Patina Or Paint: 1923 Graham Brothers Truck

After their success in the glass business the Graham Brothers first built kits to convert Model Ts into trucks then began building their own trucks. After trying engines from several manufacturers they settled on Dodge engines and their trucks were sold through Dodge dealers. This truck is listed on eBay  in Long Beach, California with a BIN of $5,000. It’s in “running condition” which hopefully means drivable.

The interior could use a good cleaning but it looks serviceable.

This should be a 212 CID Dodge engine with about 35 HP. With a 4:1 compression ratio it can run on really low octane gas.  This engines hasfeatures found on modern engines like a centrifugal water pump and electric start. The starter motor is also the generator.

The Graham Brothers had a plant in Stockton, California, so this truck may have been built there and never left the state. It looks like it just needs a bed of some kind to go back to work. Besides being used for marketing, this truck might be useful to haul stuff to swap meets. The mechanicals and wood will need attention. Some would completely restore it, others would leave it unpainted. It will be interesting to read what our readers have to say.


  1. Anthony

    Paint it Black and green the left front wheel is already done for you…

  2. Van

    Black and green sounds good. The rear wheels don’t match, I’m guessing the rear end has been changed. This truck would be a nightmare at 70mph. I’d say a modern Hemi would be stupid. This thing says, DIY restoration, maintain the integrity of what’s there. Great for parades and Home Depot runs.

  3. JW454

    It doesn’t happen with all old cars and trucks but, when I look at this one I’d just like to know it’s complete story. Where was it being used when the stock market crashed in ’29 or the day World War II started in ’39? How many people earned their day’s pay sitting behind the wheel? How many uses has it served? I don’t mean to wax poetic but, I’d be interested in some of these old time warrior’s stories.

    Like 1
  4. MG'zer

    Alot of you guys are into the patina stuff. I’m not. Paint that thing. Is the wood behind the cab real (IDK). I’ve never seen or hard of these.

  5. S Ryan

    Is that an I.V. Bag hanging off the grill?
    Or a toe Tag?

  6. JCW Jr. Member

    Paint it I dislike”patina. Especially when they clear coat with hi gloss clear. Paint it with enamel clean the interior build a period correct bed and enjoy it for what it is.

  7. geomechs geomechs Member

    Yes. Absolutely, paint it. It doesn’t need to be a concours quality paint job either; just a decent driver-quality job. Build a decent flatbed and enjoy it to the fullest. Trucks like this were made to be enjoyed, even worked….

    • Howard A Member

      Hi geomechs, absatively, posilutely needs to be original. While I’m not a fan of “trailer queens”, this is one exception. It should be preserved so future generations see what they used. Get the ol’ K-Whopper, a low boy trailer, and haul this ( and maybe a vintage tractor) to the shows. Not practical to drive this, they go, what, 32 mph? That’s what I’d use the 1970 Kenworth for.
      We didn’t see many water bags in Wisconsin. A buddies dad had a gas station, and they found 2 of these when cleaning it out. They are on his wall, so I knew what they were.

  8. CWPortland

    Correct DavidF, That is a water bag for extra radiator water storage. Typically used in arid desert climates routinely in the earlier days. Remember, the pre-ethylene glycol era antifreeze was alcohol added to the cooling system water in the winter, while adding more water in the summertime was all you could do for coolant.The bags were usually suspended by the rope on the front hood latch which allowed the filled burlap bag,(purposefully moistened), to chill during the road trip, enhancing the cooling abilities of the water. Being a native Arizonan, I remember them well as a child and how they were the saving grace more than once.

  9. Chuck Cobb

    Appears to be a “factory” extended cab!!

    • Dave Wright

      I am not sure that is a factory cab at all……..most trucks at this time were sold without cabs. Cabs and bodies were built by either local craftsmen or a separate company. This is how my 1920 Packard came.

      • Randy V from the Northern/Lower

        Your right there. Because there was a company in Cadillac, Michigan that made bus bodys for these. You may see one if you watch the re-runs of the Waltons, the bus that is on there was put toghter in Cadillac, and most of them were sold futher down state like down in the Battle Creek area.

  10. Wayne

    Water bags were for cooling drinking water, not for extra cooling for the vehicle

  11. Randy V from the Northern/Lower

    Give John-boy Walton a call to see what color his daddy like ?? His had a green front end and the box was green ?
    with black fenders on the back ?? Or was the box black & green fenders to match the front of the truck. John-boy had all the family problems solved.

  12. Peter Atherton

    Perfect for a Hershey run!

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