1948 Dodge Pickup: Old Blue


This 1948 Dodge truck is original and rust free. I’m doing this write up differently, I’m going to let Tony, the former owner tell his history with this pickup. From Tony A – Old Blue — is what I always called this 1948 Dodge.  My father bought it for $100 in 1969 from an uncle of mine who specialized in junkers. It was 21 in 1969, had more than 100K on the odometer, and the engine and transmission were shot, along with almost everything else. It had clearly been sitting idle for a while. I was 15, and the deal was this: If I could get it running, I could drive it when I got my license. I spent nearly a year making it road worthy.


My father, like all the men in our family, did all his own car repairs. So I grew up helping him, and then took Auto Shop two summers at Sac High. Old Blue was my final exam. The Motor Manual was my Bible.  I started by stripping it down to the frame in the garage. My father took me to junk yards to buy a replacement straight six engine (’51) and transmission, among other parts.  I had the replacement engine rebored at a shop in Oak Park. When there was no alternative, I bought new parts. But all these costs came from my paper route and odd job earnings. I also rewired the truck, transforming it from a 6 volt to a 12 volt system.  I got all the rust off the frame and body, painted a primer coat, and then paid $100 to have it sprayed blue. I also paid to have the seats and interior upholstered in some brown naugahyde.  By Spring 1970, after hundreds of hours of work, hundreds of hard-earned dollars spent, perpetually scraped knuckles and lots of swearing and sweating, Old Blue was again on the road. At that point, my father’s ulterior motive became clear.  Whenever he needed the truck, it was his.  When he didn’t, I could fill the tank back up and drive it until he needed it again. My father and I used it constantly in the 70s to haul sand, cement, lumber, manure, and everything else needed to renovate old houses and supply his garden.He build a plywood shell for it, and we took it camping and fishing in the Sierra.  It was my only ride, and when I took dates to the drive in, we’d set up lawn chairs in the truck’s bed — which I slept on during several road trips. Old Blue carried my rock band’s instruments and amps to the Shire Road Pub and other gigs when I was in college, often with band members in the back, as well. In 1975, I moved to Boston for grad school, and gave my father title to Old Blue.  I enjoyed driving it whenever I visited Sacramento, and my father continued using Old Blue regularly to haul things into his 80s. People tried to buy the truck from him all the time, but even after he got too old to drive it, my father wouldn’t sell at any price. I couldn’t put a price on Old Blue either.  So, after my father’s death in 2014, I decided to donate Old Blue to the California Auto Museum. I’m 61 now, Old Blue is 67.  I’m hoping someone will again restore him, put him back to work, and enjoy him as much as I did.  Good luck! Tom Angelo

I’m sure a lot of us have vehicles that were part of our lives like this. The museum will sell this for Tony (We sell donated and consignment cars to help support the museum). What do you think this old truck could be worth?


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  1. DREW V.

    Sentimental value to the owner would be priceless but real world value I would guess at or about $3,500….

    • David Frank David Member

      Your optimistic estimate turned out to be very close, it sold for $3250.

  2. randy

    Without seeing the truck, I’d say Drew had the high end covered!

    • Walt

      Yep ! Drew nailed the high end; Great story and history. I would say 1500.00
      This truck will pull up a lot of nostalgia for some guys and gals.
      A lot of work tho’ if you have a clear and dry area and can do a lot of the work
      yourself, this will be well worth the sweat equity. Best of luck to the buyer.

  3. Jose

    The story itself is worth more than I could ever afford to spend. Great story. Great truck.

  4. jimbosidecar


  5. Howard A Member

    This does have the “pilot house” cab, (extra windows in back), a 1st for 1948, so it is a little more desirable. I had a truck just like this, not near as nice, only column shift. When I sold it, the guy asked if it had the extra windows, I said yes, he was there in half an hour. These can bring 5 figures if restored, but as is, couple grand, at most. Still, with those kind of memories, I’d keep it, but that’s me. Great truck, and it’s not dragged out of the woods, with fenders flapping, like that Chevy a while back.

