Historic Truck Brands
The Mack story began in 1890, when John M Mack was employed by Fallesen & Berry, a carriage and wagon company in Brooklyn, New York. Three years later, John and his brother, Augustus F Mack, bought the company and then their other brother, William C, joined them a year after that. The guys produced steam-powered and electric vehicles.
In 1900 the Macks opened a manufacturing plant and delivered the first Mack bus, ordered by a sightseeing company.
The Mack Brothers Company was established in New York in 1902 and the brand ‘Manhattan’ was applied to its products from 1904.
In 1905, Allentown, Pennsylvania was selected as the home of main manufacturing operations and headquarters, where the Macks added rail cars and locomotives to their line-up. A fourth Mack brother, Joseph, became a stockholder.
From 1910 the Manhattan name was used on other products, but trucks were known as Macks. Charles Mack, a fifth brother, joined the company.
In 1911 the Saurer Motor Truck Company merged with the Mack Brothers Motor Car Company of Allentown to form the International Motor Truck Company (IMTC). Saurer was a Swiss-based vehicle manufacturer.
IMTC continued to make and sell trucks using the Saurer name until 1918, but br others John and Joseph left the company in 1912.
After Word War One the United States Army conducted a transcontinental project ,using Mack Trucks, to study the need for national highways.
The Wartime AC Mack’s unusual appearance, with its sloping bonnet and radiator located behind the engine, led British troops to nickname it ‘bulldog’.
In 1922 the company name was changed to Mack Trucks Inc and the bulldog was adopted as the company’s corporate symbol. In 1932, Mack’s chief engineer designed the Bulldog bonnet ornament that has been fitted to every Mack since.
In the 1930s Mack Trucks were involved in building many American structures, including the Hoover Dam and, from 1941 to 1945, the combined armed forces of the United States, Great Britain, France, and Canada took delivery of 35,096 Mack vehicles.
Mack bought out the Brockway Motor Company in 1956 and opened an assembly plant in Canada in 1966, but only a year later Mack Trucks became part of the Signal Oil and Gas Company.
In 1979 Renault bought 10 percent of Mack Trucks Inc and increased that stake to 20 percent in 1982, while Signal lowered its stake to 10 percent. A year later, Mack Trucks conducted an IPO and issued 15.7 million shares of common stock. Renault increased holdings to 40 percent.
Renault restructured in 1987, creating a truck division, Renault Véhicules Industriels that bought Renault’s Mack shares. Three years later, Mack Trucks became a wholly owned subsidiary of Renault Véhicules Industriels.
In 2001 Mack and Renault Véhicules Industriels became part of Volvo AB of Sweden and their parent company, Renault S A, received a 20-percent stake in the combined company. In 2002 Renault Véhicules Industriels changed its name to Renault Trucks.
Five years after the Volvo takeover Mack scored record sales and, in 2008, relocated to Greensboro, North Carolina.
Mack trucks through the years
The first Mack Brothers commercial vehicle was a 20-seat ‘charabanc’, powered by a 24hp, F-head petrol engine. When series production of buses and trucks began in 1904 they were initially branded ‘Manhattan’.
The first Allentown-plant products were bonnetted 1-1/2-2-tonners and 3-5-ton ‘cab-overs’, with four-cylinder T-head petrol engines and constant-mesh transmissions.
In 1908 the bonnetted range expanded to five tons capacity and the smaller trucks received lighter, pressed-steel chassis rails, instead of rolled-steel ones. The trucks up to three tons capacity were known as ‘Juniors’ and the heavier ones, ‘Seniors’ : one becoming the first motorised hook and ladder firetruck.
The Mack AB range was introduced in 1914, replacing the junior models and was powered by a 30hp, four-cylinder petrol engine. Chain and worm drive rear axles were offered.
In 1916 Mack AC models were introduced to replace the Seniors. The legendary AC was rated at 3-1/2-tons, 5-1/2-tons and 7-1/2-tons. Chassis were pressed-steel and drive was chain. The AC had a distinctive, pugnacious, sloping bonnet, thanks to the location of the radiator behind the engine.
