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Sitting For Decades: 1948 Diamond T Model 201

Most of us have been sitting around too much the last couple of months, just imagine if you’ve been sitting around for decades like this 1948 Diamond T Model 201 pickup has been? You think you need work! This desirable project pickup can be found listed here on eBay in Auburn, California and the current bid price is $7,600 but the reserve isn’t met yet. They have a 14,950 buy-it-now price listed.

These Diamond T Model 201 trucks are so great, they look like they’ve already been modified but this is how they came from the factory in Chicago. At least one of our regular readers and commenters has owned one in the past (I’m looking at you, Howard) and I think it’s fair to say that the majority of us would like to own one now. They were known as the “Cadillac of trucks” but that doesn’t mean that they were plush or that they rode like a Cadillac – they were tough, rugged, heavy-duty trucks.

The founder of Diamond T trucks, C. A. Tilt, reportedly said that a truck doesn’t have to be homely and their Model 201 is certainly a testament to that statement. It may be the most handsome pickup ever built, in my opinion. Can you think of some others? The “T” in Diamond T stands for Tilt and his father, a shoemaker, came up with the T inside of a diamond logo. It’s simple but it was a stroke of genius. The seller mentions that this truck has some rust-through in the area between the bed floor and sidewall on the driver’s side but it’s solid otherwise.

That doesn’t mean that it’ll be a two-weekend-restoration. Well, if you had a TV reality show you could nut-and-bolt restore this truck in three days, along with throwing out 35,387 bleeped-out cuss words during those three days. Most of us would take much longer than that. Pretty much all of the glass is broken and one window handle is missing, but it’s complete otherwise.

Here’s the bad part, the engine is seized, or stuck, hopefully not permanently. Maybe it can be freed up and that would be ideal. It should be a 236 cubic-inch Hercules inline-six and I’m sure that most Barn Finds readers could get it unstuck and rebuilt and get this truck back on the road again where it belongs. Let’s hear those Diamond T Model 201 pickup stories out there!


  1. geomechs geomechs Member

    They’re still out and about. I sometimes get a little envious of those who can actually get one and restore it, and enjoy it. But some person’s luck is a little different than the other’s. Those 201s are nice looking although I have to say that the 20 inch wheels make them look somewhat gangly. Nonetheless they are worth having. I would love to take on a project like this one. I think it is well worth the effort…

    Like 14
    • Nevada1/2rack Nevadahalfrack Member

      When I hit the big ticket and find one of these, geomechs, you, Wayne and Howard will have me hounding you all for your input of its restoration. These are just a class act.

      Like 4
      • geomechs geomechs Member

        I sure wish you luck on that big ticket. And having a great time with your own 201. My own aspirations are along similar ambitions. But I also have a lot of fun helping others with their projects. Maybe we’ll all luck out…

        Like 1
      • Howard A Member

        Forget the lottery, a better bet these days are rusted VW buses or “Flintstone” Challengers.

        Like 7
    • Michael Hundhausen

      Wow that diamond T is cool as liquid nitrogen
      Its as groovy a pickup as the 64 galaxy is a car.
      They dont make real automobiles anymore, just motorized shopping baskets.
      Extremely bland and uninspiring ones at that.
      And now they are talkin bout electric cars. ! one of the first models will be called ” the cordless drill” why ? Because every time you need it , the battery is dead.
      How you gonna Act. ! ?

      Like 1
      • BR

        Do you always park your car with an empty gas tank?
        I never have a problem with cordless tools because I keep the batteries charged, or to put it another way, fill the gas tank before I park them. The electric vehicle is very much like any other – you have to fill the tank or charge the battery every 300-400 miles anyway.

        Like 1
  2. BigDoc BigDoc

    Sure would like to take this one but can’t afford the asking price.

    Like 6
  3. Dave

    What a cool looking truck. I dont want it because I would have to do some blasphemy to it (IE diesel swap) to make it driveable. Then I would be murdered in my sleep. Cool looking truck though.