  6. TriPowerVette

    Even without the background story, this truck shows the care and attention lavished on it as only a fresh, young, eager man (guided by a wise, intelligent father) is willing to give. It takes delight, enthusiasm, dogged stick-to-it-iveness, vision, knowledge and creative resources to complete a project to this level of detail. The result is CHARACTER. Character that is a legion of life-lessons for the young man. Character that immeasurably enhances the experience of fatherhood, as he re-experiences from a different point-of-view, these moments of discovery, practice, heartache and triumph that he may have learned with his father or other mentor. Ultimately, that character is reflected by the project itself. For a workhorse truck, that engine compartment is clean. The radiator fins are mostly straight. The wires and cables are appropriately and professionally bundled. The firewall shows well even today. The underside is attended-to… it is honest. The boards in the back bed were at one time a major highlight, and still show little of the hard work to which they were put. The bed itself is mostly straight – not all abused and dented up. All of this demonstrates the quality of the restification and the quality of the people who used it so carefully for those many years after. Buying this truck could in many ways feel like buying someone’s family album. It should be done respectfully.

    • David Frank David Member

      Thank you for your kind words. I’ll see if I can pass them on to Tony. I think the museum is thinking it’s worth $1500. It’s great hearing it might be worth more!

  7. That Guy

    What’s the story on the Citroen CX in the background? Is that another donated car which will be sold?

    • David Frank David Member

      Yes, when we can figure out what to do with it. If you’d like more pictures, let me know and I’ll take a bunch for you. I love t hear any ideas you might have about the CX. You can watch our inventory for this and other interesting donated cars. http://www.camcarsales.com/inventory.aspx
      You can also direct any questions to Mark at the museum. His contact info is listed on our page. Here’s a 1956 Ford, for example, on eBay with bids over $1000 last time I looked. We have an interesting collection these days, but I’m trying to make sure I’m not using this site to promote the museum.

      • David Frank David Member

        This Ford sold for $1700.

    • David Frank David Member

      The Citroen will be sold, I don’t have any idea as to price yet. I took more pictures if you’d like to see them. There are some spare parts, even a new steering wheel.

  8. Cassidy

    What a great looking truck! I wouldn’t do anything to it beyond keeping it running. Great story, Tony, that’s something every Dad should do with their kids. Sounds like your Dad was the best!

  9. Cassidy

    Be sure to let us know when it goes up for sale!

  10. Steve

    This is the best article ever published on this site. I somehow doubt future generations will have similar stories to tell. Damn nice truck too.

  11. Jobrated

    If you like old Dodge trucks John Jerome’s Truck is a must read. He brings back an old Dodge truck and documents the whole process along with many musings on life etc… What I found most interesting was reading about restoring a car in the early 70s. The truck was only 20 years old but preinternet man what a hassle. Lots of letters to lots of junkyards and lots of waiting.

  12. Joe

    I had a 50 Chevy P/U 5 window same color Blue & I would really like to have a chance to buy this truck.Thanks,Joe

  13. TRP

    Pretty awesome Truck. The story is worth the price of admission all day long.

  14. Pete W.

    If you ever get a chance (and can find a copy, somewhere), read the book, “TRUCK”, by former Car and Driver and Ski Magazine writer, John Jerome.

    A terrific book that recounts a very similar story about the exact same truck. The only difference is the location (NH) and the protagonist.

    They were even the same chalky blue color.

  15. gunningbar

    Vehicles from Sacremento are rust free.. and it would bring good money here in CT.. I think 3500. is possible.

  16. Turretman1st

    First vehicle I remember was a 1950 dodge 1ton pickup forest green,
    Reason I remember I was with dad when he picked it up in 1967 from a used car dealer in Evans Colorado. He paid 50.00 for it it looked brand new had new tires. Why I remember this is he stopped at a gas station and was looking at fan belts when he asked the attendant what he thought of it, the attendant asked how much he paid, dad told him and he said that my dad paid to much.
    We used that truck for years camping in the Rockies, and hauling things with no trouble except dad kept playing with it trying to get better gas mileage. Wish I had it today.

  17. Jason

    Cool story, but he won’t find anyone who cares for that truck the way he does. He should consider donating and taking a tax deduction.

    • David Frank David Member

      He did donate it. I wish the museum had the funds to expand and be able to display more vehicles.

  18. jim s

    i hope the truck gets sold soon so it can be put back to work earning its keep. great story. the museum has a lot of nice vehicles for sale.

  19. Joe Howell

    Clean It up, pep it up, and make it safe. Nice wheels and tires to finish it off.

