Big Trucks: Heavy Metal in the Late ’60s

01-Greco-68-Truck-ShowBig Mack Attack

In the summer of 1968 I was driving past McCormick Place on the Outer Drive in Chicago and noticed that the parking lot was chock full of one of my loves, big-ass trucks.  Naturally I dropped all plans, whipped out my Miranda D, and began recording the event for posterity.Good thing I did, from an esthetic standpoint.  Lettering and markings were still applied by craftsmen; no die-cut, pre-spaced, self-adhesive vinyl markings here.  This Mack was a good example.  Lots of pinstriping, and…

 02-GrecoPigeon Shit and Gold Leaf

…engine-turned gold leaf treatment, just like you would find on Indy cars of the period.

 03-GrecoGreco is still in business

Given that this particular member of the Greco Contractors fleet was number 215, the guy that did the lettering on the Greco fleet must have made a good living.

 04-Mack-DumperDump This

This Mack dumper was fairly compelling with its liquid yellow paint job.  Mack had introduced turbocharging to its Diesel engines in 1966 which were named Maxidynes.  Known generically as “variable displacement, variable torque” engines, it allowed trucks outfitted with Maxidyne engines to operate with the company’s 5-speed Maxitorque transmission, in lieu of 10-speed or greater transmissions.

 05-Mack-DumperTruck Porn

I must admit that I was more into the eye candy aspects of the trucks at the expo than the trucks themselves. The details were more important to me than overall pics of the units, not that that needs articulating.  This shot articulates my lust for the Ruebenesque details of the Mack.


06 Intake DetailWonderful orifice

I’m not sure what kind of truck this is but I liked the paint, striping and lettering.

07 HendricksonCartage is a genteel name for garbage

Hendrickson was still manufacturing trucks in ‘68.  The company, started by Magnus Hendrickson in 1913 in Chicago, introduced the first tandem truck suspension in 1926.  This “walking beam” arrangement distributed loads evenly to both rear axles.  Today the company designs and manufactures truck suspension components in facilities worldwide.

08-HubcapForget about “righty tighty, lefty loosey”

A bit more eye candy. Great baby moons. I felt drawn to this detail since it clearly illustrates that these lug nuts were left-hand threaded on the left-hand side of the truck, just as they were on my trusty ‘60 Plymouth which I was driving that day. Chrysler gave up on left-hand threads (too many overtorqued lugs on the left side) but I think that Rolls Royce still equips cars this way.

 09-Front-DetailWhite 4000 

I have no idea what purpose this White served, but it was yellow and that was enough for me.

 10-CumminsI’m a fan

OK you Diesel jocks out there, tell me what make of engine this is.  Cummins?

 11-Peterbuilt Zippy paint

As they say, truckers never get too old for sex, they just get a new Peterbuilt.

 12-PeterbuiltConventional Long Nose 

Class 8 long nose conventionals were restricted at that time as to where they could operate.  Many states limited overall vehicle length so cab-over-engine (COEs) flat faces were the rule, but as vehicle length restrictions were relaxed, long-distance truckers in the US and Canada overwhelmingly opted for the long nose arrangement due to its superior riding characteristics and quieter operation inside the cab.  As a frequent hitch hiker in the ‘60s and ‘70s, I can attest to the painful cab environments of the COEs of that time. Conventionals were better but not by a whole lot in the noise department.  I also once rented a 24-foot International COE in San Francisco and had to drive it across the Bay Bridge.  Scary as hell.


13 Diamond ReoDiamond Rio is the band, you tool

Diamond Reo, owned by White, was still a player, albeit a minor one, in the late ‘60s.  I like the nose on this one.

 14-ColemanZowie, 4-wheel drive?

Coleman Motors designed and built innovative trucks in Littleton, CO from the early 1920s and operated until 1987.  As this unit boasts, Coleman was touting 4-wheel steer and 4-wheel drive.

 15-KenworthPigeon Shit (see photo #2)

We had a term for the white gouache paint that we used to highlight spectral reflections on the renderings of cars, snowmobiles, and tractors that we created for presentations–“pigeon shit.”  The pigeon that crapped on this lovely Kenworth missed the target highlight by “this much” (thank you Agent 86).