Vintage Trucks: A Colorful Gallery Of Old Diesel Semi-Trucks And Their Exhaust Stacks – Starting With The Smallest Muffler Ever

Dick Copello’s Flickr page has an album of old Ron Adams shots, all taken on PA Rt. 22 (now I-78), all shot in the sixties. They’re all wonderful shots of heavy vintage iron, but what caught my eye this time was the disparity of their exhaust stacks. Nowadays, like so much else, they’re all the same: one or two straight, fat, chromed stacks. Not so back then.

This Autocar sleeper has to have the smallest muffler ever for a big diesel truck. It probably didn’t do a whole lot to muffle the likely NH Cummins under its long hood.

This Ward-LaFrance’s exhaust has taken a shortcut—right out of the top of the hood. This truck was re-powered, and the owner decided to keep it simple, and direct, and he drove it like this for over ten years. Maybe he liked watching the smoke when he put the hammer down.

A GMC hauling a load of M151 “Mutts” for the Army sports twin stacks. I see a “V” badge on it front fender; presumably the GMC V6. That’s a bit unusual, as most gas engine trucks dispensed with stacks, which were specifically created for the smokier diesel trucks.

Ironically, this GMC diesel “Crackerbox” has no stack. Looking through my detailed post on these, I see that the majority of the early ones did not have an exhaust stack, and just channeled out down on the pavement like most gas trucks. Later ones did have stacks.

This White sleeper has a typical arrangement: one stack with a good-sized muffler integrated. But no heat shield; that came later.

This Autocar has a similar arrangement, and shows why stacks were created in the first place.

A White 3000 with a stack that is oriented to the side, to help keep the nice moving van trailer from getting blackened.

A Diamond T without a stack. It might be a diesel with a low exhaust, or quite possibly a gas engine. The little single cylinder gas engine on the front of the refrigerated trailer runs a fan, which blows over a quantity of ice to keep the perishables cool. That’s how many or most “reefers” were, until the advent of reliable, small diesel-powered refrigeration units.

Another mini muffler, on an International R Series. It’s got the same refrigeration set up as the previous one, except that its vents are closed, so it’s got a load to keep cool.


This White sports twin stacks, which were not very common back then. They were typically used with V8 engines, of which there were several, but it’s not possible to say for sure if this truck has one. In this era it was all about utility, not showing off, so a twin exhaust system on the more typical diesel inline six engine didn’t make a lot of sense.

This Brockway COE, with a cab shared with Mack, also has a typical stack with a hefty muffler.

But this one sports twin stacks. A DD 8V-71, perhaps, which was a popular engine and often had twin stacks.

This Diamond T actually has heat shields on its skinny twin stacks.

The exhaust pipe on this Ford N Series has a somewhat circuitous path, bending inwards and then out again.

The White 5000 NAVL was unusual in a number of ways, including its fiberglass cab. Designed to compete with the very popular Freightliner COE, it never sold well, and was a rarity on the road. Its stack is tucked in between the cab and the sleeper.

Even rarer was this Marmon Harrington COE, which were last built in the early sixties. Its stack is conventional, but the truck is not.


The stack on this International DCO is no taller than necessary.

In the sixties, West Coast trucks like Kenworth and Peterbilt were very rare in the East. This Pete sports twin stacks, and they look fatter than pretty much all the others. Once again, the West Coast sets a trend.