When Craig, dressed in the stereotypical central New York farm boy outfit, steps out of a clearly modified 1983 Chevrolet S-10 named “Short Tempered”, the first assumption is that he is going to be the stereotypical American Muscle Car man. In reality, his grey tank top, well worked shorts and slight belly is the output of an easy going, resourceful man who has a penchant for practical jokes. So how did Craig, who describes himself as “neither short nor tempered” end up building a fire breathing, hood rattling stoplight drag racer? Well the truth is he didn’t. When you look at “Short Tempered” you’re actually looking at two trucks. One is Craig’s and another from a man named Kenny.
Kenny was the first owner of the S-10 and under his care the truck was built up as a quarter mile drag racer. He first tossed the asthmatic 4-cylinder engine and replaced it with a hearty 307 cubic inch V8 (read: pretty large). Soon after, the stock transmission was upgraded to a Turbo-Hydramatic 400*, the rear wheels were swapped out with fatter ones to send the power directly to the road, and the original 20-gallon gas tank was shrunk to a smaller 15-gallon affair. This vision made sense for Kenny because the S-10 was one of four vehicles he owned. He already had a daily driver, a sports car and a large object hauler, so he decided to turn the fourth car into a drag racer.
The problem was that Kenny was quite sickly and lived alone, so he sometimes was irregular about taking his meds. Unfortunately, that exacerbated his poor health and forced him to abandon Short Tempered for six years. During that time, Craig and his family became close to Kenny and took him under their wing. Every year at thanksgiving, Craig would ask Kenny “So when ya gonna sell that truck to me?” Despite history saying otherwise, Kenny consistently replied with plans to work on it in the spring. Sadly, Kenny’s lack of medication caught up with him and a fatal heart attack guaranteed that he would never make good on those plans. Since Kenny’s mother (his next of kin) was too old to travel from Florida, Craig’s family managed the sale of all of Kenny’s possessions for her. Well almost all of them. The S-10 was the last item to be sold, and Craig was determined “to buy that truck, no matter what it cost.”
Before he could make an offer, Kenny’s mother decided to give Craig the truck as long as he restored and entered the truck in the Waterville Cruise-In. With nine months before the show Craig set to work right away. He restored the interior vinyl, coaxed the rebellious number eight cylinder back into line, and cleaned the body till it shone like new. At the car show, Craig dedicated the car to Kenny and sent pictures to Kenny’s mother who was just astounded at the work that he had done.
While restoring the truck, Craig was able to put his own intention on it. For him, a truck provides him freedom to go anywhere, do anything, and carry most everything. Couple that with his penchant for joking around, and you end up with a windshield washer fluid reservoir that looks like a NOS canister, a jerry can in the bed that actually holds all the tools he needs to keep the car running, and small seamless white vinyl patches he printed out to cover up where the paint was chipped from use. The full list of work that Craig did could span a football field, so to save time you’ll have to trust me when I say all his other modifications are as clever and resourceful as the small sampling above.
So back to the start of this piece – how can one physical truck really be two? Well in philosophy, there’s a paradox that goes like this – you have an axe. You break the axe head so you replace it with a new head. Then you then break the handle, so you replace it with a new handle – is it the same axe? Well no it’s a different axe. Now at what point does the old axe become the new axe? Technically when the new head was put on it was a different axe than the old one, but it wasn’t “fully” new until the handle was replaced. But what defines “fully” new vs new? Follow the logic down the rabbit hole and apply it to this truck to come to the conclusion that every time a new set of modifications were completed on truck, it became a different truck.
And that is what is really fascinating about Short Tempered – when you look at it you can see two opposing intentions. One is a towards hyper-focused straight line speed machine, and the other is towards a laid back quirky Sunday cruiser that you take on adventures. And because Craig maintained Kenny’s original purpose and added his own touches, those two different sets of modifications are superimposed on top of each other. There’s the seven-year-old on a sugar rush that wants to race at every light and the other calmer, more mature dad that says "no son" before kicking back, cranking open the window and cruising out to the mountains. That tension between those two purposes indicates that there is something going on. And when you dig deeper, within that tension there is the story of two families and the ability for humans to sacrifice time and energy for people that have never even met. That is what makes Short Tempered so special - just by displaying what has been done to it, it tells a story of human goodness.
See more pictures here.