BF Auction: 1946 Dodge COE WHMA-48 Tanker


Some people find the prospect of tackling the restoration of a classic truck overwhelming. However, they can prove surprisingly straightforward. Admittedly, everything is bigger and heavier than you find on the average car, but the engineering and construction are elegantly simple. There is sound logic behind that approach because manufacturers designed these vehicles as workhorses, and ease of maintenance is a prime consideration to ensure they remain running and earning money for their owners. This 1946 Dodge COE WHMA-48 is a prime example of the breed, and it promises its new owner a rewarding build. They could opt for a faithful restoration, although it could also serve as a sound foundation for a custom or rat rod project. This old Dodge is listed exclusively here at Barn Finds Auctions.

Commercial vehicles fulfill many roles in society, but this Dodge spent its life as an aviation fuel tanker. That isn’t something you see every day, and it would make me lean towards a faithful restoration. Closely examining the photos reveals enough details to potentially allow the new owner to recreate the paint scheme and signage that would return the truck to its former glory. The buyer starts the build process from a solid foundation because there is surface corrosion on the panels, but no penetrating rust. That’s right; the grinder and welder can stay in the cupboard with this classic. The frame carries a similar corrosion level but is rock-solid and structurally sound. The tanker body is the product of Columbian Steel Tank Company, which I believe has been operating in Kansas City, Missouri, since 1893. It features a pair of 1,050-gallon fuel tanks and all the fittings to transfer fuel to its target aircraft. There are a few dings and dents, but nothing that would present a challenge to a competent enthusiast. The trim is restorable, and the glass looks good. The truck comes with a set of dual rear wheels and fender skirts that would help its load-carrying capacity and add an air of class to this classic.

This truck’s interior needs a new seat and door linings, but it appears to be otherwise complete. The buyer will undoubtedly perform a refresh, which can prove a satisfying process with these classics. The vast expanses of painted steel can look stunning when they shine in as-new condition. This process is attractive because the disassembly and reassembly process is exceptionally straightforward. Anyone with basic preparation and painting skills could make this interior sparkle without spending a fortune.

Apart from the unique body, the essential characteristic of an aviation tanker is its ability to move fuel from a supply tank to the target aircraft. That requires a stout heart, and this Dodge delivers. It features a 159″ wheelbase and is rated at 16,000 GVW. Hiding below the cab is a 251ci flathead six-cylinder engine with a 25″ cylinder head that produced 100hp and 208 ft/lbs of torque in its prime. The power was fed to the two-speed rear end via a manual transmission. This engine is the T-130 version the company utilized in its trucks from 1941 until 1947. It has a genuine 18,393 miles showing on its odometer, which is hardly surprising considering it clocked those moving from plane to plane at an airport. It doesn’t currently run or drive, but it is mechanically complete.

If you long for a project that you can sink your teeth into to create something genuinely eye-catching, it would be hard to look beyond this 1946 Dodge COE WHMA-48 Tanker. Its lack of rust and sound engineering principles means it could be a straightforward build. Regardless of whether you envisage a faithful restoration or a custom approach, the finished product would draw admiring glances and positive comments wherever it goes. If you have the space, this Dodge could be the ideal candidate to fill it.

  • Location: Denton, Nebraska
  • Mileage: 18,393
  • Engine: 251 CI Flathead Six-Cylinder
  • Transmission: Manual
  • Body Number: 4152-8667
  • Title Status: Clean

Bid On This Vehicle

Sold for: $3,251
Register To Bid
Ended: Sep 28, 2022 5:00am MDT
High Bidder: Cletrack
Buyer Premium: 5%
  • Cletrack bid $3,250.90  2022-09-28 09:40:20
  • Ed5154 bid $3,000.00  2022-09-26 13:19:47
  • Cletrack bid $2,200.00  2022-09-22 19:21:34
  • Crazy bid $1,600.00  2022-09-22 13:47:42
  • Cletrack bid $1,500.00  2022-09-22 09:49:01
  • Charles Ritter bid $500.00  2022-09-21 20:28:31
  • Crazy bid $400.00  2022-09-21 13:25:22
  • day1rt bid $300.00  2022-09-21 13:04:11


  1. Steve

    This reminds me of the old horror movie from 2001, “Jeepers Creepers”.

  2. Howard A Member

    One thing, and others have noticed it too, on these auction posts, there is no writers name. With the research someone did, it’s no different than any other post, and should be noted.
    This? While petroliana these days is huge, not this huge. Gas pumps or signs, something like this has no use today, as is. Space too, I read, like 64% of all Americans rent today. This is not “landlord friendly”. Nowadays, the big thing with these cabovers, is some flatbed rolloff type, and many just graft the cab to a modern chassis. Can’t however argue with the simplicity, “start”?, no foolin’,,and a gas tank on a gas tanker? I know, but the old gal might have run great on AvGas,,and 18K, that’s a LOT of trips out to the tarmac.

    Like 4
    • bobhess bobhess Member

      Pull the cab and taillights and send the rest to the recycle folks to pay for putting it on a late chassis and running gear. Then you have a fun, useful truck.

