|Native Southern Nevadan Clark Whitney gets countless looks every time he drives "Big Bird" across town or on long trips.
There is no question that native Southern Nevadan Clark Whitney can be seen and heard coming for miles considering his unique set of wheels.
The 58 year-old Whitney drives a 2006 International 4300 medium duty pickup truck complete with a set of Texas Longhorns on the hood and a turbo charged 466 cubic inch International Diesel engine with a custom exhaust system.
Powered by an automatic transmission, the eye-catching beast was named “Big Bird” by Whitney’s nine grandchildren.
However, while the oversized pickup is impressive now, it wasn’t when Whitney found it in a wrecking yard in December of 2006.
“It had been wrecked,” said the colorful Whitney, who sports an old-fashioned handlebar mustache while working as business development manager for Bobby Ellis’s SNAP Tow in Henderson. “The driver was renting the truck at the time and fell asleep at the wheel. The wreck totally smashed the cab and the hood and broke the right wheel hub off. The impact had to be immense based on what was left it.”
Whitney had been looking for something like the International, which had only 30,000 miles.
“I went to the wrecking yard looking for medium sized truck that had been wrecked,” he said. “I bought a cab that was a blem, a refurbished hood and grill and had the wrecking yard VLV Truck Parts disassemble the truck. They had to shorten the frame to make everything match. I wanted to make sure it had the lines of a standard pickup.”
Whitney estimates he has as much as $60,000 in the refurbished truck. A former mortician who also managed a jewelry store, Whitney has always enjoyed a unique life.
“For the money I have spent on the truck, I could have bought a pretty nice street rod,” Whitney said. “But I wanted something that really stood out. With the four doors, this gives me the chance to take my grandkids for rides.
“I’m a spendthrift. What can I say?”
Whitney had Longhorns on two previous vehicles, so the addition was a natural for the International.
“I found the horns in a 45-foot moving van that I bought at an auction, and they actually hung in my office for a couple of years,” he said. “This was the third vehicle that I have had with horns, and they were a perfect fit for the International.
“People stop me all the time just to take pictures of it. I went to the Grand Canyon and from the time I left Henderson until I got to Kingman, 24 people took pictures of Big Bird. You cannot believe the attention I get with it when I drive it down the Las Vegas Strip on a Friday or Saturday night.
“Big Bird has been in parades including the Nevada Day Parade in Carson City; Thanksgiving and Christmas parades in Las Vegas, Henderson and Boulder City. We have been to elementary school career day celebrations all over Southern Nevada.”
The truck has air conditioning and cruise control. It cruises effortlessly at at 70 mph.
“This is just a big Cadillac that rides like a truck,” Whitney said. “It has an air-ride driver’s seat along with an air ride cab and air ride suspension.”
The truck has two gas tanks holding 240 gallons of fuel.
“Big Bird gets eight miles to the gallon,” said Whitney. “It’s expensive to drive but well worth the looks I get. It’s always a conversation piece no matter where I go.”