Here’s something different. Take a look at that front axle: it’s driven. This is a Freightliner “Mountaineer”, with driven front and rearmost axles; the middle tag axle is undriven. It’s also unusual in that it has a stepped sleeper cab, to allow the hood of the lower front car to be a bit further forward than would be the case with the regular sleeper cab. Given that it’s carrying a load of big 1958 Chrysler Corp. cars, including a couple of Imperials; they needs all the room they can get.
This was operated by Western Auto Transports out of Denver, which had almost a monopoly on hauling cars via truck from Denver to the West over the mountains. Cars coming from Detroit and such would be offloaded in Denver and reloaded on Western’s rigs.
Here’s a closer look:
That’s an interesting find, what was the perceived advantage of a driven front axle instead of the usual two rear axles? I don’t see where this improves traction or handling, which may explain why it didn’t last.
If there is no center diff or if it is lockable it will definitely improve handling by keeping the front wheels moving at the same speed as at least one of the rear axles. That means better turning on slippery surfaces. It also means more controlled stops as the front can’t lock up unless the rear axle does too.
Wow that’s interesting. This looks like it’s from the early 1960’s? I wonder if it had double-cardan joints (so it could be safely operated in AWD drive mode in all traction conditions).
I wonder how that’s related to the Unistar, manufactured in the early 1970’s with Fabco front driving axles. Here’s a description (from tractors.fandom.com)
The Unistar, billed by International as the Universal Highway Tractor was based on the Transtar CO-4070A 4×2, but with a modified grille, bumper, and front corner design. It’s main feature was a driving front axle with overrunning clutch to give it excellent traction in all conditions. The engine was the Cummins NTC-300, a special “torque-balanced” variation of the NTC-335. The standard transmission was a Fuller 9-speed with up to 13-speeds optional. The Unistar could be combined with a Jifflox trailing-axle converter so that it could be switched quickly from 4×4 to 6×4 layout. The engine offerings for the Unistar were expanded in 1972, to a range of Cummins diesels from 255-370 hp and Detroit Diesels from 260-318 hp.
Don’t know, but I rather assume so.
The cars are ’58s.
Somehow I missed the 1958 reference earlier. I guess I got excited! This is pretty cool find!
Looks like windows of the black car at front are down.
Yep, just like you want one of the most expensive cars in 1958 handled. Hope a sudden thunderstorm didn’t creep up.
is it because it is a 4 door hardtop and some other protection is involved so windows are protected? Otherwise someone is SO fired!!
I think someone got fired.
It’s clearly a staged shot. Maybe the truck was brand new. Or? Folks didn’t normally pose in their car haulers for a photographer. A number of these car carrier shots were staged.
That explains the wheelcovers being on and the windows open.
Good catch! In fact it was raining when the picture was taken, so the upholstery and carpets in the Imperial would have to be replaced before sale.
And the wheel covers are on the cars – also strange. They were usually in the trunk in plastic bags, right?
The road looks wet too!
Also, that Plymouth’s front bumper seems to be drooping.
Paul, I’m loving the car carriers you’re finding. Between the trucks, and their sometimes almost-as-interesting cargo, they’re always fun to look at and learn about. Thanks!
We touched on FWD in the post on the special Dodge low cab car haulers. FWD was pushing all wheel drive tractors for highway service way back, with some success too.
Interesting load too, from the cheapest Plymouth 2 door to the most expensive Imperials.
Even though this pic is from the late 50s, I like that the basic Freightliner looks didn’t change until the turn of this century. They are among the most readily identifiable cab-overs. And never looked as terribly dated, as say the Ford C Series.
The modern Freightliner Argosy is still very recognizably a Freightliner, although it is export only. and mostly in RHD markets. This model features retractable stairs for cab access.
https://www.freightliner.co.nz/Trucks/Argosy (NZ page for Kiwibryce)
Yikes. Anyone care to wager the gallons per mile this loaded rig got?
About a fifth of a gallon. Same as most other big diesel trucks back then: 4-6 mpg.
That’s quite the eclectic collection of car haulers in the past weeks!
Which company supplied such steering drive axles? Marmon-Herrington, mostly?
Fabco was a big supplier of steerable driven axles for large trucks and they also made transfer cases to go with them, history here https://www.curbsideclassic.com/automotive-histories/fabco-automotive-1918-2017-a-san-francisco-bay-area-automotive-legend/
Rockwell had some conventional driven front axles in this era too.
Would that truck have power steering? I always wonder hoy those drivers could move those wheels, however demultiplied the systems might be.
Almost certainly not. Very rare on big trucks until more recent decades. It’s a got a big wheel and lots of turns lock-to-lock.
Especially in over-the-road trucks, it wasn’t that big a deal. I drove big city buses in a small town that had lots of turns on the routes. No power steering. Not as bad as you might think, but it does require a healthy upper body.
I’ve prepped a lot of new cars for delivery. As others noted, they ALWAYS were transported without hub caps installed. West from Denver, winter chain controls for mountain passes usually exempted 4wd. I’m speculating avoiding multiple chain ups could lead to quite a time savings.
I reckon that front-end is not just front-drive, but independent too, with double-overhead leaves, three swing arms, a torsion bar-inside-coil-spring – five per side, ofcourse – one short arm, one long arm, two misshapen legs and an oleo-pneumatic eyebrow-compensator.
And no castor angle.