Crushing the Competition
When the 1998 Ford F-150 first rolled into Crown Point Auto Repair & Restoration, the team thought they’d suspend it off the ground about four inches.
“Well,” says general manager Tim Hyde, “those four inches became
12 to 14 inches.”
Five years later, the intimidating monster truck, covered in striking lightning and flames, rests in Crown Point’s parking lot, embodying their motto: We Crush the Competition.
And, voted as the best auto shop in the region by The Times of Northwest Indiana, Crown Point is right on point.
The truck has become synonymous with the business’ growing success, a formidable symbol that’s also adored by families and children in
“Sometimes I’ll look outside and a family has pulled over to look at the truck,” Hyde says. “The dad will lift the kids up on the truck and they’ll climb around.
The truck’s notable local status simply began as a pet project for the owner, Bill Wilson, who bought the vehicle for the shop, but it grew into a marketing endeavor. Staying true to the shop’s service of restoring old vehicles, Crown Point Auto Repair took the truck to the next level with a big lift kit they installed after purchasing the truck at an auction.
Still running its original 5-liter Triton V8 engine and 4-speed automatic transmission to this day, the team at Crown Point originally spent one week of man hours performing the fiery, electric paint job and suspending the truck off the ground 4 inches.
But, keeping in line with their own motto, they had to crush their accomplishment.
“Yeah, 4 inches just wasn’t enough,” Hyde says. “We wanted to tower over everyone and make sure they could see our company name and phone number.”
The team spent one more week updating the F-150, this time raising it more than a foot off the ground, upgrading to knobby 44-inch tires and installing four massive flood lights in the bed.
“It mostly sits in the lot,” Hyde says. “But we do start it up at least once a month to keep it in shape. It’s a gas hog, so we don’t drive it around too much unless we have to. But when we do, people definitely recognize it. They’re always asking about the truck and it’s brought quite a bit of business to the shop.”
The monster truck holds a “Ride Along” contest for families to ride in the back during the local St. Patrick’s Day parade, along with competing at the
Illiana Motor Speedway.
Restorations are nothing new for the shop—in fact, Crown Point has been restoring vehicles since its inception in September of 2009, and has restored everything from a 1955 Chevy to a 1967 Camaro to a 1967 Mustang.
And along with its monster truck is the shop’s fleet of Chrysler PT Cruisers they offer as courtesy vehicles, which feature an orange-and-white paint job and a photo of the local clock tower.
However, at the end of the day, it’s all about that Ford F-150 sitting in the lot, basking in the daylight and bringing the occasional intrigued customer.
“We love restoring vehicles, and that’s our pride and joy,” Hyde says of the F-150. “It’s been with us since the beginning, and it’s not going anywhere.”