Friday, June 30, 2017

Rusting trucks and cars become a Florida attraction

You're free to wander about the rusting relics at Harvey's Trucks in North Florida.
Royal Enfields are retro-style motorcycles. It's no surprise that Royal Enfield enthusiasts like patina.

But what about rust? Yes, please.

What is our fascination with rusty vehicles?

For a motor vehicle, rust is the end of existence as a useful object and the beginning of its life as art.

Where once we might have pondered where a vehicle can take us, a rusty old motorcycle or car inspires wonder about where it has been, and what stories it tells.

Is it a collection of junk or works of art? Harvey's lets you decide.
When Pat Harvey lined up the old trucks and cars that had seen use on the family farm he only meant to remind himself of his own life story.

He hauled them into chronological order, including the truck he took his driver's test in — in 1959 — and the old station wagon that was the family's first "new" car.

From right, the cars are a Desoto, a Packard, a Nash, a Ford wagon and a Willys.
The display became a tourist attraction just off the Big Bend Scenic Byway on U.S. 319 south of Crawfordsville on Florida's northwest coast.

Our vist to Harvey's Trucks fascinated me. I hope you enjoy the photos here.

This is a region that abounds in patina — historic rust, if you will.

A suicide-door Nash would be a rare sight in any collection.
"Florida's Forgotten Coast" is what the Chamber of Commerce calls the area, an odd choice for a marketing moniker. They mean undiscovered, uncrowded and under appreciated, all good reasons to visit.

But I can't help feeling there is a subtext. Disney, near Orlando, and the bright lights of Miami Beach get more attention. The Florida Keys are better known around the world.

Can you name this stylish truck? It's a REO.
Perhaps the Forgotten Coast feels ignored?

This is a proud region with a long history. Monuments celebrate the victories of the Confederate army. Before the Civil War "King Cotton" made many fortunes here.

The Yankee blockade and railroads that carried the cotton to other ports put an end to that source of wealth.

Inside the Packard. The classy dash included a map light.
Later the region built a thriving trade on lumber, turpentine, sponges and sea food. Rich men lined the port at Apalachicola with brick warehouses and the heights above Apalachee Bay with Victorian mansions.

Most of the big pines are gone now — there is actually a state museum that preserves one of the last stands of 50-year-old longleaf pines.

The lowly Willys was an economy car. It stood up as well as the others.
Remember Joni Mitchell singing "They took all the trees, and put 'em in a tree museum / And charged the people a dollar and a half just to see 'em"?

Well, admission to the Forest Capital State Museum in Perry, Fla. is now $2, although you can walk through the stand of tall pines for free.

Desoto hood scoop was neat but non-functional.
Fresh Florida sea food remains in abundance, and there are many other reasons for tourists to visit the Forgotten Coast. We found a spectacular beach on St. George Island, and several cold, crystal clear springs to swim in.

A tree grows inside a Ford truck.
Ford truck bumper is peeling, revealing stenciling and green paint.
A war-surplus truck?
Harvey's was worth a visit. So is Florida's Forgotten Coast.
You can see more photos of our travels and read our recommendations for visitors on Bonnie's blog,


  1. A bit like Henry Ford, "You can have it any color you like as long as its oxide."

  2. Anonymous7/01/2017

    "Later the region built a thriving trade on lumber, turpentine, sponges and sea food. "

    Sea food? Thanks for feeding my lobsters.

    "Fresh Florida sea food remains in abundance, and there are many other reasons for tourists to visit the Forgotten Coast."


    And you were newspaper guy?

  3. Admittedly, one of its biggest attractions is getting away from the crowds. Most people would prefer the Keys, I think.


Follow royalenfields on Twitter