Dwayne Wiltshire of Oak Lake is a car-builder hobbyist who’s bringing an historic armored car back to life for a car show in Las Vegas, the International RATical ROD Build/Drive Off.
Not only is he restoring a rusty relic, it’s a timed build. The build team began Jan. 1 and by late October Dwayne and Cindy Wiltshire expect to be cruising from Lincoln Nebraska with a convoy of rat rods into Las Vegas in one of the most unique vehicles you are ever likely to see.
“You’re building something that was never built”
Last year, he purchased a 1948 Farmers & Stockmens Bank truck, complete with the remnants of bullet-proof, ready-for-action features; a hulk that only a builder could love.
There’s no pattern. The RATical ROD Build-Off means that Wiltshire can let his imagination run, and the more art and attention grabbing features on the low slung, traveling bank, the better.
“Dirty Money” as she will be called, will become a fancy caricature, reborn out of history.
“We’re taking it apart and keeping 90 per cent of it,” says Wiltshire.
He’s a licensed automotive mechanic, but has worked in the oil industry for 20 years; for the last 12, he has been a pipeline inspector with Canadian Natural Resources.
“I’m envisioning where the pipeline’s going to go, how it’s going to get there, what the riser’s going to look like and how it ties into the wellhead. Same thing as this,” he points to the pieces of his project. “You’re having to envision something that’s not built.”
He’s been modifying and building for years, mostly in his two-car garage, until now. This winter, Wiltshire and his team are working out of his recently purchased 3,000 sq. ft. shop in Oak Lake under his business name, Dirty Word Customz.
The challenge of turning a rusty monstrosity into a sleek and unique running automobile intrigues Wiltshire.
“It’s the thinking, it’s non-stop, because you’re building something that was never built.”
But the reward at the end of nine months is the RATical ROD Build-Off & Drive-Off, a competition that is into its third year, separate from but running alongside the largest car event in the world – the SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) show. “And you’re taking it to show it to your peers,” says Wiltshire.
The build team includes Brent Campbell, Doug Echielin, Dave Walko (Cindy’s brother, a recently retired pipefitter/welder) and the Wiltshires’ son RJ (Raynor Jack), 15 (who also has his own project truck).
Wiltshire has been a welderup, fixer and builder all his life.
“I’ve been building vehicles non-professionally, enthusiast wise … I was 14 years old when I got my first ‘49 Chevy half-ton. I built that right from scratch, fixed it all up, drove it to high school, drove it to college. I drove that till I was 20 years old.”
Born and raised on a farm just a few miles north of Miniota, building and fixing stuff was just part of life.
“It’s in my blood, right? My grandfather was a tinkerer; my other grandfather was a farmer/welder.”
Last year, co-building with Tyler Turton out of his Zombie Body Shop (Selkirk, Man.) Wiltshire helped build “Big Bandit”. This gleaming copper-orange, black–fendered luxury vehicle took top prize in the International RATical Rod Build/Drive Off.
That’s how Wiltshire got called back to the invitational Build-Off.
For the show in Vegas, this is a new brand of rat rod. The vehicles are classy items in their own right and have to be safetied and road-worthy at US posted speed limits (75 mph).
For more on the incredible rat rod construction, see Part II, coming soon.
Check out Wiltshire’s website - https://dirtywordcustomz.com/