Call Doug Kielian thrifty, a pack rat, environmentally conscious or whatever. But he just can’t seem to throw anything away.
Take a 2004 Chevy pickup that came into his shop a few years ago after sliding on ice and hitting a tree, crushing the box so bad that it had to be replaced. The back half was still good, he reasoned, but for what, exactly, he didn’t know.
And then it came to him: tailgating! With as popular as tailgating seems to be these days, Kielian, who owns Auto Kraft Body & Paint, Inc., and DSK Auto Products in Lincoln, Neb., thought he could put this part to good use in a parking lot somewhere instead of the scrap heap.
It was the ideal project to sic his young apprentices on, too. Typically, Kielian has them work on old doors from long-since scrapped vehicles, but he thought this truck box he had cut off would be a heck of a lot more fun and something they could be proud of.
The techs trimmed it down, capped the rear with the bulkhead from the front of the box to give it a manufactured look, and threw some body work, prep and paint on it. Kielian, a Cornhusker fan since 1969 when they beat Alabama in the Orange Bowl, made sure it was painted Nebraska’s school colors. And of course, it had to be made transportable.
“We made it so it would slide right into the receiver hitch on your typical truck or RV,” Kielian says, “and built a frame for it to stand and hold a heavy load.”
Kielian and his crew also added a hinged platform which, on one side, featured Cornhusker newspaper clippings that were glued down then clearcoated over. Flip it over and you have a field on which to play the popular classroom game “paper football.”
When the project was finished two weeks later, Kielian took it down to the Nebraska-Minnesota game for a test run. When he pulled into the parking lot, people were eyeing the mobile tailgater curiously, and before long a crowd swarmed around it. The next thing he knew, Kielian had a slew of new friends sitting in the old 32-inch-by-79-inch-wide pickup box and drinking frosty beverages.
Anyone up for some tailgating?