During World War One Mack delivered more than 6000 trucks, to both the United States and Britain’s Armies. Legend says that British soldiers would call for ‘Mack Bulldogs’ to be sent when transport was needed. Some 40,000 Mack ACs were sold over its 20+year lifespan.
Mack’s innovations in the 1918-1922 timeframe include air cleaners and oil filters; power brakes and its first AB truck to have a drive shaft and double-reduction differential, instead of chain, was designated AK.
In 1922 the then International Motors Company manufactured a petrol-powered passenger railcar for the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad, seating between 36 and 50 passengers
Mack’s BJ and BB models were launched in 1927, powered by 126hp, six-cylinder petrol engines. This release closely followed Mack’s first six-cylinder vehicle: an AL bus, with four-speed transmission and vacuum-servo brakes.
The six also powered the AP that was rated at 7-1/2 tons as a four-wheeler; 10 tons as a six-wheeler and 15 tons in prime mover form.
In 1931 the BJ was uprated to 5-8-tons capacity and the BQ 8-ton truck was launched.
The ‘Bulldog’ mascot was added to the bonnets of Mack trucks in 1933 and a new COE range was released: CH 4×2 3-5-ton trucks and CJ 3-1/2-6-ton six-wheelers.
In 1934 a new transverse-engined CT bus range was introduced, along with electric trolley buses. A total of 290 trolley buses were built, with Portland, Oregon being the biggest customer, taking nearly half the production run that ended in 1943.
The Mack EB and EC series was introduced in 1936, with ratings between 1-1/2-4-tons. The E series expanded with the release of the 6-ton, shaft-drive EM; the chain-drive ER and the 10-12-ton EQ prime mover.
Also in 1936 a deal was done to badge 1-1/2 – 3-ton Reo Speedwagon light trucks as ‘Mack Jr’ (not ‘Mack Junior’). This process continued for two years; after which Mack gave up on the light truck market.
In 1937 Mack aimed the F series 4×2 and 6×4 chain-drive trucks at on/off highway work, with the top spec’ being a 6×4, 30-ton 175hp diesel model. In that same year, the original ‘bulldog’ range ended production, but Mack began designing and buildings own diesel engines.
During World War Two Mack trucks were used extensively, as evidenced by the fact that between 1941 and 1945, the combined armed forces of the United States, Great Britain, France and Canada took delivery of 35,096 Mack-produced vehicles.
Prior to the USA’s entry into the War, in 1939 and 1940, the French and British Armies received several hundred NR4 and EXBU models.
The combat ’N Series’ (NB, NJU, NM, NO and NR) accounted for 26,965 of the Wartime total build at Mack, while civilian-type trucks, fire-trucks, trailers and buses accounted for the rest. More than 700 NJU (5-to-6 ton 4×4) models were in the hands of the US Army by 1942.
The 6×6 7-yard/2-ton NO was the most important military model, being used as a transport truck or as a tractor for the 155mm ‘Long Tom’ wheeled field gun. A total of 2,053 NO models were produced from 1940 to 1945.
Mack also built more than 2600 powertrains for tanks and the Allentown bus plant built Vultee PBY Catalina flying boats as well as components for the BT-13 Valiant Trainer and B-24 Liberator bombers.
After the War, Mack LJ and A models were introduced, being based on the pre-War E, F and L models, but without opening windscreens.
Although the 1950MY A was light duty it shared an almost identical cab with the previously released LJ that could be had with engines up to 300hp and a 10-speed transmission. The A was said to be: “too light for heavy work and too heavy for light work.”
Bus releases post-War were rear-engined C41 and C45 models that were joined in 1948 by 33-37-seaters. In 1950 the C50 was released and one was exported to Sweden, where it became the prototype for future Scania-Vabis city buses.
