JoJo Bartosh has been a “truck girl” since her father taught her to drive using his 1972 Dodge three-quarter ton plow truck in rural Wisconsin. “I begged him to drive it,” she says. “He taught me how to plow snow and it made me fall in love with trucks.”
Bartosh, who is 40, has owned a number of trucks over the years since she learned to bust through snow drifts. But one truck holds special meaning – a 1957 Dodge W100 Power Giant. She completed a body-off-frame restoration of the truck in early 2015 in her one-car garage in Webster, Wis., using skills she learned from her dad James, who worked as a mechanic.
The spotless restoration grabbed the attention of Mopar executives at this year’s Midwest Mopars in the Park car show in Farmington, Minn. They gave Bartosh and her Power Giant the Mopar Top Eliminator trophy, awarded to enthusiasts who show dedication and excellence in preserving, modifying or preserving a vehicle from the company’s vast history.
It is the first of three Top Eliminator trophies Mopar will award this year. The next trophy winner gets selected at the Carlisle Chrysler Nationals in Carlisle, Pa., July 15-17.
Over the years, James Bartosh and his daughter worked together to revive several vehicles. Their first was the 1976 Dodge stepside pickup that JoJo Bartosh bought when she got her driver’s license.
“That truck was a rusty mess. My dad said we should restore it,” Bartosh recounts. “We did it together, took it all the way down to the frame. My dad was a mechanic and he taught me everything – how to rebuild engines and transmissions, how to paint.”
The ’57 W100 Power Giant, though, became a labor of love.
Bartosh bought the truck in 2002, attracted by the styling that included a conventional cab, rolled-top front fenders and a model-year-specific front design. It had some surface rust and was banged up but all the pieces were there. Bartosh set it off to the side and worked on other projects with her dad, including restoring a 1958 Dodge Power Wagon that they took to several car shows. “We had so much fun,” she says.
Work on the ’57 W100 Power Giant started in 2013. But there was a sense of urgency – James Bartosh had been diagnosed with cancer.
“I promised him I’d get it done for Farmington,” she says.
Bartosh doesn’t have a fancy workshop; a one-car garage serves as her restoration workshop.
The Power Giant project started with her removing the truck’s cab and bed to get to a rolling chassis. This created access to restore the frame and suspension and rebuild the 44 Spicer front and Dana 8 ¾ rear differentials along with the four-speed manual transmission and 315-cubic-inch V-8.
Then Bartosh cleaned the garage before remounting the cab and bed to repair the rust and dents in the sheet metal. Then she cleaned the garage again, hung some plastic and painted the truck in the correct Bayview Green and Mojave Beige colors. The only part of the project she didn’t do herself was new upholstery for the seat.
The restoration was complete just in time to take the Power Giant to the 2015 Midwest Mopars in the Park show. But James Bartosh had died two months earlier.
“I promised him I would have it there and I did. But it was bittersweet,” she says.
Mini Power Giant
Even though she says the restoration of the Power Giant was “kinda rushed,” Bartosh did not do much to the truck after she brought it home to Webster, Wis. But she was given an old golf cart with a seized two-stroke engine.
Bartosh’s mechanical talents enabled her to rebuild the engine. Then some creative mojo kicked in this spring. “I bought some flat sheets of steel and went to work. What I ended up with was an adorable mini-truck that I use to take the neighborhood kids for rides.”
Bartosh took the ’57 Power Giant and its pint-sized doppelganger to this year’s Midwest Mopars in the Park show the first weekend in June. And, she brought home the Top Eliminator trophy.
“When I found out I was picked for the trophy, it was a flood of emotions,” Bartosh says. “I’m just so honored they picked me. It’s unbelieveable.”
Since returning to Webster, Bartosh says the Top Eliminator trophy has toured her neighborhood in the customized golf cart and now rests in the center of a shelving unit in her living room, surrounded by other trophies won by her and her dad.
She’s also making plans to come to Detroit for the Woodward Dream Cruise in August, where the Power Giant will be included in the FCA US display at the southwest corner of Woodward Avenue and 13 Mile Road.
After that, the ’57 Power Giant will join her collection of restored vehicles, including the ’58 Power Giant and ’76 pickup projects she worked on with her dad: “I have a hard time letting them go,” she says.
What’s next? Sitting on Bartosh’s property is a four-wheel-drive 1958 Dodge Town Wagon – an ancestor to today’s popular full-size SUVs.
You might want to mark your calendar for next year’s Midwest Mopars in the Park show, or the year after.