HASTINGS, Minn. (WCCO) — It does a man good to have hobbies that bring him joy, but there are times when that passion veers into territory that no one saw coming.
This is one of those times.
Bruce Bauer, 61, took a manure spreader, a bunch of farm antiques and a ’93 Chevy S-10 pickup chassis to build what he considers a thing of beauty.
“It looks cool, it’s different,” Bauer said. “It sounds cool. You’re driving down the road and you get a lot of second takes.”
He calls his invention “Lil’ Stinker.” It has a two-man crosscut saw for a dashboard, a milking machine for the carburetor, and cast iron tractor seats with pitchfork tines as back rests.
The passenger seats are cushioned toilet seats with seat belts.
“It’s pretty nice to drive something around that I made, that I designed,” said Bauer, “that gives people that second take.”
He is a big hit at local car shows, taking home several trophies.
“He has a quirky mind!” said one admirer at the Saturday night Cruise-in Car Show in Hastings.
“I mean there’s everything imaginable on there from the farm,” said another.
Bauer enjoys showing off the suction from his unusual carburetor.
“The milk machine actually functions,” he said, as he asked bystanders to stick a finger in. “It runs off my engine vacuum.”
A cistern hand pump acts as the driver’s arm rest, while the passenger riding shotgun has an actual 12-gauge double-barreled shotgun to lean against.
Bauer used horseshoes for his hinges, levers from a horse-drawn cultivator for his parking brake and transmission shifter, and John Deere corn planter boxes to hold his headlights.
“I would wake up in the morning with a good idea some days,” he said. “I don’t know how I thought of them.”
It’s classified as a rat rod, licensed as a homemade vehicle, and perfectly fine for the highways.
“Oh, it could go 85, 90, 95, 100 miles an hour,” Bauer said. “I’d never do it. I usually try and stay with the speed limit because i don’t want any trouble.”
In his semi-retirement, the vehicle has been a new adventure for Bauer, a new attraction for bystanders, and new life for something that used to spread manure.
“Now it spreads smiles,” Bauer said.
It took him eight months to collect and assemble all the parts to give “Lil’ Stinker” the look he was going for. In the coming weeks, Bauer will have “Lil’ Stinker” on display at local festivals.
On September 6, he’ll start the day at Prescott Daze, then do the Hastings Saturday Night Cruise-In at night. On the 13th, he’ll be at the River Falls Bacon Bash.