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1912 car part of Mondays Memorial Day parade
Everett Rankins, 82, and son-in-law Steve Rehkopf are pictured in the antique International Harvester vehicles that will be part of the Memorial Day parade in Manteca on Monday. Rankins years ago restored both vehicles literally from scratch. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO


•WHAT: Manteca Memorial Day parade
•WHEN: Monday at 11 a.m.
•WHERE: Downtown Manteca along Yosemite avenue from Library Park to Manteca High.

Two entries in Manteca’s first ever Memorial Day parade on Monday will be hard to miss – a Christmas-tree green 1912 vehicle and a fire-truck red 1913 four wheeler. Both were made by International Harvester Company. And both have been meticulously restored by octogenarian Everett Rankins.

Farmer Rankins and his young-at-heart bride Wanda, who is also an antique-car enthusiast, will be the proud riders in the green 1912. In the red car will be the Rehkopf family – the Everett’s daughter Pam, her husband Steve who was pastor of First Baptist Church in Manteca for 20 years, and their two daughters the younger of whom is a newly minted and proud East Union High School graduate, Erin.

Their unique vehicles won’t be the only attractions. The entire family will be appropriately dressed in period costumes – the Everetts in 1912 outfits, and the Rehkopfs dressed “like country folks,” to quote Steve who is now a teacher with the San Joaquin County Office of Education.

While the Rankins have taken their restored antique vehicles to a number of parades on various community celebrations including Christmas and Fourth of July, “this is the first time ever that I have the two vehicles going at the same,” explained Everett. Son-in-law Steve Rehkopf will be driving the red car.

“I’ve taken this red one to a couple of dozen (parades),” Everett said. “But the highlight of this red one was when we got invited to AAA’s hundred-year anniversary (celebration) in Washington state.”

They drove the car from Spokane to Seattle, a total of 350 miles, in five days. Along the way, they stopped at hotels that were reserved for them for that purpose by AAA which sponsored the event.

“We stopped at some places to show the cars. It was a fun trip except it rained the whole time,” Everett said with a laugh, recalling their September 2004 experience.

Wife Wanda said they take two tours a year with their antique cars, mainly through the club that they have joined. Their destinations vary each time.

“This year in April, we went to Alpine east of San Diego. It snowed when we were there. We got snow in two days, and it was raining and snowing at the same time,” Wanda recalled with a laugh.

Bad weather aside, though, “We had a lot of fun!” she said.

Everett said his 1912 and 1913 International Harvester antique cars both have two cylinders and two-speed transmissions. They have 20 horse-power engines and can travel “about 25 miles per hour,” he said.

Each also holds 10 gallons of unleaded gas. “We use unleaded because that’s all I can get, but back then (in 1912 and 1913) a lot of times they use white gas in those days,” Everett said.

His detailed restoration of the vehicles include kerosene side lights and tail lights, “just like the old-fashioned lamp that they used before electricity,” he said.

The vehicles were made by International Harvester Company, “the same international company that built the tractors and combines from way back,” Everett explained.

“They started building these in 1907. This particular model (of his 1912 and 1913 vehicles) is a combination – they call it auto-wagon. It’s a combination because the back seat is removable so you can haul your pigs during the week and go to church on Sunday with the car. It fastens in the bed in the back, like a pick-up body. They built really practical vehicles. It has high wheels and it’s pretty,” enthused Everett.

First restoration project
Everett came upon his first restoration challenge project when he received a call from a friend who needed help taking out the rusty specimen out of someone’s back yard where it had lain dormant for decades.

“This friend had brought it here in Tracy in a person’s back yard for many, many years. They had to take the fence out to get it. He didn’t have a trailer, so he called me. While it was on the trailer, he said, ‘Well, Everett, you take this rig because you know more about it than I do.’ After a little while, I decided I will try, so I bought it from him.”

Everett said he had already restored a 1933 International truck at the time which gave him the confidence to take on this new challenge. But he did not get started right away. He put it in storage for a while. But when he finally started taking it apart, he realized he got himself into one major challenge. That’s because what he actually picked up at the back yard were just bits and pieces of what was once a piece of a beautiful machine.

“There were no fenders, some of the parts were just lying on the ground,” Everett recalled.

“Anyway, I stored it away for about a year,” he said, telling himself, “it will be fun to get it running.”

Easier said than done though because he had “never seen an International one like this or even heard of one,” so he did not know where to start.

But it just so happened that the Harrah’s Club in Reno has a big collection of antique vehicles.

“So I went up there and they let me take pictures and even make a few measurements and stuff. Mostly from those (pictures and measurements), I built this one,” he said of his restored 1912.

“The further I came along with (the restoration), the better it looked and the more interested I got. Over a period of 10 years, I finally painted and got it together. My grandkids grew up with it and it had been in parades,” Everett said.

After that first restoration project, he started to get better at it.

“I just finished one that I’ve been restoring for about six years,” he said with pride.

Why does the job take so long?

Everett explained, “You have to make any parts you need because it’s almost impossible to find any parts. So you have to fabricate the parts or have them cast, or anywhere you could get them,” he explained.
The former Manteca resident said he caught the car-restoration bug when he restored a 1933 International truck in 1977.

“Kind of like a fishing or golfing habit. And it’s kind of fun to get a rusty heap and make it a running machine, and the older it is, the more crude it is, and the more unique it is, the more fun it is,” said Everett who, with wife Wanda, bought one of the first flat-top homes in the Powers Tract. Later, they moved to a house in the Flores Court on the other side of Yosemite Avenue. They moved to their rustic ranch in Tracy in 1991 before the mall on Naglee Road was even there.

Everett has been harvesting alfalfa commercially since he was 16 years old in San Joaquin County and in Discovery Bay. He and his son now run the business.