Diamond T Street Rod Pickup

The “T” in Diamond T was Chicago’s Charles A. Tilt, and the marque’s distinctive logo came from his father’s shoe company, where the diamond signified quality and the “T” stood for the family name. Tilt manufactured a few custom-built passenger cars, starting in 1905, but only entered truck manufacturing in 1911, at a customer’s request. Diamond T trucks quickly gained renown for their high-quality components and assembly, and the company’s growth dictated larger facilities by 1916. During World War I, the company built some 1,500 Liberty trucks for the war effort and another 2,000 following the end of hostilities.

By 1926, Diamond T was building trucks as large as 12 tons, including a six-wheel model, and by 1933, modern features, including V-windshields and steel-roofed cabs, appeared. Diesel engines were available by 1936, when the Diamond T lineup was restyled with a streamlined theme. 

The Model 201, a one-ton pickup, was introduced in 1938 and used a Hercules engine and Warner Gear transmission. Highly regarded for its rugged and sturdy character, the 201 was frequently converted for such difficult tasks as towing. Following World War II, competition with Ford and Chevrolet for the rural pickup truck market proved very difficult. Beginning in 1951, Diamond T limited production to heavy-duty commercial vehicles, and in 1958, the company sold out to White Motor Co.

This 1946 Diamond T street rod is arguably the most unique of all the great machines being offered from the Rick Davis Collection. A true work of art, it features a wide variety of custom touches while leaving no doubt about its origins, which are obviated by the characteristic split horizontal bar grille, V-shaped two-piece swing-out windshield and sharply squared cab, all distinctive features of the original. The Diamond T’s Hercules inline-6 has given way to a C4 automatic-backed 1927 Ford flathead V-8 with triple Stromberg carburetion, Offenhauser finned aluminum heads and trick baffled megaphone headers, with special emphasis on chrome and polished surfaces. A dropped front axle with hairpins and drag-link steering give the truck its low-slung stance, with disc brakes, large diameter Billet Specialties wheels and Michelin Pilot Sports performance radials completing the rolling stock. The custom pickup bed is finished with a varnished wood floor and a neat spun aluminum fuel tank, just two of the many fine touches that include retaining the original functioning Diamond T instruments in the expertly finished Tan leather interior, and the hand-painted pinstriping accenting the iridescent PPG Burgundy paint. It all comes together in a feast for the eyes with a distinct personality all its own – the very definition of a great street rod.

Source: Mecum Auctions, RM Auctions

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