After being part of a winning team at last year’s RATical ROD Build/Drive Off in Las Vegas, Dwayne Wiltshire of Oak Lake knew he needed to come up with something unique for this year's competition. He did. He made a real find at an auction in the US that specializes in unique antique vehicles.
Wiltshire brought home an armoured truck - a 1947 Farmers & Stockmen’s Bank truck that was made to accommodate a bank teller and a guard or two.
This vehicle is outfitted with bullet proofing and thick-walled panels pierced at intervals with pistol firing holes out the side. On the roof, there’s a turret with rifle perches. It was a seriously well-armoured Brinks-style truck.
“They took this out to the gold and silver mines on the western side of the US,” explains Wiltshire. “As a gold miner or silver miner, you would stand here,” (steps up into the back) and be served by a teller.
“It was an ATM, back then. That’s exactly what this was, it was a mobile bank.”
The Farmers & Stockmen’s Bank company still exists. In fact, their website boasts “Mobile banking is here”.
It appears to be a New Mexico institution catering, as the name would imply, to agriculture.
Wiltshire did some investigating.
“I was actually talking to a bank manager in Clyde, New Mexico, from the Farmers & Stockman’s Bank, but his branch never had an armoured truck. Only the Phoenix ones did because they ran out to the mine,” says Wiltshire.
“They weighed the gold and silver and then they gave cash value for what they bought.”
Gold, silver and eventually copper mines were the strength of the economy in Nevada, New Mexico and Arizona, with prospecting becoming strong by about 1850.
From its earliest days, numerous accounts of conflict surrounded mining. Starting as early as 1884, miners sought better working conditions/pay and unions grew strong around the turn of the 20th century.
By 1947, when Wiltshire’s bank truck was manufactured, the state legislature of AZ enacted “right to work” legislation which would allow “scabs” to cross the line, weakening the striking miners’ position.(www.azmining.com).
By 1950 underground mining was being replaced by open pit mining and relations between mining companies and their workers were apparently improving, with companies providing better conditions for labourers.
Next October, Wiltshire’s Farmers & Stockmen’s Bank armoured truck will once again run the desert roads as a rat rod named “Dirty Money”.
Wiltshire’s competitive team, Dirty Word Customz, is one of two Canadian entries that will head to Las Vegas for the 2019 International RATical Rod Build & Drive Off competition. The other is Maple Leaf team from Saskatchewan,