Fageol is an endlessly fascinating company. The company was founded by Rollie, William, Frank and Claude Fageol in 1916 to manufacture trucks, tractors, and automobiles in Oakland, CA. The Fageol brothers were unusually creative, and the result was an endless string of unusual designs. The first bus ever designed from scratch and not just a body on a truck chassis was their Safety Bus from 1921. We covered it here in a post on their double decker bus.
The Fageol Brothers left the company in 1927 to focus on just buses, with their unique Twin Coach buses and a very early articulated bus. Even without them, Fageol trucks continued to make innovative and unusual trucks, such as the somewhat bizarre Super Freighter. But they also developed a line of more conventional but very handsome heavy duty trucks, typified in this one from the late 1930s. Fageol went into receivership in the depths of the Depression, and in 1939 it finally found a buyer, lumberman T.A. Peterman, who needed a source of custom-designed trucks for that application. The truck line was of course called Peterbilt, and is still going strong, as part of PACCAR, the only wholly American-owned big truck company (VW owns a big chunk of Navistar).
Isn’t this a gorgeous truck? How about another, and an early Peterbilt?
Here’s another one, hauling gasoline, it would seem. I can’t do an in-depth post right now, but Fageol was very innovative in their power units too, and by this time, they were using mostly Cummins or Waukesha diesels. Diesels were still extremely uncommon in the eastern half of the country at this time, and would be yet so for quite some time. But out West, where the distances were great, the trucks big, and the thinking tended to be more innovative, diesels were adopted quite early on, and in part it explains the large and tall hoods on these, as these early diesels were huge compared to the gas engines.
Gong back a few years, here’s a big Fageol truck and trailer from the 1920s, an early Consolidated Freight Lines, no less. That company would go on to design and build their own trucks, the Freightliner, which became the biggest competitor to Peterbilt and Kenworth, and is today the biggest of the HD truck manufacturers (owned by Daimler).
Here’s a Peterbilt from the 1940s. These West Coast trucks are very important historically, as their influence become enormous as length limitations were increasingly lifted in the East, and Peterbilt and Kenworth started selling their trucks there. These two most of all became iconic as the big American conventional (with hood) truck, and influenced the rest of the industry enormously.
And Peterbilt will still build a Model 389 for you today, a direct descendant of the big Fageol trucks of the late ’20s and ’30s. Has any other vehicle been built with such a direct lineage of some 100 years?