Vintage Truck: Mack N-61 Thermodyne Diesel – It Only Looks Like A Ford C-Series

We’ve given the near-immortal Ford C-Series a lot of love here over the years; it was built in large quantities for 33 years. But it had a shy cousin, the Mack N-Series, which shared the same cab built by Budd, but was only built some five years, and only 1,945 times.  Here’s one of the heavy-duty versions, an N-61 with a Thermodyne diesel.

For a frame of reference, here’s the Ford C-Series. Ford designed the cab, but outsourced the production to Budd. I don;t know the exact details of that arrangement, but apparently Ford okayed Budd selling it to a few other more minor players.

That included Mack, FWD and Walter; that’s a FWD 8×6 concrete mixer.

The Mack as well as the Ford found use as fire trucks, but of course Fords outnumbered them by a large margin.

There was also a medium-duty 40 series, available with both Mack gas or diesel engines, which were branded “Thermodyne”. That was Mack’s second generation diesels, after the indirect-injection Lenova diesels. The Thermodyne was replaced by the legendary Maxydine in 1966.

It appears that a number of the N Series were exported.

I remember seeing a few back east, and was surprised the first time I did. I though maybe someone had dressed up their Ford to look like a Mack. Then I saw a few more. If you’ve never seen one, as noted earlier, they were not common, with onl5 1,945 built between 1957 and 1962.

But I cannot remember seeing its predecessor, the D-Series.

It arrived in 1955, and was already replaced by the N Series in 1957, so maybe Mack wasn’t too happy with it. It did have a rather odd quirk:

Instead of tilting, the cab was raised vertically, via hand-pumped hydraulic cylinders. Seems a bit cumbersome and expensive, and probably explains why Mack wanted the Budd cab. Only 832 of these were built.



CC: The Near-Immortal Ford C Series