Local hot rod builder revs up honors

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Chet Jackman, Sandpoint street supervisor, spent four years rebuilding this 1934 Dodge truck, which won the Goodguys Rod and Custom Association’s Truck of the Year early award at the Colorado Nationals on Sunday. (Photo by MARY MALONE)

SAGLE — A "streets supervisor by day and a hot rod builder by night," Tamara Jackman joked of her husband.

But she wasn’t kidding. Chet Jackman proved his skills when he received the Goodguys Rod and Custom Association's Truck of the Year early award at the Colorado Nationals on Sunday. The early award is reserved for vehicles between the years 1900-1952, and for the past four years, Jackman has spent his evenings and weekends rebuilding a 1934 Dodge truck.

"There is almost 7,000 hours in that truck," Jackman said. "And we won't want to talk about how much money is in there."

Jackman was one of seven finalists in the country to receive the honor. The couple will head to the Goodguys Southwest Nationals in Scottsdale, Ariz., the weekend of Nov. 17-19 to compete for the overall Truck of the Year early award.

Jackman said he acquired the truck in 2010 from the family of the original owner in Montana.

"The guy's grandfather bought it off the lot in '34 and it was passed down through three generations," Jackman said.

The truck was a "challenge to bring back to life," Jackman said. It was outside among the trees for about 30 years, he said, and that was after it went through a garage fire. Not to mention, with only about 7,000 of the trucks made over two-and-half years, parts are not easy to find.

There is not a single panel on the truck that has not been altered or modified, Jackman said. He rebuilt and hand-fabricated everything, piece by piece.

"This is his passion — the building and fabricating," Tamara Jackman said.

Her husband didn't want to take all the credit, though. He had help, he said, from his sons-in-law and brother and, of course, the support of his wife.

"She is very, very good about allowing me to express my creativity," Jackman said.

Tamara Jackman said her husband is never one to take all the credit, and he also enjoys showing off the accomplishments of others more than his own.

With interior of leather and carbon fiber, a shiny red paint job, original suicide doors, air ride suspension, a 5.7-liter Hemi and a five-speed overdrive, the truck doesn't just look good, it is fast and smooth on the road. It also has "every amenity you could want," Jackman said — except cruise control. The truck is equipped touch screen navigation, a backup camera, Bluetooth, thumbdrive stereo, air conditioning, power windows, remote start and keyless entry.

Some may have noticed the truck in town at Lost in the '50s, where Jackman took second place in the street rod category. Originally he had it under the modified truck category, he said, but because there is not a piece of the truck that hasn't been modified, officials told him he was in the wrong category. Apparently, he said, they told him his truck couldn't compete with the others in that category.

Building hot rods is not a new concept for Jackman. His father built them as well, and used to tell Jackman that out of every 100 projects like this that are started each year, only 10 will ever be finished. And out of 10, only three of them are show-worthy. So while every person has a "God-given" talent, Jackman said, this one is his, and it is something he hopes to pass on to his grandsons as well.

"It's like an artist who can see, in the back of their mind, a painting, and then they paint it," he said. "It is basically the same thing — nothing but art. And then to be able to compete on basically the largest scale in the United States is quite an honor."

Mary Malone can be reached by email at mmalone@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee.

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