Photo gallery: Classics come to life in Athens

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ATHENS, Ont. — For the third year in a row, the truck show that just might be the best kept secret in Canada, brought the eastern Ontario town of Athens to life. The local fair grounds was crammed with trucks, new and old, with some dating back the earliest years of the 20th century.

Hosted by the Upper Canada Chapter of the Antique Truck Club of America, the Athens Truck Show takes over the Athens Fairground the second weekend in August. Athens, located about 20 minutes northwest of Brockville, Ont., is also the hometown of legendary truck and equipment collector Charlie Tackaberry of G. Tackaberry and Sons Construction. He has amassed a collection of hundreds of classic and contemporary trucks, many of which find their way into the Athens Truck Show each year. Charley Tackaberry is a truly generous fellow who enthusiastically supports such ventures.

In what may have been a world first, there were functioning examples in Athens this year representing 100 years of commercial transportation, ranging from a 1919 Ford Model T 1-ton truck to a 2019 Kenworth T880.

There were on display dozens of World War II vintage trucks from Autocar and GMC to Ford, Chevrolet and Diamond T and lots of highway trucks from the ’50s and 60s. Those were the days when a big engine meant 250 hp and air conditioning was two windows wide open at 50 miles per hour.

It’s amazing to walk through such a collection, stopping to take note of the year of the truck you’re gazing at and compare it to older and newer models. It’s hard not to notice the glacial pace of change over the decades, from the ’40s to the ’80s. Beyond that, things began to heat up, but we still had manual everything, air conditioners were more popular but still optional and advanced driver safety systems really referred to front-wheel brakes (optional until the mid-1980s) and power steering.

The blarney is always meters deep at such events, and that along is worth the tank of gas to get to Athens. Listening to the older drivers speak so fondly about a life that was much tougher than current drivers face, albeit in slightly different ways, is something I never tire of. It’s all part of a classic truck show, and it’s much more pleasant to listen to than the choruses of air horns and jake brakes at some truck shows.

If you haven’t been to the Athens Truck Show, make the calendar for mid-August 2019. You’ll be glad you did.

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Jim Park was a CDL driver and owner-operator from 1978 until 1998, when he began his second career as a trucking journalist. During that career transition, he hosted an overnight radio show on a Hamilton, Ontario radio station and later went on to anchor the trucking news in SiriusXM's Road Dog Trucking channel. Jim is a regular contributor to Today's Trucking and, and produces Focus On and On the Spot test drive videos.

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