Big Beauty: 1940 Ford One Ton Pickup

I have to admit that I am a big fan of old trucks.  Furthermore, I think that anyone serious about restoring their own vehicles should begin with a truck.  Their usefulness, simplicity, and rugged parts all make that first restoration a lot easier.  Unfortunately, the prices for good, restorable half ton trucks have been steadily climbing as people discover how much fun they are to restore, drive, and own.  On the contrary, the price for heavy duty trucks has stayed low and flat.  Most of them have job specific bodies, dual wheels, and long wheelbases, making them unsuitable for home restorations.  This truck, a 1940 Ford one ton pickup for sale on EBay in Cavalier, North Dakota, is a heavy duty truck that, like you heard in Goldilocks and the Three Bears, is just right.  While the size is not too small and not to big, everything about this one is almost perfectly proportioned.  This includes the price, which is just $1,000 as of this writing.

One of the things that may be driving the price of this truck down is the styling.  While it has a good looking, rugged charm of its own, its smaller brother, the half ton 1940 Ford pickup, shared a lot of styling features with the Ford passenger car of the same year.  Prewar Ford lovers covet 1940 Ford passenger cars, with the coupe of that year earning its legendary status as the moonshine hauler’s weapon of choice in the South.  The styling that year was just perfect, and the well styled half ton trucks bring big money when restored or perfectly modified.  This one ton had totally different styling, and it was in correct proportion to the sizes that a commercial variant needed to be in order to be useful to customers.  I guess you could say that it reflects function before form, but it still looks “right,” especially when equipped with a pickup bed.

It is that bed that sets this one apart from other one tons.  While trucks configured this way are not super rare, most of these trucks lost their beds a long time ago.  Flatbed bodies are much easier to use, especially on a farm, and one tons usually are so equipped or modified.  While the description doesn’t give us an exact bed length, it looks to be around eight foot long.  From the exterior, the bed looks to be in really good condition, and it doesn’t seem to have the massive amounts of rust that many pickup beds exhibit at this age.  The lack of a stamped Ford tailgate detracts from the overall look, but it may not have come with one in the first place.  Hopefully we have a Ford truck expert among our readers who can shine some light on this.

The fenders are, well, farm truck fenders.  These trucks had to earn their keep, and were used heavily for years.  Bumps, bruises, and dings are par for the course here, and it will take a body man a while to massage out all the dents and prepare them for painting.  The good news, again, is the absence of rust through on the fenders.  We can’t see the seams where they bolt to the body, but if heavy rust was there, we would likely know it.  There is a small tear in the passenger front fender, and a patch job is required in the passenger side door.  The description says that it was stored in a barn, but water had to get through that broken window somehow.  Maybe the barn roof leaked a lot.

Inside the bed, we find the bed walls to be in pretty remarkable condition.  The wooden bed sides must have been a popular meeting place for the resident chickens and pigeons, as we do see signs of their handiwork.  The floor, while it looks to be recently shoveled out, is in pretty good condition considering the age of the truck and its obviously hard life.  Other than the lack of a tailgate, things look pretty good back here.

In the cab, the passenger side once again proves to be where the problems lie.  There is rust through in the floor, but it isn’t fatal.  It could be patched up fairly inexpensively if you weren’t going for a 100 point restoration.  The mildly complex stamping would be a pain to replicate, and I doubt there are any commercial replacement pans available for one tons.  Perhaps just cutting out the section to the right of the “8” stamping and to the left of the sill and replacing it with a section of sheet metal in the proper thickness would suffice.  Covered with the rubber floor mat that would most likely be correct floor overlay on a truck like this, you would never know there was a problem.  Unless, of course, you crawled underneath.

The rest of the cab looks very useable.  Especially useable and irreplaceable is the metal trim around the windshield.  Often this trim is rusted out on trucks that lived their whole lives in the elements, as the windshield rubber dries out, cracks, and becomes the perfect conduit for water to enter.  Obviously, the seats would have to be recovered, and the door panels and headliner would need to be replaced.  A good upholsterer should be able to replicate these items with little trouble.  They could probably also fabricate some replacement kick panels to round out the package.  Notice that the truck still has its hot water heater, but it was delivered with no provision for a radio.  All work and no play here.

