Posed Patina? 1937 Ford Panel Truck

As one can imagine, old Ford trucks, by their sheer production volume, are still commonly encountered. A panel version, however, is another matter as they don’t surface as often. Similar in nature to a sedan delivery, panel trucks from the ’30s like this 1937 Ford, were trucks through and through and referred to as “commercial cars”.  Today’s find is located in Chattanooga, Tennesse and is available, here on eBay for a current bid of  $6,237, reserve not yet met.

So, what’s real and what’s not? It’s hard to say with all of the interest in staged patina these days. The seller states, “I am listing this ’37 Panel for a friend. He purchased this Panel Truck a few years ago with the intentions of restoring it but other priorities now dictate that he sell it. The Panel is very restorable with very little rust“. Some of the exterior looks like the result of real wear, accumulated over the years, but a box labeled “paint remover” and a newer seven-digit telephone number, without a lettered exchange, displayed across the side panels, gives one cause to consider.

The body is pretty straight and intact and what rust is apparent appears to be surface in nature. Other than the missing rear bumper, nothing appears to be missing and the images of the underside present a “commercial car chassis” that looks sound. The seller mentions that an extra pair of rear doors are included in the sale – and that passenger-side rear door may be the body’s weak point.

The interior is in genuinely poor condition. Obviously, there’s a spartan quality about this panel truck as one would expect, but the seats are falling apart and the dash/instrument panel is untouched and dim with age.

The cargo portion shows signs of scale but no serious deterioration and the flooring, what little can be spied, looks sound. The interior, in its simplicity, is a blank canvas and the next owner will have a multitude of directions that can be pursued.

Under the hood looks as original as the interior. The 85 HP, 221 CI “flathead” V8 does not appear to have run in many moons. It looks complete minus items like the drive belt and radiator hoses. No comment is made regarding the engine’s potential operating capability, but a full rebuild is probably in the cards. A three-speed manual transmission channels the flathead’s “go”, when running, to the rear wheels.

Original, posed, or a mix of both? It would seem to be a bit of both. Obviously the powertrain and interior appear to be an untouched 84 years young but the exterior is another matter, the horizontal surfaces, such as the hood, look like they have endured years of outside exposure. The sides, however, look like they’ve has some “help”. Does it matter? Not really, it depends on the direction that the next owner chooses to pursue. A patined rat-rod could be in the mix, or maybe something more along the lines of a hot rod. A stock restore? That’s an option too. What would you recommend?


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  1. Bluetec320 Bluetec320 Member

    I am going to say that at least some of the patina is real, but most of it looks staged to me. It’s a shame that some companies charge a premium to do this to a vehicle, and in some cases, they will actually create surface rust to add to the “distressed look”! Anything for a buck, I guess.

    Like 10
  2. RayT Member

    Fortunately, it doesn’t matter much. Getting this Ford ready for a respray will make short work of real and fake “patina,” plus the signage, which I doubt has been on there all that long.

    This is one of those “don’t know what I’d do with it, but I want it anyway!” vehicles.

    Like 18
  3. bobhess bobhess Member

    I’ve seen rigs like this used as advertising for weekend car shows, swap meets, etc. at fairgrounds, big parking lots, and farms. Paint the sides and park it for a a few weeks to advertise the location and guide folks into the areas. Just a thought. Doesn’t make sense in it’s present venue. Like Ray T said, first bit of bodywork will make short work of the graphics. Hope someone buys it pretty quick ’cause crew chief would love to have one for her weekly grocery cart.

    Like 3
  4. daniel Wright

    The phone number has a 651 area code. That is Minneapolis and Saint Paul I think….?

    Like 1
    • Paul T Root

      651 is St Paul
      All an area code means anymore is that’s roughly where you lived when you got a cell phone.

      Personally, I’m not into the P word or rat-rods. I want a full ZZTop treatment on any hot-rod I get.

      Like 1
  5. angliagt angliagt Member

    Chattanooga is the home of Coker Tire,
    & Honest Charlie’s Speed Shop,& Century Tow Trucks.Coker Tire has a free museum downtown
    which is well worth seeing.
    I also got to meet Corky Coker’s Daughter
    at an event they had there.She was driving a
    REAL Mini.

    Like 3
  6. John

    Googled “Norman Swap Meet”



    maybe they have more story for you if you buy it.

    Like 5
  7. bobhess bobhess Member

    Spent 14 years living just 18 miles north of Norman. The whole area was full of swap meets, shows, etc. and if it was cars you could always find what you were looking for. Also in the area of the swap meet was a large Porsche “recyling” operation owned by a guy named Bob.

