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What Truck to Buy?

Discussion in 'The Golden Era' started by Jim Brown, Apr 6, 2012.

  1. I'm looking at buying a truck. Something between 1938 and 1955.

    Anyone have any pros and cons of which models are best? Worst?

    I want to keep it all original so no big blown V8's or anything like that.

    Who has experience with what?

    I'll be using this truck as a truck to haul and daily drive.
  2. is the the wrong thread for this?
  3. I guess if it were me, I'd go with a 48-53 Chevrolet. They had an excellent inline 6 in them, the motor is good, reliable, and has a ton of torque. The only issue you may run into is with any vintage truck the rear end may need to be changed. They don't have highway gears. If you're only going to be going 45 or less for the most part, you'll be alright. I do know of people who have blown them up at highway speeds, though.


    My dad has a 1952 Ford F-2. It's an excellent truck, with the legendary flathead V8. You will run into the same rear end problem, though.

  4. Also, you will have to change the valve system in most motors as they were designed for leaded gasoline. As a driver, I would stick with post war Ford Chevy or GMC as the parts will be MUCH easier to find as opposed to IHC or Jeep for example.
  5. thanks,
    I'm leaning towards the GM's 48 on as they look better to my eye then the fords, but the fords looks better pre-war than the GMs...

    I love the 39 Fords, but doubt I'll find one.
  6. You can also still get lead additive in the meantime.

  7. rjb1

    rjb1 Practically Family

    For sentimental reasons and because it's right in the middle of the range you're considering, I'll suggest a 1952 Chevrolet. My dad had one and it was a great truck. (I wish I had it today.)
  8. Aristaeus

    Aristaeus A-List Customer

  9. Aristaeus

    Aristaeus A-List Customer

    Or a 1946 Dodge
  10. Rathdown

    Rathdown Practically Family

    I've been looking for a '37 Studebaker like this for five years...
  11. Carl Miller

    Carl Miller One of the Regulars

    I'd go with the GM. overhead valve, inline 6. parts are relatively cheap and available. That's not to say that you couldn't put an ohv engine in an early ford. I daily drove my 59 chevy truck for almost 2 years (261 cu.in. inline 6 and an np540 5 speed) and could do 60 mph easy and it never failed to start a single time. The only thing I did to it was adjust brakes and change the oil. pretty painless.
  12. 1930artdeco

    1930artdeco A-List Customer

    If you decide to go with the prewar Fords and I assume with the GM's you can rebuild the rear end with more highway friendly gears. I am partial to Fords as that is what I grew up with, but I think that either truck should hold up for the next 50 yrs if you take the time to work on it and maintain it. My Model A has been around for 80 yrs and I plan to drive her around when she is 100 yrs old-how many modern trucks will be on the road past 10 yrs?

  13. I'm not sure that's a problem for earlier engines. I have been told not to worry about unleaded gasoline in my '54 chevy stovebolt. I confess to using additive anyway.....
  14. I've been driving my '46 chevy pickup now for 10 yrs. Has 216 straight six. Mostly original with the only modifications being, seat belts &
    rear & front signal lights. Converted to 12 volts. Being original, the gears & old brake system, can be challenging driving on the freeway.
    There's no A/C, or power steering. The steel shaft at the wheel is aimed at your chest, it won't collapse & no air bags in case you hit or get hit !
    Engine is iron & gets hot pronto! No insulation ! Windshield wipers are small & slow. Fuel pump is mechanical so it takes a while to start ! I
    have to clean or change the spark plugs on a regular basis. Reason; at first I thought that it was a rich mixture with the fuel to the carb.
    A mechanic friend told me that my engine required gasoline . He said, what you see at the pumps today is not gasoline like back then. He
    suggested I use additives, it might help some ! I could put a new engine & "hot rod" it to modern standards. My wife won't ride in it cause it
    "rides like a tank" with the old fashion suspension ! But I love it….Good Luck !
  15. O2BSwank

