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The Diamond T Motor Car Company was founded in Chicago in 1905 by C.A. Tilt. Reportedly, the company name was created when Tilt’s shoe-making father fashioned a logo featuring a big “T” (for Tilt) framed by a diamond, which signified high quality.
The company’s hood emblem on trucks was a sled dog in harness. Diamond T first manufactured touring cars (1905-1910). In 1911 the company switched to manufacturing trucks.
Diamond T was a direct competitor to Mack in the light-duty big-truck field, builder of what many called the “Cadillac of trucks”. Diamond Ts, no matter the size, were never short on style or class. Flowing fender lines, aggressive grills, rakish cabs, there was simply no way to mistake a heavy hauler from the Chicago company. “A truck doesn’t have to be homely,” founder C.A. Tilt reportedly said more than once. Much of the Diamond T’s muscular makeup will sound familiar: a super tough heavy-duty frame, Lockheed hydraulic brakes, full-floating rear axles, extra-rigid front I-beam axle, and cast-iron spoke wheels. In the latter’s case, 16-inch were standard, or big 20-inch wheels were available at extra cost.
Postwar Model 201 trucks were fitted with a stronger 91-horsepower, 236-ci Hercules L-head six-cylinder engine (Code QXLD). A three-speed Warner transmission was typically standard, with the rarer granny-low T-9 four-speed an available optional.
In 1948, Diamond T put the Model 201’s price at $1,275 for the chassis only. A cab cost $215 more, a body $165. Ford’s new F-1 half-ton that year wore a $1,232 price tag. And even Ford’s F-3 one-ton (it actually was more like a one-and-a-half-ton truck) still came in a couple of hundred dollars less than a fully-dressed Diamond T one-ton. The numbers said it all.
Diamond T’s Model 201 stayed on the scene until 1949 in almost identical fashion, save the grille variations and few mechanical modifications. After roughly 7,000 were built, it was replaced in 1950 by the Model 222, a big pickup that ended up being an even bigger disappointment. Diamond T would withdraw from the light-duty pickup field.
- Often called the “Cadillac of trucks” as they were “never short on style and class”
- Name came from logo used by founders shoe-maker father C.A. Tilt with “T” within a diamond shape, signifying quality
- Price new: $1,655
- Introduced 1938
- 1 -Ton capacity
- Manual 3-speed gearbox
- Wheelbase of 119 in.
- Sixteen-inch wheels standard, Twenty-inch optional
- Model 201 built 1938-1949