1972 Ford F350 Holmes Wrecker


  • US style Heavy Duty Holmes tow truck
  • Lightly restored but mostly original
  • All working tow equipment and lights
  • One UK owner and few miles since arrival
  • Ready for work or play

The Appeal

Looking through the little history there is, we can surmise that the truck was earning its living until 2018 when it arrived in California. 

The company whose name is on the doors- Marler’s Towing, is still in business in Farmington, Missouri mainly using larger wreckers. The phone number is unchanged, and it is thought that the truck was restored by the original owner upon his retirement, so that would be around 2018. 

Although we cannot claim to be experts in recovery vehicles, all the equipment appears to be present and operational although the seller tells us that there is a bar missing that would be used to join the dolly wheels when flat towing.  

Apart from that everything is there.

This would make a fun vehicle for shows, and you might even earn a few quid at the end of the afternoon when various classics won’t start!

History and Paperwork

  • Built by Ford as cab only and supplied to Ernest Holmes Co. in July 1972 for conversion to a tow truck
  • Lightly restored by the last US operator upon his retirement
  • Purchased from a California dealer in early 2022 
  • Imported into the UK and registered in June 2022
  • V5c in first UK Owner’s name
  • Used sparingly over the summer
  • Copy of US Title
  • Original Holmes Wrecker manual 
  • Various US Registrations from Missouri, Indiana and California
  • 1972 Ford Truck Owners manual 

The Interior

  • Green cloth seats and clean rubber floor
  • All functioning controls for lift gear, lights etc
  • Air conditioning and CB Radio

The inside of the truck is very businesslike and has obviously seen some action.  

The most obvious item that is missing is the centre horn bar of the steering wheel, although this would be an interesting challenge to source and replace. The steering wheel itself has a few cracks in the green plastic rim.  

The green cloth seats are very comfortable and in nice condition, with no obvious stains and no major damage. There is a later matching green armrest added, complete with cup holders and storage. 

The dashboard area is all original with an additional pod added to the column that includes a rev counter, temperature, oil pressure and ammeter. Below the dash are some of the controls for the PTO, roof lights and rear flood lights. 

Most of the dashboard is green painted steel housing the Philco radio and the air conditioning controls, although there is a small area of plastic wood veneer in front of the passenger for upmarket style!  

The doors are green painted steel with green door cards that are both in good condition. The top of the dash is covered with a stiff plastic dash cap that hides the age damaged original beneath. Again this is an item that could probably be sourced and replaced if required.  

The floors are covered with simple rubber matting beneath later Ford logo rubber mats, although there is a tear in the matting on the passenger side of the transmission hump. 

The floor matting is surprisingly clean for a working truck so this has probably replaced. Here you will also find the floor mounted CB radio, with the microphone mounted on the dash, ready to 10-4 in response to a 10-42!

Overall the interior is a little tatty in places, but that is part of its charm. We would find a new centre for the steering wheel, fit a new dash top, and leave the rest just as it is.

The Exterior 

  • Two tone green paint scheme in nice condition
  • Period sign writing and graphics
  • Working emergency beacon and floodlights

It appears that upon his retirement the last operator treated it to a light restoration, mainly to the exterior.  

It looks to have received a good quality paint job in two shades of green which is still Marler’s Towing company colours, with hand painted sign written company name and telephone number nicely executed.  

Apart from a few small paint chips the finish around the cab and front of the truck is very good. 

In the rear bed the light green is missing from the diamond plate floor in places, and those areas have surface corrosion and there are more scrapes and chips round the rear of the truck, probably from towing. 

There are areas where rust is showing up on the lift arms, and in various places around the rear deck and recovery equipment but nothing that wouldn’t be easily remedied before it became a problem.

We played with the emergency lighting, and most of it works, including the large yellow beacon and the rear work lights.

The wheels are 16 inch polished steel, all with new Ironman All Country tyres with virtually no wear to all six, this being a dually style rear axle. 

Be under no illusion, this is a big truck, and would be easily capable of towing larger European vehicles.

The Mechanics 

  • Ford FE block 390 Cubic Inch V8 with 4 speed manual gearbox
  • Corrosion-free chassis and underside
  • Clean and mostly original under the hood

The truck received a mechanical checkover when it arrived in the UK in June of this year.  

Apart from a new carburettor gasket nothing was required, and the truck starts easily and drives without fuss. 

The seller has covered around 150 miles in the past few months and tells us that it is surprisingly easy to drive with power brakes, power steering and air conditioning. The seats are large and armchair-like and the view over the large hood is good.

The 6.3 litre V8 had a nice rumble, and according to the specs should make an easy 255hp backed up by a mountain of torque for easy towing. Looking at the underside, there is little that would reveal its age.  

A little surface corrosion and some cobwebs appear to be the only things of note. Equally under the bonnet there is only surface corrosion on exposed metal.  

We note that the small chrome air cleaner is not original. We think it would have been a large Ford blue pie-pan style with a snorkel intake. 


As a piece of automotive history this truck is hard to beat.  

It has a really good look, and the new owner can take pride that it’s the “Real McCoy”, a vehicle that was working for a living until very recently, not a sticker job on an old pickup! 

It has real presence and would turn heads at any commercial vehicle show.  

Find a tired old ‘70s Ford LTD to tow behind it for full effect!

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Vehicle specification
  • Year 1972
  • Make Ford
  • Model F350 Holmes Wrecker
  • Colour Green
  • Odometer 42,276 Miles
  • Engine size 6300
Auction Details
  • Seller Type Private
  • Location Sussex
  • Country United Kingdom
Bidding history
15 bids from 8 bidders
  • spitfir•••• £10,500 07/10/22
  • seifert•••• £10,000 07/10/22
  • spitfir•••• £9,500 07/10/22
  • seifert•••• £9,200 07/10/22
  • spitfir•••• £9,000 05/10/22
  • Cf bry £8,500 05/10/22
  • Don Sco•••• £8,000 05/10/22
  • Cf bry £5,500 04/10/22
  • Don Sco•••• £5,000 02/10/22
  • Edcclas•••• £4,500 01/10/22

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