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Charlotte Amalie
Monday, August 15, 2022
HomeNewsArchives3 Amigos, 10 Years and One Top Truck

3 Amigos, 10 Years and One Top Truck

Joseph Schrader (from left), Clemente Munoz, Evans Heyliger and their 10-year labor of love.In 1999, three friends got together to fix the damaged left front end of a 1985 Ford F-150, none of them dreaming that more than a decade later the same Ford would be the top show truck on St. Croix.

Joseph Schrader’s completely restored Ford F150/250 has graced the cover of True Blue Trucks magazine while also taking first place in the truck category during the St. Croix Automotive Extravaganza in March. All the accolades have come within six months of the truck’s rebirth after more than 10 years of work.

“We built this truck like it would have been built in the factory – remanufactured the entire vehicle to a complete restoration,” said Joseph Schrader, 44, assistant principal at St. Croix Career Technical and Educational Center.

Schrader couldn’t have done it without the help of two friends. Clemente Munoz is the head auto body technician at Hendricks International Honda and did all the body work on the truck. The engine was restored by Evans Heyliger, who has owned V.I. Engine Repair in Fredriksted for more than 40 years.

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“The work started with repairing the front – and then we said we can do a little more,” said Munoz, 51.

The three of them started working on the truck only a few hours on Saturdays and Sundays when they had free time, and most of the rebuilding took place at Heyliger’s shop.

“Working on the truck was a kick because it’s what I do anyways – work on engines,” said Heyliger, 70, who has known Schrader for more than 30 years.

Shchrader, Heyliger, and Munoz have been working on vehicles together for 15 years. “It all started doing projects in 1995 – fixing cars, helping out family members with car problems. If a friend got in a collision I would take it to Clemente or if someone’s engine breaks down I would take it Evans,” said Schrader.
“We turned it into a Sunday hobby – just the kind of work we normally do.”

In December 2009, Schrader began driving the vehicle again, and people on the island started to notice the quality work that had been put into the Ford.

“The first time I realized it was high caliber was when I took it to get registered and people thought I got it in the States,” said Schrader, who worked as an automotive and diesel instructor for 10 years before becoming an assistant principal.

Schrader was proud of the work put into the truck, but wasn’t looking to show it off – until some friends on the island started sending him links to truck magazines. From there, Schrader took some pictures of the restored Ford on the beach and at Point Udall, then wrote a simple story and submitted it to True Blue Trucks, a national magazine devoted to Ford trucks.

“They wrote me back saying that, ‘Your truck is nice, the story is short, but sweet.’ So I wrote the rest of the article and took more pictures,” said Schrader. In June, Schrader’s F-150/250 made the cover of True Blue Trucks.

The truck also won first place out of six in the “truck wild” category during the 2010 St. Croix Automotive Extravaganza held at the Randall “Doc” James Racetrack. Truck wild means that the trucks competing have major modifications as opposed to the “truck mild” category meaning that the trucks have only minor modifications.

Schrader looked through countless truck catalogues and magazines searching for ways to improve the Ford, and over the decade of work spent between $15,000 to $20,000 to restore it. The engine alone cost $5,000 and most of the parts were imported with the toughest part to find being the bed side panels.

The longest decision to be made in the restoration process was choosing the wheels and the paint, which Schrader eventually left up to his wife.

One day Schrader handed his wife a catalogue of wheels and told her to choose. “I liked them, they were different and they fit the style of the truck,” said Valerie Schrader, 38. She also had the idea to keep the original canyon red color.

“The colors he was picking were a bit too girly,” she said, “so I told him if you’re going to restore it, go back to the original.”

Besides Joseph, his wife is the only other person who has driven the truck since it has been restored, but the first person to get a ride in it was Schrader’s father, the original owner back in 1985. “We drove it to Fredriksted straight to Evans’ shop.”

Now, Schrader drives his restored Ford only on Sundays when he does a loop around the island, through the valleys and up some hills. He also enjoys taking his wife and kids for rides, but also enjoys getting it muddy, “I’ve done some donuts in my driveway – I had this thing covered in mud from head to toe,” said Schrader.

“The truck is fun to drive, you appreciate it most going up a hill and it just walks out of sand – traction is unbelievable.”

In the future, Schrader has ideas of putting his Ford in more competitions, but first he wants to gloss up the chassis even more and have it all chromed out to make it a full-time show truck.

