I am building a recreation of a 1926 factor original roadster pickup. According to Bruce McCalley's book "Model T Ford The Car that Change the World" the original from the factor roadster pickup had a smooth rear body panel and the taillight was not mounted on the rear fender but rather under the bed. As I understand it, pickup beds were also a dealer option added at the dealership. In the case where it was a dealer option the rear body panel was embossed because it originally started life as a regular roadster car.
I have been looking for a factory original, as described above, roadster pickup for years and have never seen one. Every roadster pickup I have every seen has been a conversion from a roadster car. I have a friend who says he has researched this and he thinks they were never produced. Do any of you have an example of an original, from the factory, 1926 roadster pickup as described in Bruce's book. I would love to see pictures.
Have seen only a few 'plain' backed runabout bodies with pickup beds. So think these were "early" bodies, maybe Aug '25 to later fall.
The Improved Car open bodies got lots of changes, so these pickups from the factory that were early had the early bed design with the front stake pockets at the front edge, and no filler panels either. Those bodies would likely have all the other early features, like the door jam at the corner of the dash, grommets at the side curtain rod holes, etc.
This is factory photo of early runabout with plain back.....
Ford literature showing bed and turtle deck removed.
And here is one sighted on tour, has early body features, and plain back.
Note the grommet missing on the door upper panel, indicated early door features. But...the bed is later style, with front stake pockets back 7" that later beds had.
So who knows. Maybe made both ways.
My Nov. '25 pickup had the back panel embossed, and was said to always have been a pickup from the factory. Maybe, maybe not.
Good luck on your project, assume if you make it look like the one in the early Ford photo of the bed and turtle deck off version, would be likely correct then.
Thanks for the photos Dan. As stated in your advertisement all contractors need one of these and I am a building contractor. I am going to continue with my truck as your factory photo shows. Also good to see a picture of a restored truck with the plain back panel. Anyone else have an opinion on factory supplied trucks?
I have a copy of an original invoice for a 1926 Runabout that included a "steel delivery box" for $35 and a Ruckstell axle for $70. This car still exists and the steel delivery box is the pick-up box. Of course, the car is embossed. I have looked at many 26-27 pick-ups over the years and have never seen a plain one, and it seems strange that Ford would have done that unless the stamping process included an extra step to emboss the panel, but what do I know?
Kurt, As I said, I have never seen one either. If they were really produced with the smooth rear panel I know someone in the club knows where one is at. The only thing I have found so far are a couple of factory photos. Thanks for the response.
Richard, I pay close attention to '26 pickups, mainly because I own a '25. I have seen two bodies recently that were pickups originally. Both had the rib on the back panel, but neither had the holes in the sides for attaching the turtle deck. Also, some are not aware that the first design pickup bed had the stake pocket up front, just like a '25. They soon discovered that a stake couldn't be used in that pocket, so they moved it back. I'm sure, because of the tax regulations, that there is no FACTORY pickup. They must have been dealer installed, just like the 1925's.
Thanks for the information Larry. That is really interesting. Do you know if these pickup bodies you recently saw had the tail light on the left rear fender or under the bed?
All the records from Ford include FOB Detroit pricing on the model available from the factory assembly branches to the dealers. Ford used a List Price, controlled from Detroit.
So that means the Runabout w/Pickup Bed was a factory supplied model, with its own pricing too.
Back in mid 1925 when the first (rare of the rare) metal pickup bed was factory from Ford, the factory 4-digit #'s for those T's were also made, and priced too.
Here is the pricing for the 1926 Runabouts with Pick up body....
And Ford did factory advertising for the 1926 Runabout w/Pickup body, as this flyer is printed for the dealer to imprint his name on the outside of the mailer.
And dealers displayed these models in show rooms.
This display is a 1927 model, note the cotton snow draped on the driver's rear fender. No bump for a tail lamp / license plate either. That license plate tag and tail lamp is under the bed.
The reason is police needed to see the tag, and if mounted on the fender, the long Pickup bed body blocked the view. So all pickups got the long straight bracket mounted on the rear sub frame and held the lamp below the bed, for a clear view.
Dan, nice information, but it doesn't really say the pickup was assembled at the factory, on the assembly line. I have an original Ford memo dated sometime in May of 1925 stating that because of taxation, Ford pickups would no longer be supplied from the factory, and would be available from the dealers only. I doubt if that would have changed by 1926!
