Real Wheels: A pickup with a purpose

LIMA – Gary Maze didn’t know if he was going to make it home.

The monster storm with near hurricane-strength winds was blowing snow in every which direction. All he could think about were his wife and two daughters back in Lima as he plowed forward in his 18-wheel Freightliner semi truck from Portland, Indiana.

It was the early morning hours in what will always be remembered as the Blizzard of ‘78.

Maze was able to drive the semi to within five houses of his home before the drifting snow won the tug-of-war.

“It was blowing so bad that I had to walk backwards to my house,” Maze said. “I counted the driveways as I walked in order to tell how close I was to home. I couldn’t see.”

It was an experience like none other during the 50-plus years and 3 million miles that Maze drove a semi. Like many people after the blizzard, Maze went out and bought a new four-wheel drive truck to help ensure he would never be stranded.

He still has that 1979 Ford F-150 Ford truck today.

“It was hard to find a four-wheel drive after the blizzard. Everyone had the same idea,” Maze said. “I picked this up at a dealership out by the Bluffton airport.”

When Ford built the F-150 in 1979, it wanted a rugged truck. Hence, it had the attitude that there were more important things than gas mileage. The F-150 came equipped with a 351, V8 engine made in Cleveland.

“My truck only gets 9 miles per gallon,” Maze said. “I don’t drive it a lot now, mainly just to car shows. It only has around 81,000 miles on it.”

Maze has done a lot of work to the body of the truck, adding dual chrome exhausts and a stepside bed.

Now 83 years old, he drives a 1999 Silverado pickup he bought new, and a 1980 Corvette.

When he does take out the F-150, such as to the Charity Car Show held in late June, it sports a large American flag planted in the back of the pickup.

“I’ve been all over the United States, and I fly that flag to remind people that we live in the greatest country in the world.”


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