Half Ton Of Potential: 1938 Ford Short Bed

left front

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This old truck is listed on Craigslist for $6,500. It seems reasonable to me for a complete, original and unmolested truck. It’s not running but was last run 5 years ago. It’s said to be rust free. There’s not much information provided beyond that, but the pictures show a lot.

inside cab

The seller thinks the upholstery might be original. It certainly is old. It certainly looks complete from this picture. The floor seems to be solid. What do you suppose the bands on the steering wheel are for?

inside cab right

From this side the upholstery really does look old, if not original. The heater is still there and the floor looks solid from here as well.

engine left

The old flathead V8 looks complete, although those hoses must be in poor shape by now. The battery looks new. If they are not getting it running, why the new battery?


It’s rather unusual to find a floor in the bed, and this one looks solid.


This old truck looks solid and complete from every angle. If it is truly rust free, what do you think it might actually be worth. I hope the new owner keeps this in original form. It would be great to just do the mechanicals and drive it like it is, but many folks would like to modernize things a bit. I look forward to seeing what you think.

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  1. HoA Howard AMember

    WOW!!! What a find. The ’38 was a 1 year model, which makes it extremely rare. And this was the last year for mechanical brakes.( ’39 was the 1st year for hydraulic brakes) If properly serviced, mechanical brakes work just fine, ( and in some cases, actually safer) and I believe, Henry Ford never trusted hydraulic brakes. I’m staying near Kingston, NY for a spell, and there’s all kinds of cars and trucks on the “back” roads. One place has a ’38 Ford stake bed truck laying in the weeds. I’d love to inquire about it. I only hope the next owner keeps it stock, because it is so rare. These are favorites for resto-moders, My ex-gf’s brother had a ’38 Ford 2 wheel drive “pullin’ truck” that was pretty cool. The grill, which looks perfect, is almost impossible to find now. I think the bands on the steering wheel are covering up cracks in the wheel, or remnants of a cover. Best find in a long time. Thanks, David.

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  2. Silas

    I would keep it original. I would rebuild the engine and replace the old tires but otherwise it is cooler and more interesting in this condition.

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  3. JW

    Definitely keep it original, very cool find and in it’s condition I would think his price is not far off.

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  4. Dairymen

    Ad is deleted already. Someone got a gr8 deal.

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  5. Bob Semrad

    It looks obvious that there has been wood boards placed on the floorboards. Also, in one picture, there is rust cancer above the right fender on the side of the bed. Also, it appears that a steel bed has been put in and welded in sloppily around the edges. I always believed that all the beds in the early trucks had the wooden floors with painted steel slats separating them. I would wager the tape on the steering wheel was used more for traction when the hands were sweaty, because the steering wheel would be slicker and with no power steering that would make it turn harder. The tape is too evenly spaced all around to be an accident or residue from an earlier cover. Also, you can still get a lot of parts for these trucks, including an aftermarket grill. I, too, would want to restore this back to it’s original condition, instead of making it driver friendly, since it is now, where one can keep it original. Once gone…..originality is…………..gone….adios.

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    • Bob

      All 1938 pickup beds that I have seen have metal beds. Where can you get an after market grille? 1/2 ton step sides

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      • Bob

        Can’t get a after market grille….. I have a couple of grilles I might part with…..two 1939 grilles one 1938

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  6. Leo

    Ad wasnt deleted, it was flagged forr removsl. Someone is buying themselves some time in an attempt to raise the money. Typical response from desperation but rarely works.. You either save money or you dont

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  7. Fred

    Or, they wanted to buy themselves some time to get to the truck with the cash before someone else snapped it up. The seller’s phone was probably ringing off the hook. This looks like two days of work getting it running and detailing it would get the buyer a nice several thousand dollar profit.

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  8. David WilkMember

    You can find the ad here on Craigslist: https://providence.craigslist.org/cto/5560437328.html
    The truck appears to be located in Fall River, MA. Great find, wish I had the garage space, I am only two hours drive away from there.

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  9. OhU8one2

    This truck has some nice features,I like the side mount spare,visor,stock wheels,and the color’s . I too think it just needs service work and detail. Very nice styling line’s. It’s a wonder I haven’t noticed more of these. That flathead built up with period correct goodies would be the finishing touch.

