HISTORIC TRUCK BRANDS
In this website section we’ve listed the truck brands that are of most relevance to the Australian road transport history. We’re indebted to many research sites, in particular Wikipedia. We’ve researched thoroughly, but we’re more than happy to add factual information that our website visitors may have. Just drop us an email!
UK manufacturer, Sentinel Waggon Works Ltd was a British company based in Shrewsbury, Shropshire that made steam-powered lorries, railway locomotives and after World War II, diesel-engined lorries, buses and locomotives. The company ceased operating in 1956.
The Traffic Motor Truck Corporation (TMTC) was a truck manufacturer in St Louis from 1917 to 1929. It used Continental and sometimes Gray Victory engines.
The little known Manchester truck brand was the result of a joint venture between the UK’s Crossley Motors and the USA’s Willys-Overland. Several Manchester trucks made their way to Australia in the 1920s.
The Republic Motor Truck Company was a manufacturer of commercial trucks in the 1913-1929 era, in Alma, Michigan. By 1918, it was recognised as the largest truck-only manufacturer in the USA.
In 1903, together with his sons Max and Ernst, 60-year-old Heinrich Büssing founded H Büssing, Special-Fabrik für Motor-Lastwagen und Omnibusse (factory for truck and bus) company in Braunschweig, Germany.
It’s not well known that Buick made purpose-designed trucks and buses until the early 1920s, after which its commercial vehicle offerings were derivatives of the passenger car range.
This US truck brand isn’t well known outside its home country, but some of its military truck developments were produced in large quantities by other, better known makers – particularly White. Four Corbitts made it Down Under in the 1920s.
Day-Elder (1916-1937), also known as D-E, was a manufacturer of trucks in Irvington, New Jersey. The company’s president was Charles P Day, who founded the company with F G Elder and Theo McMarsh.
Jowett was founded in 1901 in Bradford, in the UK by brothers Benjamin (1877–1963) and William (1880–1965) Jowett with Arthur Lamb. They started in the cycle business and went on to make V-twin static engines, some of which were fitted into other makes of vehicles as replacements.
Pacific Truck & Trailer Limited was a Vancouver, Canada based manufacturer of heavy trucks, famed for their durability. Pacific built both highway and off-road trucks, particularly for logging, heavy haulage and fire fighting.
The Graham brothers’ legacy started in a small town in southern Indiana, the area where three brothers who contributed to the shaping of the automobile industry had grown up in the late 1800s.
The White Motor Company was an American automobile, truck, bus and agricultural tractor manufacturer from 1900 until 1980.
In the 1960s there was a distinct difference between trucks predominantly operating on the US/Canada West Coast and Mid-West from those operating in the East. ‘Western’ truck operators’ emphasis was on power and tare weight reduction.
In February 1928, the first Volvo truck left the factory in Gothenburg. The first 500 trucks sold out in six months, during which time a second series was planned and manufactured.
In 1896, naval engineer John Isaac Thornycroft formed the Thornycroft Steam Carriage and Van Company, and built a steam van that was exhibited at that year’s Crystal Palace Show. Steam-powered lorries were a logical step for a company that was heavily involved in steam-powered boat design and construction.
Founded in 1852 and incorporated in 1868 under the name of the Studebaker Brothers Manufacturing Company, the company was originally a producer of wagons for farmers, miners and the military, and became a significant manufacturer of motor vehicles for about 60 years.
Foster & Seddon reconditioned vehicles and ran a bus service in Lancashire. The company also held an agency for Morris Motors vehicles. In 1937 Robert Seddon spotted a gap in the commercial vehicle market for low-tare diesel-engined lorries and designed a suitable vehicle that would use proprietary components.
Scania is a major Swedish manufacturer of heavy trucks and buses. It also manufactures diesel engines for heavy vehicles, as well as for marine and general industrial applications.
Scammell was a wheel- and coach-building business in the 1890s, operated by George Scammell, the founder and some family members. By the early 1900s, the firm was also doing maintenance on Foden steam wagons.
From 1903 onwards Saurer concentrated on the production of commercial vehicles which soon gained a good reputation.
RFW was an Australian specialist vehicle manufacturer based in Chester Hill, Sydney. The company began in the late 1960s, when Robert Frederick Whitehead (RFW) saw the need for a more supple tandem-axle truck suspension, to handle on- and off-highway undulations.
