This week’s Design of the Week is this unique illustration for the Keystone Truck & Tractor Museum by Excel artist Mike Hegedus.
Located in Colonial Heights, Virginia, the Keystone Truck & Tractor Museum was founded in 2010 by Keith Jones, celebrating his passion for collecting and restoring vintage tractors. It was a natural step, as Jones had amassed a large collection of rare vehicles, all restored to pristine museum-quality condition.
“If it’s got a motor, we like it!”
Currently maintained by curator Alan “Bones” Stone, the museum houses antique tractors, trucks (including Mack, Peterbilt, Diamond T, Kenworth, White, Brockway and many more), fire trucks, pickups and more.
With a sizeable gift shop full of books, hats, shirts, toys and signs, museum employee Dylan Simmons has worked with Excel in the past on a previous shirt order. The first shirt he did for the Keystone Truck & Tractor Museum featured a Mack Semi Truck and their impressively restored 1938 Minneapolis-Moline UDLX.
But when the museum’s latest installation began drawing international attention, Simmons knew he had to feature the unique collection on a new line of shirts.
A car hauler had been discovered in North Carolina, aged and rusted, and still hauling four 1956 Chevrolets. The whole collected set remained together, rusted together, frozen in time. It became somewhat of a mystery, and theories began swirling around social media as to its origins. Pictures quickly spread across the truck and tractor community.
“A buddy of mine and I, we’re just both of us looking at Facebook one day and we both happen to see it,” recalls Simmons. “I showed it to the owner of the museum here and he fell in love with it, so we had to have it,” he laughs. “He needed to get it.”
The hauler and cars ended up belonging to an expansive personal collection in Wilson, NC.
“The way I understand it, two brothers had about 1000 cars on their property they just got over the years,” says Simmons. “And [the car hauler] ended up there and they put the ’56 Chevrolets on the trailer. So they put them on there. They were junked cars when they got them. Most everything on that property was rusted out. I mean, everything looked like that,” informs Simmons.
The hauler and cars were unlike anything the Keystone Truck & Tractor Museum had in its impressive collection. They were rusty and imperfect, but their fascinating story and social media notoriety warranted their inclusion. So the team transported the collection 2 hours north on I-95 to its new home. When inspected upon arrival, what was expected was confirmed. The hauler and cars were unfortunately too deteriorated to consider restoring them.
“Yeah, we thought about maybe restoring them, but it’s so far gone. We’re never going [to be able to] to restore it.”
So they won’t. Besides, the popularity of the hauler and cars’ rusty condition is what makes the installation so intriguing, and beautiful, in the first place.
“So many people have seen it the way it is. I mean, I get people from New Zealand and England, Australia, Germany, claim that they’ve seen it on online. They’ll just be driving that 95 and happen to look over and see it.”
So now they will sit together like this forever, currently on display on the grounds of the museum property: in the parking lot. Ironically still outside in the elements, still subjected to the weather conditions that rendered the vehicles into their current rusty state.
But there is hope, however. The Keystone Truck & Tractor Museum is currently expanding, adding 35,000 square feet of space to their home to accommodate their ever-growing collection. Who knows, the collection may one day finally find its way inside.