BLOOMINGTON – When Piney Woods girlfriend suggested he go after a dream, he found a 1974 International Harvester Scout like the one his dad once owned. And he fixed it up. The vehicle has a choke knob, a push-button starter and just 60,000 miles on it.
When Bloomington blues musician John Piney Woods Garner was a kid, he learned to drive behind the wheel of an old International Harvester Scout he drove up and down his long driveway.
His dream for a long time was to find one like it, with a removable hard top. Now 58, he figured it was time. I started looking, he said. Did a five-state search.
Garner located a rough, 1974 Scout II with no floorboards in Birdseye, near Jasper. He sold his old Volvo and bought the Scout. He wanted a thousand, and I paid $800, he said. Drove it back two hours, and it ran like a charm.
Garner parked the red Scout under his carport, then set out to fix it up. But he knew nothing about car repair or body work.
This was not a restoration. I call it, and I hate to say it, a redneck Rustoleum refurbishing, he said. I did it all myself even though I never did anything like this before. A car restoration person probably would just laugh.
He spent weeks painting, wet-sanding, painting, sanding, painting. Ive painted about 50 guitars with a spray can, and I can make the paint come to life, he said. On this, I did each panel and door one at a time. I told myself, You can do it. One panel equals about eight guitars. And I got it done.
Garner set a $500 budget for his Scout refurbishing project and spent a good portion of it on spray paint. He splurged on a gray-and-white seat cover from a 1963 Dodge Comet he found online for $50. That determined the colors I would paint it, Garner said. I thought white would show the body work less, and I decided on candy-apple red down low. He painted thin pinstripes along the side.
When he needed mechanical assistance, it was friends to the rescue.
The clutch needed adjusting, and a friend came over. The thing was all over the road, then a mechanic buddy tightened something in the steering box. I had to put a doughnut gasket on the exhaust, and I could not bust the bolts loose, about killed myself trying, then a friend came over and did it just like that and said, There you go, Piney. Ive enjoyed the whole process.
When he needed parts, he would shop on eBay and then to a hardware store to find something similar that might work. I went down to JB Salvage and got a used, broken fan belt off the ground thinking it was body side moulding and damn if it doesnt look good on there. I bet the guy that gave it to me for free is still laughing.
Garner just has to round up a few more parts. It has no amenities, he explained. There is no power steering, and the fan to the heater is not working. But I suspect it will start right up when nothing else will this winter.