Cool COE Project: 1947 Dodge COE

As if a 1947 Dodge COE wasn’t unusual enough, then there are the photos. I should explain those first, they were pretty small so I had to make these horizontal versions to fit the format here, sorry about that. But, back to this interesting truck. This cab-over-engine Dodge can be found here on eBay in Audubon, Minnesota and I’d offer to check it out in person if I weren’t in Texas right now. There is an unmet opening bid price of $5,000 and a buy-it-now price of $6,500.

These have to be the most interesting and some would say hot trucks right now, the cab-over-engine/COE models. I don’t know of a fake tv reality car show that doesn’t have one as a car hauler or doesn’t want one. They sure have an interesting profile.

The photos are incredibly grainy so that’s another drawback to these images, but you can see that it actually looks to be in pretty good condition as far as rust and dents go. I don’t know the exact model of this truck but I believe it’s a WF, most likely a 1.5-ton. Does anyone know of a way to find out exactly what model it is without a serial number or model number tag photo? They don’t even mention an engine or transmission at all in the listing and there are no photos of either, so hopefully whatever is in there is fixable – it should be a flathead-six. Most people would probably want a modern diesel in this rig in a perfect world.

As you can see, it was originally red and further proof of the solid condition is shown inside. The floors look like new other than having faded paint and some light surface rust.  The dash and interior, in general, will need as much restoration as the rest of the truck will but overall it looks like a fun project. I would never need such a big or long truck for any rational reason, but that doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t love to have this thing. Have any of you owned a COE of this vintage?


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  1. Rex Kahrs Member

    It’s the Homer Simpson of COE trucks! D’OH!

    Like 4
  2. Rex Kahrs Member

    Stop hitting yourself!

    Like 3
  3. JBP

    Build a flatbed car hauler, with a 5 to 7 ton crane behind cap.
    lenght of Frame and all fit perfect for it.. and paint it red, with black Fenders…

    hope i speld it Right..

    Like 5
  4. IkeyHeyman

    Barn Finds featured this younger cousin in December 2017.

    Like 5
  5. Howard A. Member

    Thanks to SG for the truck. I believe this a WFM series and had the 236 in line flathead, about 104 hp. No 2 speed axle, so a straight 4 speed, maybe 50 mph, tops, and even that will make you wonder why you are doing that. Trucks like this led a hard life, few survived. They weren’t pleasure vehicles, they were meant to be used. This had to be a farm truck, with bed removed, because nothing else would have made it. Same old thing, what to do with it? Lot of folks take the cab, and make a modern low rider, which most assuredly will happen here. Just not enough interest, as is. I say this everytime, if it was a nice running, ol’ grandads pride, be a different story, but very few will fix up a ’47 Dodge cabover like this.

    Like 9
  6. BR

    I fear that this cab will end up on a modern one ton chassis with the very hideous, say nauseating, looking fender radius. If it were me, I’d shoehorn in that big 413 cu in Chrysler flathead six and make a class 8 runner out of it.

    Like 2
  7. Del

    To little info and to small a market for this to sell at this price.

    Never saw one before.


    Like 3
    • BR


      Back in the day EVERY truck manufacturer had COE models, for decades, and now they are making a comeback in current class 6, 7 & 8 production. Incidentally, it’s a very big market. Tilt cabs (not COE’s) are still big in the class 4 & 5 category (re-badged Hino, Isuzu,, etc.).

      Like 1
      • Ken

        Pretty sure Del was referring to this year/model of Dodge COE, and not COEs in general. I’m not familiar with this model, either. Medium duty COEs from this time period (late ’30s to early ’50s) weren’t popular with farmers where I’m from. The only ones I ever saw were Chevy/GMC, International or Ford.

