Ford C-Series – The Big Bruiser of Toys – er – Trucks

I always had a soft spot for these trucks.  Efficiently designed, boxlike shaped, they could fit in narrower streets and around tighter corners that other larger delivery trucks could not.  Classed as medium size delivery trucks, they weighed between 24,000 – 30,000 pounds GVW.  Their “set-back” front axles were credited with giving them a tight turning radius.

These were more commonly known (to me at least) as “Cab-over” trucks.  They were produced for 33 years (1957-1990) without major visual or functional design changes.  By the time it was discontinued, it was the longest manufactured commercial truck in North America.  Ian A. Williams wrote an excellent article on the Ford C-Series here .

The cab tilting system used a hydraulic hand pump (as far as my research has found), to tilt the cab forward to allow access work on the engine.  That was an amazing engineering feature to me.


The looks of these trucks appealed to me. The boxy shape and the wide toothy grille looked so different and modern than other trucks out there.  These do not look out of place on today’s roads. They bore a bit of a resemblance with a bus from the front.

When they were used as delivery trucks for Eaton’s department store, the navy blue colour looked sharp.  Maybe an Eaton’s truck brought my family a new 26 inch Admiral TV one day, (we always bought Admiral TV’s) and I fell in love with the model.  Simpson’s also used them for in town deliveries.

The featured truck was shot in Milton at a construction site.  The Hazmat warning signs of Natural Gas presence prevented me from getting a closer shot.  I would have liked to have seen the interior.  What, why worry about safety?  I think the risk was low, but I gave due observation.  This truck is still around, plying its trade, but I don’t know what year it is.  Given its condition, it may be from the more recent lineage.

Where does my interest in this truck originate?

From this.

I present to you the Big Bruiser, a toy tow truck from Marx Toys.  Note that none of these photos are of my truck, these are from the intergoogle.

Around 1964 or 1965, I wanted one of these Big Bruiser tow trucks soooo badly for Christmas, I hounded my parents relentlessly every time a commercial came on featuring these.

An ad I found recently shows that at the time they were $13.98 new.  Depending on working condition (or lack thereof) today, these are on eBay now for $100 and up.  I have seen one claimed to be still new in an unopened box for $1500.  Obviously, these trucks were derived directly from the Ford C series.

Battery powered, they could go forward, reverse, had a flashing light atop the cab, and a winch you could use to go and pick up the wreck that came with it to tow it back for repair.  You could steer it too, but it may have been a 20 foot turning radius just judging from the photos I have.  All this functionality was great to have.  I didn’t have any annoying brothers or sisters either to fight over playing time.

Big Bruiser was made out of plastic.  Unfortunately many of these succumbed to leaky battery syndrome, as mine did, and were either discarded or donated (as mine was and also since we were moving and needed the room).  Many of the plastic bits broke off over time with rough or outdoor play, wires got disconnected. etc.  Today, craftsmen restore these back into working order.

Big Bruisers were made by Marx, (The Louis Marx Company toy manufacturer).  They were almost ten times bigger than Mattel in their heyday.  Time Magazine called Louis Marx the “Toy King of the US”.  In 1955, their sales were $50 million, but they only spent exactly $312.00 on advertising.  By contrast, Mattel’s sales were $6 million, but they spent $500,000 in advertising.

In their history, Marx made everything in the toy market from soldier and battleground sets, toy trains, toy airplanes, doll houses, service stations, and the memorable Rock Em Sock Em robot boxing sets.  They also made the original Big Wheel tricycle that others copied from, even to the point of genericizing the Big Wheel name.  Unfortunately they went into bankruptcy in 1979-80.

My Big Bruiser was very special to me, as not only had it arrived under the Christmas tree, but I found out years later my Mom had to go and buy it downtown and trudge the damn thing home on the streetcar.  Keep in mind it was two feet long, and with the box it was pretty hefty.  She was only 5’2″ and I don’t know what the whole thing weighed but I hope she had a buggy in which to carry it.  We lived a healthy walk from the streetcar as well.  I was lucky my Mom cared for me greatly.

Tom Klockau’s post on the Cougar and his inclusion of a toy model in his article gave me inspiration for this article.

Big Bruisers are on eBay regularly, so maybe one day I will pick one up, first it up, and go and rescue a wrecked pickup truck.

References: by Ian A. Williams