Vintage Step Vans retrofits Bow Truss with rehabbed delivery truck

Bow Truss will be going on the road this fall with a rehabbed 1960’s delivery van, restored by one of Chicago’s newest delivery and food truck purveyors Vintage Step Vans.

Vintage Step Vans is outfitting us with a tan and brown-accented 1961 International Harvester Metro, complete with a completely rebuilt engine, new tires, brakes, all new electrical and mechanical work—and is one of (if not the only) factory automatic International Metro in existence.

Aesthetically, it couldn’t fit in more perfectly with Bow Truss Coffee Roasters than if we designed it ourselves. Picture a milk delivery truck driving up to the Cleavers, but with fresh coffee.

We spoke with Vintage Step Vans owner Tom Suddes—who buys, sells and refurbishes 1950’s and ’60s vans with partner Stefan Benteler here in Chicago—about his six-month-old company to really get a handle on the remarkable piece of history we are getting to represent Bow Truss.

Suddes has been quite busy lately too, citing the Chicago’s passing of a long-awaited food truck ordinance, receiving as many as 4,600 phone calls in the past month inquiring about his services.

Vintage Step Vans, while working with another food truck builder, takes buyers through the buying and custom rehab process seamlessly (you don’t need to be a vintage car expert by any means). They do mechanical work, electrical, body and paint work for food trucks, ice cream trucks, delivery trucks and mobile pop-up stores. They can also help retrofit vans with freezer and propane equipment, stoves, ovens and even cut out custom service windows. 

The former food truck owner himself says since starting his step van rehab business, he’s built out a pop-up store van for a client selling vintage tennis shoes, a popcorn truck for a client on the east coast and a weddings and events photography team who put a photo booth in the truck.

Each van has a story to tell. Suddes says he keeps track of each state he finds and buys the vans, which are primary International Harvester Metros. Originally assembled in Chicago (they actually say “Built in Chicago” throughout), the Metros were designed by industrial designer virtuoso Raymond Loewy. Aside from designing the neo-futuristic International Harvester Metro, Loewy is known as “The father of Industrial Design.” He can be attributed to designing the contoured Coca-Cola bottle; John F. Kennedy’s Air Force One plane; Greyhound’s double-decker busses; the logos for Lucky Strike, Shell and the U.S. Postal Service; the Studebaker Avanti and a host of other iconic American designs.

Suddes, who now has about 25 vintage trucks in his lot, says Loewy has always been a great inspiration to him and is why he got into refurbishing vintage step vans. 

We couldn’t be more excited to work with him and his promising new company. Doejo CEO, Phil Tadros says the truck is looking amazing and lauds the team at Vintage Step Vans for making the process incredibly easy.

You can also find Vintage Step Vans and its “vintage fleet” on Facebook. They also specialize in Divco, Ford, Chevy, Dodge, Grumman body styles and others. Check out some of the finished vans below.