Rare 1947 Ford Marmon Herrington Forestry Truck

Cab-over-engine (COE) trucks are a popular form factor for work vehicles due to their efficient use of space. Now, their unique aesthetic has them showing up more often at car shows–at least in my personal experience. There’s something special about something that looks so weird with its snub nose and seven-foot-high driving position. This 1947 Ford COE was converted by Marmon Herrington for use by the Department of Agriculture to have all-wheel drive. According to the seller, it’s the last surviving example of a handful made back in 1947, and you can find it here on eBay.

Importantly, there is no traction engine inside the truck, though the original, numbers-matching flathead V-8 is on a stand and supposedly recently rebuilt. The Wisconsin four-cylinder out back to run the pumps and accessories needs to be rebuilt, though, but is apparently complete. All told, the mechanicals seem to be in decent shape for a work truck closing in on eight decades old.

In that vein, the seller states that it was already restored once in the 1990s, and can be found in publications as a featured build. “My truck was in a magazine” are always good bragging rights, though I would like to see the magazines just out of curiosity (plus, you can display them with the truck at your local Cars & Coffee). All of the important bits that are easily worn or fragile (glass, upholstery, electrics, accessories) appear to be present and in good condition.

This Ford looks to be just a little tinkering away from being a real head-turner, especially with its rarity and history. In all honesty…it already is. I’m a real sucker for earned patina. Are you in the market for an all-wheel drive work truck? Why would you even consider the new Maverick when this thing exists? This is so much more interesting, it has a manual transmission, and you’ll never lose it in the Target parking lot.


  1. Grog

    Just awesome!

    Like 5
  2. SirRaoulDuke

    Honestly, this is in the top 5 coolest things I have seen on here. What a rig.

    Like 10
  3. geomechs geomechs Member

    Finally! A truck that needs only a bit of continued TLC. I would want to preserve it and parade it around but I have to admit that it wouldn’t be of much use with that equipment on back. I would still want to get it all working properly. My biggest fear would be seeing this bought up by a butcher shop just for the cab, which would be dropped onto a Dodge diesel chassis and the original chassis and bed hopelessly scrapped. But the buyer has that RIGHT.

    I cringe when I see a “long” flathead mounted on a stand like that. The bellhousing isn’t built for that. I’ve seen a lot of blocks at the welding shop or in the scrap heap because the bellhousing broke—from this…

    Like 20
    • PeterfromOz

      Geomechs. I am interested in your statement about using engine stands. I once had a lot of trouble setting the crank end play clearance on a four cylinder engine. I was getting tired and later realised that I had my arm laying on the end of the block with a bit of force and that gave me different end play measurements. The V8 block or 387 straight-8 Packard might do the same.

      Like 1
      • geomechs geomechs Member

        People don’t really understand how much stress they are putting on the back end of an engine by just supporting it from the back. The average V8 isn’t too bad but these Flatheads can break so you need to support them from the side. I would never support a straight six that way either. I overhauled a lot of engines on blocks of wood…

    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member


      For 35+ years I ran a restoration shop and we rebuilt many, many engines, and as we specialized in luxury cars, most engines we rebuilt were bigger blocks, including hundreds of straight eight units [Packard, Hudson, Buick, just to mention a few], and big 6 cylinder engines like 4-liter Austin truck, Rolls-Royce & Bentley. Even did some Lincoln V-12 engines. Probably the heaviest engine we rebuilt was the Packard 356 nine-main bearing unit. [If I remember correctly, the basic engine was around 900 pounds.]

      None of the engines we worked on ever failed because the block broke from the stress of being on a stand. That said, I have seen more than a couple V8 Ford Flathead bell housings that DID have signs of prior crack welding. [Especially the AB blocks.] I never thought much about it until I read your comments. I just assumed these cracked Ford blocks had been repaired after a vehicle accident, or from being dropped during handling.

      I suspect the cracked block situation you describe may well be limited to the Ford blocks. I’ve seen many vintage FoMoCo films that show both original assembly of the V8 and the installation of the engines into the vehicles, and in every instance, those engines were held with 2 chains, suspending the engine along it’s front to rear centerline. ‘Ol Henry was known to skimp on materials wherever possible to keep costs and weight down. The company may well have known about this problem, but I figure we’ll never know for sure unless someone finds a specific message from Ford, warning not to support the engine from the bell housing bolt holes!

      I’ve also seen the results like you describe, after a “light-duty” engine stand either collapsed or fell over sideways, because the engine was too heavy for the stand. My shop had 6 engine stands, all were custom built for us out of 4″ welded steel pipe for the main frame, using 4 large lockable casters, and the main backbone of the stands were between 4 and 6 feet long. They had full-length removeable drip pans too.

      Like 1
  4. Dave Peterson

    Geo – good to see your smiling face. I paid my way through college slogging along fire roads behind many trucks much like this one. In those days, you could work for a month and make enough to pay room board and tuition for a year. If you were out camping at a fire site, you were paid 24 hours a day. Private university was a whopping $800 per semester in 1972, when community college was $80/term and state university $1500/yr. I do remember that when really back in the sticks, we would be dropped K-rations from the Korean War that were reasonably edible. And, they had a four pack of cigarettes for dessert. There was no such thing as a standard unit for the trucks we used, they were all ad-hoc builds for the task. Or seemed to me. Not like this very well designed truck. Of course in those days a 3000 acre fire was a whopper, with most of my duty being on 500-1000 acre fires we could extinguish and hot spot in a week. Not like the huge conflagrations we’re having today. Do they even use the SmokeJumpers out of Missoula any more?

