Classic Hot Rod: 1939 Ford Pickup

We’ve seen a few promising unfinished projects in recent times here at Barn Finds, but this 1939 Ford Pickup looks like a beauty. This is one of those situations where all that appears to be left is the cosmetic work, which opens a world of possibilities for the buyer. They could choose to continue the theme that a previous owner has commenced, or they could head down their own path. The good news is that they will be starting the process with a classic that is structurally sound. Located in Stoughton, Wisconsin, you will find this little Ford listed for sale here on eBay. The bidding is still short of the reserve at $7,478, but potential buyers might be tempted to hit the BIN button at $14,995.

The owner identifies some rust in the lower doors as one of the few issues with this grand old Pickup. The floors have some patches, while all four fenders have been patched and repaired at some point. They still present well, as do the running boards. This is where the buyer will face some choices. The blue paint applied to some parts of the exterior is an attractive shade, and there’s no doubt that the vehicle would look fantastic if this graced all of its panels. However, the project hasn’t proceeded beyond the point of no return if the buyer would prefer a different color. The world would be your oyster on this one. The frame is structurally sound, the chrome is reasonable, and I can’t spot any significant problems with the glass.

This is an old-school hot rod, so it is no surprise that a previous owner treated it to an engine and transmission transplant. Lifting the hood reveals a Chevrolet 283ci V8 and an automatic transmission. The front brakes are now discs and these feature power assistance. There’s no doubt that the Pickup would offer its owner improved performance, while the brake upgrades are a wise move. The owner says that the Ford runs and drives but has a few electrical issues to address. Some of the lights don’t function, which means that the buyer might be facing a trip to an auto electrician to whip everything into shape. The seller doesn’t identify any other issues, so there is a chance that achieving a roadworthy state might not be difficult.

This photo of the interior might provide a bit of an insight for potential buyers regarding the Pickup’s electrical issues. You will see two separate controls for the turn signals, but it isn’t clear which (if either) is functional. That is where vehicles like this can be a bit of a winner. The electrical systems are not complex because there are no items like thumping stereos, fuel injection, or electronic engine management systems to deal with. That means that it would be possible to construct a complete wiring harness relatively easily. That would offer the chance to start from scratch with fresh wires, connectors, and other components. All of the unnecessary stuff could be junked, and any electrical gremlins should follow those parts into the bin. Beyond the electrical issues, the interior is pretty presentable. There’s no doubt that it would benefit from a refresh, but this is something that isn’t urgent. If I were buying this Pickup, I’d take my time with this area of the project. I wouldn’t buy anything until I’d finalized my decision on the exterior color. There’s no point spending money on new trim and upholstery if it is going to provide an unsightly clash with the exterior. The interior appears to be complete, so the buyer should be starting their work with solid foundations.

Some things in the automotive world are timeless, and I’m sure that every reader will think of a classic car that fits that description. These old-school hot rod projects are no exception. The current generation uses all manner of technological wizardry to achieve their goals, but this 1939 Ford Pickup takes the concept back to its roots. There is no fuel injection, no electronics, and no high-tech solutions. What this Pickup offers is simplicity, both in the build and in the ongoing maintenance. Many aspects of modern living have become complicated, which means that there can be a lot to be said for a simple approach to our leisure activities. That’s what makes this classic a vehicle that deserves a closer look.


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  1. JRHaelig

    Here’s one after my own heart! I also have a ’39 Barrel Nose Ford. They hit the sweet spot of fat fendered but not over-priced.

    Nice to see the grille and center strip in great shape!

    The wide 5 wheels are gone, suggesting a swapped rear end, too. Not a bad thing. Normal drive shaft & makes buying tires easier, which is a must- do on this one….steel rims and dog dishes while you’re at it.

    Previous owners must have included the Keebler Elves….this old girl is baked to perfection!

    Like 10
  2. sir_mike

    Had my interest till Chevy mtr.

    Like 14
    • ed casala

      Sir Mike, that always baffles me as well. Ford, Chevy, Mopar, all make some really good motors that could be dropped in this. Why not keep your all Ford, Chevy, Mopar, with the same manufacturers motor in it? I like the truck, but,

      Like 6
  3. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry Member

    I like this truck, I even like the color, don’t know that I’d change a thing. Well, maybe the tires, belts, hoses and fluids. I might even go with some true spokes, but I’m not sure. Ofcourse living in Houston where humidity with 90 plus degree temperatures I’d have to add A/C.
    But then again these days I’m just a dreamer.
    God bless America

  4. Bob C.

    It looks like something more modern than a 283.

    Like 2
    • Barney

      Looks like a hodge poge. The sit cleaner is early seventies but I think the valve covers are much later. I need a Chevy guy to verify but I don’t think the valve covers will even go on an early engine

  5. Sam Shive

    It’s already been said, BUT……Sweet truck till you get to the bowtie.

    Like 6
  6. geomechs geomechs Member

    The Barrel-Nose is my ultimate favorite pickup and this would be no exception. Of course, if this one came my way it would be put back pretty much to the way Henry built it. You have to admit that the SBC is adaptable; it actually fits that engine bay better than an SBF. The front sump of the Ford plus the longer length makes it more of a challenge. Personally, it would get a 24 Stud Flatty. The original generator would be a challenge to source out because it was a ‘One Year Only.’ ‘39 was not only the first year for juice brakes but it was also the first year for a voltage regulator. Until then it was a ‘Third Brush’ unit with a cut-out relay. Generator output was regulated by the position of the third brush, and the electrical load. ‘39 was the first year for the 2-brush generator and the Last year the fan was on the generator, thus difficult to locate. Oh, you can still run a 3-brush through a regulator but it isn’t as efficient but then, I don’t mind a little challenge once in a while…

    Like 1
  7. DON

    I’m up in the air as to the engine choice, but I’d definitely go with a early 60s look- a repaint in the same light metallic blue, chrome reverse wheels (keep the thin whitewalls) and some sort of tuck and roll vinyl upholstery . The engine bay would need a major clean up , and again, do it up early 60s style.

    Like 2

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