  20. Chris A.

    I’m not a truck guy…til now. This is just a great, classic Dodge tough truck that’s had a couple of super owners and deserves a new respectful owner. Too bad all the good stuff seems to end up in CA. We don’t see too many flat head 6’s on this site. The Hudsons and now this. great week. Just noticed this is the same age as my wife who’s aunt’s nickname and hair color was…”Old Blue”.

  21. Charlie G

    Locating and finding parts for the ‘L’ head 6 is getting harder and harder every year. So a swap out to a Slant 6 with a newer Torqueflite ( with my legs not being in the best of shape anymore, a 4 speed is out of the equation ). Discs all around. Upgrade the suspension. New oak rails in the bed. For wheels, classic CRAGAR’s, a rare set of Keystone “Rogue’s”, or even a set of American Racing Spun Aluminum’s mounted to a set of Michelin’s. For paint (sorry guys, as much as I was raised on MOPARS, I have to tip my hat to GM) for a very gorgeous blue that I’ve seen in the past few years. My dad’s 1939 Series ‘C’ Plymouth pickup would have gotten almost the same treatment if he had kept it instead of selling it to pay bills during a contract dispute back in 1968.

    • Howard A Member

      Hi Charlie, I agree with your setup. The flathead 6 was fine in 1948 for puttin’ around the farm, or down to the feed mill 4 miles away, but it makes no sense to have this setup today. Being an ex-trucker for 35 years, most of my vehicles are automatics now. I shifted enough gears. I’m not a big fan of resto-mods, and fear, that’s what will happen to this, taking away the charm, but a slant 6 and auto (and different rear end) would make this a great truck, and I wouldn’t paint it, so you could take it to the feed mill, if you wanted to.

  22. 1969Deuce

    If I’m not mistaken, that engine looks a lot like the 24v version in the M37. There’s not a lot of years between this truck and that series. If so, parts and replacements are fairly easy to get and you gotta throw loose bolts in the plug holes to kill ’em. A friend just bought a 12v (probably export version) for about $700 in the crate. (See prior line about bolts in the plug holes.)

    I really like this truck, the story, and wish it well. Being a truck sucker, I’d consider it a steal at $1500 and on the high end of fair at $3500 if it’s as good as it looks. It would never get a showroom overhaul with me. More like cleanup maintenance or spiffed in the way of the red homespun Willys flatbed from some time back.

  23. Hu Dood

    I sold my papa’s 54 f100 for 100.00 in 1974..and of course I kick myself every day. But the engine froze,wouldn’t turn,had lots of other needs and no way I could fix it or take care of it..time,tools,place,resources N/A. But jeez,I learned to drive on that truck three on the column and everything..but lord that’s the worst truck thing I ever did. But then again if one hundred was the going price then maybe I’ll just kick the self once a week.

  24. Steve Watt

    As the new owner of “Old Blue” I feel somewhat honoured to have access to your story Tom. history.

    I bought “Old Blue” in May of this year, since which much work and money has been spent getting him back on the road here in the UK.

    No work however has been done to the body of paintwork, I wanted to keep him as he was, to me he is just perfect. He now is part of my daily life, working in my small business Wattworks4me.

    If you ever get over to the UK Tony, you would be more than welcome to call in for a ride out in our truck!

    Best wishes


    Like 1
    • David Frank

      WOW! How did Old Blue end up in the UK? I’m so glad I was able to somehow connect you with the interesting history of your truck. I’ll see if I can contact Tom and tell him the news! It was just sitting neglected in the storage yard of the museum after it had been donated. When I was crawling around taking pictures it was like it wanted to tell its story and move on to a new life. It would be great to see pictures of Old Blue in its new home. We hope to be visiting England next spring. Hmmmm

      • steve watt

        Hi, if you email me direct, I would be more than happy to send you some photos of Old Blue.

        Also, if you or Tom would ever fancy a ride out, you would be more than welcome if you ever get across the pond.

        Many thanks


  25. David Frank David Frank Member

    Steve, I have a bunch of before pictures if you’d like. I don’t have your email address. Mine is bradleydad@msn.com if you’d like to email me.

    Like 1
    • stephen watt

      Hi David, I have emailed you, please check your junk mail. Cheers Steve

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