Other 1950s releases were the H and W71 COE prime movers, both powered by Mack’s END673 Thermodyne six. Some 12,296 Hs were sold, but only 215 W71s.
Mack’s off-road credentials were enhanced by the introduction of an LRVSW 6×6, 34-ton oilfield truck, with 400hp Cummins engine.
The B Series was introduced in 1953 and endured until 1966 – some 127,786 trucks later. It was offered with 10 different petrol engines, from 4.8-litre with 107hp in the B20 to 11.6-litre with 232hp in the B70. A wide range of diesels was also offered: from the B61 up, the ENDT 673 turbocharged, in-line six and END 864 V8 were offered. From the B73 up, the Cummins 14.0-litre up to the NTC335 were available.
The Mack B model is perhaps the best known classic Mack truck and many survive to this day, in restored and unrestored condition. They were available as fire trucks, school buses and in a variety of truck configurations.
In 1955 the D Model low-cab, forward-entry, city delivery truck entered the market. Access to the engine compartment was made possible by a ‘Verti-lift’ cab that lifted hydraulically, guided by a forklift-style mast behind the cab. Despite trim options it sold poorly: only 832 D Model Mack Trucks were produced from 1955 until 1958.
Mack’s first aluminium, rivetted-construction COE truck was introduced in 1959. The G Model had only a three-year production run due to possible legal issues with its similarity to Kenworth’s COE – particularly with respect to the door design. There were also durability issues with the aluminium cab structure. Only 2181 G Model Macks were produced between 1959 and 1962.
As if to get right away from aluminium, Mack launched the F Model all-steel sleeper (FL) or non-sleeper (F) COE range in 1962. More than 59,000 F variants were produced in its 11-year life.
The Mack F Model was the third generation of cabover trucks. It was produced primarily as a set-forward axle truck but a setback axle version was shipped overseas to some export markets. The cab came in a 50-inch (1372mm) day cab, or 72-inch (1830mm), 80-inch (2032mm) and 86-inch (2185mm) sleepers.
In 1965 the R Model was introduced, to replace the B Model and, a year later, the RL Western Model built at Hayward, California until 1981. The first R Models introduced were powered by Mack Thermodyne diesel and gasoline engines. In 1973 the R cab was given a makeover to include a deeper rear wall for more room and a new dashboard design.
Mack produced the R and U Models for highway use, and the RD and DM Models for construction use. The four models featured the same cab, but the U and DM had the cab offset to the left, and the early RD and DM had three-piece steel hoods.
In the early 1960s, Mack Truck’s executive vice president of product and engineering, Walter May, started work on the Maxidyne – the world’s first high-torque rise engine. The engine was first available in 1968 model year trucks.
The Cruise-Liner was launched in 1975 and produced until 1983. Two years later, the Super-Liner was introduced and was produced for 15 years until 1993. The Super-Liner replaced the RW.
In 1978 the low-entry, COE urban MC/MR series was released.
By 1979 the Renault influence was apparent, with the introduction of the medium-duty Mid-Liner, built by Renault Véhicules Industriels in France.
Production of the MH Ultra-Liner model began in 1982.
In 1988 Mack introduced the CH series for highway applications and, in the following year, the E7 engine series replaced the E6.
A new premium highway tractor was introduced in 1999: the ‘Vision by Mack’, followed two years later by the medium-duty Freedom series – again built by Renault Trucks in France like its predecessor, the Mid-Liner series – and the Granite series for construction applications.
In 2003 Mack pulled out of the medium-duty market and discontinued the Freedom series.
The Pinnacle highway truck replacement for the Vision was announced in 2006 and the Titan in 2009, powered by Volvo’s 16-litre engine.
Mack Down Under
The first Mack AC Model arrived in Australia in 1919 and was used for bulk haulage by the Vacuum Oil Company in Sydney. The second arrived six weeks later.
Australia’s first purpose-built engine driven furniture removals van was a Mack 1924 AB model that was put into service by Thos Mills and Sons of Rose Bay and, having completed 30 years of service and travelled a million miles, was retired in 1958.
