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Avilla man’s ’36 Coke truck in Auburn museum

– Don Monesmith’s collection of Coke memorabilia doesn’t all fit at his house anymore.

That’s why his latest addition, a 1936 Coke delivery truck, sits on display at the National Auto & Truck Museum in Auburn, where Monesmith serves as a volunteer and board member.

The truck arrived last week, and next summer it will become a traveling ambassador for the museum.

Monesmith, of Avilla, said he has collected Coke memorabilia for 40 years. One day he acquired a photo of a Coke delivery truck painted with a sign advertising the brand’s 50th anniversary in 1936.

“I thought, ‘That is a cool Coke truck. Wonder if I could build that?’ ” he said.

Monesmith recently had retired as president of Community State Bank in Avilla.

“I thought that would just be a neat project for me – something I could throw myself into in retirement and not get bored,” he said about recreating the Coke truck. “It was good. I’m ready to do another one.”

Monesmith started last summer by finding and buying the chassis of a 1936 Ford truck and began the transformation.

His vintage photograph showed the truck fully loaded with wooden cases of Coke bottles.

“By knowing the exact dimensions of the wood cases in that picture, I was able to scale out exactly what the dimensions of that truck body were,” he said. He built a delivery truck body from scratch and restored the cab and engine to gleaming perfection.

“I’ve done a few farm tractors, but this is the first time I’ve taken something like this on. It was just a fun project,” he said.

Next, he wanted to load the truck with its fizzy cargo. He acquired a few authentic, wooden Coke cases from the era, but because they’re getting very hard to find, he he had to build 160 of them.

Now, Monesmith has ordered 1,920 small bottles of Coke to fill the cases.

“Our goal next year is to start taking it to area car shows to promote the museum,” he said. “If we hand people a bottle of Coke, we’ve got a captive audience for a minute, we can tell them about the museum and hopefully pull more people in to what I think’s a hidden treasure here in Auburn.”

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