      Like 4
      • Pnuts

        What Bobhess said. Put the cab on a 24 valve frame/running gear.

    • Joshua Mortensen Staff

      Adam wrote this one! And getting the writer’s info in there is something we are going to be changing.

      Like 2
      • Howard A Member

        Any chance of some sort of personal message system in the works for members?

        Like 3
      • ojr

        I’m with Howard about messaging members.

        Like 2
  3. Morley Member

    I collect gasoline signs etc. Primarily from the Cities Service Oil Company. (Citgo) and I would love this truck. Being a COE makes it unique and as a truck it is not that big. If it was closer I shure would like to look at it. As far as the cost, we have all paid more than that for a rare porcelain sign or clear vue pump.

    Like 5
  4. DA

    Lack of rust? I do not agree.

  5. butchb

    Restored that truck would be a nice fit for an aviation museum. Not much practical use except perhaps a rich rancher who’d use it to fuel ranch equipment. Full brake system rebuild required plus tires/tubes/flaps etc, etc At $3-$5/mile transport it’d have to a money is no issue restoration

    Like 2
  6. Troy

    I would send the fuel tank to the scrap yard and restore the cab and frame then find a airstream travel trailer to mount on the frame so you have a one off motor home

    Like 5
    • JimmyinTEXAS

      That is a great idea. I was thinking about a low roll-back bed for transporting to and from car shows or new purchases.

      Like 1
  7. Lance

    The liklihoiod that this will be restored as a tanker is slim. What could you do with it besides haul gas ( or nany liquid really)?. That limits it’s potential for total restoration. As has been stated before the only really attractive parts are the cab and a few other parts. That limits what anyone would pay . Likely it will be a car hauler or heaven forbid another rat rod that looks awful. I don’t see this bringing a lot of money at auction. My 2 cents.

    Like 1
  8. TED W

    Restored for an aviation museum, paint it Caution Yellow and stencil U.S. NAVY on it with applicable vehicle registration numbers, and it’s continued use would be great.

    Or Take the tank off, graft a super duty pick up bed on it and you would have an awesome boat hauler able to tow a 42 foot Cigarette or Fountain!

  9. My 57 Chevy

    I own a 1941 Dodge COE with a 18’ car hauler bed. Basically the exact same cab. Mine is on a ‘82 GMC 1-ton chassis with a 454/400. This is a great start for a similar build. These COE’s are gaining popularity!

    Like 1
  10. jim

    If I bought it who would haul it 960 miles to me ay a good price

    Like 1
  11. CKT

    Word of cautions: DO NOT use a cutting or welding torch to the huge fuel tank! Who knows how long ago fuel was in the tank…… As mentioned previously, get rid of the fuel tank and put a bed on it for whatever use one would want. Regardless of what is done to the truck, think “big bucks” & a lot of work hours.

    Like 1
  12. Crankyolman

    This one deserves a proper restoration. I belong to a truck historical society and there aren’t many Dodge trucks period of this caliper. If you want to restomod a vintage truck then let it be a Chevrolet or Ford. They are laying everywhere in abundance. I’m definitely bidding on this one.

    Like 5
  13. jim

    Just fill it with water and torch at it then drain and off she comes and looks like a different truck

  14. butchb

    I’d like to see someone do a “Will it make it Home” youtube video on this, where they take a long forgotten vehicle and get it running and drive it back to their home. 55 mph maybe top speed on this one lol. Order the tires to be delivered in advance, arrive with brake repair parts, battery, ignition parts, belts and hoses, maybe a new water pump, a milk crate to sit on and a lotta faith. It could be done! :)

    Like 1
    • Morley Brown Member

      Isn: t thart show called Roadkill?

  15. dick

    where can i find a yard that specializes in coe cabs ? anyone please help.

    • Howard A Member

      Good luck, what cha’ lookin’ for? While I dislike promoting FB, several cabovers come up. Mostly newer stuff, IH, KW, not much like this, however. This, a late 30s Chevy is at a storage facility near me, but all I’ve seen are pretty rough. Out west here is about the only place you’ll find any, and many times, the owners are long gone, the property gets sold, and most goes to the crusher.

      • Howard A Member

        Here’s another, old Cornflakes truck(?) makes my back ache just looking at it, at a freight outfit in town, so they are around.
        Some other places to check, is a publication called “Wheels of Time”, or “Vintage Truck” magazine, they have classifieds with a lot of stuff, but pricey, and never in your backyard.


    This might make a brilliant “Beer Wagon”….
    Put taps on the side and convert the tanks (or simply put legs in em).
    Sell beer at Car Shows (ya’ll DO imbibe, in moderation) and any other venue….
    A cool local brewery, especially one with an Airospace logo/connection?

    A ‘Beero-mod’* conversion?

    *sorry, but not sorry

    • TED W.

      Spot on! That would be awesome 😎

  17. TED W.

    One year at Carnival down in Chitre, Panama they had two trucks set up like that, one had taps for Panama Cerveza(The National Beer), and another truck was set up with taps for Seco Herrerano Rum!! Dudes were going up to that one with 2 liter soda bottles!

    Like 1

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