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Speedy Delivery: 1929 REO FD Master Speed Wagon

051216 Barn Finds - 1929 REO Speedwagon FD - 1

Believe it or not, this was a fast truck in its day. Back before the nation was criss-crossed with paved highways and an interstate system people needed a way to get their goods to market faster than using the railroad would allow. The 1929 REO FD Master Speed Wagon seen here is a big piece of the puzzle of what built the US into the commercial powerhouse that it is today. This truck is on eBay with a price of $7,900 and it’s in Fairview, South Dakota. I Can’t Fight This Feeling that I really like this truck!

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We all know that REO stands for the company founder, Ransom Eli Olds. We also know that the same gentleman was the father of the Oldsmobile. Did you also know that he was the father of the assembly line? That’s a lot of fathering! REO made trucks under its own original ownership from 1915 until 1954 when the company was sold to Bohn Aluminum and Brass Corporation. In 1957, White Motor Company took over and a year later White also bought Diamond T. Those companies would be merged into Diamond-Reo in 1967. The Speed Wagon line was made until 1939 with the later trucks having a condensed version of the name: REO Speedwagon.

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Farmers of the late-1920s and early-1930s, if a certain band would have been around back then, would have sung, “I’m gonna keep on lovin’ you..” to the REO Speed Wagon for helping them deliver their goods to market quicker than the railroad could. The speed of these trucks made all the difference to be able to haul produce, dairy, coal, etc. to a big city an hour away and be home on the same day. Folks couldn’t do that by using the railroad. They also couldn’t do that using a Ford Model A truck, or one of the other makes of trucks, which had about 2/3 the horsepower of the big REO Speed Wagon. This Speed Wagon would do 55 mph which was almost like going to the moon in the late-1920s, especially with a fully-loaded truck!

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Of course, you can see that there’s work to be done on this particular example. That hardboard seat isn’t going to win any fans, other than with maybe your proctologist. There’s some work to do on the dash and gauges, and elsewhere, both inside and out. But, once you’re done restoring it, that whole windshield opens from the bottom, like a lot of them did in those days, so you’ll be cool during your drive. You’ll want to make sure that windshield is closed if you’re caught in the rain and you’re Ridin’ the Storm Out..

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The engine looks surprisingly good here, like it would actually run! And, according to the seller, “most everything works”, other than the speedometer. This is REO’s “Gold Crown” L-head 268 cubic inch six-cylinder with about 67 hp. That doesn’t sound like much today but when most other trucks had around 40 hp, it was quite an upgrade. This isn’t a truck that I would use on a daily basis, and I’m guessing that nobody would anymore. But, for a relatively inexpensive project to learn about bodywork, interior retrimming, and mechanical tinkering; it would be a super fun project! How would you use this great, old truck?


  1. jeff

    A top end a 55 is certainly fast enough for around town. It would be a fun truck for random errands and the occasional farm auction. If the engine doesn’t run now, it looks like it wouldn’t take much to fire it up.

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    • grant

      I learned to drive in a 1927 Dodge “G Boy”, rated at one ton.The engine specs were similar to a Model A. The worst design element was it’s 3 speed transmission–no granny gear to get a load going.
      None-the-less dad left home in the morning loaded with two tons of wheat and hauled it 60 miles to the mill and returned in the evening with 20 100# bags of flour. The mill kept half for doing the milling.
      Road speed with that load was about 35 mph on level ground. Fast enough with brakes only on the rear wheels!


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  2. DrinkinGasoline

    Cool truck. Looks like someone made their own Positive Crankcase Ventilation set-up to go along with that Briggs & Stratton air cleaner. With a lot of patience and elbow grease, it would make a fun project.

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    • Matt Tritt

      Along with a heavy-duty spin-on oil filter. Someone took care of this baby.

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      • DrinkinGasoline

        You betcha ! Someone actually had some talent. Nice clean bores, fittings, smooth bent lines and routing.

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      • DrinkinGasoline

        Something I overlooked earlier….the Chrysler style Ballast Resistor, and the fuse block. I’m not sure if the coil is OEM…it does look newer. Even still, it was obviously done to maintain the electrical/mechanical integrity. The more I look at this truck, the more I want it ! Fresh Forest Green Matte finish Paint with a Mohair seat and Mahogany wood replacements where applicable….oh my….

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  3. geomechs geomechs Member

    It’s interesting to note: 55mph was quite a capability at the time but there were very few roads in the country that would handle that. However it was a good sales pitch.

    Nice to see an instrument cluster in that good a condition. I’m doing up a set for one of these as well as a ’27 Federal. Challenging to say the least. This truck is worth restoring.

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  4. Van


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  5. Matt Tritt

    BTW, shouldn’t this truck have duals?

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    • DrinkinGasoline

      Many trucks of this era were rear single wheel due to the lack of paved roads. Dual wheeled trucks got stuck in the rutted mud roads much quicker. As with snow plowing vehicles today… taller, thinner tires cut through the snow much better than lower, wider tires.

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  6. John H. in CT

    Sadly, it will likely cost $3K to move this,unless you are in the upper midwest. That’s going to limit the market for a buyer.

    I recently saved a ’53 Chevrolet 5 window pickup that had bern sitting in South Dakota, and no one in the deceased owner’s family wanted. Moving it from Sturgis SD to CT cost $1800 and that wasn’t even at retail.

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  7. DrinkinGasoline

    Who knows ? Maybe this truck hauled bootleg whiskey from the northern borders to any number of warehouses in the U.S. !
    SMC Cartage Co.? “Take da REO and fetch dem barrels and drop ’em off at da meetin’ place”…..no funny business,ya hear?….good,now go. And hey, don’t fergit the cannolies !

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    • jim s

      when i saw the photos of this truck i too was thinking bootlegging.

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  8. jim s

    photo show the mouse catcher on duty. the radiator/grill it sitting much higher then the hood, i wonder if that is stock. i too hope this gets put back to work. great find

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  9. Burger

    I would use it as-is like I do my similar period truck.

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    • Junkfixer

      I’m with you on this one, Burger. I’m not a “patina” type, but I think I would bring the mechanicals up to good condition, put a useable seat in it, then take steps to preserve it as-is (including the hay field exhaust). It should be allowed to wear it’s lifetime of work with pride.

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  10. Matthew Member

    this truck is only about 2.5 hours from where i live. I’m 14 years old and in South Dakota you get a divers license at my age, i might buy this just for a fun project to cruise around my home town in, heck maybe even do a little bit of light work.

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  11. Matt Tritt

    Hopefully you have several thousand available to you for the inevitable repairs, excellent mechanical skills and experienced adult guidance. Antique vehicles can be really fun to work on but 1 ton trucks are big, the bits and pieces are heavy and driving the end result of your labors will require much more strength and forethought than anything with power-assisted brakes and steering.

    Having said that, I got my first car at about your age in 1959 (a 34 Packard) and it took 2 years to get it right, and a hell of a lot of money!). It’s an excellent way to learn mechanics.

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    • Matt Member

      Now, i have since been given my fathers 83 d150, it has a slant 6, low gearing, and a 3 manual out of a valiant. it is going to get painted in the next few weeks.

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