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Phuket man's cherry Chevy is on top

PHUKET: Classic pickup trucks are an increasingly rare sight these days – especially in Phuket, where the roads are dominated by newer, plastic-built vehicles, most likely assembled by robots.

Friday 21 March 2014, 04:57PM


Tam and his much-loved car.

Tam and his much-loved car.

But fans of timeless American steel are sure to look twice upon spotting a mint-condition, cherry red Chevy pickup trucking along the island’s streets.

This vintage vehicle belongs to Sekson “Tam” Srichoo, owner of the Tam Leather Shop and Bar at the Naka Weekend Market.

“I’ve been using this Chevrolet C10 [model] for 20 years,” he told the Phuket News, noting that he has never actually known its make year (the first C10 was introduced in 1960).

Tam recalls when his friend first told him about the truck, which was owned by a sawmill owner his friend knew in Nakhon Ratchasima.

“The American army had used it during the Vietnam war, but after the war ended, wanted to sell it to someone who was into classic trucks. When I heard about it from my friend, I drove up there and paid B350,000 for it, before driving it back to Phuket.”

Since then, Tam has put a lot of sweat and tears into it, having initially dealt with complications at the Phuket Land Transport office when officials there noted that the original registration was fabricated.

All in, Tam reckons that, on top of the original cost, he has spent some B400,000 in restoring and getting the truck legal.

One of the first major changes he made was overhauling the engine, upgrading to a Toyota benizine-powered J twin-turbo 3.0 litre engine, changing out the older Nissan diesel-powered LD-28 2.8 litre engine, in order to make it safer and easier to repair and maintain.

Tam also painted the truck to its current “exciting red”, a refreshing change from its original dark brown color.

More than just a mode of transport, the truck is a reflection of Tam’s identity.

“It matches my style – a cowboy style. I feel confident and happy when I drive the truck, and have never had an accident. It’s my lucky truck,” he said.

BIS Phuket

The truck has not only provided Tam with a smooth ride, but even some income, such as when the Thailand Chevrolet Center paid Tam B40,000 to showcase the the vehicle for 15 days at the Phuket Chevrolet showroom.

About 10 years ago, it was even featured on a Thai TV series Koon Konk Pan Din.

Tam jumps at any good excuse to take her for a spin.

A member of of the Phuket Classic Car Club, Tam and other members form a caravan every two to three months to drive their prized possessions to the countryside and donate money and supplies to needy schools and students.

But even just an early evening cruise to wind the day down is enough excuse for Tam to start the engine everyday.

Another fond memory Tam recalls was a road trip he took to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore to help transport his friend's motorbike back to Phuket.

“I was so proud to show off my truck in Singapore. Many people there showed interest,” he told The Phuket News.

Indeed, the truck holds a dear place in Tam’s heart. In fact, he even named his son “Chevy”, as he was born not long after he purchased the truck.

Anyone interested in his Chevy can stop by his bar and ask to have a look. If you’re really interested, Tam may even consider selling it to you – but only if you’re as big a fan of classic trucks as he is.

“Next, I’d like to get a hold of a classic Ford or Dodge pickup,” he says with a smile.



 

 

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