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Dare I Say The P-Word? 1951 Divco Milk Truck

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This 1951 Divco milk truck is just begging to be put back on the road. It’s been stored in a warehouse for many years and still wears the livery of a long-closed Mount Forest, Ontario milk producer by the name of Sanlac Dairy. The truck is now located less than 150 km from Mount Forest in Orillia, Ontario, Canada and is up for sale here on eBay.

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If you look closely, you can see the “SANLAC DAIRY” signage — It’s refrigerated! Although the seller wasn’t able to find out anything about the dairy, I did find some period bottles that would be really cool to pick up to display with your truck. While there’s a lot of surface rust here, there’s still enough metal that I’m torn about keeping the appearance or restoring it. I think I’d work on the mechanical components first anyway and then decide after I had it running and driving.


As you can see towards the lower part of this picture, there are some places where the metal has rusted through, although the seller tells us that the floors are solid. It would be nice to have some wheels to be able to move it easier!

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Let’s just say that the creature comforts in a truck like this are, well, somewhat primitive. You are supposed to stand up while driving! I guess there’s no question about seat belts! That empty hole you can see in the center floor is from the lack of an engine and transmission, so you can re-power this classic without guilt! What would you use, would you source an original Continental 4 or 6-cylinder engine or would you install a modern drive train?

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There sure is a lot of room back there, isn’t there? What would you do with the inside of this truck? And would you restore it, or keep the (here it comes) patina alive? Let us know in the comments!


  1. Avatar photo Trent Poole

    I guess I lost my mind a long time ago but I really have a weakness for The Divco. They are just so nostalgic and the possibilities are endless. I could definitely see a SBC residing under it.

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  2. Avatar photo Evan Allen

    I… I recently found out Calder’s Dairy does home delivery. One of these driving around would be awesome. I could uncover my milk chute and it would be great!

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  3. Avatar photo RayT

    Given the driving position, I’m not sure I’d put ANY engine in it! I’ve never spent much time driving up and down residential streets, stopping at every house….

    Have to say I’ve always loved the look of these Divcos, and have fond memories of milk being delivered via an identical Divco to my parents’ house from the Driftwood Dairy. Even as a small child, I figured it was neither comfortable nor fun for the driver.

    Seriously, the four-cylinder Connie would give more speed than you’d need.

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  4. Avatar photo DrinkinGasoline

    Strip it bare inside and out, media blast everything and squirt new paint. Seats would be no hassle (tons of mounts and seats at the JY). All of the glass was essentially flat and could be cut. Install a Ford Big 6 (with EFI style split exhaust manifolds and stainless dual exhaust) with a C6 trans, then put some smoothies with wide white rubber at the road. Cheap to build, cheap to maintain. Get a Milkman’s white uniform and go to the cruise-ins !
    I would go as far as a PA system playing ice cream truck music.
    I’ve seen many 1950’s wire milk bottle racks with bottles on Ebay to sit in the back.

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  5. Avatar photo DanaPointJohn

    The rarity of the short wheelbase model does not compensate for there being no rear doors. A cool truck for sure, but with an unknown reserve, be careful not to over pay for what will have several thousands of dollars to be invested to get it road worthy, let alone pristine.

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  6. Avatar photo DrinkinGasoline

    Imagine what the costs of the “Hidden Valley Ranch” Divco’s where to restore?? Not to mention the Morris J.

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  7. Avatar photo DrinkinGasoline

    When I was a kid in Cleveland, both Bozak’s Dairy and the Charles Chips Co. would deliver milk in bottles and potato chips in cans direct to the house. Each exchanging bottles and cans at delivery. Then came the coal truck which dumped a load into the coal doors at the back of the house from the back alley. Coal dust everywhere. Then there were the nearby stockyards…stench so bad, you couldn’t hang the wash on the clothesline in the summer as the smell would permeate the clothes. Wow, imagine kids today compared to then…

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  8. Avatar photo Howard A Member

    It was only a matter of time before one of these graced BF’s ( actually, I thought for sure this would have been Scotty G’s, but he’s doing his “day” job today) The “stand-up Divco”. There was a time when every neighborhood had one of these at 5am. So many “milkman jokes”. These could be driven standing up, or as in this link, the seat swung back and forth, and could be driven sitting down. You can see the clutch pedal on the floor, in addition to the regular one, it has a 3 on the tree, with an extended shift handle, and that long handle next to the steering wheel is a hand operated brake. I believe there was another gas pedal on the floor, next to the clutch. These were city only, and probably went 40 mph, so I’d ( and I rarely say this) resto-mod the heck out of this. What a cool find.
    (thanks to Kit Foster)

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    • Avatar photo Jesse Staff

      We have featured quite a few Divcos Howard. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and you can see some of the related posts.

