Chances are you’ve seen Jerry Caballero around Killeen if something resembling a Volkswagen Beetle and a Harley-Davidson passed you on the road and you said “What the heck was that?” Caballero, 65, is the creator of one of the more unique vehicles to roam Killeen’s streets.
It’s a piecemeal trike that is all Harley-Davidson on the front end and all Volkswagen Beetle in the back. He refers to his creation as “Red” or “El Diablo.” The 14-foot trike is a Frankenstein. From the ashes of wrecked and junked vehicles, Red emerged. It is a combination between a 1979 Volkswagen Beetle convertible Caballero picked up from a junk yard, the front end of a 1985 Harley, a fender from a 2003 bike, and a 2002 gas tank from a wrecked motorcycle.
Add to it some custom upholstery from Ick’s, homemade handle bars he welded in his backyard and a caliente red paint job, and Caballero created a vehicle that combines two of his passions — motorcycles and VW Beetles.
“I tell people I had a nightmare, and this is the result,” he said.
Caballero began driving Beetles in the ’60s. His first was a 1955. Since then he’s owned several VW buses. But all the while, he also rode motorcycles. When his shoulders and back began to give him problems, Caballero knew he couldn’t ride as much as he liked.
“In my mind, I had to come up with something that would be easier to turn,” he said.
That’s when he created his first trike, a 1989 Honda Goldwing he converted with a kit. He liked it so much, trikes became “a lifestyle” to Caballero. He now belongs to the Brotherhood of the Third Wheel. “We’re bikers, but we’re getting older,” Caballero said. Caballero sometimes refers to the trike as a Harley V-Wagon. He actually tried to register it as that with the state. Officials wouldn’t have it. Instead, Red is registered as a “2010 assembled vehicle,” which does the trike little justice.
Caballero said much credit must be given to shop owners who enthusiastically embraced his unique vision. He is the president of Cen-Tex Road Riders, chairman of Tri-County Toy Run and a member of the American Legion Post 133. The armed forces remain near and dear to Caballero. He is a retired Master Sergeant from the 1st Cavalry Division. He worked in Veterans Affairs after his service. Now he is one of the last people to send off soldiers before they deploy. This week Caballero will spend each day sending off soldiers as they deploy as a volunteer for the Red Cross.
Five questions for Caballero
What’s your favorite book? “Phantom” — Book 11 of Terry Goodkind’s series The Sword of Truth
What’s your favorite movie? Anything with John Wayne
What’s your favorite food?
What’s your favorite hobby? His trike Red
What’s your favorite saying? “No problem!”