What do you get when you cross a 1983 Chevy 4x4 with a 1951 Ford truck? A real head-turner.
If you’ve seen Philip Holmes driving around Warren, you’re not likely to forget it.
The Air Force veteran and 35-year-resident of Warren has spent the last 20 years tinkering each winter with a one-of-a-kind mechanical creation that is already turning heads throughout town.
“It turned into a hobby more than anything,” he said in a recent interview. “I work in the Rhode Island marine industry and have most of the winter off. You can go crazy if you don’t have anything to do.”
Holmes is a man of many talents and has performed many jobs, from his work as a radar repair technician for the Air Force beginning in 1967, to various shellfishing and offshore fishing jobs throughout the warmer months. His path toward the towering, seven-and-a-half-foot-tall creation began — although he may not have known it at the time — when he purchased a new Chevy 4x4 for plowing, which he did for over 25 winters, until the truck finally gave out on him in 2002.
It was around that same time that a former Warren Times-Gazette reporter came across the garage owned by Holmes. She was intrigued by a sign he had on the outside of the garage frame that paid homage to the popular film “The Little Rascals”, which reads “Boyz Club No Girlz Aloud.” After Holmes invited the reporter in and explained to her the origin of the sign, she wrote a story about it.
Holmes then went about building a new home and garage, and work on the truck began.
“There was not a whole lot of compatibility,” he said of the work trying to mesh the two trucks, from vastly different vehicles manufactured by separate car companies and eras, together. “Every day I’ve worked doing one thing or another.”
Getting the beast street legal
Perhaps the most surprising thing about the whole journey for Holmes was how simply he was able to get proper authorization to drive the Frankenstein-esque vehicle legally.
“It was the easiest thing I’ve ever done with a car,” Holmes said of working with the Rhode Island DMV. “They were fascinated by it. They were helpful.”
Holmes recalled going back to the DMV garage for a final state inspection after he had fixed a few odds and ends that derailed the initial inspection.
“The whole crew was looking at it,” he said. “There was a guy next to me with a Maserati and they couldn’t care less about it.”
Figuring out how to tax a completely unique vehicle was also an adventure for the DMV’s sales tax division. But since Holmes was meticulous about saving his receipts for each piece he bought to contribute to the vehicle’s construction, it simplified the process.
“I mailed the copies of everything in and he credited every dime of sales tax I had paid,” he said.
In the end, he was more than satisfied when charged $472 in total sales tax on the vehicle, which he said he wouldn’t value at anything above $40,000.
“I’m certainly not going to argue with that,” he said.
Now that Holmes is able to cruise around Warren legally, he said he is already noticing plenty of people noticing him.
“It is the definition of a head turner,” he said. “I drive down the street, I went by a cop doing road work, he saw me coming and his head swiveled to watch me go by. People stick their thumbs out the windows. I went to breakfast at Lauren’s and I have to explain to people what it is. No one has seen anything like it.”