Low Mile Beauty: 1940 Diamond T Pickup

There are pickup trucks and then there are Diamond T pickup trucks.  This extraordinary example of a 1940 Model 201 typifies what pride Diamond T owners have in their trucks: The strong, clean lines, quality materials, and a non-nonsense 1-ton ability to haul.  You can find this beauty here on Hemmings and is currently located in Bluffton, SC.  Thanks to Kyle Knorr for spotting and sharing this truck for Barn Finds.

Diamond T trucks have appeared in these pages before, but the story is worth repeating in part: the brand was started by a gentleman named C.A. Tilt in about 1905.  The legend goes that Tilt’s father fashioned him a logo that was a diamond with a “T” in the middle, the older Tilt saying that the diamond signified “high quality.”  Likely most people would not be familiar with Diamond T’s bread-and-butter products, but almost everyone has seen a caravan of mighty military trucks going down the freeway.  Those are the types of multi-ton trucks Diamond T made and supplied to the US and allied militaries in WWII, massive enough to carry personnel, tons of equipment, and even haul tanks to the battlefield.  In a word: MASSIVE, and with the style and personality of a really mad Professional Wrestler. You don’t really want to see those trucks coming to your place, but you’re glad the Army has a whole bunch of them. Our subject truck is one of only about 7,000 made and she sports some of the few factory options like a chrome front bumper and the chrome dog-dish style hubcaps.  Just try finding one of those “Diamond T” numbers in a hubcap yard.  If you ever do, some free advice: BUY IT.  Right above the running board on the passenger’s side is a locking toolbox.

The interior is long on “let’s get ‘er done” and a little short on frilly-frills.  Comforting because Diamond T trucks, in general, are just enough of what you need and plenty of it when you do–a reflection of the ultra heavy duty aspect of the major portion of their truck line.  Seller reveals that this truck was bought from the factory by an LA fire chief and it’s no secret how those guys take care of their vehicles.  The interior, seller claims, is the original (really, 80?).  The truck has just 35,000 miles on it or about 80 miles per year.  Sorry to report there is no engine photo, but there is a classy shot of this…

… the original tool kit that came with the truck, in pretty much mint condition.  The 1940 Model 201s generally came with a Hercules 205 c.i. six-cylinder engine with seven main bearings pushing out 73 horsepower.  The base model standard transmission was a three-speed and a four-speed was available.  Barn Finds can’t confirm the engine and transmission specs for this truck, though Seller discloses that both are original.  With the 73 h.p. engine and four-speed, it has been said that first gear is what can only be described as s-l-o-w crawl.  Deluxe model 201s had a clock and cigar lighter and a few other stylistic goodies as seen in this 2015 Barrett-Jackson listing that sold for more than $70,000.  Ford and GM eventually made millions and millions of pickup trucks, many of them half-ton utility trucks and then a whole bunch of very luxurious personal luxury trucks.  These mega mass-produced trucks would slowly displace a market for the Diamond T which may not have had “fun” in mind as its primary duty.  Yet the timeless design of the Diamond T (which didn’t change a whole lot during its production run), its impressive load capacity, and the way they were built to last until kingdom come, make these Model 201s a special breed of prized collector vehicles.

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Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    Well, here’s a “knife in the gut and properly turned” first thing. No, no, it’s okay, and to give Mike( welcome aboard) the benefit, I had a ’49 just like this that was lost in a messy divorce( is there a non-messy divorce?) that’s been mulled over everytime a Diamond T comes up. This was the 1st year for the new grille, but they were basically unchanged since the beginning ( 1938 -1949). To see something that is selling for this kind of money, when I paid $100 bucks( and the junkyard was glad to get rid of it) for one in the late ’70’s, certainly tells you where the hobby went. 73 hp in a vehicle that weighs 5000 pounds, straight gears, 5:38 rear axle, 1940 brakes, tube tires, 13 leafs on the back ( 11 up front), well, you get the idea, a new Silverado, it ain’t. I had a lot of fun with mine, even at 35 mph, and I got over the 5 figure loss,,eventually, and sure beats going to jail over. Thanks to Mike for the memories.

    Like 12
    • Mike Tarutis Staff

      Dear Howard:

      Loved the info in your post. The picture says it all and thanks for sharing.

      I am betting the $100 when you bought your Diamond T was a challenge to dredge up.

