Bargain Diamond? 1949 Diamond T Model 201

Widely considered the “Cadillac of pickups”, Diamond T pickups are typically not inexpensive. Or, usually they aren’t, this 1949 Diamond T Model 201 seems like a relative bargain. This solid project pickup is on eBay with an unmet opening bid of $8,500 and there is no reserve. These trucks in nice original or restored condition can easily bring $40,000 to $50,000 or more, sometimes much more. This truck is being sold by the famous Volo Auto Museum in Round Lake, Illinois. And, if you haven’t been there yet, it’s quite a destination.

This truck looks solid, and it is for the most part but like all of us it has its weak points. But, look at that commanding grille! When you drive this truck you knew that you were in charge, the king of the hill. The box on this Model 201 is also pretty solid but you’ll have work to do as you would expect with a vehicle that’s almost seven decades old.

Green? Could this have been a green truck at one point? I don’t know if I’ve ever seen any other color than red for a Diamond T Model 201, other than a couple of yellow ones that may have had a color change. Did they offer the Model 201 in colors other than red? This is a California truck so the rust is limited on the body, and other than the seat there isn’t much to deteriorate on the interior.

This isn’t the original engine, which is unfortunate because it’s the one that was totally rebuilt. But, the original engine does come with the sale for those folks who are concerned with numbers matching parts and pieces. This truck deserves a full restoration, in my opinion. If the reserve stays around the opening bid price of $8,500, this is a no-brainer for a flipper. It’s hard to argue with an $8,500 vehicle that’s worth $50,000+ after restoration and is in as solid shape as this Diamond T is. What’s this Model 201 worth as it sits now? $10,000? $15,000? More? Would you restore this one or just get it working and drive it as it looks now?


  1. Howard A Member

    Oh Scotty, go ahead, give that knife in my gut a turn!! Let’s begin, shall we? ( some others may know this story, I know David does too) if you have to go to the bathroom, go now, because I’m not stopping in the middle of my story, I’ll wait,,,,,,,ok, go back to that wonderful time, 1980, when junkyards were still on every rural highway. Walking through a truck junkyard in SE Wis. looking for parts for a different truck, there it was, laying in the weeds, a truck exactly like this, only no wheels and no “Diamond T” tags on the hood. ( like this) Opening the hood, the ID tag sez “Diamond T”, model 201. What the heck is this, I thought? Engine was a similar Hercules QXLD, 91 hp. When I inquired at the “office” the guy said, ” oh, that old truck ( 1980, mind you) give me $100 bucks, and it’s yours” (WITH A TITLE!!) I said, “I’ll be right back” and was spinning my wheels to get the money. Now, how to get it home ( no wheels, remember?) These have 16 Dayton style ( split rims) and were near impossible to find. Came close with some mobile home wheels, and it was enough to get it on a trailer. Calling around ( again, 1980) another yard , not far away, the guy said he had a Diamond T milk truck “way in the back”, come take a look. Sure enough, it was a 201 with a milk van body, pretty rough, but had the wheels and many other parts. He wanted $200 for it( double what the pickup cost, but I was elated to find it. He cut the back off, I dragged it home and total investment, $300. Over the years, I got it running, the junkyard I bought it from said it was rumored to have a new motor, and it ran like one. Apparently, it belonged to a neighbor of the yard, and when he died, they put it in a ,,,barn, for like 25 years, until the estate sale, nobody wanted it, and it ended up at the yard. I got new tires and tubes, and drove it sparingly, because A) it only went about 40 mph and B) the ride was so rough, I didn’t dare go any faster. It had 13 leaf’s on the back, 7 up front. It was a 1 ton pick or more, for sure. Couple interesting notes, mine was a “crash-box” 4 speed, that Hercules engine had a gear driven generator and water pump. They used this motor in forklifts ( and still might) for years. Those “Diamond T” badges are around, but gonna cost you ( luckily, the parts truck I bought had them)that front vertical grill piece ( unobtainium) is going to be a toughie ( again, my parts truck had a perfect one.)
    So what happened, you say? (Scotty already knows) Just be careful when you say “I do”, because that came back to bite me big time, and the Diamond T was sold to pay her off, to a neighbor, for $4,000 in 1999, who always admired it. So at least, I know where it is. Now, value, and here’s where my coffee starts to come back up,,,at a recent TV auction, a nicely restored one, a bit older, went for $97,000. Oh well, that’s my Diamond T 201 story, and I miss it every day. ( especially when stuff like this pops up) A shame it’s going to cost someone tens of thousands of dollars for one, when I had one for $300 bucks. So you tell me if the hobby has changed. You can go to the bathroom now ( I have to, thanks for listening)

    Like 2
    • Howard A Member

      Here’s what the hood emblems look like. I can’t even find any on ebay, so good luck. Also, as far as color, yes, most were red, but this has to be repaint, because on red trucks, like mine, that embossed stripe on the door, below the window, was green.

      • JW

        Howard I love your posts, very colorful, keep them coming. I know the feeling of the dreaded separation costs but mine was well worth the cost as I never regretted it and the second go round has been with a car girl for going on 37 years. Cheers !!!

