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Reader Challenge: 1950 Chevrolet 4400 Tanker Truck

I’m evidently not alone in being charmed by this old tanker truck listed for sale here on eBay; three bids have moved the sale price up to $2,550 as I write despite not reaching the reserve yet. The truck is at a dealership in Mankato, Minnesota. I just can’t figure out what to do with it! Maybe you can — so please read on!

A little bit of research turned up this article on the history of the Nicollet Oil Company and its 1994 sale. The company started out in Nicollet, Minnesota in 1932 as a Standard Oil distributor, switched to Getty Oil in 1976 and then to Texaco in 1983. I’m wondering if the paint job is older than 1983 and the Texaco decals were applied at that point. Wouldn’t it be cool if you could find all of the history of this truck?

The seller sees the truck being used as a promotion for businesses; I’m not sure how that would work unless you were resurrecting the original business (it doesn’t appear to exist now). So what do you do with the truck?

All the pumping gear looks intact and even the hose doesn’t look too bad. I’m wondering if the white showing through is primer or if the truck wore other livery previously.

The seller tells us that the truck runs, drives and stops well and is ready to go. A quick look at the rear license plate has me guessing that it was last used in 1981 but there is a temporary tag dated 2017 as well. I still struggle with what to use it for given its current payload. Would you put some sort of utility bed on it, or just keep the tank on for looks? I await your responses, Barn Finds readers!

Comments

  1. canadainmarkseh

    Well I’d resto mod it, I’d take all the junk off the back, shorten the wheel base add a custom period truck box. I’d then change out the engine, drive line, and all the running gear. To modernize it. After that you could put it to all sorts of hauling uses. Or even punk a camper on its back. There’s not a lot of people in need of an old tanker so why would you leave it that way.

    Like 1
    • Howard A Member

      Whoa, ho, pal, here’s where we differ. Petroliana has never been more sought after today, and vintage fuel tankers are at the top of the list. They were driven hard in all sorts of weather, and rarely remained like this. The truck part was junked and the tank was put on a new chassis. This is a 5 compartment, of maybe 500 gallons in each, a mere pittance of what we use today, with modern tankers hauling 8,000 gallons, or more. This truck probably stopped at every tavern, grocery store, or anyone else that sold fuel. It looks like it could carry a drum and other products as well as bulk fuel. I say, it’s hauling days are over, but it should remain original, shiny brass nozzles and all.

      Like 21
      • canadainmarkseh

        Fear not Howard as you know most of us are just blowing smoke out our a$$e$ and never intend to be serious buyers it’s nothing more than an opinion. Likely the real interested parties are truck collectors.

        Like 4
  2. Peter S.R. Member

    Turn the tank into a barbecue grill/smoker and drive it to the next pregame tailgate party…

    Like 17
  3. Herbee

    Man that had to have been cool delivering fuel in that Chevy,. I would think a fuel company would love to have for a yard display.

    Like 3
  4. Fred W

    Some gas and oil collector will redo it something like this…

    Like 8
    • Howard A Member

      Thanks, Fred, that’s exactly what I’m talking about.

      Like 1
  5. mtshootist1

    back when I was a kid, the old man bought a Phillips 66 1948-50 Chevy two ton tanker truck without the tank. You could still see the Philips sign on the door and it was orange. We converted it into a silage truck with a new John Deere Silage Bed and drove it until sometime in the late 60s. I spent a lot of time in the cab of that truck, it was my job to use a six or eight tine silage fork and move silage around in the bed while the old man had an old Alllis Chambers tractor with a set of forks on it dumping silage into the truck. Later we used it for a wheat truck, I started driving it when I was about eight or nine.

    Like 5
    • Herbee

      Mtshootist, a country boy CAN survive.

      Like 1
  6. S Craig MacDonald

    How does a delivery truck survive in MN for almost 70 years with almost no rust?! Even the cab corners, typically the first to go, look solid.
    (Why no interior pics?)
    This truck is too cool to mess with. If I had the means I’d buy it and haul it directly to AZ for the auctions in January. Somebody with too much money and a collection would buy this just to have it and I’d take home a pocket full of cash.