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  10. geomechs geomechsMember

    Damn! I’ve wanted a ’38 Ford pickup all my life and every time one like this comes along, I’m too late. I’ve been as close as 15 minutes. A lot of personal memories in a ’38 Barrel-Nose for me. Back in ’57 when I was but 4 years old, I used to stay with a family not to far from my place. The dad had a ’38 pickup he used as a farm truck. I used to go to the field with him and ride around on the 1936 John Deere D tractor. Today I have the tractor but I would love to have the truck, even if it’s a reasonable facsimile…

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    • David Frank DavidAuthor

      Wow! I’m glad you folks like the truck and would keep it original. I did my best not to gush over it too much writing it up, knowing it has faults I would miss. And, as of now, it’s still available. Wouldn’t this be grand to drive across the country down backroads, with just a big tool box and your dog for company? I always thought that would be the kind of thing to do when I retired.

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      • Matt Tritt

        Bitchin truck, David! A cross-country drive with a truck full of tools (and jacks, and flat cardboard and flares and Gojo and battery powered trouble lights and Benedryl for that poison oak patch and pepper spray for the bears and a crate of rags and 4 Jerry cans full of water and a Triple-A Premium card and a spare cellphone and a fold-up shelter and hoses, belts, plugs, brake fluid and new tires and, and,——-) would be right up my alley if I didn’t have so many projects already! :-) A truck I’d love to have.

        Like 1
    • 4-Doors-for-My-Tuba
    • Gina DellaMora

      I have a 1938 Ford Pick Up locates in Modesto California. It has been owned by a mechanic that only buys and works on Fords, who is now in his 90’s. The truck has been sitting in his backyard for several years but was running perfectly up until then. I have pictures.

      Like 3
  11. leiniedude leiniedudeMember

    Boy, for the price of a destroyed Microbus you could have this! What a treasure!

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  12. Matt Tritt

    It’s still available. One of you guys in the Northeast should capture it before some ratrod bozo does.

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  13. jim s

    i would make this safe and put this back to work. this truck would get more interest then all the other trucks in the store parking lot. i wonder why it is not already sold. great find.

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  14. geomechs geomechsMember

    One thing that has me worried is someone taking a gem like this and butchering it. I lost out on two that got turned into jagged pieces of modern road sculpture. One of them, the buyer reassured the seller (many times) that he was going to do a complete restoration. He didn’t have it a week and three inches were chopped out of the cab. Now, the new owner has every right to do what he wants but I have a bigger problem with people misrepresenting their intentions. I missed out on the trucks because I was in the wrong place at the wrong time; I’ll have to live with that. But my intentions were genuine, and losing that way, I don’t forgive.

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  15. Jim Mc

    This truck is bee-you-tee-full! I wouldn’t change a thing. Love the nose. And the visor. And the wheels. And the Ford emblems ahead of the side hood louvers. And the trim on the doors. And….and….. It’s got STYLE. Were it that I had the sixty-five and a plane ticket….

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  16. Doug Towsley

    That is one sweet truck! I dont know the going rate on them but believe this price is more than fair, if downright a dang good deal!

    I am also usually ALL for modernizing stuff like Brakes and such, and if these could be serviced and adequate I would actually keep it stock. probably one thing I would upgrade is the generator and switch to 12v with a Alternator and better lighting inside the stock light housings. I would go thru the mechanicals and rebuild but preserve, Clean up the paint and nice coat of wax, detail the interior. And while many of us detest the term I would preserve the patina. (tires might be a bit suspect)

    Man, I would sure be a happy camper to own this and I am NOT a Ford guy!

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  17. Paul R

    I don’t see how one could go wrong at the asking price. Get the flat head running and drive it as is.

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  18. John P

    I’ll put money on there being some ugly bodywork hiding under all that grassy green paint.. The front bed panel is beat to hell and somehow there’s no dents anywhere else covering the body? With those ugly trailer lamp front turn signals I’m betting this “barn find” is nothing close but rather lived on a farm and many years ago was restored.. The restoration is definitely needing a re-do and I’m sure that’s why it’s up for sale.. Price is too good for it to be a real steal..

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  19. David WilkMember

    There is definitely something fishy going on with this truck. It is listed for sale in “Upstate New York” now with an asking price of $10,995. There is no contact phone number either. Here is the latest listing I found: https://newyork.craigslist.org/jsy/cto/5578950144.html
    Anyone know what is going on here?

    Like 0

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