Aluminum Bread Truck: 1958 Grumman-Olson

This 1958 Grumman-Olson delivery van is a rare aluminum-bodied work truck that was built under the Northrop-Grumman umbrella when new. The van was a revelation of sorts for a market that didn’t exactly over-extend itself to seek out innovation when building the bread and milk vans of America, but that’s just what Grumman-Olson did, as they knew the aluminum construction would yield weight savings and help avoid corrosion issues down the road. The seller claims this one did delivery duty for the Rainbo bread company before being retired, and it’s listed here on craigslist for $13,500 in Tucson.

Thanks to Barn Finds reader Matt R. for the find. The seller has stripped away all paint to expose that beautiful aluminum bodywork with exposed rivets, a sharp look for almost any utility vehicle. This example is being sold as a blank canvas, according to the seller, ready for its conversion into a camper, mobile home, food truck, or whatever your heart desires. Much of the heavy lifting maintenance-wise has been performed by the seller, which is a relief considering this isn’t exactly a vehicle you walk into your local NAPA store to get help with.

The seller notes the van comes with the optional heater and cooling is obviously provided by your nearest window. The seller has installed “…engineer’s seats from a jetliner” with four point harnesses, an interesting choice but also fitting considering the truck’s affiliation with the aircraft world through Northrop-Grumman. The interior is a bleak affair, but that’s in fitting with most commercial vehicles of, well, practically any era. The seller notes the windshield glass is brand new and it sounds like a custom job, since he also mentions some non-factory aluminum work that was performed in order to fit the front glass.

The Ford-derived  223 inline-six and 3 speed-manual won’t be zippy, but it should get the job done. The seller doesn’t highlight any specific maintenance around the engine, other than noting that new brakes were installed. The Grumman-Olson is indeed a rare bird, and one that would be eye-catching parked at any number of local eateries, or used as a delivery vehicle to ensure your customers always see you coming. I’d leave the exterior as-is, other than possibly painting a business name on the side, and maybe sourcing some racier wheels to replace the standard eight-lug, heavy-duty steel rollers it currently rides on. How would you use a “blank canvas” like this?

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  1. unclemymy Member

    I like it a bunch, having been in the aviation business for many years. First, I’d polish it to a mirror finish, and add some WWII markings to it – probably bare-metal B-17 or B-29. Then, I’d add all the aircraft instruments, radios and accessories I’ve collected, along with some more aircraft seats (maybe an ejection-seat for the unworthy). Me and my buddies would then cruise around looking for beer.

    • Bill

      I like the eject feature!!!!!

  2. Ira Goldstein

    I thought that Northrop-Grumman didn’t merge until 1994.

    • Poppapork

      In 1994, Northrop Aircraft bought Grumman Aerospace, which built the Apollo Lunar Module[33] to create Northrop Grumman (NG).[34] In 1996, the new company acquired Westinghouse Electronic Systems

  3. Bradley

    It would make a great retro food truck.

  4. SubGothius

    I live in Tucson, pretty sure I’ve seen this or one like it around town, surprisingly compact for a delivery van of this type, about halfway between the smallest ’70s GM Step-Van and a Grumman LLV (postal delivery truck).

    The “custom aluminum work” mentioned for the new front glass would be those perforated A-pillars, replacing what would have been a curved glass pane the original vans had there.

    • Brakeservo

      I am also a Tucsonan and this has been a Cracklist staple for months now.

  5. Evan

    “this isn’t exactly a vehicle you walk into your local NAPA store to get help with.”

    I’ll beg to differ. The mechanical bits are 99% the same as a Ford pickup of the same era, and NAPA is notoriously good at being able to supply most every mechanical part for an old Ford.


    I had an aluminum step van like this mine a 53 Gruman Olsen . It was Chevy powered. The engine and driveline was all stovebolt.

    It was tired being a former bread delivery van. I scored a 54 GMC engine out of a low mileage pickup a guy gave me as he was going V8. Total project including purchase price $500.

  7. Ward William

    Food van or company publicity van.

  8. Guggie 13

    My Dad converted one of these into a motor home , Chevy 6 and 4 speed , lots of fun sorry he sold it to buy a bigger motor home .

  9. Mountainwoodie

    ” We Die Like Real Men”…hilarious! So appropriate.

    What a great build . The work must have been a bear. Have to hire some hard working low paid students to polish it. It could take a semester! Keep ’em busy.

  10. Maestro1 Member

    Yes. Polish it, put in the instruments as Unclebyvby describes and drive it.
    The rear should be an office or a camper. And I agree about the wheels which need something else.

  11. Poppapork

    Make it a support vehicle for a race car, altho not sure what kind of mods it would need to pull 5000lbs reliably.
    It would looks super cool in the pits!

  12. seth karpen

    In New York most of the bodies outlasted the frames

  13. Chris Londish Member

    So this has a Ford engine and trans is the rest Ford as well?

  14. Jonathan Q Higgins

    Way way overpriced. Worth maybe 5k tops. The most interesting feature on these was the curved a pillar windows. Now gone. Sigh. That driver seat looks very uncomfortable.

    • Wayne from oz

      Not only would the seat be uncomfortable, what about the height of the steering wheel?

      • Jonathan Q Higgins

        And no power steering

  15. chrlsful

    know the P35 pretty well, fella here restored accepting it w/a divorced transfer case and driving on dunes of “the Cape” here in MA”

    lotta fun!

  16. Stevieg Member

    I like the idea of polishing it, I would probably do that.
    I would also swap in a newer fuel injected Ford 300 inline 6 for dependability & longevity.
    Add some polished Budd style wheels, make the vehicle comfortable for a long drive, and then use it!
    It would make an awesome Harley hauler!

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