      Feel your pain, brother.

      Thanks for the kind words.

      Like 3
  2. geomechs geomechs Member

    Yep! Every time I see one of these I think of Howard. But in contradiction there are some divorces that aren’t as messy as others. You just have to have enough of a case to make a good-sized gun to hold to your estranged wife’s head. Theft, fraud, forgery, credit card fraud, and more of the same made for an interesting case. But I got rid of four bad habits in less than a year; I threw two of them out, their mother moved out, and I quit smoking. But enough of that; we’re talking about a truck that’s more than capable of taking out the trash. And adding a whole lot of class while you’re at it. I would sure love to have a 201 like this. It’s got to be one of the classiest trucks ever built. And I would continue with the Hercules and that T-9 crashbox. One of these days…

    Like 9
    • Howard A Member

      Thanks pal, it all came out in the wash,,,eventually. I wouldn’t have my wonderful kids if it wasn’t for her.( and vice versa)
      Hard to say if it was the classiest, they promoted that in the 30’s, by the late 40’s and 50’s, they scaled them back considerable, eventually eliminating the light duty line altogether after White bought them. There were a lot of nicely styled trucks, but Diamond T’s biggest downfall, and not sure it was mentioned, they cost upwards of 2 to 3 times what a standard Ford or Chevy cost. To some, it was worth it, but to most, a Ford or Dodge did just fine, with money left over for that Ford 8N.. Again ( and again) with these, what do you want to do with it? The fact this is so nice, I do hope it stays original, and there’s still enough of “us” that it will, it’s trucks that aren’t this nice that don’t have much chance of remaining original.

      Like 5
      • Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

        Absolutely right, gentlemen-the reason a divorce is so expensive is because it’s worth it!!!
        But, as the gastroenterologist said, eventually it all works out in the end..

        These old trucks are a classy design in my eyes but like you said, Howard, they were not meant to cruise effortlessly across the landscape-they were meant to HAUL the landscape effortlessly from what you two have helped us understand.
        Keep it as an original historically correct truck-rat rods should be built from discarded bits IMO…

        Like 7
  3. Dave

    Back when I was a kid, it was always a treat to see a Diamond T big rig out on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. They were the classiest trucks out there.

    Like 3
  4. bobhess bobhess Member

    If you pick the second wife properly you will probably come out ahead like I did. After 5 years with the first one I found a pretty lady who loves cars and trucks and the fun that they can be. We’ve owned just over 60 vehicles over the years and had a great time with every one of them together. Gotta love a lady who will swamp out the engine compartment of a restoration! And yes, she is helping out on the vintage race car we are building now.

    Like 6
    • geomechs geomechs Member

      It’s too bad that so many people have to take a trip through hell to appreciate a little bit of heaven. Speaking for myself I sure had some difficult lessons. But I cannot begin to count the blessings I receive with the one I have now. She’s responsible for half of our cars plus organizing (twice) a trip to BJ in Scottsdale…

      Like 3
  5. charlie Member

    Again, if you had it, what would you do with it? Too pretty to use to haul trash to the dump, too slow to drive on the Interstate, I sort of need a pickup truck, but it has to be able to do both. And I would like something old and “cool”, but useful. I keep looking. Just sold one car, so room for another.

    Like 3
    • Howard A Member

      Hi charlie, and therein lies the rub with these. After the divorce, my life changed considerable, and having a vehicle like this didn’t fit apartment living. That’s about all I used mine for, was going to the dump on back roads. Many update these to run on the roads, but as nice as this one is, it would seem an awful shame.
      Now, $70g’s for a dump runner? I suppose the person that buys this, it’s like some 5 figure painting on their wall. It doesn’t do anything but looks nice.

  6. angliagt angliagt Member

    Our fire department had an engine with a Diamond T cab.
    It was the coolest engine we ever had,& the one everybody missed
    when it was gone.
    The Waukeshaw gas engine in it cracked the block,& it was
    decided this could be just the beginning of added expenses.

    Like 3
  7. Gary

    I appreciate an old timer. Having said that, one wiper blade, no turn signals, and no heater.
    I remember car heaters in the monkey wards catalog, so they weren’t the only manufacturer to not bother with a lot of “fancy” equipment, but the good old days weren’t so good

    Like 2
  8. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    Yep…..believe this is the same one that comes up for sale this time every year.