        Like 2
      • Del

        Ken is correct

        Like 2
  8. geomechs geomechs Member

    I was hiking around the West Butte of the Sweetgrass Hills around 50 years ago when I saw one of these, with a gravel box, just parked near a stand of trees. That’s the first time I ever saw an old Dodge COE. People told me that it quit right there and the owner never bothered to get it out. It was still there 5 years later and I heard stories that it was still there 15 years later. Land ownership has changed since then and the owners don’t take kindly to trespassers. It might STILL be there…

    Like 4
  9. canadainmarkseh Member

    I would do the cab swap onto the modern dodge 1 ton chassis. The fender radius can be fixed with an insert welded in with correct radius, the fenders need work anyway so not really a big deal. Of course I’d pick a chassis with a cumins diesel and 5 speed. I’d also fabricate a period looking truck box (8’). This combination would make an excellent trailer hauler of various types. I too would paint it red with black fenders. The fact is the only real value here is the cab. At least it would get used and not just sit around rusting.

    Like 2
  10. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry Member

    It could still be used as a hay hauler. Put a flat bed on it you could haul a nice load of round bales or square bales. Speed is not a factor with these farm trucks. Slow and steady is what you want.
    God bless America

    Like 2
    • geomechs geomechs Member

      I agree. It really bothers me to see trucks like this sacrifice their cabs to go to a modern chassis so they can cruise at freeway speeds. I’ve seen dozens of them and while they look Okay at first they quickly lose their charm…

      Like 4
      • Howard A. Member

        I know, we’re a vanishing breed, my friend. I’ve seen some nice trucks using this cab. On one hand, I miss the old stuff, I can relate to them, driven them even, on the other hand, it’s wishful thinking that this would be restored as is, there’s just no interest and would most likely sit. At least a resto-mod, people get to see what old trucks looked like and they are being used. I like this rendition of one.

        Like 1
      • JBP

        i would restore it.. here in Europe it isnt trend too put cab on a modern Chassis. it would be a real hassle, every time it must to inspection. and with trucks, thats every 12 months.. but for $ 6500 not an Option, when shipping cost a fighter Jet…

        Like 2
    • BR

      god bless coe’s.

      Like 2
      • Howard A. Member

        Meh, I spent a lot of time in a cabover. I generally hated them, some drivers wanted nothing but. I knew drivers that would quit jobs over that. I drove what the boss told me to drive. They have their advantages, but they all have a terrible blind spot on the right side, and usually ride poorly. At one time, cabovers had a very useful function. When total length laws were in effect, you could haul a longer trailer with a cabover. Sounds silly, but a couple feet more of cargo over a year makes a difference. After length laws were abolished, there was no need for cabovers, and they fell out of favor, and I said good riddance. My favorite cabover,( as if) was a IH 4070B Transtar. Like John sez, during this time, long distance trucking was almost unheard of, rail was king, and these types of trucks only went short distances. They were adequate for the time.

        Like 5
  11. BR

    I loved the IH COF4070, COF4090, and the Unistar. Nice trucks, but then that’s because i sold them (drove quite a few too).

    FYI; Bridge formula laws are very much alive and well, and length/width/height restrictions still apply, with permits required.

    Like 2
    • Howard A. Member

      Thanks, I’m aware of the bridge formulas,( although they always confused me and just went around the scales) pertaining more to weight, and over size always needed permits, but, and I’m a bit rusty, in the late 60’s and early 70’s, I believe the maximum length for a tractor and trailer was 55ft. I remember for years the standard trailer was 40 ft. A short, say, 10ft cabover, could pull a 45ft trailer. Doesn’t sound like much, but 5 feet is 2 more pallets per trip, and that can add up. I can’t find when overall length for regular T/T’s was abolished, had to be the 80’s, my hey day of trucking, when 48 and 53 ft. trailers came on the scene, and by then, long conventionals became the norm for long distance and cabovers all but disappeared.

