1978 Ford 600 Wrecker: Easy Life


When you think of a tow truck, you tend to envision a workhorse of a truck, one that’s tasked with the tough jobs other rigs would whimper at the sight of. Obviously, tow trucks are overbuilt to accommodate such duties, but it’s still rare to see a vintage one looking fresh and clean. This ’78 Ford 600 wrecker here on eBay was sent in by Barn Finds reader Jim S. and is listed with no reserve. Fortunately, it looks as if it has been spared the fate of being used hard and put away wet. The classic looks of this old-school truck strike me as almost art-deco in style and the hand-painted business information for Art’s Garage only adds to the charm. I’m not sure what you’d do with this other than add it to a collection, but maybe some of our readers have better ideas. How would you use this vintage towing machine?


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  1. John

    With that front bumper and the odd gap at the front of the bed, I wonder if this started life as a fire truck????

    • Mick

      Emergency One ia a fire truck mfg would explain low miles

    • mike d

      I too like the design of the truck, but I thought they stopped it long before 78 it looks as though they pretty much left the interior alone I hope somebody buys it and makes it into a show truck

    • The Walrus

      The metal surfaces painted fire engine red in the interior certainly support the converted fire truck theory. I’ve never seen a boom like that, either.

    • Toolbox

      The fire pump operating instruction sticker on the dash gives it away.

      • Ed P

        Good eye.

  2. Rick

    Neat truck, cool throwback design – always liked how Ford kept making that model for many years, and esp ike the Budd wheels

  3. randy

    It reminds me of the early 70’s Ford van front end, I was expecting an F series looking truck by ’78 though.

  4. 1969Deuce

    I watchlisted it. It’s still artificially low, I’m afraid but if it stays that way I’m gonna be shopping for low cost airfare to SD.

    The future would depend on the seller’s view of retaining the lettering. If so, the cab would be black and reupholstered in a heartbeat. If not, I’d be sorely tempted to paint it my favorite shade of OD, but more likely Navy 123 Grey or Air Force Strata Blue with the correct color letters. Both of those used civilian vehicles in that period.

    The Tulsa winch is pretty darned muscular. Shows, yes but I’d easily find some work to play with it.

  5. jim s

    i think this is a c model ford cab that was built for ford by Budd. other truck company used all or part of this cab. Mack was one of them.

  6. Texas Tea

    Really! A 1978? I had one that looked like this as a seven year old kid in 1962. How could they still be looking like this in 1978? My toy truck was white and was called “Big Bruiser”. It was made by the Marx toy company and even had a tool repair kit. I loved it. It came with a pickup truck that you could arrange with a flat tire or dented fender, and repair it yourself. I grew up, went to college, got a four year degree in sociology, and continued being an auto mechanic as I had been doing in high school. What a wasted four year degree. Just goes to show not everybody needs to go to college. Vocations are wonderful. Get skills.

    This is a neat old toe/tow truck.

  7. Ed P

    It is not everyday that you see a Cab Over Engine tow truck!!! At the time this truck was made Ford had heavy duty 401/477/534 in V8 available. I wonder what this truck has?

    • geomechs geomechs Member

      Hi Ed. The 401-534 V8 was classified as a Super Duty engine and was only available in the 800 series and up. This model, thru the 750 would’ve used the FE engine in 330 thru 391 cid. I’d guess this one to have either a 330 or a 361, most likely the 361.

  8. shiro1303 Member

    I like it and would drive it as is.
    Back in high school I worked for Budget rent a car which had partnered with Sears to operate their rent a truck service all of our large trucks were cab-over Fords they were workhorses and I always liked them used to spend a lot of time in them shuffling them from one store to another all over Mass. pretty much how I learned to drive a manual trans vehicle. (Came in handy driving M817 dumps in the Marine Corps)
    According to Wikipedia the Cab over C Series was made right up till 1990

  9. Charles

    Ford C cab’s are just too cool! The old fire truck converted to a wrecker theory makes sense. This truck will work well for a small garage that needs a wrecker, but does not need to spend 100K to get one. No reason that someone can’t work this truck lightly, make some income with it, and have it still last for a long time.

  10. Howard A Member

    The “C” series Ford cabover was one of the longest running models, from 1957-1990. The red interior (and as stated, “Emergency One) is a pretty good giveaway this was a fire truck. Just for the record, these wheels are 10×20 Dayton tube type, and should be discarded for tubeless 11×22.5. Budd wheels are the tubeless kind( 10 lug nuts) you see on most trucks and buses today.

  11. 1969Deuce

    As a fire truck, it was probably along the lines of this one, also an Emergency One C600.

  12. blindmarc

    Great price for a running useable tow truck

  13. charlie Member

    Motorcycle clubs often have a van along behind to pick up aged Harleys that breakdown along the way. Car club that does tours should buy this for the same reason. I would feel far more confident taking my old car on a tour of a couple hundred miles if I knew the tow was with us just in case. With a dolly hook up as well, for the front wheel drive cars.

  14. Blindmarc

    In the early 90’s in SoCal, a place called Pedley, I worked at an old wrecking yard. By old o mean started in the 1920’s. I got a call from someone that had an old “Fritos” van. He just wanted it gone and it needed a driveshaft. My president trapped it for the club truck.

  15. Jaspef

    A product of my home town, Louisville. I remember some uproar when production of these “Louisvilles” ended and the line was set up for the Cargo model. The Cargo was more modern but had a reputation as not being of great quality. A friend who worked at Ford told meRoadway Trucking really stocked up on these before they were discontinued. Now that plant is the home of the Super Duty, however they have a C cab fire truck on display in the lobby. I think it’s some production milestone for the plant, seems it’s a ’69, maybe the year the plant opened.

    How about this IH cab over on GSA?

  16. scottymac

    The C Series Ford was made like from 1958-1991, spanning five decades. Not many designs/vehicles can make that claim. The boom and short bed make it look like the body shop bought a fire truck cheap, then found a wrecker bed/body from the Thirties.

  17. jim s

    sold for $4151. did anyone on the site but this?

    • 1969Deuce

      I went down to the last minutes, but as expected it went too high for me to add in recovery costs. In the northeast, it would have been in range. I had some contact with the seller but he didn’t know which engine it had. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t ‘Art’.

  18. jim s

    it is back up for sale on Ebay for BIN $7500 with different seller ID! try item # 111736036232.

  19. jim s

    i think the winning bidder is flipping this as they have the same 997 feedback score as the new seller.

  20. 1969Deuce

    Can’t pull it up by number or terms. Seems to be gone for now or sold again. That was a bit cheeky though the price was probably closer to what market should have been. Wouldn’t want it now anyway because it’s probably dizzy from all the flipping.

  21. jim s

    try last 3 numbers 323 instead of 232 or search under ford 600. it is still listed.

  22. Norman Wrensch

    Like Howard said those are most definitely Dayton wheels not Budd. But he was wrong on one thing, many older trucks with tube type tire usually with split rims also used the Budd type wheel pattern. And the Daytons where a pain to get running straight.

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