  9. chrlsful

    “…what would you do with it?…:
    I believe for every application there’s a rig.
    The Power Wagon stays in the woods, this one’s the road rig.
    Y can’t ppl C that? They want an F150 ‘malcrawl’. (Well me too,
    but can’t afford all 3).

    Like 1
  10. Bill McCoskey

    I’m pretty sure those front fender turn signal assemblies were originally installed on a 1940 Packard when new. They are identical to the ones on a 1940 Packard 180 Super Eight limousine I used to own. They were likely added after the paint work, hence they were left black.

    • Howard A Member

      Hi Bill, you know, I thought that too, however, it seems, if you look up 1940 or ’41, several trucks come up with this arrangement. After the war, they had the parking light( not turn signal) on top of the headlight.

      • Bill McCoskey

        Howard,
        The 1941 Packard lamp assembly was a very popular piece for adding to cars lacking turn signals, as it was both park light and turn signal lamp. I looked carefully at this one. It’s 100% Packard. I mention that because of competition:

        What you may have also seen are the 1939 Buick park & turn lamps, they are VERY close in looks, both the lens and the housing. I once saw a restored Packard 120 sedan, with a pair of the Buick lamps the restoration shop installed, thinking they were actual Packard pieces!

        The Buick park/turn assemblies were also a bit easier to find, as they were standard equipment on the Super, Century & Roadmaster cars.

      • On and On On and On Member

        I had a 1939 LaSalle with those also, look identical.

      • Howard A Member

        Diamond T was an “assembled” truck, meaning, it didn’t make any of it’s own parts, and I’m sure they got them from GM( or whoever) that had warehouses full.

      • Bill McCoskey

        Howard,

        I agree with you on “assembled vehicles”. It’s very common with British cars up thru the 1990s, where the factory bought whatever fit, looked good, and met the price point. This could result in a specific production of cars being made with several different versions of parts.

        Then you have “Bespoke” production cars like Morgan, where the buyer could specify whatever they wanted, and provided the cost was covered, they got the desired change!

    • Bill McCoskey

      On and ON,

      I’m not 100% sure, but I don’t think the 1939 LaSalle was available with factory front fender turn signal or park lamp assemblies. I did a quick check of 1939 LaSalle car photos on the internet, and the only one I found with front fender lamps had ones that looked like the Buick versions. I’ve worked on a couple of ’39 LaSalles over the years, none had them.

      • On and On On and On Member

        I think they were an option. Mine had them, a 1939 Opera Coupe. If you google 1939 LaSalle images, only a couple have them……..maybe rare? The LaSalle i had was owned by my uncle, and the lenses were cracked and broken on the lights so at one point I researched replacements and found them on Ebay. ……..as a side note Bill, I just read your last post about your business fire and subsequent life change. Yikes. I tell myself every day that you just don’t know what is gonna happen today by the time the sun goes down……..If you ever get to Wisconsin with your GF, you are welcome here for food, beer and friendly companionship from me and sweetie pie. I’m sure it would be interesting at the least.

        Like 1
  11. HC

    Absolute eye candy! Ive seen the big trucks fromm WW11 but have never seen a personal version like this. Could only really use it it you had your own ranch or farm.

  12. Bill McCoskey

    I’ve been reading on this comment trail, and others on B.F., about how useless this truck is [or other vintage vehicles – mostly trucks] unless one has a need to use it as originally intended.

    Bah Humbug! If you like a truck like this one, or any other vehicle, if it calls to you, and you have the financial ability to buy and house the vehicle, and if married your spouse is in agreement, then buy it! Have fun with it!

    My black 1960 Tatra came from East Germany where it was used by the STAASI [secret police], and citizens feared a Tatra coming to visit you in the wee hours of the morning. But I don’t have a need to go around tricking people into thinking I’m a secret agent! I own and enjoy the Tatra because I like having one.

    I used to own one of the SAAB factory race cars used by “On the roof” Carlson. But other than a few times showing disbelievers how I could leave their Mustangs & Camaros in the dust [on the right roads], I bought the car because I wanted to, not to race it.

