So I’ve talked about cars at will in this space, but if you even consider the El Camino a truck, I’ve only talked about trucks one time. That changes today.
There’s something cool about 18-wheelers, big rigs, whatever you want to call them. As a kid, it was nothing to be on the highway somewhere with my mom and signal to a tractor-trailer next to us to pull the horn one time and more often than not, the driver obliged. This was back in the 1980s (as were most things I have fond memories of), so trucks were still squared-off blocky behemoths with wild color patterns and loud engines that you could hear from miles away. Much like cars that were already dated during that time, the older trucks appealed to me for nostalgic reasons unbeknownst to me as grade-school kid.
It’s absolutely rare to see the trucks I grew up liking on the road today, as they’ve all been replaced by aerodynamic cabs with monster sleepers attached to them. I have yet to find truck shows in this area to see classic tractors, but I can still share some of my all-time favorites with you in no particular order, so here goes.
International Harvester Transtar cab-over-engine
If you’ve ever met an old truck driver that has had at least one experience with the Transtar and you’ll find yourself repeating yourself because their hearing is GONE. Why? The Transtar was a thinly insulated cab with a loud Cummins engine (as most trucks were equipped with in those days), but the high-sitting cab with the panoramic widow view was International Harvester’s first modern era truck success story, lasting from 1965 until the advent of the CO-9670 in 1981.
EVERYBODY’S seen one of these. Might not know the name for it because Mack was a little less liberal with the model names than most truck companies, but the R series was a do everything design that lasted just about 40 years and is the basis for a lot of Mack truck analogies people make because it ran well and ran hard.
Talk about a truck that lived up to its name, the GMC Crackerbox was shaped as such and lasted from 1959-1968. It came with a sleeper option, but the best looking examples of Crackerboxes are the short haul kind, like the picture I was able to find here. The Crackerbox was replaced by the GMC Astro for the 1969 model year.
Peterbilt 352 Cabover
Another boxy cab-over-engine job, Peterbilt (along with Kenworth) got creative in setting itself apart from over COE trucks with wild paint designs and colors that caught the eye of most anyone on the road.
This is one of the rare conventional trucks I like for superficial reasoning, one being more bold paint jobs and the name of course. The first two initials in GMC of course stand for General Motors and what better way to announce your truck as the leader of its field than being “The General”?
When I attended summer camp, our camp’s milk came from a place in South Jersey called Waddington Dairy. And they brought the milk in Mercedes trucks. They had a funny brown color scheme with Waddington Dairy in some odd cartoonish block lettering but I was so fascinated that Mercedes Benz made milk delivery trucks that I literally just watched the trucks idle as the guys carried the milk in.
White Road Boss
Bad-ass-est name for a truck ever. White was one of the fringe truck companies back when trucking was still a major market deal, so they had to come up with something unique on a regular basis, and a basic cab over with a dope name was it. It still wasn’t enough to save the company from going under in the early 80s, but those trucks seem to still be good money on the road, as I see one every once in a while.