Arguably the most popular pickup truck in America, the Ford F-Series has been in continuous production since 1948. While the early generations are now sought-after classics, the modern trucks are selling like hotcakes. But the business started producing pickup trucks even earlier than the enduring brand’s introduction in the late 1940s.
The origins of Ford’s truck manufacturing may be traced to the Model T, the first inexpensive and mass-produced car in history. The Model T was introduced in 1908 and gave rise to a utility version in 1917. It was designated as the Model TT and included a one-ton rating, a larger frame, and a longer wheelbase. Ford sold around 1.5 million of these throughout its 1927 production run.
Ford continued to build its pickup trucks on full-size car platforms, so the haulers evolved in a similar fashion. The Model TT was followed by the Model AA, which was replaced by the Model BB in 1932. The latter was the first to feature a V8 engine. The next truck, based on the Model 48, arrived in 1935 as the Model 51.
Until the F-Series came out in 1948, Ford offered two more car-based pickups with significant makeovers in 1938 and 1941. Both are more stylish than their predecessors but don’t get a lot of love nowadays. And that’s why I got excited when YouTube’s “Jennings Motor sports” rescued a 1939 truck that’s been abandoned for a whopping 65 years.
Yup, six decades is an awful amount of time for a vehicle to spend off the road. It’s enough to turn any classic into a rust bucket, especially if it’s been sitting outside. Indoor storage may be friendlier to a steel shell, but it still has plenty of drawbacks, includng rodent infestation, and a stuck engine. Well, let’s say that this 1939 truck got extremely lucky.
Despite the very long time it spent sitting in one place, the hauler is still in one piece and surprisingly clean. It doesn’t have significant rust issues on the outside, and there are still traces of the original green paint on the body. The exposed rear frame also appears to be solid. Moreover, the truck is complete, apart from the missing bed. The fact that it still has a grille, a hood ornament, and headlamps is downright amazing.
If you appreciate patina and late 1930s Art Deco-style automobile design, the truck is still a pleasure to behold. Actually, I like the 1937 model more because of the longer grille, but the 1939 model’s oval piece is also quite fashionable.
This series of Ford trucks, incidentally, differed significantly from the vehicles on which they were based, in contrast to their predecessors. Ford redesigned its passenger line in 1937, but its trucks weren’t given a new look until 1938. They continued to feature 1935 looks up until that time. Additionally, the cars didn’t have the oval grille you see here; instead, they had an M-shaped component beneath a beak-shaped nose. Actually, these trucks are the only ones from that era of Ford cars.
But what’s even more fascinating about this barn find is that our host managed to get it running again. That’s right, even though it didn’t have a sip of gasoline for 65 years, the V8 engine agreed to fire up with a bit of cleaning and a new battery. This thing has “Built Ford Tough” written all over it.
In relation to it, the truck is powered by a V8 Flathead engine. By 1937, Ford had abandoned inline-four engines in its full-size car, switching to a V8-only lineup. There was a 136-cubic-inch (2.2-liter) base engine with 60 horsepower and a 221-cubic-inch (3.6-liter) optional engine with 85 horsepower available. At the time, the sole available transmission was a three-speed manual.
This truck is far from road-worthy, but seeing it roaring back to life after more than six decades is heart-warming, to say the least.