Thank you Dan and Larry again. This is good stuff. The pickup in the photo above clearly has the light mounted underneath the bed. It also clearly has the embossed rear body panel. So I ask again. Was a pickup produced by the factory with a smooth rear body panel? I have never seen one. It would also be interesting to see if there were holes in the left rear fender where a light use to be in the above photo. Thanks again for all the information and pictures. I have really enjoyed seeing them.
I have often wondered about the taillight too. I guess they had undrilled fenders for pickups, or perhaps they put screws in the holes? We will probably never know the answers to questions like this. My next comment is it appears they were still using the short tailgate chains in 1926. What were the Ford engineers thinking?
I have read that info from Trent on the IRS letter to Ford about excise tax and the 'accessories' to a chassis.
All though 1924 and 1925 you can read about the auto industry trying to get Congress to refine the taxes on cars, tires, accessories (pickup beds) included. The Excise (WWI) tax law was confusing, and IRS was applying it to any "parts" placed on car, like spare rims, mirrors, etc. to get more tax. Lots of articles in Motor and Automobile Industries at the time.
To me, Trent states in this review "I think" this letter explains that factory complete pickups weren't sold. To me, maybe not. Ford recorded sales of pickups in 1926, and later in 1927 didn't, but I don't know why. The Letter to Assembly branches was about 'billing' the completed Runabout w/ Pickup Bed to the dealers. In that the excise tax wasn't to be on the bed, only on the chassis with body without deck.
In 1926 Bruce's work records 75,406 Pickups total made at the various assembly branches, in 1927, Ford records only the 'beds' sold, as 28,143. But did that include 'completed' pickups? No records found yet.
And to help provide clues that assembly branches 'built' completed Runabouts w/ Pickup Beds are the Branch Letters Bruce reports, Oct 27, 1926 (Chicago Branch) "New colors, Runabout w/ Pickup body, Commercial Green, with Crème stripe. Pickup Body and Roaster Deck (sold thru service) Black, no stripe." So this branch built competed pickups in Commercial Green!
And this Nov 9, (New York Branch) "Pickup body will be painted either Gunmetal Blue or Phoenix Brown to match the Runabout Body" That is by then the open cars from many branches were in color.
Don't have proof that dealers did all the assembly on pickups, seems to me that would be heavy labor for a dealer! They would want more discount. The assembly branch IMO would have provided complete runabouts with pickup beds. Only the billing affected to minimize taxes on America's lowest cost delivery vehicle
As for the license plate under the bed, and fender holes, have been told the holes in the stock driver '26-'27 fender for the standard tail lamp posted were capped off. Perhaps so.
Runabout with deck, tail lamp and license tag holder mounted on rear fender.
When the Improved open car was sold without electric, (plain), no electric tail lamp, just the old time oil lamp and license plate bracket hanging on the rear. My guess is the fender holes on this T were covered with plugs, similar to maybe the plugs used to fill the top prop hole when the prop rods were removed.
And I really like this photo of a completed pickup, must be in the North in a dealership that had customers expecting this weather, sure not in FL
To me this one seems to be "Commercial Green" too, as note the shiny black enameled radiator shell, and the satin finish of the green pyroxylin on the body and bed. Maybe from the Chicago Assembly Branch?
(Message edited by Dan_Treace on December 12, 2016)
Here are the tail light details originally found on my "known to be" early 1926 Factory Roadster pickup.
Thank you again Dan. I have learned a lot. Thank you Ron Patterson, That picture and your drawing is just what I needed. Now I know how to fix the light and the fender. Ron, Does your truck have a smooth rear body panel or embossed. I see factory photos but still no evidence they were produced with the smooth panel as noted in Bruce's book.
Does any one have a picture of the top saddle support rod mount from the inside of the body so I can recreate that area (of wood) that is missing on my 26 ?
Runabout body bracket for top prop rod, has threaded boss for the rod.
Dan, Thank you very much. the picture helps a lot.
Dan's photo of the red pickup, even the quarter panels look different. They aren't flat where they would have mated up to the T deck, they look more rounded and flow into the back panel.
Ron sent me pictures of his factory 1926 pickup. It has the embossed rear panel also. Really nice looking truck. I'm going to go ahead and build mine with the smooth panels as I planed. Right or wrong. Who knows. Thanks again everyone for the help.
Richard and Dan and others:
I don't have much to add to the immense details already provided in this discussion, but I thought it was worth offering a couple of pictures of my 1926 Roadster Pickup that my dad restored. Dad was told that his truck was an original factory truck, but I am not certain that it is.
One pic shows the back panel of the cab just above the pickup bed. It is not smooth; it is embossed (I think that is the term used above).
