Updates from the Equator, Part 3 - More Trekking Across the Endless State of Texas

1940 Chevy Pickup
By Mark Williams for PickupTrucks.com

Mark Williams is road tripping 1,500 miles through the heart of the American Southwest in a custom Suzuki Equator. Follow Mark's driving adventure as he blogs from the highway.

Although the weather got a little ugly overnight, all in all it was a pretty good day. We started out by hooking up with a small shop in Luling, Texas, called Hot Rod Jim's, whose namesake just happened to have built one of the coolest trucks of this year’s SEMA Show in Las Vegas — Project PT-57, a 1957 Chevy pickup inspired by a World War II Curtiss P-40 fighter plane. We’ll be writing up a quick road review soon, but suffice it to say that the PT-57 is a monster hoot to drive. A heavy-duty big-block V-8 with twin turbos and a Corvette chassis underneath! You do the math. Basically, it’s a pickup that’s ready to spank a Shelby Cobra on the Pro Touring circuit.

Also, it turned out we got to the shop a little early — woke up at the crack of dawn, like Christmas morning — and found a cool 1940 Chevy pickup just waiting for restoration in the front yard of Hot Rod Jim’s. Maybe next year’s SEMA project?

On the highway

Much of the day was spent on the road, trying to get across a seemingly endless state. Dang, Texas is big. Sure, it’s pretty and all, but it looks like it’ll take the better part of two days to get out, though the 80 mph speed limit helps. Our Equator handled the extra speed without a problem, but the gentle grades of Hill Country had the five-speed hunting for gears frequently. It also took a bite out of our fuel economy. We’ll have a complete report in our full Suzuki Equator Southwest Test later.

Life on a Texas highway is pretty lonely. Not a whole lot of traffic, but I tried my darnedest to get a towing shot of one of the hundreds of pickups I saw today pulling a flatbed with ATVs, or side-by-sides, or furniture, or landscaping gear, or someone else’s rusted 4x4 going the other way. They seemed like they were everywhere, but each time I went to grab my camera, something conspired against me, preventing me from getting the shot (slow focus, misfired flash, unsteady hand, pushed the “off” button instead of the shutter, etc.), until finally the battery died. This much I learned today:-Texans like to tow, especially on the weekends. And my camera hates me.

Had the chance to help out an El Camino owner on the side of the road with its hood up in the middle of nowhere. Dead battery and he had a full load (actually overloaded). He needed to get to town 30 miles away. A quick flip around off the highway and we had the Chevy fired up, although it sounded like the starter was putting up a fight as well. He told me his baby was a ’77, but the headlights made me think it was a ’78, but I wasn’t going to argue with the guy. He’d been waiting for someone to stop for almost two hours. I was glad he had cables because that was the one thing I didn’t pack in my luggage.

Battery Jump


That's probably a '78 or '79, '78 was the first yeat that body style was offered.

Otherwise, great story so far. I'll keep checking in to follow your journey.

An overloaded El Camino needing a jump on the side of the road in Texas. The only thing missing is the mural airbrushed on the tailgate.

"Maybe next year’s SEMA project?"

Na, that's a customers car. We've got another project in mind for next year.

-Russell Alexander
Hot Rod Jim's

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