To fall in love with a specific type of vehicle and then years later be able to call one your own is a special kind of automotive love story. For Suzy Stuchel of Earlham, Iowa, that’s exactly what happened at the 2016 Goodguys Colorado Nationals show.
I fell in love with a COE at the Des Moines Goodguys show in the 1990’s and I still look for it to this day. – Suzy Stuchel
You see, Suzy knew that a custom 1956 Ford COE 600 was in her future, as her and her husband Mark had picked up the shell of what would be their truck on their way home from the 2015 Colorado Nationals. But what Suzy didn’t know, was that a gentleman named Mark, Jimmy Poole of Jimmy’s Customs, and long-time friends, Chris and Sue Brindley had a surprise for her as the 2016 show rounded its second day.
A Love of Trucks
Suzy has been a car girl since her earliest memories. Growing up in a car-conscious family, she started learning about vehicles as a young child.
“The first thing my dad ever taught me was to wear a seat belt at all times,” Suzy said of her early automotive lessons. “The second thing he taught me was not to touch, lean or put anything on a vehicle, even more so if it’s not yours.”
There’s nothing quite like a custom COE, especially one with such a great back-story to go with it, like this one!
With an early respect for vehicles of all types, it wasn’t long until Suzy started determining her favorites. Her love of classic vehicles, especially those of the pre-musclecar eras, carried on into her adult years. By the time Suzy was purchasing classic vehicles of her own, it was classic trucks that had really caught her eye.
“I fell in love with a COE at the Des Moines Goodguys show in the 1990’s, and I still look for it to this day,” Suzy told us. “Every time we are at a car show, if Mark can’t find me, he looks for the coolest truck and knows that is where I will be.”
With Mark having a recently-built 1963 ½ Galaxie nicknamed “Black Beauty” and Suzy having a custom 1966 Ford F-100 she calls “Truckee-la”, it was only a matter of time before the couple found their next project vehicle – a custom COE hauler to transport one of the other classic vehicles in their stable to car shows. On their way home from the 2015 Goodguys Colorado Nationals, they found just the truck.
“I love the beauty of older vehicles,” Suzy told us. They have so much character.”
The Stuchel’s custom COE has a unique past. The cab is actually borrowed from a retired 1956 firetruck, which was owned by Doug Mohrlang, and sitting in a yard along Interstate 80. They scouted out the truck and ultimately decided it would make the perfect start to their build. In January of 2016, Jimmy’s Customs towed the firetruck back to Wellington, Colorado, for the build.
Constructed atop a donor chassis, which came out of a 1993 Snap-On Tools truck, the COE is equipped with a Reyco Granning air suspension system with Ridetech bags up front. This combination allows the truck to be “laid out” to a more suitable stance. After all, both of the Stuchels’ current customs ride relatively low to the ground, and the COE had to fit in. Plus, it makes loading either of the couple’s classics onto the back of the hauler a bit more convenient.
Mark has been a Snap-On dealer/distributor for years, so it’s pretty cool that an old Snap-On truck chassis was used to build the truck for a Snap-On guy.
Riding on 19.5-inch custom Curtis Speed wheels wrapped in BFG ST230 shoes, the truck makes use of the stock GM brakes that came on the Snap-On truck chassis. Powering the truck is a Cummins 12-valve engine backed by an Allison automatic gearbox.
Believe it or not, the truck gets an outstanding 14.8 mpg with a car on the back while cruising 75 mph on the highway.
Giving the COE its classic shape is the 1956 firetruck cab, which has been stretched six inches through the doors and steps. The bed of the truck is a custom fabricated hauler ramp, complete with a Smittybilt winch and black diamond plate wheel channels up top, and storage cabinets and engine access doors along the sides. The entire build is topped off with a custom PPG Cool Vanilla and Snap-On Candy Apple Red paint scheme sprayed by Jeff Standing with custom “Snappy’s Garage” lettering done by Leslie Scott, both of Jimmy’s Customs.
Painted not only to honor Mark’s many years with Snap-On, but also match the paint scheme of Suzy’s ’66 Ford F-100, the custom COE will look mighty fine displayed along with either Suzy’s truck or Mark’s black Galaxie at shows in the future.
The interior of the truck is not quite done yet, but remains functional for the time being. Sporting bolstered seats borrowed from an Expedition, a custom center console with all of the air suspension switches – as well as fan controls, seat controls and work light switches, and a classic dash painted in PPG Cool Vanilla and equipped with retro-style gauges. The interior of the truck also features an LCD screen mounted front and center, which can be used for navigation, playing movies, or as a backup camera.
In the near future, the rest of the interior will be finished and the seats will be reupholstered by Winterset, Iowa-based Sam’s Upholstery.
A Great Surprise
While Suzy was aware that her dream COE was being built by Jimmy’s Customs starting in early 2016, she wasn’t aware that Jimmy had the truck mostly finished when the 2016 Colorado Nationals rolled around in September. Nor did she know that Mark had planned to surprise her with the truck on Saturday at the event.
While Suzy stayed in the couple’s hotel room getting some work done Saturday morning, Mark and Chris Brindley took Mark’s Galaxie over to the show. About 10:00 a.m., Mark went and asked Suzy to take a break and come walk around the show for a little while with him. What Mark hadn’t told Suzy was that the couple’s truck had been brought into the show and parked in the Trick Truck area.
Suzy would like to thank the following people: “My amazing husband Mark for actually making a dream come true, Jimmy’s Customs for doing the awesome build and for connecting us with Doug Mohrlang, from whom we purchased the cab and chassis last year. Finally, Doug Mohrlang for being so helpful, and a special thanks to Chris and Sue Brindley, for helping us with the concept and being especially sneaky about it so Mark could surprise me!”
“We are walking along and I see a nice truck and said, what is that?,” Suzy recalls of that day. “It was a Diamond T – very nice. So we get up to it and I get distracted by a truck that looks like the truck we are building and it had the same paint scheme. So now I’m thinking, what in the world, how could someone have the same exact idea? What are we going to do? We need to tell Jimmy and switch some stuff up. Right about that time I saw the door, which says ‘Snappy’s Garage’ and realized THIS WAS OUR TRUCK!”
Suzy’s reaction was a mix of emotions as friends and family surrounded her. We were lucky enough to have been “in” on the secret and be able to catch Suzy’s emotional reaction to seeing her dream truck in the flesh.
“I was tearing up and looking at it, and then all the people that knew what had been going on started coming forward – this is very surreal for me,” Suzy told us. “While all this was happening, one of the Goodguys staff walks up and sticks a yellow sticker on the headlight!!! How do you top that?!”
Even without the interior finished nor the correct wheels on the truck yet, the COE had won the “Hot Hauler” award. On Sunday, the truck joined the rest of the award-winning vehicles in the Winners Circle before being driven up to the main stage by Mark with Suzy proudly in the passenger seat as the couple accepted the award in front of a crowd of people.
Certainly deserving of the “Hot Hauler” award and so much more, the truck is now back in Iowa at the Stuchel’s homebase. Once the new upholstery is done for the interior, the truck will make its way to a number of shows, where it will certainly be a crowd-pleaser and no doubt, a multi-award winner!
No feature shoot with a custom hauler would be complete without a little “hauling” demonstration. With Suzy’s 1966 Ford F-100 on the back instead of Jimmy’s classic Ford here, the pair will be a bit more color coordinated, but you get the idea!