    Like 12
    • geomechs geomechs Member

      Hi Dave. I’m not sure what happened to the Smoke Jumpers. There’s a museum dedicated to the troops at the airport in Missoula. It’s a worthwhile stop for anyone who’s passing through. I’m eternally grateful to all those who risk everything to fight fires…

      Like 2
  5. charlie Member

    OR, on a ranch, use it as intended as a fire truck, and all around utility truck to fill those big galvanized water troughs for the livestock in pastures or desert far from streams. Having two separate engines, one to go, one to pump, eliminates PTO issues, and then, keep it looking good for the 4th of July Parade with the ranch name on it. IF I had a ranch, rather than 3 acres, and had livestock, and ………., I would want it.

    Like 4
  6. Howie

    Howard where you at? This is your cup of tea.

    Like 4
    • Howard A Member

      Thanks, Howie, due to popular demand, I have left the building,,( sound of footsteps in an empty hallway, and door creaking, WHAM!!) I’m 10-7, on the side,,

      Like 1
  7. Bil Hall

    I have a friend with a 41 Ford municipal fire wagon on the chassis not 4×4.
    His is a ladder truck with a very small pump. It needs help from sitting outside for ages.

  8. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

    As for the Wisconsin V4 engine not running, these are really easy to work on, and most parts are still available. About 10 years ago I bought out a Wisconsin Motors dealership that closed in the late 1960s, and I still have almost ANY manual for their motors, most manuals are NOS, unused. [Same with the brochures]. If the buyer can let me know which engine it’s got, [they are designated by letters – not numbers – Like AEH, DW, as examples] I may have the overhaul manual and parts manual. [Billmccoskey@aol.com]

    Like 2
    • geomechs geomechs Member

      Wisconsin was good to put out a complete overhaul/parts/maintenance manual with its engines. There was one drawback with a lot of owners who weren’t capable of fixing a wheelbarrow trying to fix it themselves. Of course they would eventually haul everything into the shop to get fixed PROPERLY. I didn’t have much mercy for them. I saw many signs that explained the labor rate, based on what the customer tried first, or what his attitude was. I made a poster (based on what I’d seen in other places) and put it on the wall in the shop where I first worked. It read (remember this was 1971):
      SHOP LABOR RATE $10.00/hr.
      If customer wants to watch: $12.00/hr.
      If customer wants to help: $15.00/hr.
      If customer wants to advise: $25.00/hr.
      If customer wants to supply his own parts: $30.00/hr.
      If customer tried to fix it himself first: $50.00/hr.

      It got a lot of laughs—until an influential customer complained (also attended the same church as the boss) and the boss made me take it down. Interesting because that customer overhauled the Wisconsin V-4 on his John Deere swather and didn’t properly set the crankshaft end play. Wiped out the Timken bearings. I rather enjoyed rubbing the customer’s nose in it just the same…

      Like 1
      • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member


        We had a similar sign prominently displayed in our customer lounge and again behind the service counter. Customers usually thought the signs were done as a joke, but there were times we did point out the signs.

        We also had one more line: “If the parts you provide are defective, YOU WILL be charged a second R & R labor charge. It’s up to you to make a claim for reimbursement from the place you got the parts from.”

        We had a customer bring in a 1961 Lincoln convertible that had a rod knock due to low oil pressure. These 430 Lincoln V8s had a brass drive gear off the crank to power the oil pump, and the brass gears would wear until they failed. The owner didn’t want to pay our estimate to rebuild the engine, and opted to have a junkyard source him an engine and deliver it to our shop. He paid for the engine of course.

        Well, that brass gear was just as bad, and the engine oil pressure never went above about 5psi. I told him the replacement engine had the same problem, so he called the junkyard and they sent another engine out. I explained how I would need a good faith deposit because he would now be paying for 2 engine R & R situations.

        He tried to tell me “By Law” I had to replace the second engine for free, so I gave him the phone number for the County Office of Consumer Affairs. They said he was responsible for the first & second engine R & R. He refused to pay any part of the bill, demanding I release the car to him.

        He ended up suing me in court. When we had our day in court, the judge explained he had to pay for all the work that had been done because it was his choice where the engines came from, not mine. He actually showed up with the title to the car, and it was from a different [previous] owner, signed, but never filled in with his name.

        Judge said because the title was not in his name, the title would be kept by the court until the total bill was paid, plus my legal fees. Judge gave him 30 days to make payment in full, or the judge would turn over the title to my attorney!

        Once I had the title in my hands, now filled out in my name, we went ahead and did a basic rebuild of the original engine and put it back in the car. I then had a decent running 4-door Lincoln convertible, white with a black leather interior, basically for the cost of rebuilding and installing an engine. Even the original A/C blew cold!

        My attorney had to take the guy to court to get his legal fees paid! I never heard from the guy again!

        Like 2

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