Solid $2,900 Project: 1947 Ford Flatbed

2019 may well end up being the year of antique and classic vehicle bargains.  2018 saw falling process in a number of areas to the point that some fear the future of the hobby is grim.  Despite all of this gloom, optimists are seeing buying opportunities at bargain basement prices.  Take for example this 1947 Ford flatbed offered for sale on craigslist just outside of Chicago, Illinois.  While the overall solid condition of this dual rear wheel hauler is noteworthy, the cost of entry is a big eye opener on this one.  Can you believe the asking price for this green giant, found for us by Ikey H., is only $2,900?

Yes, I am well aware that this is a pretty big Ford.  However, this truck seems to be in great condition for the price.  The seller tells us that it was a farm truck, and that the old hauler performed its duties in Holcombe, Kansas.  The best part of the story that it was always stored indoors in presumably the barn it was found in.  Sadly, they forgot how valuable legitimate barn dust is, and must have either washed it or left it out in the rain.  The good news is that the truck looks perfect as it sits.  It would be a shame to restore it.

No matter what you do, you will likely get there slowly relative to a modern vehicle.  This truck, which I believe to be a 1 1/2 ton after looking over some pictures in the book Ford Trucks Since 1905 by James Wagner, does have a two speed rear end though.  55 MPH is likely doable, even with a load.  Or, you could re-gear it to get the revs down and install some speed parts to help with the needed oomph.  Stopping the beast might help build up your leg muscles.  There are ways to update the brakes on older vehicles, but the folks who used these when knew didn’t know they were missing anything then.  Somehow they made it and I am sure you can too.

The cab corner you see above is good proof of the stored indoors claim.  Cab corners are the Achille’s heel of old trucks, and even a lot of new trucks.  While patch panels are often inexpensive, it takes a bit of talent to put them in seamlessly.  At any rate, there are no signs of heavy rust in any of the pictures.  There is a fair amount of surface rust, a few dings here and there, and a slight rip in one of the fenders.  To offset that damage, the truck does come with a power take off hoist and a cool set of cab lights.  Big trucks just look better with cab lights.

So, even if it it a bargain, what do you do with an old truck of this size?  While I would hate to destroy its historical value, there are a lot of options for getting it down to a manageable size. I have seen trucks like this bobbed and put on smaller wheels and tires. Even if you left it as is wheelbase and axle wise, there is always the option of creating your own period correct camper on the back. A lot of swap meets allow vendors to camp on the grounds. Why not bring a few parts to put out and enjoy a long weekend of hanging out at a swap meet?  At this price, you can afford to have a little fun and make it into something cool!

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  1. Howard A Member

    Great find. Shows they are still out there in those barns and sheds. With respect to Jeff, not sure if or when the last time he drove one of these, but the “speedometer pie chart” tells the story. Low was 5 mph max, 2nd 15, and high gear 35. With the 2 speed, maybe 45 empty, but that would be near suicide. These just weren’t designed to go that fast, trust me, I’ve driven these, or very similar vehicles. Loaded, the gas pedal does nothing but increase the noise, no speed increase will be noticed. For today, I’d keep the V8, and the bed and hoist and just get newer front and rear axles so modern speeds could be reached and stopped from. It’s too nice and not necessary to strip and put on a newer chassis. This looks fine as is. Axles a lot easier than a total transformation.

    Like 7
  2. geomechs geomechs Member

    Lots of these (and slightly newer ones) in my neighborhood when I was a kid. I hauled many bushels of grain away from the combine, and to the elevator in trucks like this, along with a few Chevies and Binders. None of them handled a 15K lb. payload very well, but they all managed. 45 mph empty is achievable but by the time you reached that you had to start gearing down for that turn at the bottom of the hill, or the stop sign that some county idiot decided to put there. Somehow you got through it and the only injuries received were getting the inside of you thighs skinned when you vaulted over the side of the grain box and lost your footing.

    A truck like this needs a restoration and to be used as a hauler for a vintage tractor to the shows (I know lots that do). You won’t make any friends on the freeway so you’d best take the back roads. Out west you’re still likely to find a few of these on the freeway just the same; a lot still in use. In too good of shape to butcher. And watch that grill; it may take a notion to disappear…

    Like 8
  3. racer417

    If you’re a girl, you can drive it to a corner in Winslow, Arizona….

    Like 7
    • Davery

      They already have a flatbed Ford on the corner.

      Like 3
  4. Kenneth Carney

    I’d get it modernized for use on today’s
    roads, slap some sideboards on it, and
    let my BILs haul scrap with it. Trucks
    like this were made for work–not to
    be over restored into something they’re
    not. Keep those good finds coming! .I
    use them for portrait material. Can’t
    tell you how many great subjects I’ve

  5. Chebby Staff

    Perfect for a housetruck.

    Like 1
  6. Matt

    I can’t believe that the moderator would even suggest “ putting smaller wheels” or any other mods on this truck. Cripes! I also think this truck should be able do 50, just not for a prolonged period, and if the brakes aren’t already set up with it, adding a hydrovac would make it quite useable – just not on city freeways.

    Like 1
  7. Bob S

    I love these old trucks, and drove one like this commercially when I was a kid. Yes, they are slow.
    What I would do, is put radials on the present running gear, and either adapt an automatic with an OD, or a modern full syncro 3 speed with an OD. I have been using a Hone-O-Drive OD on one of my trucks since 1971. It has worked flawlessly for me, and will handle up to 700 hp.
    If I still wanted to use the PTO and the hoist is still working, I would adapt a pump that runs off the fan belt with an electric clutch. I made one from an old GM AC unit that worked like a charm.
    With the suspension tightened up, a proper alignment, radial tires, and 1/16 toe in, it would drive much better, and the overdrive would raise the cruising speed to close to 60. All I would do to the flathead, would be to add a few speed parts, such as dual carbs and high compression heads. That would make it a nice, reliable cruiser.
    A friend of mine owned an alignment shop, and he stated that a lot of these old trucks handled poorly simply because they were not properly aligned.
    I would clean up the body and repaint it green and cream.

    Like 2
  8. Tara

    Amaizing find, most vehicles at only 10 years old are rusted through, It would be great for this to be used every day and for someone to give it a new lease of life.

  9. BR

    This most likely has the Firestone “widow maker” wheels if it’s all original. I just replaced all five of my widow maker 8.25X20’s with 9R22.5 tubeless tires & wheels. Same size.

    Like 2
    • Michael

      I have a 47 Ford flatbed. Where did you find your wheels?

  10. plwindish

    Take it easy!

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