An Awesome Fleet of Vintage Work Trucks

The fleet contains 36 trucks; these are some of the pickups. One of Litzenburger’s goals is to have one of every body style. Auto body styles change every few years. The cycle is longer for trucks, where body styles might change every 12 to 20 years.

These are some of the larger trucks. Originally configured any number of ways, they have since been converted to stake beds that can dump.

Many trucks come into the fleet in pretty rough shape. This 1955 GMC was originally a residential trash truck, the kind that is open in back and uses a hydraulic ram to compact the trash. Shown here in the early stages of being rebuilt, it will eventually look as good as any truck in the fleet.

Gow Litzenburger poses with his oldest truck, “Pixie”, a 1934 Chevrolet JC series one-ton pickup.

“Wooly Mammoth" is a 1946 4500 series Chevrolet. Like many of the trucks in the fleet, it’s a 1 1/2-ton model—which is a size that works well for the company.

“Tree-ceritops” (from Triceratops) is a 1957 GMC. The largest truck in the fleet, it’s equipped with a tree spade for planting big trees.

“Sea Monkey” is a 2-ton 1951 GMC. Like most of the larger trucks in the fleet it has been fitted out with a stake bed that dumps.

“Pinocchio” is Litzenburger’s favorite, a rare 1947 GMC longnose. Big and powerful, most of these trucks were used in the mountains out west. This one was originally equipped with a Detroit 610 marine diesel engine. The hood is aluminum; if you look closely you’ll see it was assembled with rivets, the same as an airplane. The trim around the windows is stainless steel—a detail that was normally reserved for luxury autos. This was an expensive truck, which may explain why it was produced for only 2 1/2 years and sold in the hundreds rather than thousands. Maybe 20 of these are still in existence.

“The Penguin” is a 1953 Chevy that spent its entire life on a golf course. Litzenburger has the original bill of sale and when he got the truck it had only a few thousand miles on it. It has never been more than a dozen miles from “home”.

Quick, what’s on the hood of every Mack truck? You’re right, a hood ornament shaped like a bulldog. Originally owned by a freight company in New York, “The Bulldog” is a 1965 B Model Mack, one of the most stylish trucks ever built. One of Litzenburger’s clients is a very straight-laced elderly woman who upon seeing the vehicle surprised him by saying “Now that’s the sexiest truck I’ve ever seen!”

Some of the larger trucks here—from left to right: Flora, Pork Chop, Bulldog, Lady Liberty, and Wooly Mammoth.

This is “Aardvark,” a 1948 GMC longnose road tractor, as it is being reconstructed. Several of the people who work for Litzenburger Landscaping are skilled mechanics who spend the winter rebuilding trucks and repairing the company’s heavy equipment. When rebuilding a truck, they typically install a crate motor—which is essentially complete and need only be bolted in and connected. They also retrofit power steering and brakes, hydraulics, auto transmissions, and other modern systems.

This is “Pinocchio” (a 1947 GMC longnose) hauling a skid steer. Litzenburger says he can run the business using vintage trucks because the basic design—or layout—of stake beds and pickups has improved very little since trucks were invented. The machines used for landscaping are a completely different matter, and for that he uses only modern equipment.

“Snuffleupagus” is a 1937 GMC named after a Sesame Street character. The truck has an interesting history; Litzenburger bought it from a Montana rancher who pulled it out of a river after it was washed away in a flood and got hung up on some logs. Obviously, it took a lot of restoring.

“Chuck Williams,” a 1941 Chevy, is named after a friend of Litzenburger’s. The truck was purchased from a farmer and originally had a grain body—a flatbed with very tall sides. It was extremely rusty when he got it, and if Litzenburger had known what it would take to restore the vehicle, he might not have bothered. Chuck Williams is not completely happy with his depiction on the fender and claims he is far more handsome in real life. I for one love this truck and would kill to own one like it—even if it meant having my ugly mug on the fender.

Left to right: Pinocchio, The Penguin, and Yosemite Sam. You’ve seen the first two before; Yosemite is a 1949 Chevy 4500 1 1/2-ton that has been retrofitted with a stake bed that dumps.

From a different angle: Flora, Pork Chop, Bulldog, Lady Liberty, and Wooly Mammoth. Two Macks, two GMCs, and a Chevy.

“Aardvark” is one of two rare GMC longnose trucks owned by the company. This one is a 1948 model.

Gow Litzenburger with “Sea Monkey,” a 2-ton 51 GMC. The truck to the left is “Bulldog,” a 1965 B Model Mack.

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