Aviation Fuel Truck Find: 1939 Ford

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This old fuel truck is listed for sale here on craigslist in Lake Havasu City, Arizona for a very ambitious $25,000. It served the Lake Havasu airport in another time in aviation history. It appears very complete and original and has accumulated less than 20,000 miles around the airport in it’s history. Thanks to Brian V for sharing this unique listing.


Back in ’39, aviation was a bit different than it is today. Most of the airports around the country were small, so a truck this size was perfectly equipped for serving small general aviation aircraft. I’d love to park this tanker next a modern one to see how much things have changed!


The tuck is said to run well but there’s no word on rust, but none is apparent in the pictures. The condition of any other components is unknown. If it was priced more realistically, beyond a museum, what could one do with this old truck? It would be great at an airshow, but I doubt the tank could be made legal to transport aviation fuel. Perhaps one could modify the tank into something usable.

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  1. Woodie Man

    If the tank could be cleaned or replaced it would make a perfect beer dispenser

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    • leiniedude leiniedudeMember

      I’m with you Woodie Man, Keep her stock and filled with beer you would be the hit of any car, boat, aviation or any other dog and pony show you went to. Last winter I helped a buddy deliver fuel with his truck because of a bad back. Looking in the hatch things have not changed much since 1939. Capacity for sure.

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    • Ed P

      What a way to gas up the pilot!!

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    • kenzo

      my thoughts Exactly Woodie Man. Clean out the tank, downsize the dispensing hose or leave it and run a new smaller one and hit the NFL tailgate party rounds and summer festival .circuit. What a blast. No restoration just clean it up and drive.
      Too cool but at 25K not for me..

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  2. Mark S

    I’d get rid of the tank while keeping the rear fenders, then I’d custom build a period correct looking truck box, and attach the rear fenders to it. Finally I think that this truck would look good painted turquoise over black with chrome wheels chrome baby moons and fat white walled tires. Oh and I’d definitely keep that flat head V8 engine. It would definitely turn heads at the Home Depots.

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    • David G

      Eeek, no way! The tank/pump equipment is the best part, sets this rig apart from most other 39 Ford trucks you could find today. The tank & associated equipment could be worth more than the truck itself as part of this interesting vehicle.

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  3. john maurin

    The second to the last picture of the floor and brake pedals don’t look like 18,000 miles. They are so worn that it looks like 118,000 miles.

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    • BG

      Yes but 18000 miles running around a small airport, fueling planes on a daily basis could result in excessive interior wear and tear.

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  4. RON

    Very ambitious money and way beyond the imigination of the average hobbiest but it is a unique and interesting piece of history. the type of stuff I would love to collect if it were pssine

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  5. Mark E

    If I had the money to buy this, it would logically follow that I’d have the money to buy my dream plane, a Beechcraft Staggerwing. They’d look good together…

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  6. jim s

    i too would convert this to a pickup and put it back to work. but at the asking price, even after selling the tank and equipment, it would be to costly. great find.

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  7. JMC

    Not sure if the exhaust configuration on this truck was as it is here back in the day,or if it has been changed,but nowadays(at least from the late 70’s)exhaust systems are below the engine with the muffler sideways in front exhausting out the side.In case there are ever any leaks,you don ‘t want aviation gasoline or jet fuel dripping down on a hot exhaust system!!

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    • Bobsmyuncle

      Nor would the operator want to be breathing in the exhaust.

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  8. HoA Howard AMember

    No, no, NO!!! Don’t take it apart! Maybe lose the actual pump and tanker workings, but I’d leave it as correct as possible. It’s a great piece of history, would look great at a vintage airplane show and not everything has to be turned into something it’s not. I do believe the mileage as accurate, as it, like a fire engine, didn’t go far, but a lot of getting in and out, causing the interior wear. 25g’s? Yeah, good luck with that. It is a great piece, but not that great. Sure would like to know where people get those figures from. Still, a wonderful find.

