Gunners Garage

TALES OF 40 YEARS #32 – RUSS FISHER

This morning I got an email from Larry Fisher of FATSCO automatic transmission parts telling me that his dad Russ had passed away. So, incredibly, just a week after the passing of Model T expert Bruce McCalley, the old-car hobby has lost another great man. I first met Russ about this time of year in 1978, several months before I started working at OLD CARS WEEKLY. I lived in Staten Island, N.Y. and my friend Mike Carbonella and I used to ride around looking for old car stories to write up for OCW on a free-lance basis. Sometimes we got paid $25 for a story and sometimes we got nothing, but we were doing it more for fun than anything else. We were riding on Route 46 in Fairfield New Jersey and we saw some very old trucks sitting in the snow behind a transmission shop. That was Fisher Transmissions and they were having an early season swap meet. We went there to do a story and we also wrote up the trucks. Russ was pretty impressed that OCW would send someone to cover his swap meet and I don’t think he ever forgot that. After I moved to Wisconsin, we kept in touch. One year we were custom shooting a calendar with real antique trucks and toy versions of them. Russ was a member of the Antique Truck Club of America and he introduced me and photographer Dave Heise to many of his truck collecting friends like Leon Schnepper, Fred Markey and Frank Malatesta so we could feature their trucks on the calendar too. Later Russ started making parts for older automatic transmissions and selling them to hobbyists so they could restore their cars properly. For awhile he was tied in with fred Kanter’s company Kanter Auto Parts, but later his own FATSCO brand became best known for automatic transmission parts. Russ helped thousands of fellow hobbyists with their projects and he will be missed. Luckily, Larry Fisher has taken up the mantle of running FATSCO and supplying high quality transmission parts to restorers all over the world.

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