Dying Man's Last Wish Granted By Hot Rod Modder

Illustration for article titled Dying Man's Last Wish Granted By Hot Rod Modder

This is the story of how a busted hunk of hot rod hopes spurred one man to honor another man's dying wish.

Advertisement

The Hot Rod

One of a handful built, the 1933 Hupmobile sedan had been the target of previous rodders looking for something different than old Fords and Chevys. Sitting on a Seattle street in various states of disrepair, the Hup caught the attention of Jerry Dahl.

The Dying Man

Dahl bought the '33 Hup in April 2009 because he'd gotten his future back. Fresh off surgery for kidney cancer a month earlier, Dahl wanted a project to put his hands to use. He found the clattered Hup and took it home, planning a purple-and-cream hot rod similar to a Ford he'd seen in a show.

Dahl's future had other plans.

By October, the cancer had come back, this time hopscotching to his lungs. Dahl soon had to spend his limited energy on medicines instead of sheetmetal. Earlier this year, he took the barely running, primer-coated sedan to Dreamers Rods & Pickups Northwest in Everett, Wash., and asked owner Jamey Leckner to do the work he couldn't.

Advertisement

Last month, doctors told Dahl that their work was done as well, and put the portion of life left in his tank at a matter of weeks.

The Rodder

Leckner, 33, opened his own shop a decade ago after doing hot rod work for most of his adult life. Dahl's daughter Kerry called Leckner after the final word from his doctors with a request: Could the Hupmobile be finished before Dahl died?

Advertisement

Leckner said he'd try.

Working about 90 hours over seven days, Leckner and his nine-man crew put other projects aside and focused on Dahl's car. Leckner checked with Dahl to ensure the colors were as he remembered them, and was up until 2 a.m. the morning of the deadline.

Advertisement

About 3 o'clock that afternoon, the rumbling of old engines came to a stop outside Dahl's house in Lynwood, Wash.

Illustration for article titled Dying Man's Last Wish Granted By Hot Rod Modder
Advertisement

To usher the Hupmobile, Leckner had enlisted 16 members of a nearby car club, the Thursday Night Garage Association. They came with their own rides, among them ‘58 Chevy Impala, a '65 Ford Mustang, a ‘47 Lincoln and a 1926 Model T.

Dahl couldn't walk, so four men lifted his wheelchair outside, where he could touch the Hupmobile's deep-purple fenders and take in the other rods. Jerry Dahl spent more than an hour of his dwindling time enjoying his own private auto show.

Advertisement
Illustration for article titled Dying Man's Last Wish Granted By Hot Rod Modder

"I felt honored I had the opportunity to do it for him and his family," Leckner told Jalopnik.

Advertisement

Jerry Dahl died Thursday, at peace.

(Photos courtesy of Kerry Dahl)

[Seattle Times; Daily Herald, Everett]

DISCUSSION

pauljones
pauljones

You know, hot rodding and motorcycling are the two scenes where I spend the most of my time. People often ask me why, and I am frequently at a loss for a clear answer. It's not that I don't have a legitimate answer, it's just that it's hard to really put it into words.

But, if I can use an example instead of words, then this post is exactly why. Both the hot rod and the motorcycling scene may use cars and motorcycles as a unifying theme amongst the people in those scenes, that theme is only the beginning. It's little more than an excuse to socialize, and at the end of the day, both scenes aren't so much about cars or motorcycles so much as they are about the people and the human story.

Tell me, where else do you find people like this? Where else do you find people that are willing to do this sort of thing for each other not because they are compelled to by religion or some golden rule, but rather because they want to? These aren't people who are being nice just to earn a few favors in the afterlife.

From the most desolate corners of Route 66 to the random garages in towns across the nation, the people I've met in these scenes are truly the most interesting and, well, real people I've ever come across.

Yeah, I can fit into any number of other scenes, and have a mild interest in other scenes. But nowhere else but here do I feel at home, surrounded by people that I want to be around and who want me around.

I'm not sure if what I said made a whole hell of a lot of sense, but there it is.