On the Road: 1995 Chevrolet 1500 Silverado

Purchased in 2021 from the original owner, the hard worker with high mileage gets a new lease on life

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Thanks to two Calgary neighbors, a much-loved pickup truck gets a second life. In 1995, Mark Soehner ordered a new Chevrolet 1500 Silverado with an extended cab from Jack Carter Chevrolet. The pickup, made in Oshawa, is Soehner’s third truck.
The Chevy came with a 350 cubic inch engine and two-wheel drive. plus transmission oil and coolant because he was interested in buying and towing a 22-foot-long vacation trailer.

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“When I was looking for a pickup, the Silverado had everything I wanted in a truck,” explains Soehner.

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Then, in 1997, Soehner bought a new vacation trailer. On his first RV ride, he pulled short distances into the mountains. His second trip was across Canada to Halifax. The long-distance adventure was nearly cut short by just 250 kilometers of travel when Soehner smelled burning oil – it was coming from the rear axle of the Chevy. On Saturday afternoon, he stopped at Medicine Hat, where dealer Murray Chevrolet told him the truck could not be inspected until Monday morning.

Hobby mechanics Clark Shanks (left) and Mark Soehner in a Calgary garage in the Clark suburb.  CREDIT: Mark Soehner
Hobby mechanics Clark Shanks (left) and Mark Soehner in a Calgary garage in the Clark suburb. CREDIT: Mark Soehner

“We left with a full load of groceries in the fridge, but we got on well and changed gears,” he said. “There were only 38,000 kilometers on the truck at the time.”

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Many other adventures with trucks followed, but in 2010, Soehner was involved in a rear-end collision. He was hit from behind, and Soehner’s pickup hit the truck ahead. The Chevy suffered major damage. “My insurance company wouldn’t do the repairs, which infuriated me, and they removed it,” he said.

But Soehner wasn’t ready to write it himself. He disassembled the front clip, straightened the frame, and visited the crushing site. Among other things, he bought a used radiator, A/C condenser, transmission oil cooler, front bumper, grille, hood, and front left fender. He refitted the truck to the best of his ability and continued to drive it until 2017, when he purchased a used 2009 GMC Denali which was the primary driver. A ’95 Chevy, with an odometer of 360,000 kilometers, was parked in the driveway next to a vacation trailer.

When his neighbor, Clark Shanks, saw the truck was not being used anymore, he asked if Soehner would sell it. Soehner didn’t immediately embrace the idea, but in late 2021, some 26 years after he bought it, he struck a deal with Shanks and sold the truck to him. Shanks, who was born and raised in Vancouver, is a day laborer boatbuilder and day laborer cabinet maker. He is good with his hands and is a hobby mechanic who loves tinkering.

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“I was 14 years old when I built a flat-bottom boat from Popular Mechanics magazine plans,” Shanks said. “School was difficult for me, because I’m dyslexic, but I’m good with my hands and I find there are other ways to study and other things you can do. It’s not all about academia, commerce is a very good place to work.”

Regarding the Chevy Soehner, Shanks said he was just looking for a truck he could use to take out the trash and pick up wood for their stove. As soon as he bought the truck, Shanks changed all the fluids, brakes and did a tune-up.

“The truck basically goes a kilometer, but I know I can get 100,000 kilometers or more out of the engine without too much trouble,” says Shanks.

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Although the truck is mechanically sound, there is some rust on the doors and cabin space. Shanks purchased an aftermarket quarter panel, trimmed the rusty area, and welded it with new sheet metal. From Pick-n-Pull, he bought replacement doors and a better hood. The truck is now in a primer, and Shanks will be polishing it with the original two-tone green and gold.

“I’ve been watching the truck in Mark’s yard for some time,” Shanks said. “I thought it would be a good truck, and I got a good offer. Now, with a straight body, even if something serious happens to the engine, I’ll just change the bike.”

Soehner added, “I’ve had 52 oil changes and no check marks on the engine and didn’t use any oil. The truck was too good for a tow in 2010 and 2017, and in 2021, when Clark bought it. He has the skills and ability to transform trucks, and I’d love to see him finish this project.”

Greg Williams is a member of the Canadian Association of Automotive Journalists (AJAC). Have a column tip? Contact him at 403-287-1067 or gregwilliams@shaw.ca

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