A Man, A Truck, and a Whole lot of Imagination

Almost everyone has an idea of their dream car, and for Timothy Kroeker, that dream is turning into a reality.


Niklas da Silva Ekberg

Mr. Kroeker with his very own, 1931 Chevy Truck.

By Niklas da Silva Ekberg, Staff Writer

“You’re looking at a 187-ton log train and we’re about to pull it with our tough new Chevy Cheyenne. They’re moving, our three-quarter ton Chevy Cheyenne is actually pulling 187 tones on this level road. Obviously, we don’t recommend you abuse your truck like this, but we do want to show you in a dramatic way how tough we build our Chevy trucks.” Chevy Cheyenne commercial 1973. 

Chevrolet and its parent company, General Motors, have prided themselves on manufacturing vehicles that are reliable and sturdy for over the past 100 years, some of which are still around, but are usually out of commission. Insert Timothy Kroeker, a man with an old 1931 Chevy truck and a whole lot of ambition.  

Mr. Kroeker is the Manager of the Environmental Division of TLC Engineering and a man with a love for all things GMC, especially his 1931 Chevy truck. His love for trucks in particular, seems to stem from childhood vacations of working on Canadian farms. 

“That said, when I was a kid, we did family vacations to visit relatives on the Canadian prairie.  Everyone on my mum’s side were farmers.  I had four uncles that all drove very old trucks on their farms.  It got into my blood, and I have never since been able to get a good enough transfusion to get it all out,” Mr. Kroeker said. 

Although his love for trucks has been around for a long time, the way he came across his 1931 Chevy truck seemed to be at random. 

“It was very late at night, I was tired, I’d been working on a proposal, we’re talking 11 o’clock at night. I still had three to four hours to go on this proposal because it was due the next day and so I just needed a break,” Mr. Kroeker said. “I started just mindlessly going through the internet, and I punched in 1931 Green Chevrolet truck, and this is what came up,” Mr. Kroeker said. 

Older trucks and cars like Mr. Kroeker’s are usually a hard buy, but according to Mr. Kroeker it wasn’t. In fact, the truck had been on sale for about a year. 

“They weren’t even aggressively advertising it – it was just there,” Mr. Kroeker said. The decision to buy the truck wasn’t made quickly, however. “It took me a long time to decide to do this, like I went back and forth with Colleen (his wife). At first, I didn’t even want to tell her about it, because we had just had a really bad experience with a similar purchase of a 46 Chevy. The guy screwed us, and we lost some money on it. I kept going back to this thing and seeing if it was still there, and going back, and going back, and going back, and finally I said I got to talk to her about this. She was very apprehensive about this, and then I finally got her to look at it, and then the interest started building,” said Mr. Kroeker.  They drove up to Detroit to check it out and before long, the truck was shipped down from Michigan, and in relatively good condition too. 

That was my life, my childhood, my dream of the automobile was what I could build. this is the manifestation of that.”

— Timothy Kroeker

Despite its age, the truck works and is able to drive for short distances. However, the truck has no seatbelts, no turn signals, very old wood, rust, and as of now, it has no floorboard. 

“I wouldn’t say that at this point it’s a reliable vehicle; I wouldn’t feel comfortable driving it the way it is,” Mr. Kroeker said. 

When rebuilding an older vehicle, getting their originals parts may be difficult and expensive, which is why Mr. Kroeker takes parts from all sorts of cars, even parts that weren’t originally on the truck.

“There’s a lot of companies that have reproduction parts. That what’s so nice about American vehicles that are common American vehicles, the parts are available in reproduction. With anything that’s reproduced, it’s not always going to fit perfectly, so you have to do a little bit of tweaking it,” Mr. Kroeker said. 

Those companies don’t have everything that Mr. Kroeker needs, however. Mr. Kroeker wants to extend the back of his truck cab to have more leg room, but sheet metal and body panels happens to be an item that is commonly in demand, but never in supply. 

“The only thing that I can’t get that I would want is body sheet panels. I asked the guy is that a question that is commonly asked and he says, ‘dude, if I could get a hold of body panels, I could sell them every day.’ He gets calls all the time from people that are looking for sheet metal for these aged vehicles,” Mr. Kroeker said. “If I could start a company stamping sheet metal, I could probably restore this truck with the money I make of that.” 

Mr. Kroeker has a great deal of knowledge of GMC, but not of how to restore trucks. That’s why he’s stationed the truck in Sugar Creek Auto Center, where it is occasionally worked on by the mechanics. However, like most other things in 2020, progress on the truck crawled to a halt. 

“During COVID we thought we were going to get real ill, we thought everybody was gonna die, and we weren’t sure if they were going to let us open, because they shut down a lot of businesses,” Mike, a mechanic at Sugar Creek Auto Center, said. Luckily for them, they didn’t get shut down. In fact, demand for vehicle repairs shot up.

“Our business almost doubled, we got super busy. I think we got all the parts ordered, and we’ve diagnosed it, and it’s a solid old truck for as old as it is. We got it running and driving and we’ve ordered parts, and then we’ve just been swamped.” 

Progress on the truck has recently started up again, and the mechanics appear to be confident about what they’re working with. 

“Now we’re getting started to get caught up, and we want to have it done just to see it. We were looking for parts for the carburetor to try to fix it, and we just weren’t able to get the replacement parts so we actually found a brand-new carburetor. It’s gonna work fine, so as soon as we can get a couple of days breather, we’re gonna get out there and get it back running again. So, like I said, it’s got good quality, still solid, it’ll be a good truck to write a story about,” Mike said. 

Normally, when an old vehicle is being restored, it is based on some other vehicles. Mr. Kroeker is basing his truck on the ideas of his dream car accumulated from his childhood. 

“When I was much younger, my dad introduced me to the auto show, as soon as I could walk. We went to the auto show every year until he died in 2011. During that era, we would go to the auto show, and I’d collect all the brochures, and I’d come home, and then I’d sit at the kitchen table, and I’d dream of the truck or car that I wanted, and I’d make a list of all the things that I would put into this dream vehicle that I would build one day. That was my life, my childhood, my dream of the automobile was what I could build. This is the manifestation of that,” Mr. Kroeker said. 

Of course, Mr. Kroeker’s truck is going to be used for more than just a show car. He plans on using it as a daily driver and to replace his current truck, a Chevy Silverado. Mr. Kroeker also has an ambitious retirement plan. 

“The way it is right now, we’re going to the very bottom of Florida all the way to the top of Alaska. We’re thinking of going up the east coast, then we’ll go up to northern Canada, and then we’ll go across to Alaska,” Mr. Kroeker said. 

Every car person’s dream is to build their dream car, and for Mr. Kroeker, it has been a dream of his since childhood. Considering how well the truck is coming along, Mr. Kroeker’s lifelong dream is finally becoming a reality. 

“I’m going to do for real, what I only dreamt about back then,” Mr. Kroeker said, “and when my brother harasses me again, I’m gonna say; you didn’t have imagination, I got imagination.”