Ramon Luquez saw the heap of metal in his friend's driveway and had to have it.
A 1962 International Harvester Metro van with all its windows broken out, weeds sprouting inside and rust eating a big hole through the floorboard.
"When I saw the truck, I just fell in love with it," said Luquez. "I bought it right away. Then I was looking at it thinking. 'What am I going to do with this?'"
Eleven years later - nine of them spent staring at the $2,200 relic in the driveway, the last two spent completely renovating it - Luquez has turned the old vehicle into You Sly Dog, one of Tucson's newest food trucks.
The renovation included building a kitchen complete with steam tables, refrigerator and griddle.
"I always had the intention of doing a food truck," said Luquez, whose mom used to operate an ice cream truck when he was a kid. "And I've always liked hot dogs. I go to barbecues, and that's the first thing I go for - a hot dog with ketchup, mustard and relish."
Luquez's menu goes from the sublimely simple - the Dollar Dog is a straight-up hot dog in a plain bun - to the sinfully sinister - The New Mexican piles grilled steak, ground beef, green chiles, onions, a spicy sour cream sauce and crumbled Fritos on top of an all-beef wiener.
There are 11 hot dogs on the menu, all made with all-beef wieners. Most use the soft, slightly sweet Mexican bun used in the classic Sonoran hot dog, which also makes an appearance here alongside the classic chili dog.
There's the El Diablo spicy hot dog topped by a jalapeño salsa; a classic beer-simmered bratwurst; a garlic-kissed New Yorker topped with onions and sauerkraut and slicked with spicy mustard; and the heart-pumping adventure of the Baloney Tony, which pairs a hot dog with fried baloney. Think of it as hot dog squared.
"I have a twist on everyday hot dogs," said Luquez, 30, whose day job is as a produce manager with Food City.
Perhaps his most twisted idea: The Chernobyl, a concoction borne of rummaging through the fridge looking for something that would fare well on a hot dog. What he came up with: A hot dog that comes with a warning label - "Eat At Your Own Risk." It's a hot sausage topped with hot beef and pinto bean chili, jalapeño salsa, a ghost chile sauce and spicy ketchup. Fresh tomato and slightly sweet red onion might take away some of the burn, but you may want to heed Luquez's warning. You Sly Dog prices run $2 to $5.
If you go
You can find You Sly Dog at Himmel Park, 2650 E. First St., from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays; and at Tucson Food Truck Roundups around the city. For times and locations, visit www.tucsonfoodtruck roundup.com
Contact reporter Cathalena E. Burch at email@example.com or 573-4642.