By Larry Edsall
Three-and-a-half years ago, Winslow Bent was laid off his job at a restaurant in Jackson Hole, Wyo., and was, as he puts it, “devastated.”
He was at home in his garage restoring a Dodge Power Wagon, lamenting to his wife this sudden change in his work life.
“What am I going to do now?” he asked her.
“You’re already doing it,” Andrea replied. “Just get an ‘open’ sign.”
More dumbfounded than anything, Winslow did get a sign and parked one of his Power Wagon projects out front. It wasn’t long before someone stopped by and wanted to buy it.
Soon, “I had to get a shop and hire an employee, and then two and three and a bookkeeper,” said Bent, who now employs 14 people at Legacy Classic Trucks, which specializes in Power Wagon restorations and conversions.
Bent grew up in the Chicago area, where his father collected classic cars. Winslow raced and restored cars, earned a degree in business and communications from Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo., and at some point he became a fan of Dodge’s classic work and military trucks. He searches throughout Wyoming, Montana and Idaho for donor bodies, and he has a knack for finding trucks that were used by potato farmers, telephone companies, even fire departments, and pulling them out of fields and back to his garage.
There, the bodies are restored and mounted over new running gear and modern components.
Clients can select a regular or extended-cab configuration or even a four-door architecture, pick a gasoline or diesel engine, manual or automatic transmission, and various other components.
“A lot of our clients aren’t car people,” Bent said as he stood next to the four-door Power Wagon he has on display at the SEMA Show this week in Las Vegas. “Primarily, they are second-home owners who want something to complement their ranch.”
But, he adds, even though clients want the look of the old Power Wagon, they also want a vehicle than can cruise comfortably and quietly down the interstate.
He said the example he brought to SEMA gets 23 mpg from its 3.9-liter Cummins turbo-diesel powertrain and can cruise along at 75 mph, but it also has a 100:1 reduction gear, a 16,000-pound winch mounted up front and a 12,000-pound winch at the rear, should an owner ever want to venture far away from pavement.
Features incorporated into the Legacy restorations include four-wheel-disc brakes, air conditioning, power steering and leather interiors.
Bent already has sold completed Power Wagons to people who live in the U.S., Canada and New Zealand, and he just started working on his 25th Power Wagon restoration.
He’s had such unexpected success with Power Wagons that he’s also starting to take on clients who want other classic trucks, including a Willys and an old Chevy Suburban.
Power Wagon prices start at $120,000. The truck on display at SEMA is a $185,000 unit.
For more info, visit www.legacypowerwagon.com.