal from the parts-truck wheeltubs, to make the finished work look factory. To make sure all the pieces were properly covered with paint, Earl didn't paint it as one piece. All the pieces were painted in his home garage individually and then installed.
Although Earl had already installed a 400 to motorvate the hauler, it was time for more. A '71 440HP block was given a .030-inch overbore and filled with Speed-Pro slugs. The stock crank and rods were reconditioned and placed back in service. The 452 heads were ported and polished by Earl, and then reinstalled. A Mopar Performance "Hemi grind" camshaft operated the valves, and a Street Dominator intake and Holley carb finish it off. A 727, rebuilt by Earl and Kristi, sends the power to an 831/44 rear with 3.23 gears. ProStar wheels measuring 15x10 out back and 15x6 up front are wrapped in Hoosier rubbers.
When it came time for the interior, Earl and Kristi handled these chores as well. The material color was changed from tan to gray and looks factory fresh. Finally, in December 2002, the truck was complete.