Lot 349

1931 Divco Model H Milk Truck

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$36,300 USD | Sold

United States | Hershey, Pennsylvania

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Serial No.
7554H31
Engine No.
H84744
Documents
US Title
  • Offered from the Estate of Bob Jones
  • A rarely seen Model H delivery truck
  • Features innovative step-through frame and signature snub-nose configuration
  • Restored in an attractive white and green livery
  • Rear cargo area converted to bench seats for passenger transport
  • A key developmental step toward the famous Divco Model U
Addendum: Please note that this lot is titled by its engine number which is located on a tag on the frame. However, that engine number is not found on the engine.

The Detroit Industrial Vehicles Company was founded in 1926 to create a type of machine we take for granted today: The humble, hardworking delivery truck. The first breakthrough pioneered by Divco—as the organization was widely known—was a multi-station control system used on its Model A, which allowed a driver to operate the truck from the cabin as well as while standing on the left or right running board. Clambering up and down from a high-riding truck countless times per day, often with just a few hundred feet between stops, was taxing on delivery drivers; the ability to drive from the running board decreased fatigue, increased efficiency, and led to happier deliverymen to boot.

Along the same lines, the new-for-1931 Model H introduced a “step-through” concept. By dipping the chassis just behind the front wheels, Divco created a relatively low and flat (save for a small driveshaft tunnel) platform that ran from side door to side door, facilitating easy entry and exit. Both closed trucks and open-side vehicles, as seen here, were offered. A robust Continental flathead inline-four engine was tucked beneath a stubby hood, giving the tall, narrow Model H an endearing, cartoonish look. In both proportion and layout, the Model H paved the way for the Model U of the late-1938s; produced for decades to come, the all-steel Model U draped streamlined Art Deco lines over this basic formula, creating the vehicle that instantly comes to mind when one imagines a milk truck.

Work trucks never lead easy lives; they are constantly used until they are used up, then discarded. A tag found on this truck’s engine indicates an overhaul in June 1961, suggesting that it was in use for at least three decades. Moreover, milk trucks used ice to keep cargo cool, inevitably leading to destructive rust issues; the Model H’s partially wood construction further stacked the deck against its survival. It is remarkable that this Divco has survived at all, let alone in this restored condition, and it is a much rarer specimen than the more commonly seen Divco models that followed.

Whether you are a truck collector seeking to tell the complete Divco story, or simply looking for a fun vehicle that can be used to transport family and friends at parades and events, this Model H Milk Truck is an uncommon, and appealing, offering.