Whenever Duane Buckmaster drives his 1972 Kaiser M35A2 or his 1996 AM General M35A3 to a car show or a parade, he pretty much knows he has the biggest truck on the road.
“I enjoy just driving them,” Buckmaster said. “You get one of them downtown, and it is a blast. Everybody just gets out of your way.
“I go to a lot of shows. I can pull up next to an expensive car, but everybody likes to come over and look at these trucks.”
Nearly six years ago, on July 2, 2009, Buckmaster bought the 1972 Kaiser in Iowa. The Iowa National Guard previously used it.
The reason Buckmaster made the purchase was his son had just graduated from Pittsburg State and received his degree in diesel mechanics and engineering. It was a hobby Buckmaster and his son could do together.
Buckmaster, though, decided not keep the large military truck at his home in Shawnee. The Kaiser’s new home was at his father-in-law’s farm in Basehor. Robert Miller definitely didn’t mind keeping the truck in his cow pasture among the cattle.
Miller is an Army veteran. He rode in these kinds of cargo trucks from 1952-54 when he served in Europe.
“I have been in these many times about 60 years ago,” said Miller, who is a proud member of Basehor VFW Post 11499.
On May 5, 2011, Buckmaster bought the 1996 AM General from the U.S. government in an Internet auction.
“Both vehicles, mechanically, I never had any issues with,” Buckmaster said. “Neither vehicle failed to start right up. They are very dependable.
“I can drive them anywhere. I take them to as many shows and parades as I can. Both vehicles have been in countless shows. Both have been in World of Wheels at Bartle Hall.”
Both trucks are in the M35 family and sometimes are referred to as deuce and a half because they are in the 2½ ton weight class.
While the basic M35 cargo trucks are rated to carry 5,000 pounds off road or 10,000 pounds on road, they have been known to haul twice as much, Buckmaster said.
The 1972 Kaiser has a manual transmission, and the 1996 AM General is an automatic. Both are all-wheel drive.
Further, both vehicles can operate on a wide variety of fuels, from diesel to jet to kerosene to heating oil or even gasoline. But gasoline should only be used in an emergency because it does not properly lubricate the injector pump.
The top speed of the cargo trucks is 56 miles per hour, though maximum cruising speed is about 48 mph. The driving range is between 400 to 500 miles because the fuel tank can hold 50 gallons.
There were 5,484 of the AM General M35A3s built. Buckmaster said his was number 3,567.
“They are just like new,” said Miller, who repainted the 1972 Kaiser 5 years ago. “You get in there and they are ready to go.”
Do you have a car, truck or motorcycle or other vehicle you would like see featured in Make It Yours? If you do, email your idea to David Boyce at Drive@kcstar.com