  8. chrlsful

    all ways as close to oem as possible here. When necessary (sourcing, safety, performance) that’s where the ‘mod’ in Rest0mod comes in – as lill as possible.

    For this one it would include cloth covered wires & may B discs up frnt (C what I mean?). Mechanical drums in back, oe muffler, orig seat, column, steer wheel, timing advance on it, etc.
    BUT All Ways real paint, not fake, Y/M/M correct too. The “P” wrd (performance) = pep AND MPGs. There IS no other “P” wrd !

    Like 4
  9. Dave

    Only thing worse than fake patina is fake outrage over fake patina. This truck has the real deal and I dig it!

    Like 1
  10. BR

    Looks like the rear body panels have had a CLR wash which highlights the paint and subdues the rust, but no preservative was applied afterward.

  11. Bill McCoskey

    If I was to get this, I would probably take the extra drive train out of a terribly rusted out 1957 Packard Clipper I have my eyes on, it’s a got a factory equipped Studebaker Golden Hawk 289 V8 engine with a belt-driven Mculloch supercharger [advertised 275hp], and Borg-Warner automatic trans with the 1st-gear set to engage each time the car stops.

    Go with a modern power disc brake kit on the front, power steering rack & tilt wheel. If I remember right, the Ford truck and the Studebaker axle were about the same width. Add a discrete in-dash HVAC system. Modern 12V electrics of course, and a hidden radio/cd unit.

    Keep it bone stock on the outside, but replace the swap meet sineage with something more interesting [but not too outrageous]. I would love opening the hood side to show off the vintage Hawk supercharger setup, installed as if it had been done in the late 1950s.

    Oh well, I can at least dream!

    Like 3
  12. Bill McCoskey

    Just noticed the horn below the left headlight, it’s turned sideways, with the horn trumpet exit up against the grill shell!

    Like 1
  13. angliagt angliagt Member

    I’d have it repainted,& have “ACME USED ANVIL REPAIR”
    painted on the sides.

    Like 3
    • Bill McCoskey


      Acme used anvil repair. I love it! Makes me want to buy a truck just to have that sign painted onto it’s side!

      Wait — I already own a big Ram 2500 pickup with a utility body. Now where can I put the sign?

      Like 1
      • angliagt angliagt Member

        And,of course,you need an illustration of
        Wiley R. Coyote there too.

        Like 2
  14. Bill McCoskey

    But I think if the coyote is featured there on the sign, it will tell people it’s a joke. Without the cartoon figure, people WILL start to wonder just how you repair anvils. And on the doors of the utility pickup cab [remember, a utility truck has the little doors on the sides of the bed], it just might look like it’s a serious sign.

    And we all know that unless you have access to a 150 ton drop forge and a blast furnace, you ain’t repairing no large anvils! The biggest press I ever had was an 85 ton Bliss punch press that cut and formed 18ga stainless steel shoe horns, 4 at a time, for 50+ years. When I would step on the foot pedal, that press made the ground shake.

    Before I closed my ebay store, I did have a sign on the truck’s doors that said “NEAT STUFF, Buying & selling antique & vintage toys” with my cell number. I used to have people just pull alongside me and call to talk about old toys.

    Like 1
  15. Jack Gray

    If the signage is meant to replicate the 1930’s , there weren’t any area codes then and in all probability the 651 is a “newer” local exchange when phone numbers went from either 3 or 4 digits to denote a particular area in the late 40’s to the early 60’s. The 651 would most likely have been OL(ive) 1-7927…
    Where I grew up, our phone # went from 123 to AM(herst) 7-0123 then dropped the AM to the all number 267-0123.

    • BR

      The 651 number is NOT an area code (Area codes didn’t start use until 1947), it’s a prefix, which used to map an exchange location, and all number dialing started in 1958. Many backwater areas didn’t go all-number until the ’80’s.

      Like 1
  16. geomechs geomechs Member

    Nice unit for a restoration. I see someone has swapped out the engine for a 24 stud version. Nothing wrong with that except that I’m a fan of 21 studs and 18mm plugs. It’s still got the Stromberg 97 carb which is period correct (’37 was the first year for that) and will run that for a long time to come. I’m curious as to whether or not you could get an oil filter in 1937. I know that it was offered as a kit in later years. My ’35 definitely doesn’t have an oil filter. Predictably, if this was to come my way, it would receive a driver-quality restoration and would more than qualify to carry the beer to the picnic…

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