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One of the constants in the automotive hobby is the intense scrutiny of the facts.


You simply cannot make an error because there are so many experts who can and will refute your details.


Nevertheless, there is a 1928 Essex tow truck despite what history says about its existence.


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Obviously this is a one-off creation built through the imagination and talent of a dedicated car guy.


Marvin Drewes is a man with a vision and just before last winter made its unwelcome appearance, he decided he needed a winter project.


Marvin had a Studebaker six out of a 1950 pickup that needed a new home plus he had a basic farm find ’28 Essex body that needed an engine. Somewhere in the mix was a tow truck concept so Marvin had his winter project.


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There are actually pieces of three separate Essex bodies in this creation. Marvin started with one and decided he had to cannibalize two more to complete his vision of a working tow truck.


This is a pretty basic looking vehicle so the doors were optional. Marvin claimed he “didn’t want to blow the doors off so I didn’t put them in” when he ran it so they are non-existent on this ’28 Essex.


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Marvin chose the 169 cubic inch Studebaker engine because it was there, it was rebuilt and it also had an overdrive transmission. He admitted, “It’s in there but it’s not hooked up because I didn’t want to go fast”.


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There’s another option missing on this old Essex—there is no glass in it. Marvin compensates for this by simply “cleaning the bugs off his teeth” plus he added he “didn’t like the idea of cleaning glass”.


This tow truck may be the most barebones vehicle on the face of the planet but Marvin didn’t build it for comfort.


Marvin added some custom touches to the truck like the horse dump rake seats on the side of the box. They add to the truck in a way that period correct fender skirts add to a 1950 Mercury sedan. The radiator is actually off a ’29 Essex and the shell is ’29 Chevy so this custom may fit in the early resto-mod category at a car show.


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There are a few limitations to a classic like this and they’re found in things like the wheels and tires. Marvin explained how he had trouble finding 20s for the back tires so he had to improvise.


This truck clearly presents a unique driving experience unlike any vehicle ever built but Marvin was extremely happy with his creation. He explained: “It runs very nice, I can go out there any time day or night and just give ‘er in it, She’ll do 60K (36 mph) but that’s about it because some of the wooden spokes are a little weak”.


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Marvin’s plan is to actually tow something behind it but he admits it’s “hard on clutches so it may burn the clutch out with something behind it”. An upgrade may be on Marvin’s list for next winter because he does want his truck to get official tow truck status.


The final word on Marvin’s creation comes from his brief, but accurate description of his 1928 Essex tow truck.


“It’s lawn art cool”.


Jerry Sutherland

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