In the 1930s, loggers in the Washington State hauled felled timber to the river’s edge and floated it downstream to the mills. This arrangement didn’t suit Tacoma plywood maker and timber seller, T A Peterman, who wanted a quicker, more reliable way of getting his logs.
Oshkosh Truck was founded by William R. Besserdich and Bernhard A. Mosling in 1917. The two men held patents in 1914 and 1915 for improvements on four-wheel-drive capability.
Although Japan had mechanised in the early 20th Century its motor manufacturing capacity didn’t catch up to that of Europe and the USA. There were small manufacturing efforts at local designs, but the Japanese seemed largely content with locally assembled European and North American cars, trucks and buses, until the early 1930s.
The use of the Morris Commercial brand name continued until 1968, when British Motor Holdings, by then the parent of Austin as well as Morris, merged with the Leyland Motor Corporation to form the British Leyland Motor Corporation.
Mitsubishi’s automotive origins date back to 1917, when the Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Co, Ltd introduced the Mitsubishi Model A, Japan’s first series-production automobile.
Although not founded until 1926, Mercedes-Benz traces its origins back to Karl Benz’s creation of the first internal combustion engine in a car, in January 1886 and to Gottlieb Daimler and engineer Wilhelm Maybach’s conversion of a stagecoach by the addition of a petrol engine later that year.
During the automotive boom of the early 1900s, brothers Howard and Walter Marmon built their first automobile in 1902, in Indianapolis. However, there were hundreds of fledgling auto makers at that time and the Marmon Brothers were determined to build a special type of vehicle.
The original Canadian Mapleleaf trucks were Montreal-licence-built 1-1/2-ton to five-ton models that were originally developed by Menard Motor Truck Company of Ontario. They were produced between 1919 and 1922.
Two South-German iron-working companies merged to form Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nürnberg AG in 1898. This was the origin of the name ‘MAN’.
The Magirus-Deutz brand was the result of several amalgamations of pre-World War Two vehicle and engine makers. The background is pure internal combustion engine history.
The Mack story began in 1890, when John M Mack was employed by Fallesen & Berry, a carriage and wagon company in Brooklyn, New York.
Leyland history dates from 1896, when the Sumner and Spurrier families founded the Lancashire Steam Motor Company in the town of Leyland in North West England.
In the early 1970s Cyril saw the need for a mid-range Mack, primarily for rigid truck applications, but Mack USA had no suitable product. He decided to make his own and approached Reinforced Plastics in Melbourne for a suitable FRP cab. That company was already producing plastic cabs for Australian Atkinsons.
The Kenworth story began in 1912, in Seattle, Washington, where brothers George T and Louis Gerlinger Jr operated a car and truck dealership known as Gerlinger Motor Car Works.
Iveco, an acronym for Industrial Vehicles Corporation, is an Italian industrial vehicle and bus manufacturing company based in Turin, Italy and owned by CNH Industrial Group.
Isuzu Motors’ history began in 1916, when Tokyo Ishikawajima Shipbuilding and Engineering Co Ltd planned a cooperation with the Tokyo Gas and Electric Industrial Co to build automobiles.
Hino traces its roots back to the founding of Tokyo Gas Industry Company in 1910. The company soon broadened the product line to include electronic parts and renamed as Tokyo Gas and Electric Industry (TG&E), producing its first motor vehicle, the Model TGE A-Type Truck, in 1917.
Sydney Guy registered Guy Motors Ltd in 1914, almost on the eve of World War One. His 1-1/2-tonner was built on a pressed steel, lightweight frame that tolerated rough terrain better than rolled-steel frames. Guy vehicles contributed considerably to the War effort, along with production of aero engines.
GMC’s beginnings were back in 1902, when Max Grabowsky sold his first truck to the American Garment Cleaning Company of Detroit. Later that year, the Grabowsky Motor Vehicle Company was renamed the Rapid Motor Vehicle Company.
Consolidated Freightlines was a US haulage company, founded in Washington State in 1929 by Leland James. In 1932, James, dissatisfied with the tare weight and hill-climbing performance of existing trucks, designed his own, in conjunction with Fageol Trucks.
On July 27, 2017 Ford commemorated the centenary of its first purpose-built truck. Ford’s F-Series light trucks became iconic vehicles in North America: the USA’s best-selling pickup for 43 consecutive years and for 54 years in Canada.
