The Placerville Hardware Hauler – A 1939 Dodge Delivery
Placerville Hardware Store’s 1939 Dodge Delivery proves there’s still gold to be found in them thar hills. The Northern California mountain town played a key role in the Goldrush and the Fausel Family’s store is smack dab in the middle of it all.
This small town east of the state’s capitol was founded in the late 1840’s and was originally known as “Dry Diggin’s” for the manner in which gold was separated from the soil. Today, most of the gold has been claimed, but there’s still nuggets to be found in Placerville – such as the Fausel Family’s hardware store and their all original 1939 Dodge Canopy Express pickup. It’s worth noting Placerville Hardware is the longest-running store if its kind west of the Mississippi.
In our international hunt for killer content for Fuel Curve, rarely do we come across vehicles that have such significant ties to one family, let alone an entire city. The Fausel Family’s 1939 Dodge is special in that sense and that it has never left El Dorado County since it was sold new in 1939. George Fausel ran George’s Food Center in Placerville and purchased this pickup brand new from Phil Frost’s Dodge Garage on Placerville’s Main Street to deliver groceries.
The truck served its purpose for two years until George and his brothers Elmer & Frank were sent off to fight in World War II in 1941. The three brothers returned home in 1945 and the truck was mothballed until 1950. That’s when it’s current owner David Fausel first remembers riding in the family truck. He and his brother Dan rode in the back with shovels, picks and boxes of dynamite on their way to the Noon Day Mine in search for leftover gold with their father and two uncles.
1954 rolled around and the three Fausel brothers purchased the Placerville Hardware store from Al Kyburz. The store originally opened in 1852 and much of its original structure like the flooring, countertops, shelves and cases are still intact today. That same year, the 1939 Dodge was traded back to Phil Frost’s Dodge Garage for a brand new 1955 Dodge pickup.
Frost, a sentimentalist who was also a smart cookie, held onto the ’39 Dodge until he passed away, then his son Les inherited the truck. In 1991 Les sold the truck back to David Fausel for just $1,000 with only 15,000 miles on the odometer! David fired it up and drove it home the same day.
David’s intention from the day he purchased the pickup was to restore it to its original glory. He met with Jim VeerKamp (who specializes in older trucks and tractors) and Jim tuned up the stock 217c.i. straight six engine getting it in smooth running condition.
Al Briggs restored some of the remaining wood panels in the roof and bed replacing those that were too far gone while Wes Moreland reupholstered the stock seats that are still in the truck today. New paint was the final task to tackle but after two failed attempts with local paint shops, the truck was returned to David in 1992 in pieces and boxes.
With the wind knocked out of his sails for the pickup’s restoration, David parked it for nearly 20 years under cover on his property until his grandson Will introduced him to Lawernce Maese of Amaeseing Rides.
With no manual or instructions, limited on-line information and plenty of missing parts, Lawrence relied on old Dodge truck guys from the Midwest which he met on internet forum boards and social media to help guide him along the way and find the missing pieces to the puzzle. A short 11 months later, the Fausel Family’s 1939 Dodge debuted on Main Street last summer in front of the Placerville Hardware store with hundreds of locals gathered around to celebrate with the family. A real town hall meeting!
The pickup that has never left Placerville won’t be leaving anytime soon. David & Deanna Fausel’s children and grandchildren will eventually inherit the truck, but not before David gets to make more memories under the canopy and behind the wheel – this time without the dynamite rolling alongside in back.