Classic Machines, Part I: The REO, the Rolls and the Army Mule

Posted on June 13, 2010


On Saturday I was headed home when I saw fire trucks at the Lutheran church. Aha! A scoop! Wait, wait–they were old fire trucks. Not just, aw jeez, we have to buy a new fire truck, but Holy Wah! A 1929 REO! Surely Rob the Firefighter would be interested in this.

It turned out there was a Classic Machine Show. Cars, trucks, tractors, motorcycles, boats, fire trucks–and an Army Mule. I got to go for a ride on the Mule. So far as I know, no one has a picture of My Wild Ride, but here’s my driver, Michael, and the Mule, parked sedately and looking innocent, like the Cowboy in shorts. You will notice there is no passenger seat. I hung on for dear life and said things like YAHH! and WOO-HOO! and AH-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha! as we bounced through the back lot.

The first guy I asked about the Mule tried to tell me it was built of titanium for use in World War I. Even I knew that wasn’t right. Guys’ll tell you anything, did you ever notice that? I digress. Michael and his parents, who own the Mule, said it’s a Viet Nam era all-terrain vehicle, lightweight and rugged, maximum speed about 25 mph. I found a website that said Each wheel is provided with lifting shackles to facilitate lifting by helicopter or dropping by parachute. It was designed to . . . land on its wheels or even upside down when dropped, and still be able to be driven away. OK, now that is my kind of vehicle. I wonder if I could enclose the bed somehow to keep the rain off and then bat around the county with the dogs? I digress again. Michael and his folks find it very useful for hauling wood, carting home a Christmas tree, ice fishing, and deer camp. For dressier occasions, they have one of these:

Actually, they have that very one. That’s Michael’s dad, Dave, showing off the Rolls Royce Touring Car. Pretty, isn’t it? I’ll bet it gets lousy mileage, though. The next one is for Scott. Exterior and interior shots if you please.

Then I talked to Tom MacGregor about his 1922 Ford Touring Car. I loved it. Look at those wooden spokes! And the jaunty angle of the roof. It looks a lot like the Ford Nora Metz and her grandmother drove from the Upper Peninsula to New Mexico in 1934, but that’s another post entirely.

It has occurred to me that I have far more photos than I should cram into one post. Besides, I’m going out to dinner and I need to get fluffed up. Back later with Part II: The Extravagant Hood Ornament, Not My Grampa’s Cruck, and Fuzzy Dice.