Meet the “Duck Truck”, a 1997 Toyota 4Runner that was donated to Minnesota Public Radio through the Car Talk Vehicle Donation Program. The proceeds from the sale of the Duck Truck will benefit community programming at MPR.
The donor of the 4Runner shared her unique vehicle story with us, along with photos that show the love and care that was put into transforming the Toyota into what we know as the, “Duck Truck”.
The Duck Truck
The duck truck helped me form a new family. I’d separated from my ex-husband in 2017, facilitated by the 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee my parents gave me instead of salvaging it. Driving down 4th St in January 2019 with my kids, it stalled out and died. The mechanics later said the transmission looked like a strawberry milkshake. I needed a car, and felt like I needed it fast. The second car I [test] drove was a maroon 1997 Toyota 4Runner. My insurance agent laughed at me for buying an even OLDER car, and it wasn’t cheap; over the next two years I put in brakes, a new battery, new alternator, new tires.
The most important change was letting my kids, and my new partner’s kids, design a new paint job. One weekend I visited a friend in Minneapolis; while she and I were spray painting radiator covers in her backyard, I told my sons (then 5 & 8) that they could paint the 4Runner, only on the silver parts. when I checked on them a few minutes later, well, apparently the instructions didn’t compute. My partner’s 11 year old son took charge and suggested a hot pink base with ducks. He designed the duck stencils and I helped him cut them out. Together, we taped up all the windows and chrome, and spent a day and $50 spray painting it pink.
For the next three weeks I drove around in what I hadn’t realized would look like the “Barbiemobile”, chrome and pink, but soon we added the green and yellow duck stencils, and the oldest climbed up on top to freehand a smiley face. The vehicle soon garnered the name “Duck Truck”, and we all loved driving around town and having people recognize it. A woman waited by the car for me at Goodwill, just to say she’d seen it in her neighborhood. In a serendipitous turn, Planned Parenthood wrapped a DTA bus in exactly the same shade right then; I still feel kinship with that bus! I sure will miss looking out the front window and seeing it on the street – a neighbor even came out this morning with a send-off blessing – but it will be part of my new family’s origin story forever.
The donors hopes that MPR can find buyers for its parts, adding that, “maybe one day I’ll see another old 4Runner with a pink door or hood driving down the street.“
About the Car Talk Vehicle Donation Program
National Public Radio, known as NPR, is a nonprofit media organization whose mission is “to create a more informed public”. NPR reaches 120 million listeners and readers monthly through its network of member stations, website, social media, podcasts, and events.
Car Talk’s Vehicle Donation Program allows you to fund your favorite NPR station. Car Donation Wizard will return 75-80% of the gross proceeds from the sale of your car to the NPR station of your choice.
Ready to donate your car to your favorite NPR station? Turn cars into programs by donating your vehicle online or calling us at (877) 215-0227.