‘Huckster’ tugs at drivers’ heart strings

In 1949, the Chevrolet Canopy Express used to pick up vegetables headed to a West Virginia market. But during the Rock’n Red Deer event this weekend at Westerner Park, the little green half-ton truck was stealing the hearts of attendees.

Patsy Kachanoski

In 1949, the Chevrolet Canopy Express used to pick up vegetables headed to a West Virginia market. But during the Rock’n Red Deer event this weekend at Westerner Park, the little green half-ton truck was stealing the hearts of attendees.

It’s a rare little vehicle, with owners Patsy and Ivan Kachanoski, believing it to be the only one of its kind existing in Canada.

Patsy said there were 570 of the trucks built in 1949. They were never sold in Canada, with most being used in the southern U.S.

The Huckster, as she calls the little truck, was purchased in West Virginia by previous owner, Gary Wagley. The Kachanoskis, from Fairmont Hot Springs in B.C., bought the truck from him in Arizona and brought it to Canada in 2007.

The Huckster has its original engine, fresh air heater and radiator. As the deluxe model it also has the optional right seat, chrome beauty rings and hub caps, chrome grille and bumpers, dual tail lights, pinstriping and original radio. When it was new the truck was sold for $1,502 in 1949, but now Patsy estimates its worth to be more than $100,000.

“Most people think it’s a suburban that has been modified. But she’s not. She is original factory,” Patsy said.

Patsy talks about her truck, the Huckster, like its part of the family.

“She is a show favourite, with the canopies coming out of the side,” Patsy said. “She melts the hearts of people. She has her own magic and does her own thing. We’re just her valets.”

The truck has been featured in Canadian Classics and Performance Magazine in a five-page spread and on the television show My Classic Car. The Huckster won Most Outstanding Classic in a car show held in Abbotsford, B.C. in April.

“It’s her jewel,” Ivan said of his wife’s truck. “She has to go out to the shop at night and put it to sleep…She babies it something terrible.”

Patsy said they love going to the car shows because they meet some wonderful people and have the chance to learn more about their trucks.

“Everyone has something in common. Everyone is in a good mood,” she said.

The Rock’n Red Deer event, put on by the Alberta Superrun Association, drew thousands of people over the weekend, despite temperatures reaching 30 C.

Ted and Sandy Dash, of Parksville on Vancouver Island, were sitting under a tent close to their 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air convertible. They purchased the convertible a little over a year ago from a billionaire who bought the car to be restored and then kept it in an aircraft hanger for 20 years. It took the couple three years to find the car, which was restored to factory specifications.

“What is special (about the car) to me is it is just as it appeared in the GM showroom in 1956,” Ted said. “Its allure was, when I was a young teenager I noticed these cars and of course you fall in love with what is new and shiny and it has never left me. I get to live the dream”

sobrien@bprda.wpengine.com

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