I suspect, but am not really knowledgeable about these things, that the turtle deck on the roadster was attached to the back of the roadster cab at that point.
The other pic shows the underside of the truck and you can see that the frame ends at the back of the rear fender. That seems like it would be the right place for it to end if it had a turtle deck. I have no idea if the frame on an original factory truck extended further beyond the rear fender.
At this point, I have no idea if dad's truck was an original factory pickup or a roadster converted to a truck.
Either way, I'm fine with it and am enjoying the interesting dialogue.
Eric, your dad did a very nice job. The only thing I can see is there is no taillight bracket beneath the bed, and the wood should be painted.
The tail light and license plate for the 1926 truck pictured a couple of spots above is on the left fender. I'm not sure if that is more consistent with the Roadsters which were converted to pickups, or factory pickups, or just a preference decided upon during the restoration.
Larry, Are you saying the wood should be painted beneath the bed or painted top and bottom?
You and Richard piqued my interest on the painting of the bed slats. When dad commenced the restoration of the '26 in 1993, he used spar varnish for the wooden slats in the bed. His goal was to make it perfect since he planned to enter it in contests. He eventually achieved the Senior National First Prize in 1996.
I only offer those details since dad was an attorney and a hyper-stickler for details and he didn't want anything to jeopardize his efforts to achieve the prize.
If there is something that indicates the slats should have been painted, I'd love to review the literature. I wonder if the painting vs varnish was an option rather than a requirement and it, therefore, cleared the judging.
For myself, I really like them varnished. Every bed I have every seen has had varnished boards in it. It would only make since that Ford would have painted them. I am building my truck to tour and have a good time not to show but I do want it as close to original as possible with just a couple of exceptions. Like Brakes.
This past weekend, I visited a friend who has a "factory original" pickup truck (1926). Below are a couple of pictures that I wanted to make sure were added to this thread before the end of the year so others will have the benefit of them in the future. You can see that the back of the cab just above the bed is a smooth panel (similar to the red truck in Dan's posting above), and unlike the panel on my dad's truck (pics above).
Draw your own conclusions! Ford NEVER varnished the boards, nor did they use oak! They used southern yellow pine, painted black, and they certainly didn't paint the bodies blue!!!!!
Wow, that is REALLY blue! The depth of finish really shows it off too.
I know lots of folks varnish their boards, but that IS "bling" and I suppose one could have done that "back in the day" but I'll bet it didn't happen very often!
However, it doesn't change the T that much, so . . . (However it does mislead the young folks who wouldn't know any better!)
Really good to see that picture of the smooth rear panel on an original truck. Thanks Eric. Another thing I was thinking as far as identification is that a factory pickup came with a 9 leaf rear spring and a car came with an eight leaf, or so I have been told. Anyone have a nine leaf rear spring On what is thought to be a factory original pickup?
Early '26 that have restored came with 8 leaf rear spring.
Parts Book has rear springs, 3824 (8 leaf) and 3824B (9 leaf-for Sedan) and 3824C (6 leaf- Roadster, 23-25 only).
Bruce's CD says the '25 factory runabout pickup got a 9 leaf sedan spring...that would make sense as the 6 leaf of a roadster in 1925 wouldn't be right.
But Bruce does not record if the Improved Car '26-'27 factory runabout pickup got the Sedan 9 leaf.
Thanks Dan. Sure thought I read that the '26 pickup came with the 9 leaf spring. Guess I was wrong.
Richard and Dan:
For whatever it is worth (probably not much), I checked the leaf springs on dad's 26 pickup (pics above) and it has 8, not 9. Not sure if that helps you one way or another.
The nine leaf spring requires longer spring clips as well. Another thing, with a 9 leaf spring, you had better slow down on bumps and railroad tracks. That spring will almost throw you out of the car! The bolts for the bed strips take a special square washer with two tangs on them. I don't know if Langs has them or not, but I got mine from Mack Products in Moberly Missouri. I was lucky enough to have a handful of NOS raven finished square nuts for the bolts that I got from Bob Bergstadt Sr. years ago.
Hi Larry, TWO tangs on the square washers? I thought it was just one--wouldn't be the first time I was wrong!
David: You are correct, it's one tang! It keeps the square washer from turning while tightening the nut and lockwasher.
I kept the 8 leaf spring in mine for the ride. I was told by the man that makes the springs that it would really ride rough with 9. Glad I stayed with 8. Looks like that is correct. Thanks again guys for all the help. This has been a really interesting thread for me. Merry Christmas