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Oval Up Front: 1938 Ford Pickup

1938 Ford Flatbed

In 1938 Ford introduced a new cab with that great oval grill. This project is listed here on craigslist in St. Louis, Missouri priced at $5,200. What else is sitting in the barn in the background? If you make the visit please let us know.

1938 Ford PU

It has been reported that the ’38 Ford pickup was the first model pickup to have a front opening hood in the industry. Does anyone know if the side panels on the engine bay remove quickly for easy access to the engine?

1938 Ford Hood

Under the hood there is the radiator, transmission but no engine. What would you drop in?

'38 ford pu bed left

According to the owner, this is a factory original flatbed truck. The bed has deteriorated, but the cab is in overall excellent condition according to the owner. The rear fenders are in the bed. There appears to be rust on the undersides of the fenders. Maybe it is only the famous “surface” type?

'38 ford pu rear

The owner states that this truck appears to be all original except for the front hubs. It currently has hydraulic brakes and is titled. We don’t know if this truck is a 81-C or a 82-C? Since the engine isn’t included we don’t think this really matters. How many ’38 flat-back pickups have you seen at shows or cruising on the road? The ’38s really do look sweet tricked out! Are you interested in this project?



  1. randy

    428 engine.

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  2. Jason Houston

    Looks like the front-end of one of those truly romantic V W Things.

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  3. packrat

    I remember riding out west with my mom and her friend in the late ’70s and being greeted by the sight of *three* of these stopped on the side of the road end to end with fully loaded deep/wide/tall hay beds. Some farm still had a *fleet* of these in service, forty years after they were first made.

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  4. Sukey

    What a gorgeous truck
    Drop in a period correct engine
    Don’t paint it
    Just drive it

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  5. Mark E

    Looks like some long ago stalled project what with the missing trim & primer?

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  6. Howard A Member

    The ’38 Ford truck was indeed a departure from the usual pickups of the day. They were a big hit with custom car builders, so to see a stock one is pretty rare. I don’t think those side hood panels come off, as the fenders are bolted to them.I also don’t think the factory had flatbeds, ( gas filler hidden by bed, normally would be in the left rear fender) and I’m not sure how those rear fenders would work on this. Pretty cool find. With that front end, can’t mistake the ’38 ( or ’39) Ford truck. Most of these ended up like this. http://www.desertclassics.com/image24/Ford39PUcustom1.jpg

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    • geomechs geomechs Member

      Hi Howard. I wish I wouldn’t have clicked on that link. Now I’ll have nightmares! The hood sides of the ’38/’39 trucks are bolted in but are made to come out for servicing the engine. I don’t think they are made to hold any kind of a load. When I was a kid, I saw a lot of tonners and up driving all summer with the sides off, obviously to help dissipate the heat.

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  7. Charles H.

    I agree Howard A…..I don’t believe this was a factory flatbed because of the gas filler, and I wouldn’t think it would have fenders if it were a flatbed. Or at least not that type of fenders.

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    • Eric H.

      This is definitely a factory flatbed, just like the original one that I have.The fenders are the same as the pickup but have a flat sort of notch for the flatbed on top. The gas filler goes through the back of the left fender with a rubber grommet. The back of the bed has Ford script stamped into the center and came with factory stake or rack panels.

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      • Eric H.

        This picture shows the gas filler and fender cutout. The forward stake panel came with flat factory sheet metal sandwiched between the wood layers for painted signage.

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  8. DENIS

    how much??????????????????????????????????????????????????????

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  9. Mark S

    Completely redo the body, put a correct truck box on it with those rear fenders. Repair all the mechanicals, install a Ford flat head V8 engine. Finally paint it a period correct colour. Nice find lots of potential. I’m not a fan of patina it is rust that is not being addressed, and it looks ugly.

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    • Tundra/BMW Guy

      That’s called “Rattle can Rust Repair”! Cannot see it, cannot be a problem…………. (except for the next guy)

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  10. Lee

    Fenders are modified by factory for use on this flatbed ford –somewhat of a low production model /Lee—Truck is an –TYPE 860

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  11. geomechs geomechs Member

    Be still, my breaking heart! My favorite ’30s truck! I’ve wanted a ’38-’39 pickup forever but the closest I ever got was within 15 minutes. Too far away for me or I’d be looking at it a little more closely. It looks more like a ’39 to me because the centerline of the grill is straight; the ’38 actually looked like (2) pieces with a V8 symbol at the top. If it’s a ’39 it SHOULD have juice brakes although I’ve heard stories that (very) early ’39 models snuck out with the old cable system. It could be a factory flatbed albeit with numerous patch-ups over the years. If the truck came my way, I’d install a reproduction pickup bed but if the rear fenders were in good enough shape and stamped for the flatbed, I’d leave them and track down a set of pickup fenders (I don’t modify stuff like that) from ’38-’47. Like Mark S says, flathead engine, restoration absolutely!

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  12. MountainMan

    I was wondering about the factory flatbed and how the rear fenders would work but the pics in the comments cleared that up….thanks. This is such a great looking truck cab, one of the best looking I think. I would have a hard time deciding what to do with the bed…the flatbed isn’t the best looking option so as mentioned above by geomechs i would maybe want to source a period bed with appropriate fenders and properly store the original flatbed with its factory modified fenders. As far as a powertrain goes a flatty V8 would be ideal but for drivability I would have to consider something more modern like maybe a ecoboost 4 cylinder or even a small displacement diesel

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