When someone dies it is a common thing to wish that person to “Rest in Peace,” but when a young trucker recently passed away, it was a different story – his family wanted him to “Rest in Style!” At only 44 years old, Al Garcia of Mendota, California, had already spent 28 years behind the wheel, and many of those years were in the driver’s seat of his beautiful red and black Peterbilt seen here. Unfortunately, Al’s trucking career was cut short when he passed away on the day after Thanksgiving (2015).
Al, or “Ponchio” as he was known by most, worked in the family business, Garcia Trucking, for 25 years. The company was started by Al’s dad, Alfonso Garcia, in 1957. Back then, in the beginning, Alfonso hauled melons. His first truck was a 1950 Chevy bobtail, and then later he upgraded to a 1959 Peterbilt. From there, the business continued to grow, little by little, over the years. These days, Alfonso doesn’t drive anymore, but he is still the boss – now, his boys run the show. In addition to Al, Alfonso has three other sons – George (33), Eric (30) and Chris (28).
Garcia Trucking runs mostly in and around California’s central valley. Their bread and butter is hauling fertilizer – they haul liquid fertilizer in double tanker trailers and dry fertilizer in hopper trailers. Al would stay pretty local when hauling the fertilizer, picking up in places like Sacramento or Stockton, and then delivering down south to areas around Bakersfield. Al would drive and dispatch at the same time, lining up loads for himself, as well as the rest of the drivers.
Today, Garcia Trucking has a total of 13 trucks – Peterbilts and Freightliners. Before they started hauling fertilizer, Garcia hauled their own sugar beets – they even had their own sugar beet machines, which they still own today. The entire Garcia fleet is CARB-compliant, to avoid any hassles when going in and out of the places they load and unload. Al always wanted his own company, so three years ago he went out on his own and formed Al Garcia and Son Trucking.
Al drove the cool little red and black 2-axle seen here since it was brand new. It is a 1999 Peterbilt 379 long hood, and it started out as a glider kit. The Garcia boys equipped it with a 60 Series 470 Detroit and a 13-speed transmission, and it has been running strong and true ever since.
The truck has many subtle features, including chopped air cleaner screens, a painted drop visor, painted bullet-style cab lights with clear lenses, and custom painted mirror brackets. The Peterbilt emblems on the side of the hood were removed and the one on the front was painted red and black. The drop panels, headlight buckets and front fenders are painted black, as well as the deck plate, which also features pin-striping. With thoughtfully-placed lights, tank fairings and Hogebuilt quarter fenders, this sweet little daycab has a simple, understated elegance that cannot be denied.
Sadly, Al did not get to live a very long life – he had some serious health issues that eventually led to kidney failure and then his death on November 27, 2015. Al got out of his truck in October of 2015 to deal with these health issues, but he never got well enough to get back in it. He leaves behind a seven-year-old son, Jacob (AKA Goober), and his wife of 17 years, Melanie. Raising their son alone will not be easy, but Melanie is a strong woman. Al was a hard worker and the best son, brother and husband anyone could ask for. Al’s youngest brother Chris is going to keep this truck just like it is and not work it any more. He also is planning to take it to various local shows in California, displaying it in honor and memory of his brother.
The Garcia boys would like to thank Reyes Brothers Polishing for pushing off other jobs to get Al’s truck polished and clean for the funeral, and also their parents, for everything that they do for them each and every day. I would really like to thank the Garcia crew myself for getting the truck clean for the photo shoot and, especially, Chris Garcia for bringing the truck to the location in Mendota where I shot the pictures. It was a fantastic and emotional day, filled with laughs and giggles, as well as a few tears, that I won’t soon forget.
All of us at 10-4 Magazine would like to send our prayers and condolences to the Garcia family. Although “Ponchio” is gone, hopefully it brings some peace to those who miss him to know that he is “Resting in Style” and watching over his family from above.