Three-and-a-half years ago,Winslow Bent was laid off his job at a restaurant in Jackson Hole, Wyo., andwas, as he puts it, “devastated.”
He was at home in his garage restoring a Dodge Power Wagon, lamenting to his wife this sudden change in hiswork life.
“What am I going to do now?” heasked her.
“You’re already doing it,”Andrea replied. “Just get an ‘open’ sign.”
More dumbfounded than anything,Winslow did get a sign and parked one of his Power Wagon projects outfront. It wasn’t long before someone stopped by and wanted to buy it.
Soon, “I had to get a shop andhire an employee, and then two and three and a bookkeeper,” said Bent, who nowemploys 14 people at Legacy Classic Trucks, which specializes in Power Wagonrestorations and conversions.
Bent grew up in the Chicagoarea, where his father collected classic cars. Winslow raced and restored cars,earned a degree in business and communications from Fort Lewis College inDurango, Colo., and at some point he became a fan of Dodge’s classic work andmilitary trucks. He searches throughout Wyoming, Montana and Idaho for donorbodies, and he has a knack for finding trucks that were used by potatofarmers, telephone companies, even fire departments, and pulling them out of fieldsand back to his garage.
There, the bodies are restoredand mounted over new running gear and modern components.
Clients can select a regular orextended-cab configuration or even a four-door architecture, pick agasoline or diesel engine, manual or automatic transmission, and various othercomponents.
“A lot of our clients aren’tcar people,” Bent said as he stood next to the four-door Power Wagon he has on display at the SEMA Show this week in Las Vegas. “Primarily, they aresecond-home owners who want something to complement their ranch.”
But, he adds, even though clients wantthe look of the old Power Wagon, they also want a vehicle than can cruisecomfortably and quietly down the interstate.
He said the example he broughtto SEMA gets 23 mpg from its 3.9-liter Cummins turbo-dieselpowertrain and can cruise along at 75 mph, but it also has a 100:1 reduction gear, a 16,000-pound winch mounted upfront and a 12,000-pound winch at the rear, should an owner ever want to venture far away from pavement.
Features incorporated into theLegacy restorations include four-wheel-disc brakes, air conditioning, powersteering and leather interiors.
Bent already has sold completedPower Wagons to people who live in the U.S., Canada and New Zealand, and he just started working on his 25th Power Wagon restoration.
He’s had such unexpectedsuccess with Power Wagons that he’s also starting to take on clients who wantother classic trucks, including a Willys and an old Chevy Suburban.
Power Wagon prices start at$120,000. The truck on display at SEMA is a $185,000 unit.
For more info, visit www.legacypowerwagon.com.