The route-home-delivery era ended during my 1970s kidhood. Milk delivery ended first. Bread delivery hung on through the early 1970s; I remember the brightly painted Tip-Top Bread truck swinging through our neighborhood. Mom didn’t buy from him; she said she could get equally good bread for less at the Thrif-T-Mart. But she did buy household goods from the Jewel Tea man and the Fuller Brush man through the late 1970s.
All of these delivery men drove big vans like this International Harvester Metro. Chevrolet Step-Vans were actually a lot more popular in my Midwestern hometown, but I’m pretty sure the Tip-Top man drove a Metro. Its distinctive streamlined styling really stuck out compared to everybody else’s squared-off box trucks.
That styling came from the Raymond Loewy studio. This early Metro ad shows that the design was originally even more streamlined, with a larger, more delicate grille; teardrop headlight bezels; and smart covers over the rear wheels. Streamlined style was typical of the 1930s, and the Metro debuted in 1938. Then IH kept making Metros for about three decades, in various series, with occasional styling tweaks. By then, the styling was a real anachronism. And shortly afterward, so were door-to-door sales and home delivery of perishable goods.
Metros ran on an International Harvester platform, but the bodies were supplied by the Metropolitan Body Co. of Bridgeport, Connecticut. IH bought Metropolitan in 1948.
This particular Metro was up for auction at the Mecum Spring Classic this year. I doubt you’ll find a finer Metro anywhere. This one is set up to sell prepared foods, with a swing-up panel on its starboard side that reveals the sliding glass door you see in the photo.
As a utility vehicle, the Metro’s cockpit is a pretty Spartan place. But at least the baby blue and cream colors are cheerful.
If this Metro looks familiar to you, it’s probably because it was written up at Bring a Trailer earlier this year. Go there to see a photo of this Metro as it was undergoing restoration. That article also says that this stamped aluminum isn’t original. But it looks good and right.
I can almost see the Tip-Top man sitting there as he passes my childhood home on his delivery route. He always drove his truck with the sliding door open.