February's Truck of the Month: Tribute Truck
BERTHIERVILLE, QC — André Bellemare is known to his American friends—and he has a lot of them—as the Crazy Canadian. And crazy he is, about trucks.
When Bellemare unearthed this 1995 Freightliner in 2004, it didn’t look so hot. But, Bellemare says, he remembers falling in love with this exact rig when he was a child, so he bought it and started the makeover.
During the first four years of renovations Bellemare and his friends, Real Proulx and Pierre Ayotte, worked mostly on the mechanical components, installing a replacement transmission, differential, air suspension and steering gear. The 425-hp Cat 3406C under the hood is the original.
In 2008, restoration went into second gear. Daniel Bilodeau of Thetford Mines redid the entire cab except the roof and pillars. Then Francois Thouin replaced the chassis rails and stretched the wheelbase from 230 to 244 inches.
What followed was glitter: various components in chrome and stainless steel from bumpers and fenders to sun visor, grille, battery boxes and quad exhausts.
The steering wheel is terrific; the gauges are digital and the dash and floor are painted pale blue.
The truck definitely turns heads wherever it goes and for Bellemare, it’s left a permanent impression.
“This was like my childhood dream come true,” Bellemare says.
But the truck also has a special place in the life of Marcel Lachance, the man who took the restored truck for its first drive.
When the restored truck was ready to hit the road in 2009, Bellemare offered the gift of “the first drive” to his good friend Lachance, a longtime cabover fan who leapt at the chance. Nine months later Lachance died of cancer.
Shortly after, Lachance’s son called Bellemare and asked for a photograph of the truck, which is now engraved on Lachance’s tombstone.
Do you have a truck that deserves to be immortalized?
We want to know about it.
Maybe the truck you want to show off is a showpiece. Or a restored masterpiece. Maybe it’s a workhorse with seven figures on the odometer or perhaps it’s a custom-built one-of-a-kind without which some important element of Canada’s vast infrastructure wouldn’t have been possible. Or maybe your truck was involved in some life-saving adventure while being piloted by a brave driver.
We will be searching the country over the next few months for topnotch candidates and between now and year’s end, we will be pounding the social media for input, likes, dislikes, comments, retweets and favorites. Come December, we will be declaring one of the candidates Truck of The Year.