The term “limited edition” has been thrown around a lot, but some things truly are exactly that – and Ryan Wichtner’s 1982 Marmon cabover is certainly one of them. With only a few still existing today, Ryan named his rig “Limited Edition” in honor of its rare standing. In conversation one day, Ryan Wichtner and this cool old Marmon cabover was brought up. The conversation turned into a phone call, which turned into a planned visit to see and shoot pictures of this awesome truck, and that visit turned into a friendship for me, as well.
Setting up the photo shoot location at a horse ranch near where Ryan and his wife Cindy live in Eustis, Florida, the trees, with the Spanish moss hanging, the warm late afternoon sun, and a beautiful truck was a picture perfect scene. When we got to their home the truck was just sitting pretty in the driveway, and getting to see her up close was everything and so much more than John and Ryan had told me. The attention to detail everywhere on this rig is phenomenal.
I remember the days when Marmon trucks shared the roads I traveled, and in conversations with other friends, the ones we remember the most are the ones that hauled military loads out west across I-80. They had bullet-proof glass for windshields and several black cars that traveled with them, and when you passed one, you didn’t slow down to stare, even though you wanted to. I had the pleasure of riding in a Marmon for the first time going to the photo shoot location with Ryan, and for a rig with spring ride and not air ride, it was pretty smooth.
When he was a young man, Ryan dreamed of owning a Marmon, but they were too expensive. Here is where we started to learn a lot about Marmon trucks we didn’t know. I knew that they were literally hand built, and because of that, Marmon earned the nickname “the Rolls Royce of trucks” because of their high quality and craftsmanship. In 1982, the estimated cost of a new Marmon cabover was about $85,000.
The specs on this 1982 Marmon 110P “Rolls Royce” include a Cummins Big Cam III engine, a Fuller 15 double over transmission, 4.40 rears, a Reyco suspension, and a 210-inch wheelbase. This is a VIP edition and only three or four are known to exist today (based on registration records). The bumper and grill are “V” shaped which distinguish it as a VIP edition. This fact is how Ryan came up with the “Limited Edition” name for her because she truly is.
When Ken Matuszak contacted Ryan about this cabover, which he was selling for the wife of the owner who lived in Wisconsin, William Carr, Ryan was more than interested. In fact, he bought it sight-unseen, so it was coming home with them no matter what. The truck was in pretty rough shape, and it had been driven from Wisconsin down to Ken’s place in McKinney, TX where it was left outside, with the windows down, and critters had made it their home.
Driving to Texas in 2012 with his wife Cindy and their sons Daniel and Coltin, Ryan brought an assortment of tools to fix the truck along the way, if need be, on the trip home. The trip home was pretty uneventful besides a leaking wheel seal, two mice who had a problem with their home being moved (which scared his son Daniel), and the fact that they got stopped in every state along the way because of the temporary plate on the truck. Daniel rode with Ryan while Cindy and Coltin followed in the pickup truck. Once home, it took four years to bring her to her present glory.
Unveiled at the 75 Chrome Shop show in 2016, where the truck was being displayed for the first time, Ryan chose the Marmon’s paint based on options and stripe schemes in old brochures. The colors are Dark Jade Green, Bright Gold, and Bright Lime. The truck was painted by Ryan’s friend at AAA Painting in DeLand, Florida, and all the custom pinstriping was done by Darrell at Doctor D Pinstriping. The truck has original Marmon gauges and logos, as well as the original fans by the windshield, original Donaldson air dryer, heated fuel tanks from the factory, original air-perforator (this is used to keep air out of the fuel lines), and the original bumper. She has 953,226 miles on her, but Ryan knows the engine has been overhauled twice, so he guesses the truck probably has over two million actual miles on her.
Getting help from a shop with the custom parts that he could no longer get or find, Ryan added the dual breather system, the wing, new horns, mirrors, ladder bars, lights, and other custom touches throughout the truck. Steve at Roadsknz refinished the grill, while the interior, which is now all new, was made to look as it would have been when it came out of the factory when new. Ryan also overhauled the engine and has done most of the tearing apart and putting back together of everything himself.
While talking to Ryan on the phone, I mentioned our friend Mark Harter, who has owned two Marmon trucks over the years, so we got him on the phone, too. Listening to Ryan and Mark speak Marmon was amazing, and we learned a lot. Marmon was founded in 1902 by Harold and Walter Marmon and they initially built luxury cars. Today, a vintage Marmon automobile is very rare. The most famous Marmon in the world is the “Wasp” – a six-cylinder car with a single seat that won the very first Indianapolis 500 in 1911 driven by Ray Harroun. During practice, there were complaints of a potential safety hazard because the one-seater could not carry a riding mechanic to help watch for approaching cars. In answer to those concerns, Harroun rigged up what is believed to be the first rearview mirror used on an automobile.
With the onset of the Depression, the luxury car market collapsed. In an effort to keep his business going, Walter Marmon teamed up with ex-military engineer Arthur Herrington. Their idea was to focus on building all-wheel-drive trucks, so Marmon-Herrington started developing military trucks. In the early 60s they developed a Class 8 commercial truck, and there’s only one known to still exist. In 1964 Marmon-Herrington sold the rights to build the highway trucks to Space Corp. and production was moved to Denton, TX, and then, eventually, to Garland, TX. The new company was known as Marmon Motor Trucks, with production running until February 1997 when the last one rolled out the door – a model 125DHR which was bought and is still owned by the previously mentioned Ken Matuszak of McKinney, TX.
Growing up loving trucks, Ryan had an uncle who hauled cars. When Ryan was 19 years old, he purchased a 1980 Kenworth K100C cabover from its original owner in 1982. Being only 19, he couldn’t go out of state, but he knew a couple farmers, so he pulled a 3-deck cattle pot, hauling cattle and hogs, picking them up in western and northern Michigan and bringing them back to a packing house in Utica, MI. When he was old enough to start running out of state, he started working for a local automobile dealership, hauling cars, just like his uncle. He pulled a car carrier for a while, running from San Francisco and Los Angeles, bringing cars back to Chicago and Detroit.
Married for 31 years, Ryan and Cindy have three children – Nicole (Nikki), Coltin, and Daniel. Both Nikki and Daniel like trucks because their dad likes them. Ryan and his family moved to Florida in 1993. At the time, he was working for Roundtree Transport out of Jacksonville, FL doing heavy haul. He’s been working at Ring Power since 2012 and, when he’s not being a mechanic, Ryan hauls big equipment locally. We would like to say thank you to Ryan and Cindy for all your hospitality and for sharing the beautiful trucks that Ryan takes such pride in.
Owning a second Marmon – a 1986 57P conventional with a flat top sleeper, 3406B CAT, Fuller 13-speed, 3.80 Eaton rear ends, and Hendrickson air ride – we did not get to peek at this one because she was all wrapped up in blankets to protect her from the Florida sun. His trucks are always wrapped up inside a building built just for them. We did, however, get a glimpse of the 1980 Kenworth K100C he has owned all these years. He misses driving this truck, that he worked for 21 years, and said, “Inside this cab is my happy place!”
This cabover Kenworth has been completely restored, as well, and Ryan even overhauled the engine and added nitrous! But this is a story for another day. Owning a truck that you worked for over two decades and then restoring it is rare these days, and I can’t wait to tell her story one day. But this one is all about Ryan’s “Limited Edition” Marmon cabover, which is truly a limited edition vehicle for many reasons, and one we won’t soon forget!