Ready To Tow: Ford C600 Wrecker


For every classic and antique car we feature here on Barn Finds, there is at some point a tow truck involved – and in this case, it’s a heavy-duty Ford! It’s up for sale here on eBay in the area of Simpsonville, South Carolina…let’s take a look!

Ford has for many decades produced heavy-duty engines and chassis for commercial, government and municipal applications. The venerable C-series represented here (not the COE) was in production from 1957 to 1990, many of which ended up as construction and emergency-service vehicles. Many of the chassis, engine, and body parts are interchangeable, and the straight, flat frame rails allowed for multiple configurations. A multitude of engine choices were available, all of them well-suited to serious-business tasks.

The unit we see here started its life as some sort of emergency vehicle, and we can surmise that because Emergency-One (now E-One) is a fire equipment truck body company that has been in business since 1974. In its present form, it is obviously a tow truck or ‘sling truck’. The seller tells us that it was allegedly custom-converted at some point by an Art’s Body Shop in South Dakota, and that it was used for limited heavy-recovery duties but was mostly used for shows and parades. We’re also told that it has only covered about 24,000 miles in its 40-plus years. We can see a manual-transmission and what looks to be a well-put-together rig with presumably original interior and either a Code3 SD or TwinSonic lightbar on top.

All told, it looks like a pretty decent set of wheels if you’re into the big toys. Classic looks, functional if you needed it to be, a good package overall. Asking $9,900 but I have no idea whether or not that is a reasonable price.


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  1. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

    In my small growing-up town, the only community meeting room was in the volunteer firefighter’s building (which at one time was a car dealership). So while attending events I would sneak out and study the fire trucks housed in a different part of the building. One of which was a newish C-Series Ford. I would sit in the driver’s seat and imagine shifting gears while headed to a fire. Good memories.

    As Russell notes, these had a very long and successful production run.

    Not sure what one would do with this beyond parades and such, but it sure would get some attention at Cars & Coffee.

    Like 11
  2. Howard A Member

    Cool find, pretty hard to hide the fact it was a fire truck. In what capacity is anyones guess. While the actual towing part is horribly out of date, old fire trucks make great repurposed trucks because of their low road miles. The engines are usually shot from stationary duty, but it’s the best thing for old fire engines. It looks like the tried and true 390 gas V8, but could be as much as the 534, “widow maker 10-20’s” can be easily replaced with tubeless, but there’s not much today you can tow with this setup, I’d have gone with a small dump, much handier, unless you enjoy shoveling. I remember asphalt companies used these because they turn so tight. I know it’s a hefty claim, but I think this was Fords crowning achievement, the C series.

    Like 13
    • Chuck

      This is probably a 600 series, and, more than likely, with a 330 or a 361 engine. Probably a 5 speed trans, and a single speed rear end. There is no shift switch on the shift lever, hence the single speed rear end. To have a 401,477, or 534 engine, would require a lot heavier chassis, and a larger fuel tank! A 534 would get 3mpg on a good day, with a sail, off a cliff!

      Like 3
    • BR

      They are Dayton cast spoke wheels, NOT widowmakers! Widowmakers are the Firestone RH5° two piece steel Budd style wheels.

      • Howard A Member

        Hi BR, how you been? This just grinds your gears, don’t it? We went ’round and ’round on this the last time. “Widowmakers”, in my neck of the woods, were ANY split rim wheel regardless of the maker. I suppose, since most split rim wheels were mounted on Dayton spokes, it just became a term we used.

        Like 2
  3. angliagt angliagt Member

    Our fire department (Eureka Fire Department/Humboldt Bay Fire)
    had one of these that was an OES (Office of Emergency Services) that
    they got for $1/year,on condition that it had to be staffed & head anywhere
    in California on short notice.They later decided that it wasn’t worth the
    It had a manual transmission,which you had to have a manual-
    endorsement on your driver’s license to legally drive.
    I always thought that these were one of the
    nicest looking trucks ever.Hard to believe that these
    were around from the early ’60’s.

    Like 6
  4. stanley kwiecinski

    nice truck. pulled lot’sa clutches on these. except most were moving trucks. where you had to lift a hatch in the box. align the the tower shafts tongue before you bolted the shaft down. then go to the cab to make sure the gears shifted.with all the was loads a fun!

    Like 3
    • stanley kwiecinski

      we had a new hire. Older gent. bad back. had a moving truck on most of the jacks and stands in the shop. must of used pits at his last job? Had a vibration when he started it. after all that work! I asked him what flywheel he used? 361? used a weight on the backside of the flywheel. all the others looked the same? it’s been 30yrs i may be wrong? anyway. back up on the stands…OUCH!

  5. jose Enciso

    would u plz call me , i’m interested ,,,,jose 206-595-5845
    really appreciate it ,
    where is tguck located ,state ?

  6. Chuck

    International Towing and Recovery Museum in Chattanooga TN has a nice collection of vintage tow trucks.

    Like 5
  7. Piros1

    I drove one of these a lot in my younger years, it was a bit older than this one and a much heavier duty truck. It would wear you out chasing the gear shifter with the long throws between the gears and the slop in the linkage. Ours had a 5 speed transmission and a 2 speed rear axle. It was an old utility truck with a Powers Pole Cat boom and auger. I hated that old truck. It had the 11.00/22.5 tubeless bias ply tires. When I sold it I gave the guy a full tank of gas to make sure got plenty for down the road do I never had to look at it again. I had some good and not do good experience with that old truck.

    I would like to make a few corrections to some comments. Most likely from my experience with these old trucks and if it is original this one has a 361 or 391 V8. These were heavy truck engines, the 390 was a light duty pickup and automotive engine. Considering this a C600 it is probably the 361V8. Still the same family just a few slight differences. Also considering it is a C600 and the visual appearance of the truck and tires the tire size is probably an 8.25/20 or a 9.00/20 bias ply. Both are pretty much obsolete these days. Still available but very uncommon. As gr as the old split rims know as widow makers the could be quite dangerous if you didn’t know what you were doing or didn’t pay attention while mounting them. Like most things they are as dangerous as you make them.

    I really don’t know what you could do with the old truck but use for advertisement and parades. It would be nice if they would pull up the carpet to show the condition of the floor boards since it is just laying there lose and post photos if the floor condition. I think this is a situation where the seller is only trying to show the gleam of an old truck and not the mechanical condition. Even though I am not a lover of these trucks they are a great part of our history and hopefully someone picks it up and gives it a new life.

    Like 2
  8. Mike A.

    FWIW, this truck has been on eBay several to many times in the last 5 or so years. I view eBay daily, for an eccentric selection of things, one of them being old wreckers.
    It seems this truck has either had a hard time finding a settled home…or a hard time being sold on eBay.

    • Steven Ramos

      Quite a hard time that truck has been up over a year..

  9. Kenn

    Maybe the price is too high?

  10. John

    If I was looking for a wrecker I’d want a truck that had been built as one, not a converted fire truck.

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