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April 30, 2012

W’burg local wins in rat rod car competition

CORBIN — By Charlotte Underwood / Staff Writer

A Williamsburg resident’s passion for antique cars has paid off in the form of a first place prize.

Danny Sullivan, of Danny Sullivan’s Towing Service in Williamsburg, won first place in the Rat Rod Class at the Pigeon Forge Spring Grand Rod Run car show, with his very rare 1918 Dodge Brothers Roadster Pickup truck and trailer hauling a 1948 American Flyer boys bicycle and an early 1930s Elgin girls bicycle.

“I’ve been going to the Rod Run for years. It really surprised me to win,” Sullivan said. He had never entered any cars previously, but after the Rod Run introduced the Rat Rod class, Sullivan knew he had a possible winner with the rare World War I era truck.

The Dodge Brothers built the first automobile with their name on it in 1914 as a 1915 model. Previously the brothers had built all the mechanical parts for the first 500,000 Ford Model T cars, according to pickuptruck.com.

Late in World War I when the government asked, Dodge Brothers agreed to supply almost 1,100 half-ton chassis light repair trucks. The company would not begin producing pickup trucks for the civilian market until 1924.

Of the approximately 1,100 Light Repair Trucks produced by the Dodge Brothers in 1918, there is only one example that is known to still be road worthy today and it is in the collection of the Fort MacArthur Museum, according to the Fort MacArthur Museum Association. The trucks were not sold to the public and were made exclusively for the war.

Sullivan said it took him five years to talk the previous owner into selling the old truck, which he had found in a barn in Stinking Creek, Tenn.

“I just kept going back and asking him about it and he finally said ‘yes,’” Sullivan said with a laugh.

When he purchased the truck, it still had wooden wheels on it.

“I wanted to be able to drive this one on the road, so I redid everything, from the engine to the transmission and rear-end,” Sullivan said, explaining that the truck probably wouldn’t have ran 35 miles per hour before all the work.

With a 350 Chevrolet motor and an S-10 rear-end, the truck is perfectly street legal now and Sullivan travels all over in it. Sullivan said he spent about a year working on the truck to get it just right. The truck has interesting little details like the seemingly working moonshine still mounted in the truck bed and the antique license plates, which line the truck bed.  

The 1918 model Dodge Brothers truck is just one of many in Sullivan’s collection of antique vehicles that range in model numbers from 1918 to 1971.

“Of the 12 or 13 antique vehicles I have, this one is my favorite,” Sullivan said proudly.

He is currently working on another project, a rare 1927 Dodge Brothers Business Coup.

“I’m gonna leave it all original — some cars are better left alone,” Sullivan said.

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