      • Dave Wright

        I has a neighbor growing up that was an advanced car collector, Franklins, early Chryslers and one great Diamond T pickup. That would have been the late 60’s, so they have been appreciated for a long time. It was a magnificent vehicle all factory original. The owner owned a large insurance agency and owned a warehouse just to store his collection. It was always fun when he would drive the Diamond T home. He told me it Road so rough and was so slow the original owner seldom used it. Indeed, the engine was a forklift (and other industrial uses) engine. Parts are readily available. My brother is rebuilding one right now in his forklift. I did own a Diamond T semi, I think it was early 60’s built after the Reo/Diamond T/White/Studebaker mergers of the 50’s.

    • Howard A Member

      Another neat feature, was the windshields cranked open separately for ventilation ( and bugs) Larger model shown, but you can see that center grill strip always got dented.

      • leiniedude leiniedude Member

        Thanks for the great story Howard! I think the only ones I have ever seen has been on this site. A beautiful truck indeed. The front fenders on this truck are really sweet, way more style than the ones on the larger truck in your photo. I’ll have to do a little research on these trucks later today. I have been to the Volo Museum, if I remember correctly all there vehicles are for sale. A great place, and for those with a wife you can take them with. Antiques shops galore there also. Oh, and I see one bid, yours? Take care, Mike.

      • geomechs geomechs Member

        Hi Howard. Every time I see a Diamond T, especially a 201, I think of you. Some people have had to make a lot of sacrifices in their lifetime and you’ve made yours. I sure hope that one day you might have the opportunity to enjoy another one….

      • Howard A Member

        Thanks, and I know Scotty doesn’t do this to rub it in, he knows I love to see this stuff. Yeah, sell it or 6 weeks in the slammer, and the money (allegedly) went to my kids, waaaaait a minute, come to think of it, she did get a new pickup shortly afterward, but it’s just one of those things, the way the cookie crumbled, and I had a lot of fun with it. Bouncing all the way!

  2. Ed P

    As to the color: Pickups are red, tractors are green. Maybe somebody tried to correct a factory mistake?

  3. Scot Carr

    ~ Here is a pic of FB friend, Brian McCool’s Diamond T, an absolutely gorgeous build. The Spartan trailer is a beauty, too.

    • Howard A Member

      Hi Scot, I know I’ve seen that unit before. One thing for sure, it doesn’t have the ol’ Herc motor. The whole time I had the truck, I was at odds as to what to do with it ( when me and the missus were getting along) It really was a chore to drive and an update was in order. I was just going to do what Brian did, so I could use it, but obviously, never got that far.

      • Scot Carr

        ~ Happy New Year, Howard ! Here’s the link to McCool’s Garage. You’ll enjoy it. He does not let life pass him by, always moving forward!

  4. Mtshootist1

    My 1963 Chevy II Bit the dust in 1969 from a Diamond T oilfield semi. Hit me broadside trying to pass me while I was turning into a wheat field. I know from experience what that grill reinforced by drill pipe looks like coming straight towards you. I got myself out of the way and it cut thru the back half of that Chevy like a hot knife thru butter

  5. Ed P

    Those big cast wheels must have supported quite a load. Does anyone know the gvw for this?

    • leiniedude leiniedude Member
      • Ed P

        Thanks, those sure don’t look like the wheels for a half tonner.

    • Dave Wright

      Cast or more properly called Gunite wheels are a bit stronger than a typical disc or Bud type wheel but not much. The industry has mostly gone away from them. It takes a skilled tire service person to correctly mount them so they will run true. Off course the weak point is where the rim attaches to the hub. We still see them on eastern city trucks probably specked by some clerk getting a kickback from the Gunite people. They are also much heavier than a bud type wheel. For originality they are totally correct on these trucks but should be avoided for common use today. The market confirms that as a truck equipped with them has a much lower resale.

      • Ed P

        I would think the lower weight of a disc or Bud type wheel would appeal to truckers due to the increase of gvw. Obviously these are split rims. Is there a rim for tubeless tires?

      • Dave Wright

        I don’t believe there is a tubeless version of these….might be able to have some made. Many people don’t understand the great advantage of tubeless tires……but it is a huge deal. I am changing the axle assemblies on my 68 IHC just so I can get away from tube type tires and split rim wheels.

  6. half cab

    They look similar to Dayton wheels?

    Like 1
  7. Ed P

    Dave, I understand the advantages of tubeless and the dangers of split rims.

  8. Ck

    There was an old Diamond for years at L&L auto salvage in Dighton Ma .I believe it was older cuz it had a chain drive. Am I crazy does that sound rite? Always thought it was kinda kool.

  9. Ck

    I don’t think it was a pick up .It was bigger,Maybe .It was a long time ago.It could still be there for all I know.

  10. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Cool old girl sold for $8,600.00. Only two bids.

    Like 1
  11. Bruce

    If you look they are for sale for lots of money but are for sale for months if not longer. I have a lead on one now for $13000 but think you will have much more invested to get it restored. A restored flat bed in Pa is priced at ~$1200 and has been for sale for several months now. I think the market for high priced 201’s is very small.

    Like 1

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