      Like 2
      • BR

        The reason for the West Coast “long cons” was the bridge formula, which has to do with the number of axles and axle spacing. Lots of companies capitalized on the long wheelbase tilt cabs with “drom boxes” (dromedary box) when they would cube out before gross out. I believe some of the mid-west and eastern states had 55′ restrictions, though not sure if they still exist. What is becoming more common now as truckers are competing more against railroads, is the “interstate road train”, 27′ & 30′ triples, and 45′ & 50′ doubles.

  12. Ken Carney

    The last time I saw one was when it nearly hit George Bailey in “It’s A Wonderful Life” with Jimmy Stuart. What
    a scrap hauler this would make for my
    BILs. Or what about a really nice motor
    home? Whatever you did with it, you’re
    sure to be the big attraction at any car
    or truck show you chose to go to. Don’t
    quote me, but I think the military had a
    lot of these at some point in time. I
    recall that out in Bountiful, Utah there was a company that would convert them
    into semi tractors by removing all the
    military trappings. I know this because
    I had actually seen one or two of them
    when I was playing music out there in
    ’77 or ’78. You’re right Scotty, this could
    be a really fun project for someone out
    there who likes to go big or go home.

    Like 4
  13. Joe Machado

    My dads trucking company’s first truck and trailer was a 40’s something gas powered Dodge. Hauled hay between Dairy Valley and Bakersfield. Max speed limit for trucks, 45 mph.
    Climbing the Grapevine and opposite direction on 5 mile and 7 mile.
    Dad would pull manual throttle Out and get out and walk beside truck, smokin cigs. Reach up and do course correction to steering. Sometimes I would steer.
    I was 4-6 years old. Knew how to drive trucks before cars.
    Hauling cattle stunk.
    10-12 hours each way. Now, 4 ish hours one way.
    And that was the old hwy 99, one lane.
    I drove GMC, B series, 62-63 models. 62 narrow nose Petes. 64 KW big sleeper, cab over. Freightliner, sleeper. Lastly, Volvo. No auto trans crap. And dont forget the Maxidines I drove.
    Oh the memories. A few million mile awards. The Kenworth, I logged one and a quarter million on.
    This truck, I would do everything as if it was new. Let people see what it was really like. No frills. No air ride seat. No turn signal lites. An arm that you move to 2 positions for left or rite.
    Still to this day at 74 years old, I cannot drive a pickup without a trailer.

    Like 6
  14. TimM

    One day I’d like to make a car hauler out of one of these!! I would prefer a Ford though!! Just like the ford body style better!!!

    Like 1
  15. Joe Machado

    In 1964, my truck and trailer as opposed to a tractor trailer was 65 feet long and gross was 80,000.
    Doubles were limited to 65 feet. Same weight.
    Semi lengths, I dont remember from that time frame in Calif.
    As a semi in 1970, I had a 40 foot aluminum trailer and a 5 foot dromadair. Tractor was am Emeryville, steel cabover International. Long wheel base. 5 speed main with a deep under, Brownie, 3 speed.
    Never was able to meet gross.

  16. Young Earp

    For a thing that will never sell or be restored this thing has used up way to much carbon in comments .

    Did I ever tell you about my Uncle Wyatt Earp that owned the very first COE ?

  17. Fordfixer Member

    Have had a 52 Ford COE for about 15 + years. I have resisted dropping the cab on a newer frame, even though hoards of people want that. BUT, the flathead V8 sounds good with stacks, the recent upholstery on the STOCK coil suspended seat is kinda comfortable, and the shortened frame is bouncy. I have swapped the “widowmakers” for tubeless 19.5, and trimmed it out with some aluminum,(headache rack, frame cover,) and an older repaint. But it gathers attention on beer/pizza runs and local shows. Brakes aren’t the greatest, and 50 mpg is about top. If it orI need to go further and faster, I have a Super Duty and gooseneck for that.
    I’d do the same to the Dodge. Really cool and very rare. Enjoy while you can.

    Like 1
  18. Joe Machado

    Not yet

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