When I first began researching the streamlined tankers online, I discovered that another Diamond T Texaco tanker had survived. The 1940 Model 805 is owned by David Finlon, and has been under restoration for the past several years.
Since first contacting David early last year, we have kept in touch and followed his restoration via emails and phone calls. We all share the same enthusiasm and passion for these great old trucks. In David’s own words, we are “fellow streamliners”.
David’s project is nearing completion, so we asked if we could share his journey and showcase the fabulous restoration of his 1940 Diamond T Texaco tanker on the blog.
David’s journey began in 2006. He had always loved the streamline style and had hoped to one day purchase a GM Futurliner. But when one fetched $4,400,000 at the Barrett Jackson auction that year, David’s dreams of ever owning one were dashed. In the same year, a friend of his, Tom Koens, went to look at a car for sale in California and discovered the Texaco tanker sitting at the property. Tom phoned David immediately to tell him about the truck, and the rest is history. David’s decision to purchase the tanker fulfilled his wish of owning a streamlined vehicle. That was the easy part!
The first challenge that David faced was that the cab and the streamlined tank had been mounted on a modern chassis with a diesel engine out of a Chevy truck. So David’s first task was to find a Diamond T donor truck on which to remount the 805 cab and streamlined tank.
Unable to source another 805 model truck, David researched and found literature that showed these Texaco tankers were also built on the Diamond T 700 series chassis.
Fortunately, David was able to acquire a post-war Diamond T Model 704 rolling chassis from Tom Warren in Amarillo, Texas and the project began.
David Finlon lives in Atlanta, GA. Instead of using a local auto restoration shop, David chose to use JCK Restorations in Washington State, as he had previously had two cars restored by them.
Using an auto shop that is 2700 miles away does pose a few challenges. But David loved JCK Restoration’s work, trusted them and had total confidence that the restoration would be done to the highest standard.
While some mechanical and other work would need to be outsourced, David knew that JCK Restorations has a tight circle of talented and reliable tradespeople that they use and trust.
The next consideration for David was the steel fabrication work that was needed on the tanker. Not far from JCK Restorations was a fabrication shop owned by Kenny Gilmour, who coincidentally used to work in Invercargill, the home town of Bill Richardson’s world-famous Dodge Airflow.
David has mentioned to me that he was very fortunate to have Kenny involved in the project. Kenny’s amazing work, and his willingness to work on the tanker, was a key factor in David’s decision to start the restoration.
The tank manufacturer of David’s truck was Standard Steel Works in Kansas City, MO. Being the only known example, this restoration possibly preserves the only surviving Standard Steel Works streamlined tank.
The tank was designed with a four tank configuration, and the tank truck equipment was manufactured by A.W.Wheaton.
A second Standard Steel Works identification plate lists all the associated patents.
The pedestals that support the hand and foot rails on this tank are a different style to the Gar Wood tanks that are mounted on the three restored Dodge Airflows.
Another noticeable difference between this tank and the restored Gar Wood tanks is the shape of the step.
Unfortunately, not many progress photos were taken of the tank fabrication work but these images speak volumes.
It is clear from talking with David, just how grateful he is to Kenny for taking the truck on. These tankers are certainly not for the fainthearted……
Mounting the 805 Cab and Tank
With the streamlined tank in Kenny’s care, JCK Restorations stripped the chassis down and began to restore all the individual components.
The Diamond T 805 cab was fully stripped out and necessary repairs were made to the cab body, doors and cowl / firewall.
Brand new fuel tanks were fabricated as part of the restoration.
The repaired streamlined tank and 805 cab were remounted on the rolling chassis. This accomplished a test fit and also kept the project mobile.
Kenny made repairs to the front guards, and fabricated an entire new rear bumper. The three signature chrome strips were formed and fitted.
The replacement TEXACO letters were manufactured and test fitted to each side of the tank.
There is that special moment in every automotive project when the paint is finally applied. It is the turning point in all restorations, when the visualisation becomes reality.
The interior of the 805 cab has been painted in Diamond T “cream”. This production colour was a popular interior option across the Diamond T range of trucks.
The truck exterior has been painted in the symbolic brand colour that identified the Texaco fleet during that era. Staying with the Diamond T production colours, this shade is aptly called Diamond-T Red.
All of the paint work was carried out by JCK Restorations, and the end result is just stunning.
I am personally suffering from what can only be described as paint envy!
Continental Motors Corporation Model T6427
The 1940 Diamond T 805 truck originally housed a Hercules engine.
Following World War II, Diamond T used Continental Motors Corporation engines in several of their models, including the 700 series.
So the 704 donor chassis, that the cab and tank have been mounted on, houses the original Continental Motors engine that it had when it rolled out of the factory.
The reconditioning and restoration of the engine and transmission was outsourced by JCK Restorations.
The following images are hot off the press, and show where the restoration is currently at.
Work is underway to complete the interior of the 805 cab.
The Stewart Warner gauges have been fully restored and wired up.
The interior of the locker compartments and trunk has been painted and new timber slats have been fitted.
The A.W.Wheaton bottom operator and two double valve selectors have been refitted in the rear compartment.
The iconic rear bumper with its chrome strips has been fitted to the truck.
The bold Texaco lettering has been finished and remounted on the tanker.
While there is still work to do, including the grille, windshield frames and interior, the restoration is almost complete.
David’s truck will become the fourth streamlined Texaco tanker to be restored. We have been excited to have had this project running simultaneously with ours. It is just remarkable that there are only two Diamond T Texaco tankers known to exist at this point. Both are being restored at the same time, and on different sides of the world.
The early history of David’s Diamond T Texaco tanker is unknown at this stage. David can track back two owners in California and, prior to that, knows that the tanker was in Michigan. He is very keen to discover where the tanker was in service, and its history since then.
Restoring the truck has been a challenging process for David, but also a lot of fun. He has enjoyed sourcing parts, and has travelled from Atlanta to Washington State two to three times a year to follow progress. His intentions are to display the truck as much as he can. We know how much enjoyment he is going to give others by sharing this Diamond T Texaco tanker at shows across America.
David has asked me to convey his gratitude and appreciation to Tom Koens, Kenny Gilmour, Tom Warren and JCK Restorations for their commitment and efforts to bring this Texaco tank truck back to life. He would also like to thank all the Diamond T contacts who have provided information and been so helpful to him.
David’s contact details are:
David Finlon 404-597-9549 Email: email@example.com