Featured: We Set Up Camp To Capture This ’50s Willys Jeep Time Machine

We Set Up Camp To Capture This ’50s Willys Jeep Time Machine

By Jeremy Heslup
May 2, 2016

We’re on our way back to SoCal from wrapping five shoots in the Bay area. Last on our list is a Willys Jeep in Fresno. Sean and I are both thinking, “Fresno?!” but we’ve been assured that the story is certainly ripe and the scenery will match, if we head towards the Sierra Mountains. Upon arriving before dawn at Larry Shank’s House, we’re greeted by a running 1953 Willys Jeep with a Kenskill Teardrop Trailer.

Larry has told us that he has the perfect place close by to start the day off with. It’s a place by a river in a campground that will likely not be occupied…since it’s December. We make our way over and sure enough, there’s a perfect spot to start the statics. We proceed from the statics to drone shots. The Willy’s isn’t a fast car by any means—this always makes it a bit easier to get the smooth aerial footage you always hope for. After a morning of tranquil off-roading, we head for breakfast.

After breakfast, we move to the interview. Larry’s story is a very compelling one: he literally grew up with (and in) this Jeep. His father, a technician at Lockheed-Martin, had purchased this Jeep new as a way to escape with his family to explore the American Southwest, away from the pressures of work. Each year, his father would install something new to make it his own. After coming of age, the Jeep became Larry’s responsibility and he’s taken care of it ever since.

We spend the rest of the day back out near the mountains. The scenery is absolutely beautiful, and especially in the wintertime. Everything lush and green is certainly not the typical look for California these days. As the sun begins to set, we race back to Larry’s house to set up camp before we loose all light.

The Jeep and Trailer really make you feel like you’re back in time. From the WW2 bomber-style map light that adorns the outside of the trailer to the ’50s-era fold-out table, this thing truly is a time machine in every sense of the word.

One of the most exciting things we were able to do with this shoot was to utilize the reel-to-reel film that Larry had archived from his family’s travels in the ’50s. After the sun had set, we set up the projector, and projected the footage onto the side of the trailer. We were unsure as to how well it would work…but to our surprise, it worked perfectly.

After filming, I think knew we had something special. Larry’s family is certainly heartwarming, and mixed with a great interview and running footage, that’s a receipe for a really amazing film. But when you add in a period reel-to-reel home movie projected on to the side of the trailer, it’s something that can’t be replicated so early. I have to credit Aaron McKenzie, a film producer here at Petrolicious, for having that idea.

It’s been great to see Larry’s film be so warmly received, and hopefully it will help Larry find a home for it in the long run. Thanks again to Larry and his family for allowing us to share his story, and also fantastic job on the edit by Sean Fannin.

Follow Jeremy’s latest shoots on his website and Instagram.

Join the Conversation
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Jaime Baker
Jaime Baker
8 years ago

I nearly didn’t watch this one as I enjoy the cars and am not much of a truck guy. I’m really glad that I did as I enjoyed it immensely. The rig is impressive, but its the story of a boy and his dad, and the everlasting memories that really make this one special.

Andrew Kennedy
Andrew Kennedy
8 years ago

Very nice film, carefully produced, not over dramatic. Much appreciated form here on the other side of the pond where there is slightly less unregulated space but still enough to get away from urban pressures. We have to use designated camp sites now although we do have this thing called stealth or guerilla camping but we’d have to do it with less conspicuous gear.

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger
8 years ago

I must of missed this one first time around so I’ll say it here . Another ‘ tastefully ‘ and intelligently done resto-mod [ to a purpose ] classic American 4WD thats still being used as the maker intended . The addition of the ‘ TearDrop ‘ [ which are still being built by the way ] only making things that much better . Nicely filmed and appropriate music as well .

But I do have one minor bone of contention with Mr Shank … that being that no one was out there [ desert SW ] exploring and camping back when he and his family were there . Fact is folks have been Auto camping , off roading and Overlanding in the desert SW since the early 1900’s . Saying that things weren’t overrun [ yet ] in the 50’s would of been the more accurate statement .

Petrolicious Newsletter