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Still Winching: 1948 Chevy COE Wrecker

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Old Chevy cab-over-engine trucks are among some of the most recognizable on the road, and this 1948 example here on eBay is believed to be a factory-built tow rig. Located in Kentucky, it looks like a solid base for an authentic restoration and way too good to become another cheesy rat rod. 

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The seller has had this tow rig for a few years, originally sourcing it from Oklahoma. He’s got a few too many projects at the moment and needs to pare down the fleet, but based on some of the extra parts he mentions at the bottom of the listing, he certainly had plans for the COE: recovered seats and door panels, a complete frame, rebuilt motor, new clutch and a good transmission, among other parts. More interesting to me if figuring out if Luther Jones towing and recovery services is still in business!

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I suspect this is a body known as a Holmes Wrecker King, but I could be wrong. It’s pretty amazing that all of these years later the towing apparatus is still functional, at least according to the seller. Both winches work, but you will need to source a new (or rebuilt) brake master cylinder. The seller also has a tilt bed and sides available for purchase separately if the next owner wishes to modify the wrecker body. As you can see here, it has plenty of surface rust but no word on whether the corrosion is more than skin deep in places.

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The seller says he is getting lots of inquiries into his rig and if you want to buy it outright, you’ll have to fork over $15,000 for the privilege. Bidding is currently at $9,000 with the reserve unmet, so we’re getting closer to the BIN, especially with four days left. I’m a firm believer that these old-school haulers should be used in racing paddocks far and wide to haul cars back and forth the starting line. How would you use this old Chevy wrecker?


  1. JW

    If I had the cash I would buy this rig and restore the body to original then update the drivetrain to todays standards and also update the hoist to meet what tow rigs use today. This is such a cool old rig !!!

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  2. roger

    I would have it media blasted,painted and drive it like show car.

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    The truck looks cool but unless you are in the towing business and wanted to advertise there would be very little practical if any use for it. Driving it around local would be tiring pretty quick. Anyone thinking of a truck to haul a classic car should look into a Hodges custom bed out of Kentucky. They can build anything onto your truck. Lengthening the chassis paint rewiring to installing winches. They offer trucks already done and build custom units as well. A flat deck with a dove tail with Texas slide out ramps are just the thing. Don’t be confused with a ramp truck. These only have a single purpose and are not handy as everything not tied down will slide off. Converting an old roll back body I wouldn’t consider and don’t like. The trucks will or can sit from months at a time not being used. They too are handy but unless buying new a used one will be nothing but trouble. Hydraulic leaks and hope the aluminum rails are not shot. If you can do the work yourself no problem. Holmes used to be the standard of recovery equipment but were too slow to develop new equipment and keep up with the industry.

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  4. Van

    Could you make this a roll back and save the tow rig. Use wing nuts to hold it on for a quick change out.
    OK so really big wing nuts.

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  5. Howard A Member

    Cool find, but old tow trucks are kind of like fire engines. This one is horribly out of date and I couldn’t see actually using this as a business. Holmes kind of wrote the book on towing, and has a very interesting history. Originally, tow trucks were just cars that were repurposed with a lift. Again, 1948 power ( probably the 216) 1948 brakes, and so on. Quite frankly, I think the owner must have bumped their head, and I’d be very surprised if they get half of what they’re asking. But hey, may as well try.

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    • Tre Deuce

      This kool rig should be restored back to original and put into a rental livery for the movie and advertising industry.

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  6. Silas

    I believe this is the obit for the original owner:

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  7. PissPotPete

    It would make a nice mobile welding rig.

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    • Van

      I thought you said wedding rig.
      Can you get divorced before the wedding?

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  8. dave

    This is our 1934 Dodge 2 ton tow truck with a 490 Holms. 40.000 miles. This truck even has a wheel lift with outriggers for doing recovery work.

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    • JW

      Dave that is one cool Tow Truck !!!

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      • dave

        Thank you.

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