1938 Ford Half Ton Pickup


This 1938 Ford Pickup is a beautiful vintage truck. The year 1938 saw the Ford Motor Company come out with a smaller V-8 engine while competing intensely against General Motors. The 1938 Ford truck designs were a completely new restyle from previous model years. The cab in the 1938 model was the first redesign in three years. The truck’s grille had a new oval shape. This new truck restyling was kept unchanged through 1939.

1938 Ford Half Ton
1938 Ford Half Ton

If you look at advertisements for the year, Ford heavily promoted their Flathead V-8 trucks. In addition to the half-ton pickup the company heavily promoted their new one-ton pickup as an economical truck to operate. Ford said that this was it’s answer to truck buyers asking for a heavier truck with the same performance and economy as the half-tons. Springs, axles and frame were touted as being strengthened to handle the heavy loads.

Ford Motor Company Trucks

Ford Motor had long been a leader in truck production starting with their first truck, the Model TT. That truck was followed up with the Ford Model AA. These of course led to the popular Ford F Series which were introduced in 1948.

1939 Ford Pickup
1938 Ford Pickup

The early automakers recognized the feasibility of commercial vehicles. Why can’t a farmer haul his supplies with a motorized vehicle? The question was what to build and how to market it. Ford actually built it’s first truck in 1905, just two years after building it’s first car. This first truck was essentially a cargo area behind a drivers seat. In many ways just like a horse wagon except with a motor.

By about 1913 there were outside suppliers who would provide Ford with various truck body styles. These were customized to the Model T chassis. It appeared that nothing really successful came together until the year 1917 and the introduction of the Ford Model TT.  The Model TT came out as a one ton vehicle that was built on a strengthened Model T frame that could handle the heavier load. These first Model TT’s were sold as a chassis and cab only with the cargo bodies being installed by one of several outside suppliers.

At one time, coach work companies were commonly employed to install customized car bodies. They are still in existence today throughout the U.S.

Split windshield on 1938 Ford Pickup Truck
Split windshield on 1938 Ford Pickup Truck

1938 Ford Half-Ton Pickup Truck Specifications

The 1938 Ford Half-Ton Pickup came with an L-Head V-8 delivering 85 horsepower with the 221 cubic displacement engine and 60 horsepower with the 136 cubic inch version. Ford came out with a 95 horsepower V-8 with the 1939 models. All of these Ford flathead engines had a two barrel carburetor.

The truck had a 112.0 inch wheelbase and an overall weight of about 2,700 lbs.

The 1938 Ford Truck had an overall frame length of 157.4 inches and a width of 30 inches at the front axle and 44 inches at the rear axle.

The rear truck bed dimensions included a length of 77.7 inches, a width of 44.0 inches and a depth of 22.2 inches.

The 1938 Pickup came with a three speed manual transmission. Brakes were drum with manual cables.

1938 Ford Half Ton Pickup grille
1938 Ford Half Ton Pickup grille


The Ford Motor Company offered several options with their 1938 Half-Ton Pickup. These included a radio which would cost about $45 installed, a sliding rear window, dual windshield wipers and a heater. What were options decades ago are now mostly standard equipment. Over sized tires were also an option during the 1938 and 1939 model years.

The Ford Motor Company produced a total of 410,263 vehicles for the 1938 model year. That year’s production was affected by a recession and numbers for all major automakers rose in 1939.

The 1938 Ford Half-Ton Pickup sold new in 1938 for about $590. This was reportedly the lowest priced new pickup truck you could buy in 1938.

The links below are to two additional AutoMuseumOnline photo articles you’ll enjoy.

1935 Chevy Half-Ton Truck

The Ford Model TT Truck

1938 Ford Truck
1938 Ford Truck

A Restoration and Collector’s Truck

Cars and trucks from the late 1930’s are both popular collector’s cars and restoration projects. Both Ford’s and Chevy’s from this period make great restoration vehicles. The 1938 Ford Pickup is also a good car to make into a hot-rodder. Many of them have been. A lot of course depends on if you’re lucky enough to locate one for restoration.

Some of the things about the 1938 Ford Pickup that collectors like include the trucks styling, a good sized interior and the fact the the trucks were generally very well built.

Some rebuilding projects on the 1938 Ford Pickup can start with the cab only. After that it’s just finding the right parts to put together a replica of one of the more popular vintage trucks

If you find one of these trucks restored to a high degree the chances are they won’t come cheap. Any asking or auction price is going to be affected by several things. The degree of restoration is the primary one along with the rarity of the vehicle and the collectors car market in general. Also, how many of the original parts are still on the vehicle and in what condition.

A 1938 Ford Half-Ton Pickup in pristine condition could sell for anywhere from $15,000 up to $40,000 or more.

(Article and photos copyright AutoMuseumOnline)