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      • Avatar photo Howard A Member

        Thanks, Jesse, and thanks Jamie for pulling those childhood memories out of the dust. Seems a lot of people here reflected on their youth when this showed up. Pretty cool.

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  9. Avatar photo SunbeamerStu



    Just don’t say the one that rhymes with Tina. Again. : )

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  10. Avatar photo Healeydays

    Had a friend that did one of these up right and used it to haul his Harley Panhead out of the back back in the 70s.

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  11. Avatar photo james fenner

    My dad drove one of these on his milk route, would love to have one of these

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  12. Avatar photo Ed P

    There were lots of dairies serving Baltimore and suburbs and these trucks were used by most. I always thought the dairies were all driving ancient trucks until I discovered Divco’s were in production until 1986. Since they were in production so long, parts should be available. I cannot remember seeing one on the interstate. I suspect the 4 cylinder engine was the reason. Empty not so bad, full load………

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  13. Avatar photo rangeroger

    When I was a kid (8 or so) in Chula Vista, CA, the milkman would come by in his Divco, ask my mom if I could go with him, and then me take on his rounds for the next couple of hours. Delivering me home again with another adventure under my belt.
    Sure couldn’t even think about that today. Especially since Chula Vista today is nothing like it was in the early ’50s.
    I would love to have one of these. Get that slant 6 from whoever buys the Belvedere and I like the idea of hauling my Harley in it.

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    • Avatar photo Dutch 1960

      Chula Vista had three dairies, Dari-Mart, Dairy Fresh, and Golden Arrow. Dairy Fresh had these cool dark brown milk bottles, which I’ve never seen anywhere else. Two Dari-Mart Divcos sat rotting in a field next to Bonita Road for years after home delivery went away.

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  14. Avatar photo rangeroger

    Also, in the ebay ad, is that VW bus chopped?

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  15. Avatar photo geomechs Member

    I’ve always liked the looks of a Divco but when I was a kid they were somewhat of a novelty as it seemed that Chevy or International ended up with the contracts for the two dairies in the city. A couple of local farmers bought a half-dozen well used milk trucks over forty years ago and that was the first time I ever saw one with with a Ford chassis. I was on a trip with my family down to Missoula (I think) back in the early 60s and that was the first time I saw a Divco. Don’t know why but I liked them ever since. As far as this one goes, I’d tend to side with Howard in resto-modding. One of these would be painfully slow outside of the city. Of course with the added speed you’d have to re-design the driver’s seat and controls to keep it safe. I might add though, purist that I am, if it still sported the original engine/trans. I would tend to stick with the original.

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  16. Avatar photo Mike

    As a kid I can remember the Foremost Dairy bring milk, butter, cream and ice cream to our house. I think they used the same style of truck as this. I need to look through some of Dad’s old photos, because Mom remembers him doing repair work on a couple of the trucks.

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  17. Avatar photo Dave Wright

    There is one rotting away near my ranch here in Western Idaho. They are interesting g industrial vehicles with quite a following. They have been written up several times in the American Truck Historical Magazine.

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  18. Avatar photo jerry marks

    yes guys this is my Divco …and I will be building it this winter with a cadillac northstar front wheel drive and stub axels for the rear so we can lower the floor down and lay it on the ground .that solid back panel will become a gull wing 1 piece door for loading!! ………and yes that is a 21 window vw bus chopped on a s10 frame with a 283 up between the seats ..was just a bus in the bush up here in canada for 40 years not much left .found the roof in minnisota and about 4000 hours later …still not finished but sure turns heads when I rumble into the cruze nites……DJS rods& restorations see us on facebook Thanks for the interest …Jerry Marks

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  19. Avatar photo Kim White

    my grandfather owned that company in Mount Forest at that time, amazing, my aunts talked about cleaning the milk jars, while uncles milk the cows, they were all kids at that time, then my grandfather went to town to deliver the milk.
    true story.

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  20. Avatar photo jerry grooms Member

    looking for a late 1950 early 60 divco for project i like putting old things back on the road

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