ThrowBack Thursday: Trucking in the 1950s

Are you ready for a Triple Throwback Thursday? I’ve been touring the history of the trucking industry and when I got to the 1950s, I was surprised at how significant the era was for heavy hauling manufacturing. So join me in an ExpressTruckTax Special Edition Throwback Thursday as we look at the unique history of Kenworth, Freightliner, and Mack.

In 1955, Kenworth launched a radical new design – the Cab-Beside-Engine. This half-cab jewel was a driving innovation, providing better visibility for the driver, vehicle weight reduction and increased capacity. The design saved 700 pounds of dead weight compared to the Cab-Over-Engine construction. The use of Alcoa aluminum alloys is what what shed the pounds for this truck.

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In the 1950s, Freightliner was ahead of its time when it comes to alternative-fuel use. They not only optimized long-haul applications while meeting restrictive length laws with the introduction of the WF64, but this truck could run off 3 different fuel types – gasoline, diesel or liquefied propane. The WF64 was a unique innovation that proved alternative-fuel was possible for heavy-haulers. What an amazing achievement for the time.

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Last stop on our scenic tour of the 1950s Trucking Industry is Mack. This American Legend manufacturer has been around a long time and in the 50s they out did themselves by launching not 1, but 3 new models of trucks. The G, H and B models  were the epitome of product advancements when Mack introduced them to the trucking industry. The G series featured an all-aluminum cab and could haul big payloads. The H series, or the “Cherry Pickers” were designed with a short bumper-to-back of cab dimension to accommodate 35 ft. trailers within 45 overall legal limits. The shining star of Mack’s new designs was the B series (pictured below). It had a trend setting rounded appearance, which set the new standard for trucks, as with a wide range of model variations to choose from. From it’s introduction in 1953 to it’s discontinuation in 1966 127,786 B models were produced, and many are still in active service today.

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Who knew there were so many advancements in truck design in such a short amount of time. Thanks for riding along on this tour of 1950s Trucking History, you’re welcome back any time.  


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