Auction Pick of the Week: 1956 Ford F-100 Good Humor ice cream truck
If the sound of four jingling bells makes your mouth water like that of Pavlov’s dog, you’re probably of a certain age. You’re also now craving Good Humor ice cream bars, and, most likely, you love the vehicles that once delivered those delightful summertime treats to kids of all ages.
We can thank confectioner Harry Burt for both.
As our own Ronnie Schreiber explained last fall, Burt started the Good Humor company in Youngstown, Ohio, more than a century ago. The Burt family ran an ice cream parlor and had some success selling the Jolly Boy Sucker, a hard sugar candy mounted on a wooden stick. Business really took off, however, when Burt replicated the chocolate-shell coating first used on the rival Eskimo Pie and added a stick handle to create the Good Humor ice cream bar.
Before long, Burt no longer waited for customers to walk into his ice cream parlor; he took his new ice cream bars to them. Burt purchased a dozen Ford pickups, mounted an ice box on the back of each truck to keep the ice cream frozen, and installed a set of bells up front—the first of which he borrowed from his son’s bobsled—so that drivers could announce their presence to children of all ages. It worked.
Although Burt died in 1926, the sight and sound of those white Good Humor trucks has had a profound effect on millions of Americans. In 1950, Columbia Pictures even made a murder-mystery movie titled The Good Humor Man, in which comedian Jack Carson’s Ford F-1 Good Humor truck is the star of the film.
Although Good Humor’s sales continued to increase into the 1960s, and the fleet expanded beyond trucks to include push carts and pedal carts, competition eventually took its toll. The last two traditional Good Humor trucks were built in 1973. By the end of the decade, the company had sold off what remained of its fleet for $1000–$3000 per truck. Many of those went to Good Humor vendors, who continued to operate as independents.
Most vintage Good Humor trucks are now in the hands of collectors, and the vehicle’s value has skyrocketed in recent years. For example, a 1966 Ford Good Humor truck sold for $107,000 at Barrett-Jackson’s Palm Beach auction in 2018, while a 1948 version went for $88,000 at Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale auction in 2020.
All this brings us to this 1956 Ford F-100 Good Humor ice cream truck from the Gateway (Colorado) Automobile Museum Collection, on offer through Hagerty Marketplace. Based on a Ford F-100 truck chassis, the nicely restored replica is powered by a 223-cubic-inch inline six-cylinder engine, which is mated to a three-speed manual transmission. The single-seat Good Humor truck (VIN F10D6E53987) features beautiful hand-painted exterior lettering and graphics, 16-inch painted steel wheels with Ford hubcaps, and, of course, a set of those iconic bells. It also has Hotchkiss straight-line drive universal joints, a parallel channel frame with heavy-duty cross members, and a modified I-beam front suspension made of heat-treated, forged alloy steel. The odometer shows 71,500+ miles, but the truck’s true mileage is unknown.
Although the vehicle’s ice cream cooling system is inoperable, that doesn’t appear to be a deal breaker. The bid is already up to $42,600 with nearly two weeks remaining until the auction closes on Wednesday, August 9, at 3:40 pm EDT.
If you’ve always wanted to own an iconic Good Humor ice cream truck, perhaps now is the time to test the mesmerizing power of those bells. It may even be working on you.