Shell Game: 1948 Chevrolet Loadmaster Tanker

I’ve been known to collect (hoard?) things: matchbook covers, post cards, guitars, cars, and probably other things that I can’t think of now. If I were to ever start hoarding 1,100 gallons of gasoline at a time, this 1948 Chevrolet Loadmaster Tanker would do the trick perfectly. This super cool project is listed on more than one site, as is often the case these days. It’s on Craigslist in Sandpoint, Idaho with a $1,900 asking price and it’s also listed on with more photos. Let’s gas it up, chickie, and check out this cool fuel tanker.

One of the sales sites shows it on a trailer and the other one shows it on the ground, so whether they’re from the same owner or it was a post-flipper-photo session, I’m not sure. In either case, it looks like it’s in pretty good shape for being probably twice as old as the average Barn Finds reader is. I have more rust on me than this thing does, but it does have rust. Most of it looks very fixable and who wouldn’t love to have this in their collection all freshly painted in that bright Shell Oil yellow and in perfect condition? I know I would, for what reason I have no clue, but it would be great at car shows. Well, maybe I’d have one reason.

I need something like this to tow behind my ’66 Lincoln, it would get me across the country a couple of times without having to stop for gas every 200 miles. This tanker holds 1,100 gallons but I’m not sure if it’ll be hauling anything flammable in the future, unless the next owner hauls Tabasco with it. I could be wrong, but I’m guessing that the amount of money that it would take to get this one back to meeting modern fuel-tanker regulations may be cost-prohibitive. Do any of you know what the regulations would be for using a classic/vintage fuel tanker to actually haul hundreds of gallons of highly-flammable fuel on public streets?

Supposedly, in 1948 the Chevrolet Advance Design trucks went to a column-mounted manual shifter, but this one clearly shows a floor shifter. The interior looks serviceable, but like the body, the interior will probably need to have everything restored. This rig has its “original meters, pumps and two hose reels”, according to the seller. The “steps and floors are solid”, which is nice. Just drive it to your local Maaco and in just two weeks and $1,200 later, collect first prize from your local cars and coffee event! Ok, it’ll take more than $1,200 to restore this truck, of course, but hey, a guy can dream.

There are no engine photos but the seller says that it’s “all original and complete except for the radiator (someone probably scrapped it for $3)” And, the “engine and other mechanical conditions are unknown. Though the brakes seem to pump up.” They say that it’s 23-feet long which coincidentally is the same length as the 1948 Chevrolet Loadmaster School Bus Chassis. Would you rather haul 1,100 gallons of liquid dynamite a foot behind your head, or 72 screaming kids in a school bus? I thought so, me, too. Do you know anyone who has an old fuel tanker like this? What would you do with this one?

Fast Finds


  1. txchief

    How much ass could you haul in it? Just a request for information, Sir.

  2. txchief

    My local radiator shop charges a flat fee for cleaning fuel tanks. I should take this to them….

    • Rich Nepon

      Get it cleaned and fill with water. It will pay for itself soon.

  3. CJay

    Cut along the top of the boxes (along dotted line), install posts to raise the roof, install a bar down the middle, benches on each side. You can get tanked in the tanker!!!

    • Joe Abernathy

      The truck is in Hye Texas now and this is exactly what I’m doing with it.

      It will be showcased as a bar at one of the local wineries.

      Great minds think alike!

  4. David Frank David F Member

    Oh my Scotty! “in pretty good shape for being probably twice as old as the average Barn Finds reader” Ouch! Does this mean I’m twice as old as the average barn find reader? LOL!!! I hope I’m in better shape than this old tanker! Great fun write-up!

    • packrat

      @David F: I’m not quite there yet, but close behind. The whole world revolves around the 18-34 demographic, so keeping the kids interested in things that were commonplace roadside sights for us growing up/ visual rarities now will give a few more miles to the hobby. I don’t know if *I’m* in better shape than this tanker or not. I, too am getting to the point where I would rather be “trailered” than roll on my own as much as I used to.

      As an aside, that seems to be a waste of a five window cab. I grew up with 3 window versions, and want to get an original 51 sometime with a 3 window, but those extra windows have probably looked into nothing but the lead edge of that tank for 70 years.

      The tanker regs have probably changed three times over since this one was built: you used to see these tucked in the corner of heavy equipment lots and older airfields, and I think they were a sometime intermezzo step between an above ground fuel tank and getting your a/v or diesel by the tankful –until some loopholes closed up and made this a little less attractive.

    • Scotty Staff

      Ha! Hey, that’s how they get averages, David! It’s like Minnesota weather, half the year it’s 85 and humid and the other half it’s below zero (exaggerating a bit) (but not that much)..

      I didn’t say median I said average, and I would guess that my rough estimation is fairly correct. I said “probably”, which gives a bit of leeway, and half of 69 (the difference between 2017 and 1948) is 34.5, which is basically 35, which I think is pretty accurate. The folks commenting on the website may be older than 35 but there are a lot of young folks here and elsewhere that read and enjoy the site. We’re all young at heart, does that count?

  5. Howard A Member

    You know, that would be an interesting thing, what IS the median age of most the folks here. Being 62, and judging by the tone of the comments, I bet it’s higher than Scotty might think. Anyway, I believe the column shift was for the lighter duty (1/2, 3/4, and 1 ton) as the bigger trucks retained the floor shift. As far as the “wasted 5 window cab”, that’s not entirely true. Mirrors, as shown, were a luxury then, and that corner window gave a little extra side vision. Unless one would use this as a display outside a fuel delivery company, the tank is useless.

    • Dave Wright

      Tank is worse than useless, it is a detriment……..there are many DOT regulations that apply even to old unused tanks. It would make a wonderful hay ride rig with a flatbed installed.

  6. Jay E.

    Excruciatingly low geared, top speed of 45 mph or even less when loaded makes if impracticable for almost anything..

  7. JRP

    It would make a great resto-mod car hauler with enough money thrown at it.

  8. 86 Vette Convertible

    Having grown up on a farm back in that era, the local gas station had a similar rig to deliver gas out to the fuel tank on the farm. For a little kid, it was something to watch them pump 200-300 gallons of gas and fill up the tank.

    It would still be interesting to see it back on the road and parade condition.

  9. Don H

    Fill it with beer

    • Jeffro

      Would be perfect for small brewery. Lol

  10. Mlaw

    Rothchilds septic sucking service.

  11. carl french

    I love it! A heating oil company should pick for a parade piece. I do however like the restomod car hauler idea as well

  12. Wayne

    I like the cut on the dotted line comment. ( took the words right out of my mouth) Only, my thought was to make sleeping arrangements and make it a tow rig for the race car trailer. BUT, I am sure that this has an iron/steel tank. And the sheer weight (even with modern running gear) would kill any fun to be had. The get tanked at the tanker was very good CJ!
    I lend a hand to the Oldest (Under the same ownership) Goodyear dealer in the world (Reno NV, 95 Years) periodically and they have fuel oil delivered for the furnace from a tanker about this age. (fuel oil versus gasoline is probably less stringent regulations) “Almost the same age as the tanker, so well over the average (or median) age. Sorry to raise the bar somewhat.”

  13. CanAm

    A shame it’s too far away – like on a completely different land mass – or is that lucky…or I would be taking it home :)

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.


Notify me of new comments via email. Or subscribe without commenting.