The Kenwood Press
News: 03/01/2018

Chevy a symbol of survival

Alec Peters

Jimmy Galvin and his wife Colleen were out of town during the October wildfires. When they returned, their home of 20 years on Trinity Road was destroyed, along with a classic 1952 Chevy Fleetline Deluxe.

Galvin, owner of Galvin Precision Machinery in Santa Rosa, also had another vintage vehicle, a 1946 Chevy -ton flatbed truck that looked like it was burned beyond repair. Well, almost.

Upon further inspection, the front fender and grill somehow remained unscathed. Everything else, including the inside and flatbed, had been torched and demolished.

Galvin got to thinking about trying to revive the Chevy and make it drivable again, and set out to create what he calls, “a memorial to the fire.”

Jimmy Galvin leans on his 1946 chevy
Glen Ellen resident Jimmy Galvin is restoring his burned 1946 Chevy 1/2-ton flatbed truck as a memorial to the October wildfires. Photos by Alec Peters
front of 1946 chevy

Galvin had it towed to his shop on Yolanda Avenue, and called his good buddy and expert mechanic Ron Kesler in to take a look.

“Ron tried to talk me out of it four times,” laughs Galvin. “If the front fender and grill hadn’t looked good, we would have taken it to the dump.”

But, believe it or not, the engine fired up the first time they tried.

So they got to work, replacing things like the wood supports on the flatbed, brakes, wiring, and a lot more.

The goal was not to bring the Chevy back to its original look, but try and keep it looking as burned up as they could. They’ve succeeded.

“Leaving it burned doesn’t affect its ability to roll down the street,” said Galvin, a San Francisco native who moved to Sonoma County 45 years ago.

The chrome grille and stardust-blue hood of the truck still shines in the sun, but the back half of the truck is a rough, rusty orange. On the back of the cab, painted on the peeling burned metal is now, “Sonoma Co. Strong, Survivor Oct. 2017.” The word “Survivor” will also be placed on both side doors. And a vanity California plate is on order, “Aftrburn.”

Galvin has owned the flatbed for 10 years, having bought it on eBay from a family in Mississippi. The vehicle used to haul 30-gallon oil drums.

He now drives it down Santa Rosa Avenue and is greeted with cheers and honking horns, an acknowledgement that people understand what the Chevy represents.

While it won’t be exactly ready or able to drive cross country or anything, Galvin does plan to take it to local parades, a symbol of revival that literally rose from the ashes."