37 Years In A Barn: 1948 Ford F3 Pickup

1948 Ford F3 Pickup

Now this is a true barn find! Parked in a “dry barn” 37 years ago, this 1948 Ford F3 pickup just oozes that barn find patina. I found myself wondering if the tires really still hold air or if they are just that stiff from being in the barn so long (just kidding!). This vintage hauler is available here on eBay with a buy-it-now price of $6,000 and reserve not met yet, and is located in Glendale Heights, Illinois.

1948 Ford F3 Out of the Barn

Given the amount of surface rust, I have to wonder how dry this barn actually was. I’m pleased to see the body looks fairly solid; I don’t see any rust-through spots except the bottom of the battery tray, although there are plenty of small dents throughout. I expect dents when looking at an old pickup, but I’m curious as to why all the trim and glass were removed. Was there an early attempt at restoration? In 1978 this was already a pretty old truck, although in the late 70’s I would have expected someone to want to turn it into a street rod rather than restore it to original.

1948 Ford F3

The other thing I find a little puzzling is the tri-location of Michigan plate, Indiana title, and located in Illinois. Regardless, there aren’t that many of these around now, and they were only produced from 1948 to 1952, so if an early fat-fendered pickup is on your radar screen, this one could be worth considering.

1948 Ford F3 Ad
Find this ad in print here on eBay

Ford’s 1948 advertising used the slogan “Built Stronger to Last Longer”, and I guess this one has done just that! A little poking around found a very active forum for these early trucks with lots of good information available. Value guides put the low retail for these 1-ton pickups at a little less than $7,000 for a running example, so keep that in mind if you are bidding. There’s a 1950 F3 on eBay at no reserve that already runs with a starting bid of $7,499 that may well be a better buy, even if its backstory isn’t as charming. It has more rust holes but is visibly complete.

1948 Ford F3 Flat Head V8

Moving back to the ’48 model, the trusty flathead V-8 is still under the hood with a claimed 90k miles so far. If it is the original engine, it would be a 239 cubic inch version that produced 100 horsepower when new. It sure seems easy to get to everything under the hood, with the generator right at the top. I wonder how low first gear is on the attached four-speed transmission?

1948 Ford F3 Interior

The surface rust almost everywhere in this cab has me thinking that a media blaster or acid dip would be in order. But at least there are no holes to be seen. I’d love to know what early pickup you’d like to have, and whether you would leave this one original or modify it for comfort and convenience with some modern components. And if you would modify one, what would you do? Any interest in either F3s?


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  1. Rees Klintworth

    They aren’t quite as old, but my favorite vintage trucks are late 50’s GM trucks equipped with a NAPCO factory 4×4 system. I love the styling on those trucks, and the taller 4wd stance gives them a much more menancing look than the stock 2wd versions. As far as these old Fords go, the grill redesign for ’51 looks much better in my opinion. With that said, any old pickup is probably enough to make me happy. I wouldn’t be overly concerned with getting everything perfectly stock as it came from the factory, although I’d tend to lean towards originality where possible.

  2. jim s

    i would go with the 1950 as it is closer to being ready to be a daily driver. but both need work to make them safe. i would keep the dents and have fun. the chevy/gmc trucks from the same timeframe are just as intereting to me. not sure about the prices on any of them. great finds

  3. Rob

    Neat old truck, but I prefer my Fords a bit older, ‘n in better shape. I found my ‘barnfind’ stashed in a garage, where it had been parked with a blown head-gasket. Its 2nd owner, was a Long Beach, CA Fireman who’d tragically died in ’63; his son, at his moms request, then padlocked the door, as his mom said it brought back to many a memory, it then sat untouched for 32 yrs, still holding air in its cracked WW tires. When the property was sold after his mom passed, living in an apt, he had no place to store it, so I gave him $5,000. for it, a tidy sum in ’95, but it was (as you can see) complete, with only 43K miles on her. Now that I’ve retired, it’s about time to get the ol’ girl rolling back on the road, but this time around with 3×2’s on her flattie, ‘n on a Marmon-Harrington 4×4 driveline, as I live in MT.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Rob, that’s a beauty!!!

    • TuckerTorpedo

      I’d like to offer you $50,000 for your Ford truck, sir.

  4. geomechs geomechs Member

    This is what I like to run across. I sure wouldn’t turn down an old Ford Tonner. Looks like someone starting working on it then lost interest. The engine has been worked over. That’s an odd shade of blue. It should be red although I saw some of the originals that were what is now called: Old Ford Blue

  5. Robert Gallagher

    Well thanks Jamie for the review in the 48 F3 ford truck. The truck was in our barn on a farm in Michigan, I titled it in Indiana since that’s where I live now. I also have a rather large garage in Illinois where I keep most of my old stuff. All the parts are there including the glass. The chrome and glass was removed because it was to be painted, It was sand blasted and primed 37 years ago. There are many extra parts like a complete engine, trans, hood, front fenders, and new weather stripping for both of the doors, new floor mat and a new complete wiring harness, etc, etc. Moreover the truck is completely unmodified. The engine still turns over.
    Also the tires were new 37 years ago, and still have the casting nubs on them, and yes, they still hold air, after all these years….

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Robert, thank you for the additional information! Hope you get what you are looking for on the sale!!!

  6. Patrick McC.

    We have a ’64 Chevy sidestep that’s been in the family since new. Everything is original besides the air horn, seat upholstery and a respray many years ago. Just a really neat li’l truck that has never had a point in it’s life that it has been in a non-running state. Bill Cosby described his dad’s ’64 Chevy truck as being the most un-cool sounding car in the world; not completely inaccurate…

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Patrick, that’s great — post a picture for us!

  7. Scott Allison

    I found a 49 F-3 pickup in Oklahoma that is in a lot better condition that this one. Paid $800.00 for it 4 years ago. My daughter and I are currently restoring it. The engine was locked up (P.O left the sparkplugs out, and the field mice and rain did a number on the engine). Everything was on the truck, and it still had paint even though it was left in a goat field for 20 years.

  8. Pete

    Parked in 1978 with a Michigan license plate hanging off the rear. Now in Northeast Illinois. Comes with a valid Indiana title. Huh?

  9. joe bennett

    I have 1950 f3 and a 1957 f1 about same shape I will not modify

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