Man drives $75 truck to work for 38 years

PRINSBURG, Minn. – It's the best $75 Bob Sportel ever spent.

Sportel was in his early 20s and needing a cheap ride to work, when he paid $75 for a rusty Chevrolet pickup.

This week Sportel retired from his job at the Prinsburg Farmers Co-op, still driving to work in the same 58-year-old truck.

"It kept going so I just kept driving it," says Sportel, who had tried to negotiate the price down to $50 before paying the local farmer who owned the truck his asking price.

"If I could get four years out of it, I thought I'd be really happy," says Sportel, who ended up driving the pickup to work for 38 years before his retirement this week.

The odometer in the 1957 Chevy pickup was broken when Sportel bought it, but he estimates the truck has racked up 300,000 miles between its former farm life and the daily drive the past 38 years between Sportel's home in Prinsburg and his work across town.

Sportel has applied several layers of duct tape to the truck's upholstery. Bondo holds the front lights in place and rust holes provide portholes to the truck's underside.

Sportel has never garaged the truck and has never had it repainted.

"It's pretty basic," he says. The old Chevy doesn't even have a radio.

Sportel's one extravagance: four oil changes a year. He figures he's spent fewer than $1000 on repairs during nearly four decades of use.

Sportel even passed on a new muffler when the old one rusted out.

"Everybody knows Bob's around," says Phil Breems, a co-worker at the Farmer's Co-op. "We all get out of the way," he laughs.

Though Sportel has retired, his truck will soldier on.

"It just becomes a part of you," the proud owner says. "I don't know how to explain it."


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