By Ashley Hill
ST. LOUIS, Mo. _ The year was 1977 and if you turned on the radio you would have likely heard Rod Stewart’s “Tonight’s the Night.” President Jimmy Carter was in office, Saturday Night Fever had officially sparked the disco inferno, and a man named Richard Schoonover was purchasing a new, red Ford F150 pickup. Richard had originally bought the truck from Krib’s Ford dealership in St. Louis, Missouri to ferry his motorcycle and ultralight aircraft to the family farm.
Several years later, Richard had a son named Matthew. Some of Matt’s first memories were embedded in that red pickup truck. Family photos show the truck bed serving as his playpen as well as a useful way of carrying out family projects. Looking back now, Matt recalls how his dad’s truck produced a sense of excitement. It was his opportunity to ride up front and actually see out the windshield. Richard often used the vehicle to haul their camping equipment to parks and pick up Scouting for Food bags on doorsteps. The truck’s ubiquitous presence at camping trips continued after Matt graduated to Boy Scouts. Matt’s father used it to pull the troop’s trailer, and Matt marveled at his ability to back it into the tight quarters at various sites, a skill his father had learned growing up on a farm. One of Matt’s fondest memories was working on his Eagle Scout project. Matt and his father relied on the truck to haul equipment while they built a well house. As the years passed, maintenance became more challenging. The truck’s once shiny paint was fading, and it was parked outside exposed to the elements.
Richard passed away in 2002. Recognizing Matt’s connection to the truck and the endless memories it elicited, his mother had it serviced. Matt was able to enjoy driving the truck for a few years, but repeat maintenance issues made it clear that a complete restoration was necessary. Unfortunately for the truck, Matt was in law school at the time and could not afford major repairs. Compounding the problem, a tornado struck Matt’s home in 2011. His dad’s family helped save the truck by hauling it on a flatbed to their farm while the garage was rebuilt.
Fast forward to 2013, when Matt had accepted his first law job. At that point, he decided he was ready to take the restoration plunge. He began his journey by contacting Precision Restorations. Precision Restorations is a classic car restoration business located in St. Louis. It completes the body, mechanical, upholstery, and paint work all in house. Matt met with the team at Precision Restorations and discussed his goals for the project. He began with some mechanical work, but, after seeing the custom work Precision Restorations had to offer, he decided to restore the entire vehicle. He wanted to be able to drive the truck on the weekends and have it look brand new. Each week, Matt looked forward to photo updates sent to him by Precision Restorations, and he enjoyed frequent visits to the shop to see his truck in the various stages of production.
The first step for the team at Precision Restorations was to inspect the vehicle for alignment issues, rust damage, stress fractures, and any other problems that tend to creep up over the years. The original paint and body work was removed manually with an in-house media blaster in order to avoid causing any additional damage. The truck was etch primed to protect the steel while rust and dents were eradicated. Once the truck was primed, all the panels were test fitted and adjusted as needed. Next, they performed a complete mechanical restoration of stock systems. The Precision team also added some new features including air conditioning, MP3 compatibility, and remote locks. Moving on to the paint phase, the truck was re-primed, sanded, cleaned, and masked. The body was then painted and cleared followed by a final wet sanding and buff to restore it to its original, red shine.
Matt got the call late one August afternoon that his truck was finished. He drove the truck home and immediately took his mother for a ride.
Since restoring the truck, Matt has made a point of capturing new memories. He has created a photo album of past and present adventures with the truck. The most recent ones include Matt’s new wife, Rachel. In 2014, Matt took Rachel for a ride to the well house that he had built years earlier with the help of the truck. Once there, she found an engagement ring in the well’s bucket. Matt and Rachel were married a little over a year later, and the couple enjoyed including the truck in their special day.
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