In the runup to last month’s cover story on service vehicles, we talked with Richard Black, owner of All Pro Plumbing, Heating, Air & Electrical, Ontario, California, and his buddy, body shop pro and crack mechanic Manuel “Manny” Medina.
As you can tell from the pictures, the All Pro Toilet Car is pretty match exactly that. However, since it’s not an every-day service vehicle, we thought it best to put it aside and highlight in another issue. One thing’s for sure though, just like any traditional contractor truck, the toilet car definitely helps promote Richard’s business whenever it hits the streets (or is just parked inside a home show).
Back in 2000, Richard got together with Manny “over a few cold ones,” Richard adds. Richard has an obvious passion for plumbing and has been in the trades since he was 18. He started All Pro in the early-1990s, and the business has grown to around 80 employees, including 50 service techs, with his son, Ryan Black, now running the operation.
Meanwhile, Manny has an equal passion for car and runs a local auto body shop. Richard routinely calls him in whenever one of All Pro’s regular mechanics need some expert advice to help keep the fleet of service vehicles running in tip top shape.
“I’m technically not on the payroll,” Manny adds. “But I fix all his headaches.”
Both certified car nuts, Richard and Manny originally dreamt up the idea over those cold ones to custom-build a toilet car to drive around for the whole community to see. Still, both had businesses to run so they really didn’t get going on the building the car until a decade later and even then spent another five years finally designing and building it.
“It was one of those ideas where we would get together and talk about it,” Richard adds. “And we finally got to the point where we said to each other, what exactly would this take to build a toilet car? And even then, it was a slow process.”
Time pays off
It was a slow process for one because the concept car kept getting bigger and better. Work started out rather modestly with the idea of building atop the chassis of a Volkswagen Beetle. But as work progressed, more ideas sprang up and that simple plan was jettisoned. For one, the toilet tank got bigger. And that meant a bigger motor with more horsepower and stronger chassis and drivetrain … and, heck, if you’re going to go to all this trouble, the toilet car might as well have air-conditioning and power steering, too.
“And then we would laugh and say, wouldn’t it be cool if this could double as a drag race car with a 500-horsepower engine.” Manny adds.
Of course, that meant the toilet car would need some slicks and a wheelie bar for the drag strip. And by all means, don’t forget the five-point harness seat belts inside. (For drag race purposes, the toilet tank can be removed.)
Not being a car guy ourselves, we believe the car ended up being built on a Mustang II front end, which Manny explains “any hot rod shop” would sell if you were going to build a toilet car or any other hot rod, for that matter. Not being much of a car nut, we have to admit to not understanding everything the duo told us, although being an editor who grew up in the 1970s, we’ll add that our first car was a stick. So there’s that in our defense.
All we really wanted to know about the toilet car was how fast it goes.
“We don’t really know,” Richard adds. “Probably faster than anybody would want to go.”
While COVID put parades and other social gatherings on hiatus this past year (or two), Richard says he will be putting the toilet car in local parades and home shows when he can.
While the toilet car took awhile to construct, Richard and Manny said they quickly added a toilet go-cart toilet just for some more fun.