March's Truck of the Month: '79 Mack Nabs Cover Spot
CONCORD, ON — “After I knew the truck was gonna be on your cover, I called the previous owner’s son to tell him. He was all happy about it.
“Then he told me that his dad had passed away.”
At the very same time as Marty Kroft was negotiating with Today’s Trucking’s editors about making his 1979 Mack F-model March’s Truck of the Month, the man who originally restored the vehicle died at age 82.
Even more reason to put it on the cover. The truck and photos now stand as a tribute to restorer Lewis Shorter Metcalf, who passed away in mid-January.
Metcalf bought this red Mack with its five-speed transmission and 285-hp Mack engine in the ‘80s in Virginia, where for 30 years he owned and operated L.S. Metcalf Trucking.
The truck played such a huge role in Metcalf’s life it earned honorable mention in his obituary: “He enjoyed restoring cars, trucks and farm tractors. He was pleased to win first place on a mustang restoration in The Heart of Virginia Festival. Additionally, one of his restored Mack trucks was featured in the Appomattox Car Museum. This truck was recently purchased by a collector in Canada,” reads the death notice.
The Canadian collector is none other than Kroft, a third-generation trucker who owns and operates Krome Transport Inc., out of Concord, ON. He runs 35 trucks all over the province and does everything from LTL to truckload, tailgate service and rush deliveries.
“I called [the Metcalfs] out of the blue because I knew the truck meant a lot to them,” Kroft says “I wish he was around to see it. I think the old fellow did all the work. Unfortunately, he developed Alzheimer’s and had to sell it.”
Metcalf’s restoration helped reunite Kroft with a truck from his youth, one of his first and best-liked rigs.
When Kroft was in his 20s, he piloted an almost-identical cabover from one end of North America to the other.
And Kroft wore that first Mack out.
“It ended up in the scrap yard like all the rest of them,” he says.
At the time, Kroft had no idea how much he would eventually miss the rig, but about two years ago, he saw a picture of Metcalf’s cabover and was swarmed by memories of his youth.
“It was almost identical to the one I drove, right down to the color, and being already done and in the condition it was in, I got the itch and bought the truck.”
“I’m really proud of my trucks because as I say, it runs in the family and I like the older iron better than the new.”
And he takes great care to make sure these vintage beauties won’t meet their assembly-line relatives at the scrap yard.
“I polish it too often,” he laughs.
The ’79 Mack only goes on select runs within Ontario in the summer and doesn’t see snow. It’s kept inside, and Kroft doesn’t let just anyone drive his beloved restored trucks. But he likes to show them off at competitions, truck shows, and to the new guys.
Finally, Kroft says, his trucks (he also has a restored ’65 Mack) never cease to attract photographers. Lewis Shorter Metcalf, we are sure, would be very proud of this click magnet.
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.