Iowa farmer Bob Kalkwarf turned a 1982 Chevrolet Cavalier FWD station wagon into a chore pickup that'll haul up to 800 lbs. of cargo at a time.
"We use it a lot for hauling rocks. Gets the job done fast and is easy for my wife and grandchildren to drive. They love to use it," says Kalkwarf.
He cut off the windshield, roof, sides, doors, and back seats but left the floor intact. He cut off the door posts at the right height to support a 4-ft. long, 3 1/2-ft. wide box that he built from 1/8-in. steel. The box has a removeable endgate. He welded three steel cross members to the car frame, then bolted the box on top of them. He also removed the front seats and replaced them with a pair of Cub Cadet riding mower seats.
"I originally built it because I wanted to haul rocks faster than I could with a tractor and front-end loader," says Kalkwarf. "I can go 25 to 30 mph between rocky areas of the field or between fields. It's powered by a 4-cylinder, 2.8-liter engine. The 15-in. tires are on 60-in. centers and straddle 30-in. rows. The Cub Cadet mower seats are mounted about 9 in. higher than the original car seats so I have a good view of the field. Another advantage is that it weighs only about 1,100 lbs. empty so it doesn't corn-pact the ground as much as a tractor. With the engine over the front drive wheels it has good traction. The only limitation is that if I fill the box too full the front wheels spin out.
"My wife uses it to do yard work. She likes it because it has power steering, an automatic transmission, radio, and tape deck. The car's rear speaker is mounted in front of the box, and I keep a cooler full of pop in the front seat. Teenagers like to drive it so much they don't complain about having to pick up rocks.
"One advantage when picking up rocks is that it's built low to the ground so it's easy to get on and off. It also comes in handy for spraying along fence rows. I drive alongside the fence and use a spray wand in one hand and steer with the other hand. A 12-volt spray pump that sits in the box plugs into the car's cigarette lighter."
Kalkwarf used sheet metal to make "fenders" over the rear wheels. He salvaged the tail lights off an old pickup. The gas tank is still in its original place under the floor-board and just ahead of a small spare tire under the back of the box.