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Updated: Distinctive Bynum – Stevens Tow Truck Offers 23 1/2 Hour Service

Unique tow and service trucks owned by garages and dealerships have long served as rolling billboards for the establishments that own them, although this particular rig rates near the all time top of the list of eye-catching tow trucks.

It served in this capacity for the Bynum-Stevens Motor Co., a Pontiac Dealer located in Murfreesboro, TN, in the 1930s and possibly later. While the bodywork on this truck could have been constructed by a professional body-building firm, the general lack of compound curves leaves one to believe that it could have been built by a clever craftsman, in the Company’s body shop.

Gene Herman, who found the image at Vintage Wreckers, believes the wheels are Ford. Further investigation reveals that the tip of the front fender and the front axle wishbone support visible underneath it also points to the possibility of it being based on a Ford truck chassis.

Please share with us what you find of interest in this image by Lively Photo.

Updates below: We have heard from two people that live in the Murfreesboro area with connections to this unusual machine.

James Patterson: “The wrecker was custom built at Bynum-Stephens Motor Company that was located at 407 West College Street. They used a 1935 Ford truck chassis and a 1926 Lincoln V-8 engine. It had a three drum hoisting machine with power take off. My Grandfather Fred G. Patterson was a mechanic there.”

Mary Lee: “This tow truck was hand-built by my grandfather J.C. Bynum and was said to be the only wrecker for hundreds of miles that could tow a semi-truck.”

23 responses to “Updated: Distinctive Bynum – Stevens Tow Truck Offers 23 1/2 Hour Service

  1. If this was built in the company’s shops, the craftsman responsible either stumbled onto or was sensitive to some really attractive styling proportions…to my eye that’s one handsome, substantial-looking truck.

  2. Parked on the far left, about half way back in the photograph, looks like a vehicle with its front fender flowing back to the rear fender, may be ’42 BUICK ?

    • It could well be as Esso was not legally allowed to be sold in the State of Tennessee until the year 1941, so the photo was likely taken after that date. I like the big dual horns sitting on the roof of that contraption, never seen that before that I can recall although I believe modern big rigs occasionally have them.

  3. For years a fixture on the Seattle scene was a pink Toe Truck, with a set of enormous toes sticking out of the roof. In fact there were two of them, a left foot and a right foot. I think one of them is in a local museum now. It was a big landmark for our kids to spot every time we went to town. They got more excited about the toe truck than about the Space Needle.

    • Your comment regarding the “pink toe truck” sparked my curiosity. I Googled “images” using the three words in parentheses (I know we can’t include web site links here (although the words are not a site, but many… and there were at least fifty images each with attached comments. The story was fun research! Thanks for giving me something to smile about during Covid=19!!!

    • As soon as I saw it I thought Ford V8, the wheels & hubs are a dead give away. The front mud guard would be 1934 rather than 1935 which was deeper and came over the front more. Would have worked well with the big old Lincoln V8!

  4. A key to whether it was a local one-off or a professional build may hinge on the windshield…is it a custom piece, I rather doubt it, but if it was a local build, the more likely it is to have used flat sheet.

    Also, I wonder if the front sheet metal was adapted from a walk in van, like a milk/bread truck (DIVCO or IH Metro, etc.).

  5. I wonder if the passenger side of the cab has an access step ’cause that first out of the drivers’ s side is a really long one.

  6. 1st thing I thought of, was it might have been built by the company that built the “twin-engine ” Ford military cabover truck in the 40’s.

  7. How in heavens name could an average size guy get into the thing? No grab bars, no foot stirrups. Perhaps the ‘passenger’ side offered those minor details. Even getting out on the driver side appears as if it would have been a challenge.

    • Perhaps you just took a running leap at it, like the cowboys in the movies. That said, I think it might have taken a college degree to operate all those cables and pulleys on the boom.

  8. The wheels are Ford March 1934 or newer. The rear end is full floating; note the cap over the center of the rear hub for removal of just the axle.. The wheels were changed in march 1934 as well. Wider hole placement and larger front hub cap and missing on this example a rear cap too. Ford advertised the new truck widely in march 1934 and the now full floating rear end with no weight on the axle itself.

    • I agree, Ford wheels, hubs, but those leaf springs…. They should extend past the tires, there’s not space …..? .?

  9. This makes me think of a patent for a taxi cab with a raised cab for the driver, the passenger section being lower,

    I will try and find the parent drawing .

  10. The patent drawing, which might also be called a “parent drawing,” is on a website called “Vintagraph.” It looks similar because the rear of this truck has a “swoop” from the top of the cab to the back. The “swoop” is also on the taxi cab drawing.

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