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Weekend Warrior 

by Clint Burgess & r & The demands of an average lifestyle are increasingly difficult to manage. Employment, family and all the other obligations of being part of a society demand time and attention. We all need something to overcome the monotony of life -- and a little sanctuary can go a long way. For years, automobile enthusiasts have been going to their own kind of sanctuary. Some call it a place to commune with the great awareness that is a love for cars; others call it the garage.


One common thread about the mechanical enthusiasts is that special project they've been working on. Often it's an old classic car that takes time and patience to see through to the end. This is the case with Dan Elliott. He has been into old cars ever since he can remember. "I remember driving around with Dad when I was kid and seeing the old cars," Elliot says. These early curiosities led Elliott down the path of muscle cars and hot rods as he got older. "I always had an old car I was working on back in high school," Elliott remembers. It was this passion for cars that sustained him through many project cars and rebuilt carburetors.


The allure of a project car is one that few gear heads can resist. In Elliott's case, there have been more than a few of these cars, but for him it's a way to satisfy his passion for the old things. "I really like the old cars because you can work on them," he says. "You can do everything yourself and get all the parts you need." This automotive empowerment allows garage hot rod builders the opportunity to create a masterpiece in the confines of their own space. Elliott already had a masterpiece but felt like he wanted a challenge. After putting a lot of years and dollars into his baby, a '58 GMC pickup, he decided to sell it and use the cash to finance a new project. Little did he know what the next endeavor would bring.


After hunting around a little bit, Elliott stumbled across a possible candidate for his garage tinkering. He found a 1948 panel truck out in Montana and decided to give it a shot. When the owner delivered it to his house, Elliott's children questioned why their dad would sell his perfectly nice truck for what they referred to as "the nasty piece of junk." Over the past three years, Elliott has spent all his spare time rebuilding his truck from the frame up. "It needed a lot of work," he says.


The project has had its ups and downs, but it has also been something that Elliott can involve his family in. "My girls, Shayna and Sidney, like to help out in the garage," he says. "Shayna can reach places I can't get to with a wrench so I give her a dollar a bolt; with the frustration I save, that's cheap." As for the truck itself, it's nearing completion. After the amount of time it has taken to get this far, Elliott is getting anxious: "I've been working on it so long, I'm ready to get out there and drive it." The payoff for this project will finally be getting it on the road after hours of labor. "You have your days of both frustration and success," he says, "but it the end it's all worth it."

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