Four wheels, five toes

  by Matt Schroeder
   Seattle has a number of unique landmarks, known throughout the Northwest: the Space Needle, the Kingdome, Pike Place Market and, of course, the toe truck.
   Located on the roof of Lincoln Towing, owned by Bothell resident Ed Lincoln, the large, pink, foot-shaped truck is a favorite Seattle landmark. This week, however, a new and improved Lincoln toe truck makes its debut on Aurora Avenue.
   After a year of planning and construction, the "right foot" was unveiled last Friday at the Lincoln Towing Corporate offices.
   While the original "left foot" was created from a VW bus, the new Lincoln mascot is a Chevrolet truck. Among the truck's features are more power, a wider stance and curled toes.
   The toe truck's origins begin in 1980, when a stranger told owner Ed Lincoln about an imaginary truck that he and his friends laughed about.
   Lincoln became interested in the idea and, armed with a rough sketch on a napkin, he set about building what was to become a public landmark.
   The new truck was built by Steve Ellison, Mike Bottem and Ed Ellison, the craftsman who created the first toe truck.
   John Hansen, a student at the Seattle Art Institute, sculpted the unique curled toes from blocks of styrofoam. In all, the new truck cost between $10,000 and $15,000.
   However, as publicity goes that's a good price for a landmark.
   Before it was retired to the corner of Fairview and Mercer 1991, the left foot made appearances in the Seafair Torchlight parade and other community events.
   Even after its retirement, the truck played a part in many local TV and radio promotions. It even appeared in the opening credits for "Almost Live" and "Evening Magazine," as well as several Boeing commercials.
   In addition, hundreds of tourists snap pictures of the unique truck each year.
   Lincoln Towing hopes that the right foot is able to generate the same enthusiasm in Washington residents.
   It will, like its predecessor, appear in parades and community events, and be stationed on Aurora Avenue when not in use, for all to see.