    Like 6
    • Howard A Member

      Remember, there was no salt in the 50’s, and drivers that drove these usually were very proud and may have cleaned it periodically. It, in later years, may have been an airport fueler, and never left the airstrip.

      Like 0
  7. Herbee

    S Craig, the rust issues you bring up is a mystery under the circumstances the truck was used for. I would think locals in the area that have a history of the company and or truck would buy IMO

    Like 1
  8. geomechs geomechs Member

    Definitely a rig to be fixed up and shown. Most of these were used up and discarded. Yes they might be confined to parades and displays but they carry a part of history that’s long since been forgotten. Lots of other trucks to do a resto-mod on. Restore this one to its original glory. A local collector has a ’32 Binder tanker that is a popular part of his collection. Even the kids are fascinated with it…

    Like 8
  9. Chinga-Trailer

    I drove the flatbed version of this truck through my employer’s closed garage door once. I was 16 and had not driven a stick shift before.

    Like 2
    • Herbee

      Chinga did you get reprimanded? Bet that made some racket.

      Like 0
  10. David Frank David F Member

    One could install a small modern tank and pump and use this at one of the hundreds of small airports around the US that serve classic aircraft. Santa Paula, California comes to mind as well as many others.

    Like 2
  11. Lbpa18

    I see this going to some guy with a few expensive vintage aircraft. For pennies on the dollar its a functional attractive fueler.

    Like 3
  12. Neil G.

    Portable fueling station at the next Cruisin’ event for thirsty classic and muscle cars. Cruise and make money at the same time.

    Like 1
  13. Wayne

    Neil G. Great idea! Particularly if you provided 100 octane ( non-menanol fuel) at a reasonable price. ( is that possible?). You would generate invites to shows and should get quite a following. Local regulations might be an issue.
    It would be an additional reason to visit a car show. I ran a national pro-rally in Houghton Lake Michigan. (1980) The Sunoco station across the street from the hosting hotel had their premium takes filled with Sunoco 260 just for the rally people. Everyone filled all their vehicles and cans before going home. I made the mistake of mentioning this to the guy that owned the garage where I kept my car and assorted rally gear. About 2 months later when I went to get the car ready for the next rally. My tank and all my cans were empty. When I mentioned this he owed up to stealing my fuel for his hot rod BMW. I did not have to pay for the rent as he was really happy with the way his bike ran.

    Like 3
  14. Dave Vincent

    Being in charge of the parade unit and the clown unit in our lodge restoring it would be great fun. I have a couple of fire engines and floats. It would be fun to restore to the original paint and lettering (or even put your own “company” name on it. with a couple of old fashioned lights you could pass it off as a volunteer fire department engine. BUT don’t screw with a good thing they are hard to come by

    Like 1
  15. Wrong Way

    I am on the watch list! If I should happen to jump on this unit, I will have the tank cleaned and sterilized and use it as a water truck for watering live stock on my ranch / farm!

    Like 3
    • glen

      I was thinking a mobile wash truck.

      Like 1
      • Dave Vincent

        I like that Idea you could put a good strong pump on it and do things like driveways and sidewalks. Living here in the Tampa area of Florida and because of the large number of mobile home parks that would be a great money maker. I know the average price to do a mobile here is around $150 to $200. You could be in and out in a short time and only use your own water and power s compared to a lot of people that use the customers utilities. Another good idea along your thought line would be tile roofs and shingle roof cleaning. You could do it for realtors that have homes with no utilities turned on and likely make a good living, and working for yourself you could chose your own days and hours. Have a great holiday

        Like 4
      • glen

        A guy I knew years ago, got into mobile washing. He got contracts at trucking companies, washing the trailers. He’s made a good living at it.

        Like 2
  16. Wayne

    Wrong Way, You might want to also look at this one also.https://reno.craigslist.org/cto/6740678425.html
    It runs and drives and would require less work to use it.
    Keep us advised!

    Like 0
  17. Mountainwoodie

    You could convert it to a prisoner transport vehicle for midgets. Just cut a few windows in the tank.

    Like 0
  18. Wayne

    Mountainwoodie, using that train of thought I am surprised that you did not say cut windows into it and make it a children’s school bus. I’m thinking no.
    There are several tankers down the road at the fish hatchery. I’ll take 30 gallons of trout please!

    Like 0

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