The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio


July 13, 2009

This old truck really smokes

Kingsville ice cream social to feature Studebaker barbecue

KINGSVILLE TOWNSHIP — Drew Thomas’ 1949 Studebaker pickup really cooks.

“When I take it out, I get a lot of attention from it,” says Thomas, a Kingsville Township resident. “I’ve had people think my truck is on fire.”

The fire is contained to the cab, where Thomas built a fire box that provides heat and smoke to the grill he built in the engine compartment. Thomas says the grill is large enough to serve 100 to 200 persons, depending on what he’s cooking.

The truck bed provides storage for wood, iced-down beverages and Thomas’ custom-built steamer for clams, crabs and sweet corn. There’s also a music system built in.

In short, it’s a party on wheels; just add meat and condiments. Thomas does the rest.

Thomas says his inspiration for the grill came from a scene in “Gone in 60 Seconds,” in which food is cooked under the grill of a junk yard car. After he had his clam steamer built four years ago, Thomas decided to go to take it to the next level.

He found an old truck in Madison, bought it and went to work converting it into the ultimate grill.

“I just came up with the idea I’d build it, and we built and it came out very well,” he says.

Thomas, who enjoys hosting parties and cooking for family and friends, has no plans of making it into a business.

“I built it for myself. I enjoy parties and getting together,” he says. “I don’t hire out, per se. I just do it for my own. If I hired it out, I’d be busy every night.”

Thomas made a rare public appearance with his Studebaker grill last summer when he took it to the Kingsville-Area Heritage Committee’s Sundaes in the Park event. Thomas cooked Italian sausage and peppers sandwiches as a fund-raiser for the committee, whose first project has been to raise money for patriotic banners to hang from township utility poles. Kingsville Township trustees have also contributed generously to the project.

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