    O2BSwank One of the Regulars

    I like the looks of most prewar trucks especially the late 30's art deco Chevys. Early Ford trucks are beautiful, desirable and expensive. Late Forties and early 50's trucks are nice and the cabins are a bit bigger. Late 50's trucks are even more spacious and available. If you want to run a stock antique truck you will have to learn to live within it's design limits. Back then trucks were made for low speed hauling, comfort and convenience were not a consideration as people did not buy them to use as a passenger vehicle. When you drive an antique vehicle you are traveling in occupant safety conditions that are over 75 years old. In those days, people routinely died in traffic collisions. It's not like today when driver's are calling on their cell phones as they climb out from behind their spent air bags. I think it is a good idea to update a daily driven antique vehicle with seat belts, a collapsible steering column and wheel, better brakes,and lights. You can make these changes sensitively, and lots of parts are available, just check out an issue of Classic Trucks. I don't want to be a kill joy but after 25 yrs. of highway safety enforcement I do take these things seriously. Still, until a couple of years ago I had a 66 Ford F250 that I drove all the time. Mostly at 60 mph. in the slow lane. Good luck.
  16. TomS

    TomS One Too Many

    I prefer Ford products myself.
  17. Stanley Doble

    Stanley Doble Call Me a Cab

    My favorite is the Dodge, they are a well made truck but ugly looking. They come stock with exhaust valve seat inserts and valves to run on unleaded gas. Most parts are available from your local NAPA store. Dodges have full pressure lubrication and insert bearings from 1934. They also have hydraulic brakes.

    Chevs are popular but the motors have iffy lubrication systems and poured babbitt bearings up to 1954. They do not like to go very fast or they blow up.

    Fords have good motors and are good looking trucks but sell for a hefty premium in price. They are prone to overheating unless the cooling system is maintained impeccably. They will not do the work a Dodge will but I presume that you are not going to work your truck very hard.

    Really, any truck that age will be impractical to drive today. They are geared for a speed no more than 50 MPH. Brakes and suspension systems are primitive. But you can have a lot of fun if you stick to small town streets and rural highways.

    The smartest course may be to simply buy the best truck you can find regardless of make. They all have their good and bad points but after all this time, condition may well outweigh any other consideration.

    OHV V8s were available from 1954 (Ford and Dodge) and 1955 (Chev and GMC). Options like automatic transmissions, power steering and power brakes also became available from about that time. If you expand your time frame to the late fifties and early sixties you can get a much more modern design of truck, easier to find and easier to find parts for.
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2012
  18. I'd say go with a '48 Ford...however I'm bias, having one myself and all- she runs great! Shes got the strait six flat head, not great for speed but glorious for reliability. Parts are easy to find for the truck as well.
    I am looking to find me a flat 8 and switch it out eventually though!
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2012
  19. Stanley Doble

    Stanley Doble Call Me a Cab

    Red you may be disappointed if you swap engines. They were practically the same displacement (226 vs 239 cu in) and horsepower (95 vs 100). The six developed full HP @ 3300 RPM, 500 lower than the eight. So for pulling a load the six was actually better than the eight, and in terms of speed there was not much between them.

    If it was mine I would keep the six.
  20. Old wive's tale.

    Plain old standard valves and seats are just fine in any car with a compression ration of around 8.5:1 or less, which would include just about anything that you are considering. The tetraethyl lead additive didn't lubricate nor did it seal all that well. Note that most cheap pre-war gas did not have a substantial lead additive. Before the mid-1930's, leaded fuel was by far the exception, rather than the rule. I've personally put a couple hundred thousand miles on various T Ford engines, most of which were fitted with original valves (cast iron heads) and plain original valve seats. These engines probably had NEVER had leaded fuel run through them.

    Leaded fuel, and the additives necessary for soluability of the Tetraethyl Lead, did, however break down when burned into hydrochloric acid, which explained the short life of exhaust systems back in the "bad old days". The acid blow-by which landed in the engine oil also dissolved the main and connecting rod bearing babbit, greatly shortening engine life unless the oil was changed very frequently indeed.

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