Rare, rugged 1949 Diamond T pickup

The Pick of the Day is a restored example of the desirable working craft

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Diamond T
The Diamond T is a classic example of the heavy-duty hauler

Classic pickup trucks are generally narrowed down to Ford, Chevrolet, GMC or Dodge, with a few outliers such as Studebaker or International.  Rarely does the discussion come around to the “Cadillac of trucks,” the heavy-duty Diamond T.

The Pick of the Day is a 1949 Diamond T 201 pickup, from the final model year, that has had a complete “body-off-frame restoration,” according to the St. Louis, Missouri, dealer advertising the truck on ClassicCars.com

“The desirable 1949 Diamond T 201 pickup featured here is finished in stunning Red with Black fenders over a white-and-beige interior and diamond-plate-steel running boards,” the seller says in the ad.

Power is provided by the correct 3.9-liter Hercules inline-6-cylinder engine linked with a 4-speed manual transmission.  The mileage shown on the odometer is just 23,683, although there is no indication in the ad whether that is original mileage or since restoration.

Diamond T

With their bold, pre-war styling, these rugged trucks are highly charismatic examples of working machinery.  They look ready to tackle the toughest jobs, from hauling lumber or machinery at the worksite to transporting supplies for the Forest Service.

The Diamond T 201 is also a fairly rare truck, with just 7,000 examples built, and they have become increasingly popular among collectors, especially those who love and understand such purpose-built vehicles.

RELATED:  Pick of the Day: 1965 Sunbeam Tiger, V8-powered British sports car

The interesting brand name comes from the company founder, C.A. Tilt, who took the T from his own name and prefaced it with “Diamond” to signify value and hardiness.  Tilt started out making touring cars, but Diamond T later became synonymous with tough trucks.  They were pressed into duty during WWII by both the U.S. and British military.

Diamond T

This Diamond T looks splendid in its red-and-black livery, with a large, gleaming chrome grille and hood accents. The truck also rolls on very solid-looking artillery-style wheels, which add to its macho appearance along with the diamond-plate running boards.

The interior looks quite spartan, as befitting such a no-nonsense vehicle, although it does come equipped with the optional cabin heater.  The windshield sections can be vented via a pair of chrome hand cranks.

Diamond T

The truck has been recently serviced, the seller adds, and comes with “restoration photos, copy of the engine manual, copies of the Diamond T care and operation manual, copy of the transmission manual, service manual copy on CD and a parts catalog.”

“One of the best examples to be found on the market today!” the seller declares.

The asking price for this eye-catching pickup is $34,900.

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day

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Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Great job showing one of the best examples I have seen of a Diamond T just beautiful, I am currently working on a near original Ca. 1966 Suburban 2 door K10 4X4 that is original except for the new 350 crate motor installed before I found it a few years ago. I am trying to decide if I should add comforts like A/C and power steering and disk brakes prior to auction? The truck has not been restored but has been repainted once it appears.
    I appreciate your experience and knowledge I hate to spend a fortune and not at least get my money back?

    thanks Ray

  2. These were tough trucks, but the driver had to be just as tough. There’s nothing power about these trucks; manual steering and brakes, stiff clutch and hard bench seat. Flat head 6 cylinder engine, low gears and stiff suspension meant it would beat you black and blue. No insulation meant extreme cabin temperature especially on hot days. It took a real strong driver to handle these monsters.
    Great looking truck though. Thanks for the write up.
    God bless America

  3. I recently sold a 1935 Diamond T flatbed truck. This truck came with power brakes with a booster so it stopped OK with huge hydraulic brake drums. It had a disk brake but this was the optional ’emergency brake’ mounted on the drive shaft operated by a heavy mechanical lever. It really could have used power steering particularly when parking. The JXD Hercules engine would power it well and the 5-speed transmission and auxiliary gear splitter gave it freeway capability.

    AC is not needed or desired. My truck had decent vents on the sides and the dual windshields could be opened with small cranks. The wind noise is not an issue because the noise from the engine and the gear whine is already very noisy.

    The suspension was rock hard to accept the 1.5 ton design load and it came without shocks. front shocks were options. It really would pound you to death driving down the road. The seat was soft enough and was of modern design. I enjoyed it but could not handle it at age 80. The only upgrades I would consider are shocks, reduction in spring stiffness, and some sort of power steering.

  4. I think the decision is do I want a truck or a couch these are an a simple truly engineered real truck that should be incorporated in the vehicles today making them dependable.

  5. That’s the coolest old truck I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen and owned some cool old stuff.
    Hope the seller gets every dime.

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