By Ken de la Bastide
Tribune enterprise editor
Motorists accustomed to viewing a new Chrysler product in front of the plant on U.S. 31 probably didn’t notice the red 1985 Dodge pick-up truck on display Christmas morning.
The restored Dodge step side truck was a present to former Chrysler employee David Bright from his children.
Bright purchased the truck new from Palmer Dodge in Indianapolis for $13,428 after seeing it the night before at one of the first Mud Bogs.
“It had 20 miles on it,” Bright recalled.
After driving the truck for 25 years, Bright asked which of his sons wanted the truck and it was given to his son, Trent, who lives in Texas.
Bright said the truck had 149,000 miles and the Indiana winter weather had taken its toll on the metal.
On Christmas morning, Bright and his wife, Regina, were taken from their Kokomo home and blindfolded.
“When we got to Chrysler and they took the blindfold off, I thought we were going to take a tour of the plant,” Bright said. “When I saw my truck, I was quite shocked. I was teary-eyed.”
Bright said he didn’t want to leave the house that morning because he was cooking Christmas dinner.
Matt Bright, a Chrysler employee, arranged for the truck to be on display in front of the plant.
The truck sat on the street until Trent Bright picked it up during a family visit in St. Louis and took it back to Texas. David Bright believed the truck was going to be given to his grandson.
“We saw it last year in Texas,” he said. “It was sitting in an outbuilding.”
Bright said most people talk about driving a vehicle until the wheels fall off, he drove the truck until the body fell off.
“I always thought about having it restored,” he said. “It was not one of our priorities.”
Regina Bright said the truck looked beautiful when they saw it for the first time on Christmas Day.
She learned about the gift last November and couldn’t wait to see it.
“When we parked the truck at the curb, a lot of our neighbors were asking if that was Dave’s old truck,” she said.
The truck went back to Texas for some final work to be completed, but will return to Kokomo this spring.
Trent Bright said the plan was to always fix the truck up and return it to his father.
“It was a lot of fun,” he said of the restoration work. “I took it all the way down to the frame. I replaced the cab, but everything else is original.”
The project took more than six months to complete.
“I didn’t plan to give it to him for Christmas,” Trent said. “We got it back from the [air conditioning] shop, three hours before leaving for Indiana. I brought it up for Christmas because the entire family would be there.”
He said his father didn’t want to leave the house.
“It was a great surprise,” Trent said.
David Bright said the truck dubbed “Old Red” was known in Kokomo as his vehicle.
“It was an awesome present,” he said.
Eventually, the truck will be in the possession of Bright’s grandson, Nash, but not until he finishes enjoying driving it around Indiana.