• Last modified 1667 days ago (Jan. 28, 2015)


Hooking up with the right vehicle

Staff writer

Fred Epperson liked the two-toned pickup right away. He saw it on the Ford dealership lot in Hillsboro five years ago. A farmer in Clay Center had traded it in for a Ford Ranger. Epperson stopped in and made an offer.

A week later, Epperson bought the 1994 F-150 for $5,500 and happily sold the white pickup he had been driving.

“It’s my favorite body style,” Epperson said. “I don’t like the early or late models. I like the square look, that body style. It’s the best body style Ford ever put out.”

Epperson has a strong affinity for his vehicle. Just ask his wife.

“When they had it out for sale in Hillsboro, we must have drove over there every day,” Bertha Epperson said.

Epperson, 81, retired in 1996 after 25 years as the service manager and safety director at Love Box Co. in Wichita. He’s owned several vehicles in his life, but the teal F-150 is his favorite.

The full-sized pickup had 57,000 miles when Epperson bought it. Now it has 93,000 miles. But other than that, there’s little or no difference in how it looks.

The Korean War veteran takes meticulous care of his vehicle, which rolled off the assembly line in Kansas City. Every 3,000 miles he changes the oil. When the tires started losing tread, he bought new ones. The inside of the cab is without a crumb or dirt speck. Even the bed of the pickup has original, intact paint. He doesn’t let five days go by without at least starting up the 351 “Cleveland” engine.

“I take care of the vehicle. I keep it up,” Epperson said. “If you take care of a vehicle, it’ll take care of you. I treat it like it’s part of the family.”

The only downside to the pickup is that Bertha has to climb up into the cab, so Epperson usually drives her in their Lincoln, which is much lower to the ground.

Still, they sometimes take the pickup.

Epperson often hears compliments about the truck. Occasionally, someone even wants to buy it. But Epperson never answers with a number.

Even though Epperson says he isn’t interested in selling, you never know.

“I like to get the higher dollar vehicle with everything on it. That way if I ever do decide to sell it, it’s not a plain Jane,” Epperson said. “I told my wife I probably should sell it. I don’t need two vehicles. But if I have to haul my lawnmower to have it worked on, I need to use the trailer and what am I going to haul it with?”

The prospect of selling the pickup is a fleeting thought, and Epperson quickly moves on.

“As far as service and investment, I’d rather have this pickup than a new one,” Epperson said. “It’s my buddy.”

Last modified Jan. 28, 2015