- Associated Press - Saturday, October 18, 2014

YORK, Neb. (AP) - Anyone who knows York County resident Paul Buller can tell you he’s not a shy man.

“I could talk to a fencepost,” Buller joked.

So it was no surprise that on a chilly fall day back in 2007, Buller struck up a conversation with the stranger sitting a table over from him at the South York Runza.

“At the end of the conversation, he asked me my name and I told him,” Buller said, “And that’s when he said about 40 something years ago he had bought a 1926 Chevy two-door Coupe from a David Buller.”

Buller only knew two David Bullers: one lived in Minnesota and the other was his uncle, the York News-Times reported (https://bit.ly/1yymNWz ).

The stranger, whose name was Paul Jensen from Exeter, further explained how he had bought the car from David in 1965 for the small price of just $39.

Jensen also said that the car had originally belonged to David’s dad, Henry P. Buller - it was then that Buller realized he had stumbled upon his grandfather’s car by complete accident.

Jensen, who still had the car sitting in a barn on his property, said he was thinking about selling the vehicle, so the men exchanged numbers and Buller returned home to do some research.

“The next day I called my older cousins and asked them if they remembered our uncle having the car,” Buller explained. “None of them seemed to remember it.

“I called my older brother, Marvin,” Buller continued, “and he remembered it, but he thought it was a pickup and said he remembered it being a light green color.”

Jensen and Buller had never discussed the color of the car, so Buller called him back and asked. Jensen said “Light green,” and everything started to click.

After doing a title search on it, Buller’s hopes were confirmed: the car had belonged to both his uncle and grandfather.

Buller found out that the coupe had been converted into a pickup by his grandfather during World War II. He had taken off the back trunk cover and replaced it with a wooden box so that it would be classified as a small pickup.

“We found out after the fact, at a car show in Henderson, that during World War II if you had a pickup and you were a farmer, you got a higher allotment of gas rationing - that’s why he converted it,” Buller explained.

At the time, seven years ago, Buller said he and Jensen failed to come to an agreement on the price of the car, but he asked Jensen to give him a call before selling it to anyone else.

Finally, during the fall of 2013, Buller’s phone rang.

Jensen told him the barn the car was being stored in was falling down and he needed to sell it.

“It was basically sitting in a cornfield in this barn - it was untouched with not a single house around it,” Buller said. “He came down in price, I went up in price and eventually we reached a deal.”

The cost of the car was split into thirds between Buller and his two older brothers, Marvin and Ardell. The three plan to restore the car together.

Buller said retrieving the car from the barn turned out to be trickier than originally planned.

There were three trees that had grown to cover the entrance to the shed, and the worn wheels made it difficult to pull the car out of the barn.

Once they finally got it loaded, they took it to Ardell’s house outside of Sutton where they began working on fixing it up.

“We haven’t done anything but pull the transmission out,” Buller said. “The first thing we want to do is get it so it’s mobile and the engine runs and the transmission works. Then we need to get the new tires on it so we can move it better. After that - it’s working on the body and frame.”

Most of the car is still intact, and Buller said he hopes to be able to use as much of the original car as they can. They plan on keeping it as close to the original as possible, and will purchase the parts necessary.

“We just haven’t had enough rainy days to keep working on it,” Ardell joked.

Buller said the car will most likely be taken to car shows and shown in parades, and he hopes it will remain in the family for generations to enjoy.

The car already holds additional sentimental value to Buller’s mother who after seeing the car again, remembered the first time she had ever laid eyes on it and its driver.

“She told us a story about when she was nine or 10 years old, and she was riding with her uncle to church on Christmas Eve. There was a gentleman who had car trouble along the way and they stopped to pick him up and then dropped him back off at his house after church,” Buller said.

“This was the car that gentleman had troubles with,” Buller said pointing to the vehicle. “My uncle was teasing my mom on the way home that she had a new boyfriend, and eight or nine years later, she got married to that guy - he was our dad.”

Buller said it will probably take a few years to get the car into the condition they hope for, but each brother is excited and ready to take on their part of the project. Buller explained that Ardell will work on the mechanics, Marvin and his son will handle the body work, and Buller, a carpenter, will redo the interior of the cab which is mostly made of wood.

Looking over the car that once belonged to his grandfather, Buller said he had no idea the car even existed, but he’s glad he decided to talk to that stranger at Runza.

“It just such a fluke,” Buller said with a smile. “It seems like fate.”


Information from: York News-Times, https://www.yorknewstimes.com

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