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  9. Todd Zuercher

    I’d keep the tank on back too – that’s what makes it unique. Where did you get the idea it was used in Lake Havasu City? The ad mentions Boeing and the truck has Washington plates on it. I’m guessing it was purchased and brought to LHC relatively recently as LHC is fairly “new” community.

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  10. Joe

    Anybody thinking what I am thinking? Couple of hundred gallons of fuel, 100 mph speedo max, 1939? My modern Wrangler has a 100mph max speedo with all of its safety features and modern roads and I usually stay below 70 for fear of rolling. Not that this truck was able to do 100 or anything near it, and most likely stayed on airfield property, but my guess 60 mph would have been possible down hill and some of these trucks traveled to pick up the fuel. What was life like in 1939 sitting in front of a tank of highly explosive fuel doing 60 mph, drum brakes, bad roads?

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    • Joe

      Sort of a “dark comedy.”

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  11. snerd

    airport miles(18K)check, granny gears check, 100+ av gas check ,tooth pick and a shop rag in the back pocket, no hurry… just right

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  12. Jason Houston

    Here’s another case of a local government entity owning an old vehicle they know absolutely nothing about… So, they get tons of people each week asking if it’s for sale. Next thing you know, they’ve got dollar signs springing up behind their eyeballs. And you know what?

    They just might get it!

    The only thing that doesn’t square is the Washington plate. But either way, I’m persuaded it is in fact, a rust-free car. And I’m also convinced the mileage is accurate. The type of use this car gets is hardly typical; there’s more slow starts and stops than there would ever be long hauls, thus the wear on the pedals would reflect that kind of usage.

    I’m also impressed the only modification it’s suffered is being painted that ugly bright yellow, as it was obviously a red car to begin with. But that may have been in concert with when it began dispensing Shell avgas, since Shell’s corporate colors are red and yellow.

    Which leaves us what? Nothing short of an excellent, unspoiled original car that begs to be appreciated in its original condition. Hell, it may even be the only one in the world.

    Why would anyone want to destroy that?

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  13. yaug

    Leave the tank, but convert to carry cargo!

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  14. Mr. Bond

    That tank’d have to be full of Av gas to get anywhere near $25k outta me!!

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  15. Brakeservo

    No place in the ad says it was used at the Lake Havasu City airport (and if you still believe that I’ll sell you the London Bridge, oh wait a minute, it’s also in Lake Havasu City). Says it was built for Boeing and that explains the Washington plate. But now the spectre of RUST arises – Seattle isn’t exactly dry.

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  16. Bobsmyuncle

    This is one of the coolest finds we’ve seen in a while. I’m surprised there isn’t more interest in discussing it even if the price is high. Which it may be but try and find another.

    I think this would be the perfect improvement on a classic pick up. Strip the internal configuration and pump and replace with a pullout drawer. Basically have the storage and security of a topper with a unique look!

    I really like this thing!

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  17. Bobsmyuncle

    OOPS, just reported my own post LOL!

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  18. geomechs geomechsMember

    Someone’s changed the rear axle to one off a tonner. Likely to carry the weight of a loaded fuel tank. If I had it, I’d fit the original and drive/preserve it. Don’t know exactly what I’d do with the fuel tank. Probably remove it and fit something like a service body onto it. They looked kind of neat with a telephone service body.

    Once again a ’38-’39 truck passes me by. But the price of this one is too far out of my range anyways. Still I’d take something like this on…

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    • Bobsmyuncle

      Why change the rear end? Re-gear maybe.

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      • Doug Crawford

        That tank may look small , but gas is what , 6 #/gal, 500 gal =3000 # it no doub
        t needed the HD axle & low ratio, esp. if it was used in hilly terrain.

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  19. Donnie

    clean the tank out good and put water in it have your own little fire truck

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    • Bobsmyuncle

      “Little” better refer to the fire and not just the truck LOL!

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  20. Rancho Bella

    There are many in Havasu City that think there stuff is worth a bunch of money. They live in a bubble world over there.

    Like 0

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