“If they have car shows here we like to display it. Unitl then we will enjoy driving it. It’s a 1985, but it feels like a brand new truck.”

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Joseph Schrader (from left), Clemente Munoz, Evans Heyliger and their 10-year labor of love.In 1999, three friends got together to fix the damaged left front end of a 1985 Ford F-150, none of them dreaming that more than a decade later the same Ford would be the top show truck on St. Croix.

Joseph Schrader's completely restored Ford F150/250 has graced the cover of True Blue Trucks magazine while also taking first place in the truck category during the St. Croix Automotive Extravaganza in March. All the accolades have come within six months of the truck’s rebirth after more than 10 years of work.

“We built this truck like it would have been built in the factory – remanufactured the entire vehicle to a complete restoration,” said Joseph Schrader, 44, assistant principal at St. Croix Career Technical and Educational Center.

Schrader couldn't have done it without the help of two friends. Clemente Munoz is the head auto body technician at Hendricks International Honda and did all the body work on the truck. The engine was restored by Evans Heyliger, who has owned V.I. Engine Repair in Fredriksted for more than 40 years.

“The work started with repairing the front – and then we said we can do a little more,” said Munoz, 51.

The three of them started working on the truck only a few hours on Saturdays and Sundays when they had free time, and most of the rebuilding took place at Heyliger's shop.

“Working on the truck was a kick because it's what I do anyways – work on engines,” said Heyliger, 70, who has known Schrader for more than 30 years.

Shchrader, Heyliger, and Munoz have been working on vehicles together for 15 years. “It all started doing projects in 1995 – fixing cars, helping out family members with car problems. If a friend got in a collision I would take it to Clemente or if someone's engine breaks down I would take it Evans,” said Schrader.
“We turned it into a Sunday hobby – just the kind of work we normally do.”

In December 2009, Schrader began driving the vehicle again, and people on the island started to notice the quality work that had been put into the Ford.

“The first time I realized it was high caliber was when I took it to get registered and people thought I got it in the States,” said Schrader, who worked as an automotive and diesel instructor for 10 years before becoming an assistant principal.

Schrader was proud of the work put into the truck, but wasn’t looking to show it off – until some friends on the island started sending him links to truck magazines. From there, Schrader took some pictures of the restored Ford on the beach and at Point Udall, then wrote a simple story and submitted it to True Blue Trucks, a national magazine devoted to Ford trucks.

“They wrote me back saying that, 'Your truck is nice, the story is short, but sweet.' So I wrote the rest of the article and took more pictures,” said Schrader. In June, Schrader’s F-150/250 made the cover of True Blue Trucks.

The truck also won first place out of six in the “truck wild” category during the 2010 St. Croix Automotive Extravaganza held at the Randall “Doc” James Racetrack. Truck wild means that the trucks competing have major modifications as opposed to the “truck mild” category meaning that the trucks have only minor modifications.

Schrader looked through countless truck catalogues and magazines searching for ways to improve the Ford, and over the decade of work spent between $15,000 to $20,000 to restore it. The engine alone cost $5,000 and most of the parts were imported with the toughest part to find being the bed side panels.

The longest decision to be made in the restoration process was choosing the wheels and the paint, which Schrader eventually left up to his wife.

One day Schrader handed his wife a catalogue of wheels and told her to choose. “I liked them, they were different and they fit the style of the truck,” said Valerie Schrader, 38. She also had the idea to keep the original canyon red color.

“The colors he was picking were a bit too girly,” she said, “so I told him if you’re going to restore it, go back to the original.”

Besides Joseph, his wife is the only other person who has driven the truck since it has been restored, but the first person to get a ride in it was Schrader's father, the original owner back in 1985. “We drove it to Fredriksted straight to Evans' shop.”

Now, Schrader drives his restored Ford only on Sundays when he does a loop around the island, through the valleys and up some hills. He also enjoys taking his wife and kids for rides, but also enjoys getting it muddy, “I've done some donuts in my driveway – I had this thing covered in mud from head to toe,” said Schrader.

“The truck is fun to drive, you appreciate it most going up a hill and it just walks out of sand – traction is unbelievable.”

In the future, Schrader has ideas of putting his Ford in more competitions, but first he wants to gloss up the chassis even more and have it all chromed out to make it a full-time show truck.

“If they have car shows here we like to display it. Unitl then we will enjoy driving it. It's a 1985, but it feels like a brand new truck.”