    • Howard A Member

      Lot of “if’s” there, Bill. Not sure your situation, but many today DON’T have 5 figures to spend on a creature comfort like this, many, like myself, lost the storage and paying housing rent is all we can afford, and a spouse in agreement,,well, I don’t know where to start with that one. I understand completely the views on this being out of line for what it is. People with money, like yourself, perhaps, have no idea what it’s like not to have money.

  13. Bill McCoskey

    Howard [and everyone here on B.F.],

    There was a time when I was doing well financially. I owned an antique car dealership and restoration shop, employing between 8 & 12 people. I used to go to Europe & Britain buying cars & antiques to resell in the USA. If you checked the Rolls-Royce club membership listing for me in the early 1990s, you would find about a dozen Rolls & Bentley cars. I lived fairly well, until May of 1995, when a lightning-induced fire ravaged my restoration shop. My insurance co. was able to find a way to weasel out of paying a single cent, and I ended up filing for bankruptcy. Sued them, went to court, the judge sided with them.

    I went from eating at fine dining establishments, to foraging thru the dumpster behind the local Roy Rogers fast food place, to find salad trays & soda cups, all of which I would take back to the 1956 Cadillac RV [ex-ambulance] I was living in & wash them, before going back to the Roy’s during the lunch rush, so I could blend in & get free food.

    After the fire I finally had to go to work for someone else, and thru negligence on behalf of my employer, I was badly injured on the job at a large home DIY center. Unable to work, I was forced into SSI disability, and subsequent early retirement into Social Security at about 40% of what I would have been entitled to if I had not been on SSI disability. I live on less than $800/month today. My Girlfriend and I am lucky, we’ve moved in with her parents, as they need help with the house, driving errands, etc.

    I tell everyone that unless it’s absolutely necessary, don’t enter the Federal SSI disability system. Under the law, you cannot go back to work, even if you recover fully, because if you do, the government will take back all the $ paid to you while on SSI, at a 50% rate, leaving you with very little to live on. This happened to a good friend of mine, he was on SSI for 3 years. When he went back to work driving a truck, the SSI made him pay back all the gross pay he received [and payed taxes on], until it was all paid back.

    I know that in owning vintage cars simply because you like them, there is a hidden side to that, and it’s the costs to keep them in good condition. And that yearly cost typically follows the cost of the car in general, It’s far cheaper to buy and maintain a typical ’65 Ford Mustang, than to buy and maintain a ’65 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow. In fact the yearly maintenance for the Rolls-Royce may well be twice as expensive.

    I mention this so I can share my experiences of being on both sides of the coin, and how the change can happen to anyone, and happen fast.

    Howard; I always enjoy reading your comments and most of the time they mirror my own thoughts and comments. If you ever find yourself in the upper Chesapeake Bay area, let me know.

    Like 2
    • Howard A Member

      Thanks for being cordial, Bill, I, in no way meant any animosity. I guess we kind of strayed here, and I’m sure, if we’re anything alike, and it seems we are, we can agree at how discombobulated the classic car ( or truck) hobby has become. Couple grand is one thing, but $70grand is beyond a “buy it because they like it”, and more of a greedy response, “I have one, and you don’t”, mentality, because it’s certainly not a magical vehicle worth that and some will pay dearly for that status. It’s just so hard to fathom, I had one for $100 BUCKS ( at the time, I may have gone up to $300) and someone is willing to pay 700 TIMES THAT for one. Too bad our SS didn’t keep pace like that, hey?
      Peace brother.

      Like 1
    • TCOPPS TCOPPS Member

      Sorry to hear that Bill. Truly heartbreaking story. I am curious as to what grounds the ins company had to deny your claim…

      Like 1
      • Bill McCoskey

        TCOPPS,

        It was a simple contract issue. My shop was in the country, where there was a lack of fire fighting water for several miles in any direction [hydrants, lake, or river, equipped with suction pipes for fire engine tankers to hook up to]. I needed a special policy rider [IE more insurance monthly $ costs], a rider the agent was not even aware of.

        We tried the state insurance agency, they said it was a contract issue. We brought suit in court, Judge heard the case, and found for the insurance company, explaining it was a contract dispute only. The only things covered were 2 customer cars that were not insured under the car owner’s insurance policy, my liability policy covered them.

        As for the “Act of God” letting me off the hook for liability ’cause it was lightning induced, the Judge explained the “Care, Custody & Control” part of the law. I was responsible because I had control of where customer cars were kept, The cars were in my care, and were in my custody while being worked on.

    • Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

      Bill, I too am truly sorry to read about your being taken advantage of by that insurance company. FWIW I was diagnosed with an unusual cancer four months after my first retirement and was denied by my medical carrier at the time. Fortunately a good friend told me about the Insurance Commission of our state and after filing a complaint with them the insurance company bent over backwards apologizing and paid for my treatments more quickly than any other patient that the medical facility had experienced at any time.
      My point being that God Forbid that if you or any other BF reader should ever have to undergo the BS that some insurance companies put out, here’s hopefully another avenue to explore.

      Like 1
  14. Bill McCoskey

    I’m fortunate to live in a state with a very good insurance commissioner’s office. But sometimes even the state can’t help.

    For example, I was doing well selling big building material packages to builders in an area with rapid growth, and had just began to recover financially from the “big fire”, when I had a small stroke in my brain that cause me to lose most of my short term memory. Fortunately, 10 years later, most of the damaged parts have re-wired my brain. But it happened in 2008, when the building & contracting business had imploded, and the company I worked for closed.

    So I was looking for a job, and suddenly had no short term memory. I ended up filing for permanent disability. No one explained that in getting SSI disability, I would lose about 60% of my Social Security I had been quoted over the years. And then, because I was on SSI, I was forced to accept social security at age 62, another reduction in $ rate. This left me with a final Social Security monthly amount of under $800. All of this reduction in income was sanctioned and planned by the Federal government.

    My advice to everyone is to NOT GET SICK and become disabled, unless you’ve got private disability insurance. [Aflack?]

    • geomechs geomechs Member

      That is sad news, Bill. Sometimes you never know what life is going to hand you. Insurance companies are all the same; take your money then come up with some lame excuse NOT to pay it out when you need it. I really enjoyed The Rainmaker because it was a story about how a nobody got the best of an insurance company. Of course the company still won in the long run because its owners took the money and split. It certainly does NOT have to be like that. I sure hope you’re going to be OK because your personal health is what matters the most. Take care, my friend.

  15. Howard A Member

    Wow, I’d like to thank the staff for allowing us to ramble, we did derail the post, and I’ll admit, I’m good at that. Bill is not alone and his story resonates throughout this world today, and in a related ( to the post) note, it’s why I’m so bitter about these vehicles commanding such prices today. I just feel that money could be spent differently, and not on some creature comfort, like this that will never get used, or certainly not in it’s original intent, anyway. It’s a system that’s bound to implode. Originally, classic vehicles were an affordable hobby, I just don’t know where it made such a left turn, but it leaves many of us out. I bet most of us here are in Bills situation, we’ll never buy a $70,000 Diamond T, all we can do is read and bitxx about it now.
    I apologize to Bill, again, thinking he was rich, and judging by his knowledge, he IS rich,,just a little cash poor, is all. Special thanks to Barn Finds, it’s fun to see how the other half lives, or more accurately, how far out of whack this will go.

    Like 2
    • geomechs geomechs Member

      You said it, my friend. That’s one thing I love about this page; we can go off on endless tangents and rants and there’s always someone who understands. And there’s nothing wrong with that either. I was thinking that this has got to be going onto (8) years for me. I was a young man, with 3.9 grandchildren. I’m still a young man (now on SS), with (8) grandkids…

      Like 2
      • Howard A Member

        Just be careful visiting the family in Wisconsin. I have millions of miles in that state because I treated everyone coming at me like they were drunk.

        Like 1
    • Bill McCoskey

      Back ‘atcha Howard, I have always enjoyed your comments as well. One of my weak spots is the larger trucks, and you seem to have that category well staffed!

      I’ve learned that often when one of the BF comment threads go off on a bit of a tangent, the reading becomes really interesting and often informative.

  16. Bill McCoskey

    For example, on another recent BF comment thread about a 1957 Olds Fiesta wagon with factory A/C, I made an off-handed comment about “Factory air conditioned air, from our fully factory equipped air conditioned factory”.

    I was pleasantly surprised at how many people not only recognized the source of the quote, but multiple people commented using more quotes from the original source [Firesign Theater from the late 1960s].

    This just proves one of my theories: You CAN have a bunch of educated stoners engaging in interesting conversation! And if the conversations are automotive related, that’s even better.

    Like 1

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