Curbside Classic: 1956 Ford P-500 Parcel Delivery Truck – The Dog Days of Summer

Summer time is technically not quite here, but it sure feels like it.  Maybe a Hot Dog is in order?  How about one from this 1950’s Ford Parcel Delivery?

Food trucks have been quite the fad over the past few years in the Bay Area, as they offer a low-investment way for entrepreneurs to peddle their wares.  There have been food truck festivals, and weekly food truck nights at places like The Oakland Museum of California, and food trucks regularly visit various drinking establishments which lack their own kitchen.  None of that now in the midst of the Covid-crisis, maybe sometime soon I hope, for all involved.

I actually love hot dogs, I made my way through undergraduate and graduate school on a steady diet of hot dogs, yogurt, oranges, and V-8 juice.  All 4 food groups!  So much so that my mother once bought me for my birthday a “Hot-Diggity-Dogger”, toasts the buns and the dogs all at once!  Of all things this ingenious device was/is manufactured in France.

These days I’m trying to eat a lot less meat in general, on the way to no meat at all.  To my dismay, though technology has with the “Impossible Burger” and its competitors created a passable plant-based burger substitute, so far all the faux-hot-dogs I have sampled have tasted way too much like plastic.

That’s a handy place to carry your spare.  I’ve always known these as Step-Vans, though apparently that term was only used by Chevy, others called them Parcel Delivery Vans, Bread Trucks, Route Delivery Trucks and Multi-Stop Delivery Trucks.  Notice the expansive step, for your Step-Van pleasure.

It’s pretty utilitarian inside.  I doubt the seat is even adjustable fore-and-aft.  Sometimes platform shoes can be a functional accessory.

The above brochure is from 1954.  I contacted the owner of D.O.G., this is what he said: “Hi Jerome, the vin # identifies it as a ’56’ some customers swear it’s a “64”. I’m going with the vin. Also the vin says it’s a P500 heavy duty cuz it’s got the duallies. It has the mighty 223 in line six. Woefully underpowered for the weight I put in there. The guy I bought it from said it was originally a Hostess bakery delivery van. Hope that’s helpful!” I haven’t been able to find a brochure from 1956, but these trucks changed very little over the years.

According to, many if not most of these were built by Vanette of Delaware, Ohio, which began manufacturing parcel-delivery trucks on Ford chassis in 1939, with distribution through Ford shortly afterwards.  Ford Parcel-delivery trucks were re-designated the P-series sometime in 1953, perhaps as 1954’s since the above brochure from 1954 says “New”, and I haven’t been able to find anything from 1953.  It was available either as a totally stripped chassis, or as a cowl/windshield-and-chassis version, as in the featured Dog-Delivery-Device.

It turns out the body on this particular example was NOT built by Vanette, but rather by Williamsen of Ogden, Utah.  The owner of D.O.G. kindly sent me this photo of the builder nameplate.

Williamsen began in 1892 and is still in business today as Williamsen-Godwin

They have had some innovative truck bodies over their history, including this interesting refrigerated and insulated semi-trailer.

They are still making truck bodies to this day, concentrating mostly on dump bodies like this interesting semi-elliptical “Super-Dump”.

Trucks specialized for route delivery was pioneered by Divco, which began producing multi-stop delivery trucks on its own chassis way back in 1926.

There’s a P-series making its way across one of them new-fangled interstate highway overpasses in the above 1957 Ford Trucks Full Line brochure.  If you look closely you’ll see that “1957 Parcel Delivery chassis now feature V-8 as well as Six power!”

1960 P-series feature more of the same, the trusty 223 six or the 292 V-8, but now with Cruise-O-Matic available across the whole line.

1961 trucks feature the usual P-350, P-400 and P-500, plus a new low-end P-100 series.

Nothing’s changed in 1962.  Bread is bread, diapers are diapers, multi-stop delivery trucks have no need to change.

And here they are in 1965 – notice the change in grilles – something’s up.

Ford stopped producing anything except totally stripped chassis in 1964.  Soon after, various corporate maneuvers resulted in the takeover of Divco operations by the owners of Vanette, and subsequently ceasing of Vanette production in favor of Divco trucks, which continued to be built in limited numbers until 1986.

A long, long run, however – almost as long as a Dodger Dog! In Bay Area, of course, those aren’t held in such high regard.   No matter, Ya got yer Ford, ya got yer Dogs, ya got yer Summertime fun.  Are you looking forward to some Hot-Dogs this summer?