    Like 6
    • geomechs geomechs Member

      Hi Dave. I don’t think you need to be too fearful. Most of us purists recognize a good job even if it’s a modification. But don’t mind those of us who are quite comfortable with them bone-stock. Here’s a nice mod job from somewhere in Canada. I think he did a nice rolling chassis swap…

      Like 7
  4. Dave

    When I was a kid and we were on vacation I always looked for Diamond T big trucks. Classiest big rigs on the highways back in the day.

    Like 5
  5. Howard A Member

    While I’m sure seasoned readers tire of this story everytime one of these comes up, for those unfamiliar, here it is again, condensed version. In 1980, while walking thru a truck salvage yard in S.Central Wis. One of these was laying in the dirt with no wheels. About the same condition. When I inquired about it, “oh, the old red pickup, yeah, that was an auction deal that nobody wanted, you can have it for $100 bucks”. I found another 201 that was a milk truck at another yard, they cut the back off, and I had a parts truck for $200 bucks, wheels and all.The flathead should free up, mine was stuck as well, but soaking it oil freed it up, and it ran like a champ. I had that truck almost 30 years, and had to sell it due to divorce.
    The up side, rare as hand signals and only going up, the down side, as is, it’s not very user friendly. Being a 1 ton, it will ride accordingly, 4:62 gears and Warner T9 crash box, yields about 45 mph, hammer down. 91 hp isn’t much for a 5,000 pound truck, empty, but at the time, is the best you could get.
    What to do? We go through this every time. It’s unique enough, someone may keep it original, but, more than likely, the only person that can afford this, will probably be able to afford it being a resto-mod, and that’s surely what will happen to it. Thanks to Scotty for writing it up.

    Like 20
    • Jimmy Novak

      With all respect, a car is either “resto’ or it’s “mod”. The word was coined by the hotrod mags as a kind of weak apology for molesting a survivor.

      Like 5
  6. Karl

    Very neat old truck! I have my hands full with a 50 Power Wagon right now but would sure consider one of these in the future. I have a real soft spot in my head for rare historical work related trucks and military trucks this certainly fits into my interest space. It would be done back to original if it were mine!

    Like 3
  7. Rod

    Those Hercules engines we heavily used in Searchlight’s back in the 30’s and 40’s. They are almost bullet proof. I cracked a block back in ‘91 and my engine man laughed, fixed it and it still runs today, 30 years later. I’m sure that engine is pretty repairable.

    Like 1
    • Howard A Member

      Lot of searchlights I saw had Chrysler flathead 6’s, but Hercules did make forklift and industrial applications, probably well into the 90’s until electric became the choice of power. I bet you can still get new parts for that motor. You could hold a Hercules motor wide open all day, it didn’t have enough carburetion to blow, like a governor of sorts. They didn’t call them Hercules for nothing.

      Like 2
  8. Mountainwoodie

    A crime has been committed here…………to do this to a Diamond T! And then to ask so much cabbage for such a rusted out example…..should be illegal….if you look inside the cab the rust out is fugly.

    Its a damn shame………HoA? Scorched earth comments required here

    Like 1
    • Howard A Member

      Hi Mw, no crime really, we have to remember, this truck, at the time, was not some piece of rolling art, it was a truck, and a heavy duty truck, meaning, it didn’t haul flowers, it was worked hard. It’s why it was bought in the 1st place. Most of my trucking career, I drove junk, until I got my own, and I saw guys that had nice trucks, and trashed them. To them, it was “just a truck”. That, somehow justifies the price of this, to someone, that it’s here at all. I saw a restored one, a bit older, cross some block, sold for $94,000 bucks, so the value is there.

      Like 1
  9. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

    I recently saw a nicely restored one for 25k. I don’t think this one could be brought to that level for the same amount of money.
    God bless America

    Like 1
  10. stillrunners

    Isn’t this the one that’s been for sale for just as long – looking for big money ?

    Like 0
  11. Bob McK

    They closed the bidding at $7500. Someone must have made an offer he couldn’t refuse.

    Like 0
  12. FordFixer Member

    A guy in our truck club has 2 (an original restored pickup ), but pulls it to shows with a ( restored short school bus ) with Isuzu diesel, 5 speed OD transmission, and later model rear end. Very cool trucks.

    Like 0
  13. BR

    Chris Craft marinized a lot of Hercules engines back in the day.

    Like 0

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