1939 Dodge TE-Series Pickup - SOLD
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The odometer shows just 25,624 miles, and we have no reason to believe that’s not an authentic reading—nobody is driving a big truck like this cross-country.

In 1939, Dodge introduced the all-new T-Series trucks, ranging from standard ½-ton pickups to 3-ton heavy haulers that could move a mountainside. The design was beautiful, with stylists debuting an art-deco inspired nose and cab that could arguably be considered the first truck designed to be attractive rather than simply functional. Heavier frames, upgraded suspensions, and even options like leather seats and an AM radio made them the envy of the heavy-hauling market. Today, trucks are one of the fastest-growing segments of the hobby, offering affordable fun that’s also practical. When they’re as pretty as this 1939 Dodge T-31 pickup, it’s easy to understand the surging popularity, and this one also has a great story to tell.

Unlike most of its siblings, this gorgeous 1.5.ton T-31 isn’t a big, clumsy flatbed farm truck, but rather a beautifully proportioned pickup—it’s like a regular truck done in 11/8 scale. It’s big, but the design cleverly hides its mass and from behind the wheel, it feels surprisingly agile for such a big machine. If you’re worried about it fitting in your garage, don’t—it’s less than seven feet tall and less than 20 feet long, so it should fit wherever a regular pickup can fit. The story on it is rather interested, as it wears New York/New Jersey Parks Department emblems on the doors, and that is indeed where it started its working life. When it retired, the gentleman who drove it most often decided to keep it (this is back in the 1960s, remember) and sometime in the 1990s, he and his son restored it to what is likely better-than-new condition. It comes to us from the third generation of that same family. In essence, you could say that this truck has had just two owners, the parks department and the family that cared for it, and it certainly shows the kind of loving care that most ordinary vehicles never receive.

The odometer shows just 25,624 miles, and we have no reason to believe that’s not an authentic reading—nobody is driving a big truck like this cross-country. Despite working for a living, a life with the parks department is likely pretty easy and it doesn’t seem to have ever been exposed to winter roads and salt, because the sheetmetal is in fantastic condition with exactly zero signs of rust repair or patching. It’s quite striking in its bright red and black color scheme, and even though this is a 1.5-ton truck, it received the same lovely chrome grille, the same highly stylized fenders, and the same curvaceous cab that the smaller trucks received. It’s extremely appealing from just about any angle. They faithfully re-created the parks department emblem on the doors and added wooden stake sides to the 9-foot pickup bed, which really gives it a dressed-up look. The bed was correctly restored with a wood floor (painted, not varnished, which wouldn’t be correct) and a locking tool box at the far end. It still sports its original single DODGE taillight, but in the interest of safety, auxiliary brake lights were added under the bed as well as a set of turn signal marker lights up front. You’ll also spot a modern Class IV receiver hitch and trailer light connector underneath—that’s because this truck often pulled parade floats in the local Memorial Day parade (the son in the father-and-son team was a proud Navy veteran). And if there’s one thing this big rig does well, it’s move big stuff. You probably couldn’t make a parade float big enough or heavy enough that this Dodge couldn’t move it.

The interior is basic but quite attractive and you can tell Chrysler designers put in some extra time to make sure it was a pleasant place to work. The brown leatherette seat cover matches the door panels, and remains in very good condition. There are no splits or tears, although there are two discolored spots about the size of quarters on the lower seat cushion. A rubber mat protects the floors and there’s a vintage brass fire extinguisher just for a little extra authenticity. The big steering wheel makes even this big brute relatively easy to handle and the aftermarket turn signals were added to the steering column in the usual fashion. The dashboard and instruments should look familiar to anyone who has driven a Dodge truck from the ‘40s, with all the instruments being fully operational, although the little pointer on the speedometer has come loose. They skipped the optional radio on this one, but it does have a powerful Mopar Deluxe heater/defroster that’s powerful enough to roast a Thanksgiving turkey. The long-throw shifter for the 4-speed manual transmission is easy to manage and does have synchromesh, and they even took the time to re-create the markings and numbers from the parks department.

Believe it or not, these big trucks used a version of the Plymouth flathead inline-6, with the 1.5-ton trucks getting a 218 cubic inch version with 77 horsepower. Now you may scoff, but that’s only because you’ve never driven a vehicle with one of these tough little engines in it and they’re easy to underestimate. They’re willing, torquey, and virtually indestructible, and with clever gearing, the big truck feels quick enough to move through today’s traffic. With so few miles on it, it’s unlikely that the engine has been opened and that’s OK, because these things will run forever with just gas and oil. The engine block is a little scruffy but it could be cleaned up in a weekend with some steel wool and some paint, while the rest seems quite authentic. There’s a rebuilt carburetor under a proper heavy-duty oil bath air cleaner, original style hose clamps, and new wiring. It has been recently tuned and serviced, so it starts easily with a bit of choke and runs great. The giant radiator up front means overheating is a total non-issue (remember this thing just shrugged off parade duty, which can push most old vehicles to their limit) and the original generator makes plenty of electricity. In short, this thing does exactly what it was designed to do and it does it well.

Underneath, the 1.5-ton chassis is incredibly over-built, with massive frame rails, a thick beam axle up front, and heavy-duty leaf springs all around. The transmission shifts easily and you can skip 1st gear unless you’re hauling something big. 5.69 gears in the giant rear pumpkin aren’t for highway travel, but this big Dodge is pretty happy at 45 MPH thanks to the giant 20-inch rolling stock. Don’t worry, it’ll sound busy but you’re not hurting anything. It has been driven and used, of course, but the underside is still in good shape and you should have any qualms about taking it out and using it as intended. Brakes are manual drums, but they’re GIGANTIC and more than adequate for the truck’s performance. And those heavy-duty steel artillery wheels look great sitting inside those beefy 7.50-20 Goodyears.

The fellow who restored this truck was a good friend of ours here at Harwood Motors, and he was a fine craftsman in everything he did, not just old vehicles. He loved this truck more than any of the other cars in his collection and you can see the extra effort that went into restoring and maintaining it. We’re proud to have it here in our inventory, where it literally and figuratively stands tall—it’s just a great-looking machine. Best of all, it’s still eminently practical, because you can take it to a car show and stop by the lumber yard on the way home, and you’ll never buy more than you can carry. Not many hobby vehicles can work as well as they play. Call today!

Vehicle: 1939 Dodge TE-Series Pickup
Price: SOLD
Stock Number: 115190
Mileage: 25,624
VIN: T749788
Engine: 217 cubic inch inline-6
Transmission: 4-speed manual
Gear Ratio: 5.69
Wheelbase: 133 inches
Wheels: 20-inch steel wheels
Tires: 7.50-20 Goodyear
Exterior Color: Red
Interior Color: Brown vinyl
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