Ugly duck becomes a truck - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Ugly duck becomes a truck

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SAN DIEGO, Calif. (CBS 8) - When it comes to John Dean and truck he loves, beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder.

"I saw an ad on the internet, drove up to L.A. and purchased it, brought it home. My wife looked at it and said, 'That's the butt-ugliest truck I've ever seen,' and didn't speak to me for three days," John said.

Through all the rust and wreckage, John saw a classic.

"This is a 1950 White Motor Company truck, and these were the iconic beers of the 50s and 60s," John said.

The more he learned about this rig, the more he had to have it.

"When I was looking at the truck to purchase, it was the history of behind the truck. This truck was built by retired New York cops," John said.

After customizing the interior with handcrafted woodwork and leather seats, New York's finest equipped the truck for drag racing.

"This is the engine of choice for hot rodders in the 70s and 80s. It's a 440 Chrysler engine," John said. "It's a custom hot rod. It's like a Tonka truck on steroids."

And then, they added one more little nuance.

"In these stacks are flamethrowers, and it will shoot flames 50 to 60 feet in the air," John said.

Eventually, the cops gave up drag racing.

"The reason they stopped racing is pretty obvious -- they kept blowing up engines," John said.

The beast eventually became a show truck, then it sat in storage for about 10 years. Now, John Dean has spent the past year bringing it back to life. At the end of the month, he'll take it to the Barrett-Jackson auction in Orange County. It's going to take, like John, one guy to see the beauty of the whole experiment.

"I hope there's two guys, or I'm in trouble," John said.

Just two guys to find beauty in a butt-ugly truck.

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