Metro-East News

Love for old trucks drives New Douglas man

Delmar Bequette, of New Douglas, with his 1942 Ford truck. Bequette was a truck driver and collects old trucks, showing the restored commercial vehicles.
Delmar Bequette, of New Douglas, with his 1942 Ford truck. Bequette was a truck driver and collects old trucks, showing the restored commercial vehicles. For the News-Democrat

Delmar Bequette, of New Douglas, way up in northeastern Madison County, may have retired from driving a truck for Pacific Intermountain Express, but he still is holding onto some big pieces of the trucking business in a garage behind his house.

In addition to his restored 1962 Mack 2000 tractor trailer rig, the 77 -year- old man now is showing off his newest baby, a 1942 Ford semi tractor which has been some 10 years in the restoration.

The truck came to him from an old family friend. The friend had always intended to work on the truck but became ill. When Delmar and his wife, Sarah, were visiting the friend, he suggested he just give it to them so they could fix it up.

“So we became the owners of a very rusty 1942 dump truck cab, chassis and motor and a bunch of wasps, “ Delmar said.

With some research they were able to track the original buyer back to a dairy farm near Grubville, Mo. The property had passed on to a son and then to his daughter who amazingly still had the title and was willing to sign it over when she heard about the restoration. She had thought the truck had been stolen but actually a farm tenant had sold it without them knowing it. So in a way it was.

The family did some work on the truck and thought they might just use it as a rat rod but when they were paid $50 to haul off a rusty 24 foot Dix semi trailer, they decided to put a fifth wheel on the old truck so it would haul a trailer.

So the dump truck became a semi tractor, but it still had a rusted cab.

That was replaced when a family member saw a listing for a 1942 Ford fire truck near Springfield, Mo. They were able to take the cab from the fire truck and have it restored to replace the hopelessly rusted cab on the former dump truck.

Delmar said the truck still has the original 239 cubic inch, 100 horsepower V 8 motor, four speed transmission and two speed rear end. He said the only option on the truck when it was new was the passenger side windshield wiper.

“There are no shocks, windshield visors, heater or defroster,” he said. “You want to go for a ride?”

I thought he meant around the block but instead we headed out on Illinois 140 with all the other traffic. The truck probably reached 35-40 mph, but it was hard to tell because the speedometer was busted.

We bumped along.

“It doesn’t have shocks,” he reminded me, after we flew in the air over some patched roadwork. It doesn’t have seat belts either, I noted, looking at the steel dashboard in front of me.

That ride makes me more impressed that he and his wife took the truck to Auburn, Ind., for a show in August 2014. It was a 375-mile trip one way along back roads.

“It took 12 hours,” he said. “It was a rough ride. It probably got nine to 10 miles per gallon.”

It was so tiring that instead of attending a welcoming reception at the show, they just went to bed.

He said he took the old trailer along to another show later and the ride was much smoother with the trailer following but gas mileage dropped about in half.

The couple will be showing the truck in the future although there are no immediate plans. They love the friends they have made through different old truck associations and meets and the camaraderie, he said.

He also will never get over his love of trucks.

“My dad would take me with him when I was just a couple of years old,” he said. “I’ll never forget the sound of that truck.”