The American military arrival in early 1942 introduced Australian to the heavier NR 6×4 Macks and after the War some NR and EH Macks found their niche in off-road applications such as hauling timber, cattle and heavy machinery in the more remote areas of Australia.
However, it was the arrival of the legendary B Model Mack that established the brand as a leader in reliability and good value for money, in the toughest conditions Australia had to offer. The B Model was released in 1953 and, by the early 1960s, had established an enviable reputation in Outback Australia.
English-made models had shown the ability to handle heavy train weights, but they were very slow. Northern Territory road-train operators were able to double their speed from 27km/h to around 55km/h. The B Model also found success in livestock cartage and ore haulage.
When the B Model went out of production in 1966, 126,745 had been built.
In 1966 Mack released its revolutionary Maxidyne engine and Maxitorque transmission. For some operations, instead of 10- or 15-speed gearboxes, the Mack required only five gears. However, hilly terrain and heavy load work dictated multi-speeds and Mack responded with nine- and 12-speed versions.
The R Series came with a tilting fibreglass mudguard/bonnet moulding or with steel walk-on mudguards and steel ‘butterfly’ bonnet panels for engine access.
The steel-bonnet model quickly became known as the ‘Flintstone’, after the enormously popular TV cartoon series, ‘The Flintstones’ . Truck people obviously theorised that if the hero of the series, Fred Flintstone, owned a truck it would be this model Mack.
Over its 20-year lifespan the R-Series was developed to suit changing power and payload demands. The final iteration, before the introduction of the CH and CL Series, was the Value-Liner range that was launched in Australia in 1986.
Mack Value-Liner variants had set-back front axles that dictated curved front bumpers or bull bars. Positioning the steer axle slightly aft meant that more payload weigh could transfer to the front axle and take advantage of the then-new six-tonnes legal front axle load. Ride quality also improved, thanks to the use of longer front springs.
In 1989 Mack slotted the E9 V8 diesel into the Value-Liner and a year later an integrated sleeper box was available.
In the meantime, Mack tried once more to compete with Kenworth’s K100, releasing the MH Ultra-Liner in the mid-1980s, with some success.
Mack launched the CHR/CLR Models in Australia in 1991, using the US cab, but retaining the proved R Model frame. CHR engines were EM7-300 Maxidyne or E7-400 Econodyne and the CLR came with the E9-500 V8. T200 transmissions, with nine-, 12-, 13- or 18-speeds were available. Mack and RVI hub-reduction rear ends between 18-tonnes and 34 tonnes were offered, with train weights up to 200 tonnes.
In 1988, Mack Trucks Australia made 16 special edition Super-Liner II Bicentennials with the E9-500 V8, Mack 12-speed triple countershaft transmission, Mack front and rear axles, long taper-leaf springs up front and camel-back rears, Spicer 1810 HD driveshafts and 5842mm (230-inch) wheelbase. The special limited edition models were named after people influential to Australian history, including James Cook, Captain Bligh, Ludwig Leichhardt, Governor Phillip, Ned Kelly, Kingsford Smith and John Flynn.
The Mack Magnum was produced 1999 to 2003 by Mack Trucks Australia. It consisted of a Renault Magnum cab and chassis, with North American engine options, including a 454hp Mack engine. A Roadranger 18-speed transmission was standard, with either Rockwell or Dana drive axles. The Magnum didn’t sell very well.
Another, more successful, Mack-Renault venture was the Quantum that used Renault’s Premium cab on the Mack frame, with EA7 engine power from 370hp up to 470hp, Eaton 13- and 18-speed boxes and with 4×2, 6×4 and 8×4 configurations. It was produced from 1999 until 2006.
The Mack Super-Liner Titan was released in 1995, powered by the E9 525 V8 engine and rated up to 200 tonnes GCM. Power was upgraded to 610hp, but reliability suffered, so post-2000 Titans had Cummins (ISX and Signature) and Caterpillar (C-16) choices.