Restoring a Rusty 45-Year-Old Tonka Truck Takes an Astounding Amount of Work

Tons of little details make for a big job.

byChris Teague|
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If you've got a few minutes to kill, and we know you do, then here’s your oddly satisfying video fix for the day. MW Restorations has made a name for itself rebuilding old toy vehicles and recently got its hands on a 1975 Tonka pickup truck in pretty rough shape. MW took to YouTube to document the painstaking process required to completely restore it, which is far more elaborate than anything we expected to see. In the sped-up clip, the truck starts as a rusty, flimsy mess and is turned into something fit for a collector’s shelf.

It doesn’t take a fan of American Pickers to see that there’s value in ratty old toys, but even those guys aren’t restoring the things themselves. MW Restorations sandblasts every piece, removing decades of rust and old yellow paint before hand-hammering all of the bits back to their factory specs. The whole process is akin to something you’d see in an actual automotive restoration shop with a real paint booth, but the pieces are dried in a small oven instead of rolling into a drying room. That same oven is used to mold and fabricate a new windshield to replace the truck’s cloudy, cracked original.

Final assembly may be the most satisfying part of the whole video, as every piece fits perfectly in place and the truck’s grille gets a high-polish finish before installation. New parts were sourced for the headlights, steering wheel, and even the wheels, but the truck’s seats had to be hand scrubbed to bring them back to life using a high-grit solution and sandpaper. 

It may seem silly to put so much effort into something so small, but there’s a massive hobby dedicated to these scaled-down vehicles. After all, this toy is nearly an antique at 45 years old—who doesn’t love a bit of nostalgia?

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