How to Identify a 1942 to 1947 Ford Pickup

by Floyd Drake III
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american vintage truck image by Pierrette Guertin from

Early Ford pickups, or those of the flathead V-8 era, do not have standardized vehicle identification numbers like the vehicles of today. Identification depends on visual methods as well as engine and frame numbers. Due to their age, many of these vehicles are restored with parts from a variety of sources -- many components were interchangeable from year to year. You can use three methods to identify the vehicle. In doing so, you can also verify that both the frame and engine are from the same vehicle.

Step 1

Find the engine date code casting. puts it on top of the bellhousing at the rear of the engine, just before the transmission. It is a three-position code -- "69A," for example. Some codes are preceded with the letter "C," designating Canadian-manufactured engines. This number must be referenced to a listing similar to the one found on the The code "69A" identifies a 1946 engine.

Step 2

Locate the frame serial number and write it down. According to Van Pelt Sales' Early Ford Serial Number Web page, it is stamped in three locations -- the front, middle and back of the frame rail on the driver's side. The only visible stamping is the forward one, visible when looking down into the engine compartment, between the front cross-member and the firewall.

Step 3

Compare the serial number to an identification listing. The serial number is a sequential vehicle production number carried over from the previous year -- 1GA-326,417, for example. Match it to the chart found on Van Pelt Sales' Early Ford Serial Numbers page, which lists beginning-to-end serial numbers for each particular year.

Step 4

Look for visual characteristics of the 1942 to 1947 Ford pickup truck. 1942 to 1947 Fords are very similar, the majority being produced during World War II. Van Pelt Sales' model identification chart notes each year's characteristics, especially concerning wheel and grille design. This page offers identification illustrations for each truck under the respective year headings.

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