Saturday, November 14, 2009


The story of the most awesome car. Ever.

Published March 10, 2006, in the Keizertimes

If you've seen Bob Gallagher's truck around town, chances are you'd remember it.

If not, here are a few distinguishing characteristics to keep an eye out for:

Starting with the front, there's the wood propeller which will spin anytime the the 1986 Dodge Ram pick-up breaches 5 miles per hour.

"I almost felt bad putting it on the car, it's such a nice piece of work, but the thing spins so fast you can't even see it on Interstate 5," said Gallagher.

Behind the propeller there's Gallagher's custom-made grill.

"I used an old highway sign and drilled holes in it. The Department of Transportation uses really good aluminum," he said.

Now that you've reached the body of the car you might take note of the color, possibly best described as sea-foam green. The texture looks more like that of a rusty oil drum.

"It's the stuff they use to cover the decks of Navy ships," said Gallagher. "I had a buddy who was able to get me some but I told him I wanted something besides gray."

Gallagher, now retired, spent 22 years as an enlisted man, specifically as a cryptologist with a "top secret" clearance decoding messages that he wasn't necessarily meant to see. He spent much of his career working for the National Security Agency.

Back to the truck tour:

On top of the hood, Gallagher uses a grenade for a lawn ornament.

"The one on it now is actually the second one. The first one had the pineapple ribbing on it," he said.

Sadly, the first one got stolen. A few days later, police caught the culprits who had vandalized and stolen items from several cars in Gallagher's neighborhood.

"It was a long shot, but I thought I would call to see if they found the grenade. The officer told me he was really glad I called and I said, ‘Great, can I get it back?'"

He couldn't. The bomb squad had detonated it.

The current grenade lacks the pineapple ribbing, a fact Gallagher laments.

Moving closer to the windshield, your eyes are drawn in two different directions.

On the driver's side, there's a cactus growing. On the passenger side, there's the fire-breathing metal man.

The cactus came after a friend suggested the truck needed something growing from it.

The metal man was created from the exhaust system that stuck up out of the hood of the vehicle when Gallagher bought it at a military auction while stationed in Pearl Harbor in the early 1990s.

Gallagher joined the military after dropping out of McNary High School at the age of 17. He attended Cummings Elementary School and Whiteaker Middle School before that.

He crossed the country five times in the pick-up before he retired back home in Keizer. It's traveled between San Diego and Hawaii twice by boat.

"Right now, it's got about 300,000 miles on it and I think if it ever died I'd just replace the engine," he said.

Moving on to the cab of the truck, you'll find a working hatch above the driver's seat and the remnants of a project he later decided wasn't such a great idea after all.

Look closely above the driver's side door.

"I rigged the door so it would open like a DeLorean," he said, referring to the gull-wing design. "But it was just impractical. I had to park four feet away from the nearest car and when I got in I couldn't reach the handle to close it again."

Back at the flatbed, it's not what's been added, but what's missing that makes an impact.

"I cut it in half and took out about 25 inches of the bed," said Gallagher.

On the tailgate, you'll find the only piece of the truck that's ever gotten Gallagher any flack from the police.

It's an embedded globe from a traffic light.

"It used to be red but they made me change it to green," he said.

The rear of the car is home to one of the most well-known and well-received aspects of Gallagher's custom jobs.

It's a anatomically-correct, cherubic-shaped figure that relieves itself at the push of a pedal.

Gallagher obtained the figure, which was a decorative figurehead on a bar tap, and hooked it up to a windshield washer pump.

"It gets a lot of laughs. I watch people drive up behind me and stare. Then when I hit the pedal, they burst into laughter," he said.

Gallagher claims he had no grand plans when he began customizing the car. It is, in fact, just one of many ongoing pursuits that includes turning a 19-foot bomb into a street-legal vehicle.

If it makes you feel any safer, rest assured Gallagher doesn't even own a real gun.

Still something about the truck clicks, as he found out recently in Shed, Ore.

"I took it down to an ugly car contest and it won the prize for ugliest truck and the people's choice award," he said. "For me, it's all just cheap entertainment."

It would hard to pinpoint what drove Gallagher to such extremes.

Maybe it was all those years behind a desk and behind-the-scenes deciphering encrypted messages that left him yearning work on something that could draw people's attention.

But it's more likely that his car is simply an expression of his easy-going personality, and all you need to know about that is in his personalized license plate – a tribute to a favorite type of motorcycle that could be more aptly taken phonetically.

It says:


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