Until the late ’50s or so, Illinois had the most extreme length restriction on trucks, 35′ feet total, as a consequence of a very strong railroad lobby. I’ve shown you a couple of other home-built custom car carriers creatively designed to haul five cars within that limit. Here’s one more, the 1949 DeArco, built by Arco Auto Carriers in Chicago. Seeing this monster next to one of their conventional trucks really puts it in perspective.
Here’s the patent drawings for it. The patent wasn’t issued until 1956, by which time it was irrelevant. But it shows how it was essential to get one of the cars all the way to the front in order to make it work. What’s curious are the very large front wheels and the small rear wheels, suggesting it was FWD. But as the lower drawing shows, it had RWD, but presumably to small wheels to facilitate loading. The truck was based on a Ford F8, including its 145 hp flathead V8, a five speed transmission and two speed rear axle.
It’s essentially the same approach used in the CCI “Skyscraper” carrier, except that it had two cars in the truck and three in the trailer.
The third approach was the most ambitious one, the FWD La Crosse Carrier. It didn’t need to be tall because the lack of a rear driving axle allowed more room in the back for one of the cars to sit low.
This was the result. Not exactly pretty. To the best of my knowledge, only one was built, as a proof of concept. That’s the gas tank up there, right behind the cab; no need for a fuel pump.
Because drivers complained about the terrible visibility, especially down low in front of the truck, the cab was cut up, widened, and a second set of lower windshields installed. The grille was donated by a Nash.
Windows were also added to the bottom of the cab doors. Must have been fun to get in and out of.
Aside from the overall impracticality, I’d think height restrictions would matter more than length restrictions. This was long before 13’6 interstates. Lots of 8-foot and 10-foot underpasses.
I think you’d slow down to a walking pace for every bridge….just….in….case. That thing is frightening and I can’t really see the advantage relative to the car that ends up under the cab box in the patent drawing compared to just having it angle out over the cab like in a modern setup but tilted the opposite way that it is here with the car behind it riding on top of the back of it.
Agreed. The Convoy home built truck (with the basement bunk) carried three cars on the truck more elegantly. That was essentially the prototype of that type of carrier. With a two-car trailer, it would almost certainly have been no longer.
This was a one-off experiment. And not a long-lasting one. 🙂
In the patent drawing, the top and forward most vehicle, labeled “B”, is shown resting with its hood directly beneath the raised cab. Any thoughts of how on earth they planed to connect the steering linkage of this wonderful monstrosity?
If you look at the last picture of the cab, the steering column is vertical and right at the very front edge of the truck.
Patent drawings don’t need to show all the details, just the ones that are relevant to the patent.
It looks like what you might wind up with if you started with an interstate bus and then added a few feet of “conventional” tractor trailer.
Just a guess, but you can get away with small(er) rear wheels when they are dual wheels. The steering wheels have nearly always been single wheels….though I suppose somebody will dig up a truck with dual front/steer wheels.
Yikes. It looks like the only configuration we have not yet seen is one that uses one of the transported car for power and controls. “That one we transport for half price.” 🙂
I can’t quite visualize the donor Nash grille. Is that all one grills or pieces from more than one car?
I think it ate the Nash and nobody noticed.
I have a recurring bad dream in which I have to drive something like this through narrow city streets. I’m not going to do any dream analysis here, but I definitely sympathise with the poor drivers of these.
I would like the experience of driving that vehicle. It would almost certainly be a challenge, starting from getting in to the cab.
Do you want that coming up behind your Valiant?
Is that sky writing in the first picture? MUN
Wonderful old photos. This really has that “Let’s pop-rivet some flat sheetmetal” vibe going on…
Wow! The proverb ” necessity is the mother of invention ” comes to mind.
Among the other impracticalities, I’d like to know how they fueled that beast. With the gas tanks so high, a normal gas pump hose wouldnt even come close.
In the days before power steering, I would imagine that turning the front wheels of one of these required drivers with better-than-average arm strength, or many turns from lock to lock. Or perhaps both.
I trust that the driver wore waterproof clothing because the DeArco is a pisser! Yours in mirth (and my girth) Tom
OK Bob we need some sheet metal do get this thing done, Lets salvage the siding off the old shed that blew down last year. There’s some old jalopies out behind the barn we can grab the grill off one of them.
Bill put a red light on the roof so low flying planes can see us, we will be driving this at night so as to not scare the women and the children.
These type of carhaulers were called “Illinois Specials” the trailer is actually a full trailer, not a ‘semi-trailer’. The little wheels behind the read wheels on the truck are actually the front axlt of the trailer. Illinois had weight and length restricts, strong railroad lobby.
I’d be intrigued to see how and in what order the cars were loaded and unloaded.
Not much to say except I would love to have a beer with you guys. You’re a riot!