Kea Raines

Kea Raines does almost all her own work on her vehicles, including her favorite, this 1982 GMC pickup truck. 

Kea Raines of Orange has a yard full of 1980s vehicles, but her ride of choice is a 1982 GMC pickup truck. The large black truck with the distinctive license plates—“Toe Tags”—has required a fair amount of repairs over the eight years she has owned it. “I’ve done 95% of the work by myself. It’s taught me a lot and made me appreciate it a lot, for sure,” said Raines with a cheerful smile. She learned how to fix cars from her father when she was growing up in Greene County, and when she gets stumped, she gives him a call and says, “Hey, pappy, I need some advice!” But Raines is generally very self-sufficient. When she works on her truck’s 350 block engine, she pops the hood and climbs inside. “I become the 350,” she said. “I sit on the fender well and start wrenching.” Raines noted with pride that she drove the truck in Orange’s Christmas parade back in December. Decked out in festive lights and bows, the truck drew shouts of recognition (“Toe Tags!”) from spectators. “People don’t necessarily know me, but they know that truck,” she said. Raines runs a popular Facebook group for truck owners and fans who share her affection for “square bodies, beaters and projects.” As for “Toe Tags,” it fits all three categories. “It’s a never-ending project,” Raines said before revving the engine and heading out on Byrd Street. “It’s a labor of love.”

Hilary Holladay covers education and politics for the Orange County Review. The author of five books, she is currently writing a biography of the poet Adrienne Rich.

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