Unfortunately, the seller states that the original Flathead V-8 is seized up.  Since the engine would most likely need to be rebuilt anyway, this is not a deal killer.  There are tons of parts for Flathead Ford engines, and talented rebuilders can weld up and machine any cracks.  Even engines that have bad bores can be re-sleeved with little trouble.  Given the size and weight of this truck, it might be a good idea to add some speed parts during the rebuild along with a bump in compression.  If you are going to show the truck for points, all the modifications have to be internal.  However, if you are making this truck into a driver, then you would likely appreciate some extra power under the hood.  As it sits, the engine does look to be very original and untouched.

One thing to remember when buying a one ton is that the heavy duty springs required to carry such loads usually make these trucks a bit rough to ride in.  It definitely won’t ride and drive like a F-350 King Ranch.  However, the long wheelbase and the weight will make the ride bearable.  The real reward will be in having a distinctive truck to drive around to shows, cruise ins, and ice cream runs.  These big Fords are not as semi-sized as the behemoth bro-dozers that are so popular today, and you may find this one to be just the right size to serve as an occasional Home Depot runner as well.  At this low price, how can you lose with this one?


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  1. Jay M

    Wow! Great price/great condition!
    Looks like it’s only hauled marshmallows or cotton balls compared to mos that I’ve seen…

    Like 1
  2. jdjonesdr

    Now THAT is Patina. Can’t fake that!

    Like 1
  3. Howard A Member

    I don’t think this is a 1940. The ’40 Ford pickups looked like the cars. This has to be a ’41. At least they blew it out. Lot of work here.

  4. Terry J

    Bought a real Barn Find from a relative once – a ’30 Chevy flat bed truck There are different kinds of barns.The “Old Family Truck” had been stored for decades, but the barn was all metal and that meant a lot of condensation. Though there was no rust through and the truck looked very solid, the sheet metal was very thin. After fiddling with it for awhile, I passed it on to a more ambitious owner. :-) Terry J

  5. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Cool old rig! A great idea with the ladder, very handy.

  6. geomechs geomechs Member

    I like this one very much and it would look so good at my place. However, I’ve got enough projects so I’ve got to keep the blinders on. But IF it made it to my place, it would be in for a full driver-quality restoration.

    Ford Tonners didn’t change much from ’38 to ’47. The bed was exactly the same for those years. It seems to me that it was 8′-6″ in length. The cab was the same from ’40 to ’47 but there were changes in the engine bay (and front sheet metal) in ’42. One thing that was a definite improvement was to get the fan off the crankshaft and move it up where it wasn’t catching every splatter of rain or mud and flinging it onto the distributor. There was an interesting development in the motor (I believe) starting in ’41. For some reason there were a lot of Ford designated engines that were actually Mercury blocks with the bores sleeved down to 3-1/16.” Someone told me that it was due to Ford already ramping up for war production. If this is the original motor it would be interesting to check it out. Stuck motors don’t scare me; I’ve seen some doozies.

    Warner T-9 crash box would be the transmission. It howled like a banshee when coupled to a flathead V-8 but was relatively quiet behind a six. No one has been able to explain why. Straight-cut gears to give the novice manual transmission operator some experience in double-clutching…..

  7. Bob

    I would buy the truck, but I have enough projects to last me the rest of my life.

    • Terry J

      What does that mean Bob? Could mean you’ve been working on one for 15 years and you’re 95 yrs old, or you are 23 and have a dozen behind the barn. Or you could be like me and at age 69 am still working on the RaTT Rod I started 10 years ago, and this will be my LAST build. What are your projects? :-) Terry J

  8. Ron

    I cannot lie, I like big trucks. Somebody had to say it 😎

  9. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Winning bid:US $3,200.09
    [ 26 bids ]

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