By Pat Jenkins
Roy Van Buskirk and his grandson have bridged the generation gap by restoring a 96-year-old automobile.
Van Buskirk, 72, and Brandon VanBuskirk, 10, got hours of enjoyment and time together from the project. And their work on the 1917 Model T truck caught the eye of judges who picked it for an award at a recent classic car show in Tenino.
It all started when VanBuskirk, who lives in the Eatonville area and is a member of a Model T club, learned about the truck that was rusting away in a field in Orting, where its owner had parked it after it stopped running. The antique had been used for a variety of purposes, including farming.
Weather and time took its toll on the jalopy. The original wood body was rotted, and weeds and grass had grown up around the frame.
VanBuskirk hauled the truck to his home, where Brandon began the restoration last September. He and his cousin, starting with a bare frame, sanded it down “and we went from there,” VanBuskirk said.
Grandfather and grandson searched for parts in scrap yards and made what they couldn’t find, which came natural for VanBuskirk. “I’ve been building and messing around with cars since I was Brandon’s age,” he said.
The project was a good way for Brandon to keep busy. “He has a lot of energy,” VanBuskirk said.
The end result impressed other classic-car aficionados. Brandon was chosen for a Young Rodder award after he and VanBuskirk showed their truck at the Tenino Quarrymen Car Club show Aug. 13.
Lou Inchausti, the owner of Diversified Custom Car Co. in Tumwater, and some of his friends decided 15 years ago to start handing out Young Rodder kudos “to promote more interest in the hobby of building and showing cars and trucks among the younger generation. They’re the only ones that can carry on this great tradition.”
The awards are based on a young person’s “active involvement” in building and maintaining a vehicle, Inchausti said. “In the 15 years I have been judging and presenting the awards, I’ve been waiting for someone to totally blow me away with their enthusiastic involvement in a project,” and “it happened” when he encountered Brandon at the Tenino show.
Brandon explained in detail “the operation and location of every knob, button and switch on the truck,” as well as “the starting procedure and all of the areas that he helped work on,” Inchausti related. “I turned to his grandpa, shook his hand and said, ‘You’re one heck of a teacher. Congratulations.’“
Inchausti was so impressed that he became emotional when telling others about Brandon. “I couldn’t get through the story without losing my composure,” he said.
The duo received a round of applause during the award presentation.
Now the young-again Model T gets a workout on VanBuskirk’s property, where Brandon drives it under the watchful eye of his grandfather.