Join Bob this week as he travels to Cairo, Georgia and meets up with a life long collector and military vehicle restoration expert, Russell Deese. Russell has a very unique story to tell during his past 40 plus years of collecting and restoring military vehicles.
Russell has built and provided and built vehicles for movies like Fast & Furious, The Hunger Games and X-Men First Class. Russell will also show us the things to look for when buying a military collector vehicle. Don’t miss this episode!
I have been in love with the Jeep since I was just a little boy, but not just any jeep. I wanted a real Army Jeep since I could remember.Russell Deese
My dad had a salvage yard since the early 40’s. There were always Jeeps around the junk yard. I was born in 1962 so most of the Jeeps that my dad had at the time were starting to look pretty rough by the time I began to get interested in the little trucks.
I think I really began the love affair when I was around 6 years old (1968). My dad would buy me a little toy of the little Jeep. He told me before he passed away in 1997 that he would watch me carry the toy Jeep everywhere I went, church, dinner table, to bed, well you get the picture.
It became my security blanket. I still have my little Jeep. It is very old and it has all the wheels gone and pretty weathered as well. I believe it was made by DINKY. It is a cast metal Jeep of a Willys MA or FORD GP but not sure.
Anyway to make this a shorter story and I think I could go on for quite some time, I will shorten it. I use to help my dad fixing cars up and pulling engines. I was 12 when I pulled my first engine. It was a Chevy 350 out of a 1969 Chevy pickup.
My dad turned me loose to take it out. The only thing I think he did wrong was to give me the key to the 4400 Ford forklift tractor as help to get it out. Well I got it out, but not a pretty sight. I think I only took off the 2 motor mount bolts and transmission mount bolts. Everything else I figured would just disconnect itself, ha-ha.
It did and what a mess I made. I was so proud of myself, and when I hauled the engine up to show my dad, transmission still attached with all the wires and fuel lines etc., hanging off, well you can imagined what the look on his face looked like.
The neat thing is he wasn’t upset with me at all. He just looked at me and said “now if you can get the good motor I have over in the shop and put it back in the truck
and make it run again I am going to give you any vehicle in the junk yard you want, yes anyone of them”.
Well that settled it. I had always wanted the 1942 Ford GPW in the back under the big Oak tree. I use to go and pretend I was in the Army fighting our battles for the US Army from Live Oak, Fl. right there from the seat of that little GPW Army Jeep.
Anyway that was the vehicle I chose for my dad to give me. And I knew the only way I was going to be able to get it was to fix that old Chevy truck again.
After about 4 days of reading manuals and trying to make things fit with crying, mashed fingers, and plenty of electrical tape, ha ha, I did it! It ran and and actually pulled off on its own power!
Well I got my first Jeep but not just any Jeep. It was my USA 1942 Ford GPW serial number 66292 original Army JEEP. WOW! It was all mine.
It sat for years after that as my interest changed a little, but in 1978 I got my drivers license, and it was time to DRIVE and I knew which truck I wanted to drive. My Jeep.
So I began to fix my little GPW, and many many hours later, and after many reading hours I had brought the little thing back to life again. Can you imagine the feeling of driving this Jeep for the first time for real? Not pretending anymore, but really driving and feeling all the bumps and the wind in my face? Wow I did it.
I could go on and on, but to make a long story short, I now own “Russell’s Military Vehicles” and I restore Jeeps for a living, and business is good.
I have restored vehicles for the D-Day Museum in New Orleans, and for the Mayor of Orlando, Fl., as well as Camp Blanding, Fl. military base museum. I have also done one for Fantasy of Flight in Florida too.
Love affair? No, it’s more than that. It’s my life now.
My website is www.generationjeep.net
Season 1, Episode 6