(Photo: Tony Cenicola/The New York Times)
“Sentimentalizing the machine is now a malignity of the century,” wrote Donald Judd in his 1993 essay “It’s Hard to Find a Good Lamp,” as he called out Marcel Breuer and Le Corbusier for designing chairs that “derived from the better camping and military chairs of the nineteenth century”–with the addition of a steely, machine-age gloss. Judd found this particular buffing up and repackaging of old good ideas “almost forgivable” (for the latter, extreme examples of machine fetish, such as Rogers and Piano‘s Pompidou Center, he had not a trace of sympathy), so we hope that he’ll pardon us for sentimentalizing his own machine: a 1972 Dodge pickup with a distinctive black-and-white paint job.
The truck, which Judd acquired shortly after moving to Marfa, Texas, is now owned (and driven regularly) by Evan Hughes, a Brooklyn-based furniture designer who purchased it from Judd’s son, Flavin, in 2000 for less than $5,000. Hughes recently showed the truck–which lacks radio, air-conditioning, and the ability to go faster than 75 miles per hour–to Richard S. Chang for a story in the auto section of The New York Times. “The engine is a 360 V-8 with a 4-speed manual transmission, and it’s geared very low,” noted Chang.
“It’s pretty much as it was,” [Hughes] said.
He noted some points of interest: a winch on the bumper spooled with 100 feet of cable, passes for Judd’s trips into Mexico on the rear window and a first-aid kit mounted on the driver’s door.
Unsnapping the wire clasp that holds the tin cover in place, he demonstrated that the kit was still fully stocked (with, among other things, ammonia inhalants, aspirin and an eye patch).
In a compartment along the side of the truck, Mr. Hughes dusted off old engine belts, an owner’s manual and a rusted metal container that could have been used for ammunition. He had removed a gun rack when he bought the truck, and to make more room in the cargo bed, Mr. Hughes also removed a toolbox and a water tank.
“This was really equipped for the desert,” he said. “In case you get lost or stuck, there’s nothing for miles.”