By 1900 Foden had plenty of experience in producing steam traction engines, incorporating the compound design and so moved into three-ton steam lorry manufacture.
Fiat was founded in 1899 by Giovanni Agnelli and a consortium of investors. The Agnelli family remains the controlling shareholder in Fiat.
Federal trucks began with a Detroit prototype developed by the Bailey Motor Truck Company in 1910. Three years later, Federal had produced its 100th truck.
Fageol was one of the most influential companies in the American truck and bus business, developing far-sighted designs that many companies followed. Also, reminiscently of Macbeth’s mate, Banquo, Fageol was fated to ‘beget kings’ without ever being one.
E R Foden wanted to design 6-8-ton trucks powered by the then new Gardner LW diesel engine, but the board wouldn’t agree. Edwin and his son, Dennis, left the company that bore their name and founded ERF – his initials.
The history of Dodge is complicated by the fact that the brand was taken over by Chrysler way back in 1928. From then on, the brand was applied globally, to vehicles that were sometimes wildly different.
The most significant contributor to this Diamond-brand duo was Diamond T that produced trucks from 1911 until 1967. Reo came later into the truck business and both brands became part of White Trucks in 1957/8.
The Dennis and Dennis Eagle business histories are complicated. Dennis Brothers Limited made specialised vehicles from the 1920s and Eagle Engineering started making engines in 1907. The two brands were combined in 1971.
Denning commenced bodying buses in Brisbane in 1958. Denning’s first integral bus – chassis and body – the Monocoach, was launched in 1966. Along with the later Denair and Landseer, it became the dominant long distance coach in Australia.
By far the most significant model in the Daihatsu Australia line-up was the Delta truck and the stand-out Delta models were factory-built tipper variants. Tradies and councils loved ‘em.
On 1 April 1928, Dutch engineer Hub van Doorne started a small construction workshop in the city of Eindhoven, the Netherlands. Initial work included welding and forging for the city and local companies like lamp and radio manufacturer Philips.
The Commer brand started in 1926, when Humber took over Commercial Cars Limited that had produced its first ‘Commer Cars’ truck, a three-ton RC type in 1907, followed by other truck and bus models.
The first Citroën truck arrived on the market in October 1926. This was the B15, which offered a payload of 1000 kg for the first time.
Bodies for local assembly of Chevrolets were built in Australia as early as 1918.
Marius Berliet built his first car in France in 1894 but the early Berliet ‘steam train’ emblem was adopted after the American Locomotive Company bought the rights to build Berliet cars in the USA.
Bedford was a relative late-comer to the truck business, springing to life after General Motors (USA) purchased Vauxhall Motors in 1925. Before that time, GM imported Canadian-assembled ‘British Chevrolets’ to the UK, but made the decision to produce Vauxhall-designed trucks in Bedfordshire.
Bean Cars was a brand of motor vehicles made in England by A Harper Sons & Bean, Ltd.
The first Autocar was Louis Semple Clarke’s tricycle motor car, powered by a single-cylinder petrol engine, in 1897. That makes Autocar the longest-surviving nameplate in the USA.
The Austin Motor Company’s first commercial vehicle was the mechanically interesting, four-cylinder, 20hp twin-shaft truck, launched in 1910.
In 1916, Atkinson was the UK distributor of Sentinel-brand steam lorries, until that company decided to do its own sales and servicing. Based on its familiarity with steam power, Atkinson began production of its own steam lorries.
The Ansair-Flxible story in Australia starts with the USA’s Flxible Company history. The Flxible Company – the name trademarked without an ‘e’ – like many other vehicle manufacturers had a modest, but unique, beginning.
The Albion Motor Car Company was founded in Glasgow in 1899 and its initial products were passenger cars. In 1910 Albion moved into trucks, with the release of the chain-driven, three-ton-payload A10, followed three years later by the A12 four-tonner.
The Associated Equipment Company (AEC) was a bus-manufacturing spin-off from the activities of the London General Omnibus Company that was formed in 1855 to unify operations of horse-drawn omnibus services in London.
The iconic International Harvester brand has travelled a long way since its foundation in North America in 1902. Its journey in Australia since 1912 has taken it to the pinnacle – the top-selling truck brand on Australian roads, with the first all Australian built truck – to the low point of financial misfortune.