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Leroy Jones

Feb 10th, 2012 | By | Category: Jack Schrock's Blog

In the late 60s and early 70s the Holmes 440 established itself as the country’s most popular wrecker as it was versatile, prescription rugged, capsule robust and regularly exceeded expectations. Towers on the west coast soon installed the 440 on one-and–a-half and two-ton chassis, stomach equipped them with a 230-lb. front bumper and I saw more than one 440 towing a Class 8 power unit. (Believe it.) But the prize went to Leroy Jones of New Orleans, who regularly towed loaded cane trucks with his 440. With the cane stacked ten feet high, the 440 was dwarfed and looked like an ant pulling a forest three times its size.

But, there came a day when Leroy grew tired of his 440, what with springs showing in the seat, rust on the body, a cracked windshield and more. So, he made a trade with Otis Whitlow, Holmes distributor for New Orleans, and got himself a spanking new 440 in the deal. “Whit” told Leroy to drop back in two weeks to pick up his new license plates and then went to work reconditioning Leroy’s old trade-in. First a new seat, windshield, chrome front bumper, straps on the tow sling, service line on the winch and sand blast the wrecker body, smooth out the whisky bumps on the fenders and a new two color paint job and “Wa-La”… an almost new, slightly used, but never abused, Holmes 440.

Leroy dropped by later and noticed that sharp 440 sitting on the lot and guess what? It was painted his colors. He tracked down Whit and couldn’t wait to ask him about that “new” wrecker out there. Whit told him to look very close because that was his old trade-in. Now Leroy knew the engine was solid and the wrecker worked fine so he ended up picking up both his new tags and his old wrecker because Whit made him a deal he couldn’t refuse.

Old 440s are still something akin to old girlfriends. Just a little touch up here and there, and soon you’re ready to go again.

Don’t believe everything you read — but this here is the “trooff” (almost).