This 1965 Divco milk truck was pulled out of the sand in the Arizona desert. It now serves as a mobile marketing tool for a Midwestern dairy company.
For those of a certain age, the memory of a milk truck pulling up for a home delivery conjures a pleasant, nostalgic feeling. The most well-known of those milk trucks, made by Divco, had the same unmistakable snub-nosed hood design for nearly 50 years. Divco, which stands for Detroit Industrial Vehicle Company, sold its last truck in 1986. The Divco models that remain run the gamut from flawlessly preserved to flower pots in a field.
Pointe Dairy Services Inc., a wholesale dairy and food company, has been servicing stores, restaurants and institutions in southeast Michigan and northern Ohio for 45 years. The company used Divcos back when it made home deliveries, so it comes as no surprise that Tony Selvaggio, the company’s president, wanted one as a unique way to promote the business.
When a friend who specializes in car restoration called with a lead on a Divco, Selvaggio jumped at the chance. The only problem was that this particular model was buried in sand up to its frame in the Arizona desert. Undeterred, Selvaggio put the truck on a flatbed and shipped it back to the company’s headquarters in Troy, Mich.
An Archaeological Find
“The sand needed to be taken off with chisels,” Selvaggio says. “It was like a hard mud packed around the frame.” But keeping at it like an archaeologist uncovering artifacts in the Egyptian desert, once the sand was removed they were lucky enough to find the frame in pristine condition. And even luckier, the vehicle actually ran.
Nonetheless, this 1965 Divco 200-B Dual Wheel needed a lot of work to be roadworthy. Selvaggio’s restorer went about replacing the electrical system and wiring harness, fuel pump, carburetor and more. But finding parts wasn’t easy. A search for brake drums led them to a parts supplier in Ohio that purchased the Divco inventory when the plants closed down.
After bringing the interior and exterior to a like-new condition, Selvaggio estimates he spent $25,000 on the job.
Emblazoned with the Pointe Dairy logo, the restored Divco makes the rounds to local car shows, such as the legendary Woodward Dream Cruise, and is sometimes parked outside the front of clients’ stores. “I think it ensures the fact that we’re out there,” Selvaggio says, adding that it also helps to market the company’s private label, Pointe Dairy Farms.
Selvaggio recently brought the truck to a local food industry convention and parked it next to the company’s booth in the exhibit hall. “Every time people see it they just go crazy over it,” he says. “It’s nostalgic.”
The Working Fleet
The “real” Pointe Dairy fleet, about 20 units, consists of a 32-foot single-axle International tractor pulling a refrigerated tandem trailer, as well as tandem-axle tractors pulling 26-foot pup trailers and 22-foot straight trucks on down to a couple recently ordered Ford E-350 vans with refrigeration.
The tractors are leased and maintained by Ryder while the smaller trucks and vans are owned. Next to its 40,000-square-foot distribution center, the company has its own maintenance garage for preventive maintenance and routine repairs.
Unlike other dairies, Pointe Dairy Farms hauls milk and ice cream on the same trucks using a combination of bulkheads and large reusable containers with dry ice. But these everyday fleet concerns will never capture the imagination like a truck from a long-lost era. “This is by far the coolest and most fun thing we’ve ever done,” Selvaggio says.