Fiction or No

Aug 24th, 2012 | By | Category: Jack Schrock's Blog

Chicago has been one of the leading proponents of owning and operating T & R equipment. In fact, it was one of their procurements that led to the development of a new wrecker manufacturer in the Midwest.

Shortly after the successful launch of the Century hydraulic wrecker, a skilled fabricator by the name of Bill Bottoms got his hands on one of Century’s automotive wreckers. According to rumor, with a piece of butcher paper taped to the side, he scribed the Century body and went on to develop a competitive wrecker that looked a great deal like the small Century. (Oh Really?) But, it was not a Century, it was a Challenger out of Elkhart, Ind., and with it Challenger won a procurement contract from the City of Chicago for a large quantity of small wreckers. And, that sale is what launched Challenger, which went on to become one of the industry’s early innovators with a HD rotator and later a hydraulic underlift (really worked well) that were the work product of engineering genius Dave Humphries, VP of Engineering for Challenger.

I remember that my good friend Harry Saehlenou bought the first HD Challenger rotator. I talked with him at the San Diego CTTA show as he had just received a “welcome” ticket from the highway patrol for overweight while towing the nose of a Peterbilt road tractor behind his black Cat rotator. And, because of the excessive weight of the rotator and California’s zealous enforcement of weight laws, Harry was often called for two wreckers — the rotator to quickly recover the load while keeping the freeway open and the second wrecker to legally tow the casualty back to the barn.

How much of this yarn is true I don’t know, but I offer it for what it’s worth.