Miles of Memories: Tucson man finally finds late father’s truck after decades

Ken Newlin will now rebuild his father’s truck using parts of an identical truck he purchased years back.

Tracking down truck

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - A Tucson man is soon to be the owner of his late father’s truck that he’d been searching for since the 90s.

Ken Newlin can still remember riding around in his father’s 1969 GMC C2500 Camper Special Long Bed. It’s where he spent many mornings with his two sisters to and from Hope Christian Academy and then Tucson Christian School about 80 miles round trip from their home in Avra Valley.

The truck was his father, his childhood. Where he made memories over thousands of miles and reached milestones themselves.

“I actually had my first heartbreak as a young teenager on that road trip to Illinois I laid in the back of that truck and cried for 5-600 miles and my dad was wondering what was going on and I never told him so that truck has a lot of memories that go along with it," joked Newlin.

Newlin always dreamed of buying the car from his father, but at 18 years old he didn’t have the funds to purchase it when his dad was ready to sell. So the truck was sold in 1991, and he wouldn’t see it again for years.

Then, in 2004, Newlin now living in Oregon, had the resources to hire a Private Investigator to help search for the truck since he still knew the license plate number.

Surprisingly, the truck had remained in Tucson, and was now sitting in a junkyard. Unfortunately, it had been poorly taken care of over the years and was riddled with issues. Newlin explained he tried to buy it then but the owner’s prince was too high and he realized it would be difficult to transport from Tucson to Oregon.

So once again, he had to let it go.

Then, in August of 2020, he and his wife Sara were in the town of Ocean Shores, Washington, celebrating their wedding anniversary when they spotted it’s twin.

Newlin had to stop and inquire about the near replica of his father’s 1969 GMC, same turquoise color and all.

“I asked them the question if they would sell it and I didn’t think he was going to do it," said Newlin. But the owner did, and next thing they knew the truck was on it’s way to Tucson.

But Newlin would still remain curious about his father’s original truck. Thankfully, he was able to get into contact with the current owner and found out the truck was not only still in Tucson, but no more than 5 miles where he grew up.

It’s nowhere near in the shape it had been left in and not able to get back on the road.

“It was like oh that’s going to be a project ok,” joked Newlin’s wife, Sara.

Newlin isn’t giving up hope. After agreeing to a deal with the current owner, Newlin will take his father’s original truck and use the replica as a donor truck to build his dad’s original truck back.

“I see not just history of my father, I see my childhood," said Newlin as he stared at his father’s truck where it currently sits waiting to be towed.

The two have a long and expensive road ahead before the GMC can get back on it.

“It will just blow me away to give him the keys and put him in the driver’s seat and just go, drive the dream,” said Sara.

But that’s the thing about love. It requires patience and a solid foundation to make for a smooth ride.

“This is going to be riding next to my dad again," said Newlin. "For me, this was supposed to happen.”

The cost to restore that old of a truck is high, and Sara started a GoFundMe to help Newlin fulfill his dream of driving his dad’s truck again.

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