The Heroes truck took over five years to complete. Builders John Watts and Steve Garvie put in 50,000 man-hours, and Mickey Harris spent a total of 1,200 hours on the incredible artwork.
The truck is a 1999 Chevy Silverado flareside 4x4 with a 2002 Cadillac Escalade front clip. It has a fabricated, polished stainless steel tubular chassis, a fire breathing 540-cubic-inch motor complete with 871 BDS fuel injection and an 871 bird catcher sticking out of the hood. A custom fabricated hydraulic system raises and lowers the entire body of the truck to display the shiny chrome chassis. The tonneau cover is hinged so that it opens the opposite way of a typical tonneau cover, allowing the artistic images of 9/11 to be seen. There is also a state of the art sound and video system on the truck. The truck has a total of 11 screens, both inside and out. With $650,000 spent on the Heroes truck, the total cost for all of Mr. Ison’s automotive masterpieces came to a whopping $950,000.
Upon hearing the amount of money invested in these trucks, one might come to the conclusion that Mr. and Mrs. Ison have money to burn, but nothing could be further from the truth. There are no fortune 500 companies or high profile individuals involved in this project, just hard-working, blue-collared Americans. Mr. and Mrs. Ison spent their life savings on these trucks. “I couldn’t have done this back when I was 30 years old. I wouldn’t have had the money,” Mr. Ison admitted. “It took me a lifetime to save up for this.”
The Heroes truck has only been shown three times. One of those shows was in Indianapolis where it set a new record with a score of 59 out of 60, only one point away from a perfect score. After the first time showing the truck, Mr. Ison started to realize the impact his truck had on people.
“Honestly, when I built the truck, I didn’t know that it would be the only one of its kind.” he explained. “I thought that people would look at the truck and appreciate it. It’s been so amazing. I’ve been to shows in 27 different states, and every show that I go to, special things happen that I wasn’t expecting. The most powerful moment I’ve ever had was when I was in Phoenix, Ariz. three summers ago on the 4th of July. This gentleman walked up to me, and the first thing he said was, ‘Dale, God Bless you! In our hearts, you have no idea what this truck means to us. I was in the Marine Corp. I’ve got scrap metal in my leg. They call me disabled, but I can walk and I can fight.’ Even in his condition, he wanted to go back to Iraq and help his buddies. He said, ‘I’ve got friends over there that need help.’ I said, ‘Sir, what a heart! You guys have hearts of gold.’
“As we stood there and talked, he said, ‘Dale, I got two purple hearts while I was over there in action. I would like to give you one of my purple hearts for what you’ve done for us with this truck.’ I stood there, and I welled up with tears. It took me about a minute before I could say a word. By this time, there were tears running off of this marine’s chin, and it was one of the most powerful moments I’ve ever had in my life, standing there looking at him eye to eye. No amount of money, awards or trophies could ever top that.”
…to be continued
Story and Photos by: Shannon Hammett