In 1917, a poor Italian immigrant in Chicago crafted the first Radio Flyer Wagon in his garage. In 2022, after 18 months of work, Jimmy Cundiff completed his first Radio Flyer Wagon truck in his garage in Trion, Georgia.
The Radio Flyer is an iconic brand that instantly brings back fond childhood memories for many. The red wagon connects families through the joy of childhood and the love of play, imagination, and adventure, and that is just what Cundiff has done with his wagon truck.
If you live in Chattooga County in Northwest Georgia, more than likely, you have seen Cundiff driving around town in his Radio Flyer Wagon. Yes, driving.
The idea started at a car show when he saw a wagon on a trailer and decided he could improve upon the concept.
The wagon is actually a Chevy S10 truck. “If you have a welder and cutter, you can make anything,” Cundiff said.
He cut apart the truck, leaving only the bottom frame, the windshield, and the windshield visors.
“I took out the plastic dashboard and replaced it with an old Chevy truck’s dashboard, I did not want that ol’ plastic in my wagon.”
Next was the engine, a 350 small block; when asked how fast the wagon would go, Cundiff replied, “It has 140 on the speedometer, but I have only done around 70.” The engine is enclosed by two fabricated hinged doors at the front of the wagon.
According to Cundiff, the wagon fabrication was one of the more difficult parts. “Each corner had to be made and welded together.”
He hand-built the entire wagon, complete with a working handle. “People love to have their picture made looking like they are pulling the wagon by the handle,” Cundiff said.
The back seat is a custom-built porch swing with matching upholstery to the front seats and, of course, three seat belts and a giant stuffed dog who is the co-pilot of the wagon.
After getting an estimate on what it would cost to paint the wagon at a body shop, Cundiff decided he would also do the painting. He bought the red paint at Home Depot and did the work himself.
The white wheels were ordered from California, and the red hub caps are gallon milk lids.
Toward the end of the 18-month project, he worked around the clock to complete the Radio Flyer Wagon in time for its debut at the Summerville Christmas Parade.
Getting the wagon street legal and registered with Georgia was a 5-month saga. The wagon has headlights, windshield wipers, mirrors, brake lights, fog lights, a radio, blinkers, and seat belts. According to Cundiff, “it drives like a regular truck.”
“The Radio Flyer was the most fun I’ve had helping someone get a title and tag! Mr. Cundiff was so prepared and had all his paperwork in order, but I quickly found that people in big cities don’t even know what a Radio Flyer Wagon is,” Chattooga County Tax Commissioner Joy Hampton said. “He kept getting denied when we sent his paperwork in, and when I called, the state wanted to know where he bought the parts. No one there could believe somebody could make something so terrific by hand. Then I had to send pictures to show what a Radio Flyer is. After several months, the whole office celebrated with him when we saw he was finally approved. Seeing him around town makes me happy to have the job I do. The Dalmatian in the back was a nice touch and my favorite one.”
Cundiff has eight grandchildren who enjoy riding in the wagon, especially getting picked up from school in the most excellent ride around.
But the grandkids are not the only ones who get to enjoy the wagon, “I love to give anyone a ride in the wagon,” Cundiff said.