Hopefully you find it useful & interesting, if anybody has any more info & photos to share regarding the Freightliner history, feel free to send me a line or two! :) I'm always looking to improve my knowledge of those 18wheelers!
1942 - First Freightliners were produced in Salt Lake City, Utah, but production was interrupted by WWII. After the war, production was moved to Portland, Oregon where the first Freighliner was sold to a fork lift manufacturer (Hyster). Records show that this truck covered 4 million (yes that is MILLION) miles before surrendering to old age and has proudly earned its place at the Smithsonian museum, where it can be seen today.
Due to distribution issues, Consolidated Freighways joined forces with White Motor Company, who had dealer networks all over the US and Canada, a union that lasted for over 25 years.
1974 – CF and White Motor Company parted ways, leaving Freightliner Corp. to stand on its own both as manufacturer and distributor of its trucks.
High cabover engine was also introduced around this time. Due to the overall length regulations at the time, which measured from the nose of the truck to the rear bumper of the trailer, these high cabover engines accounted for over 50% of the US truck market.
1981 – CF sold its manufacturing business and the entire Freightliner brand to Daimler-Benz. Chino & Indianapolis plants were shut down.
1982 - Surface Highway Transportation Assistance Act of 1982 – Weight & Length standards changed. Overall length was no longer measured from nose to taillight, rather it was the length of the trailer alone that could not exceed 53’ (although some states had stricter regulations).
1992 – Freightliner became the leading heavy truck in the US
1996 – Acquired American LaFrance, a 130 year old fire engine manufacturer.
1997 – acquired Aeromax from Ford Motor Company & renamed it to Sterling.
1998 – Acquired Thomas Built Buses, which was the producer of all school buses bodies & forward control chassis.
2000 – acquired Western Star trucks and all its assembly plants (the successor to White Motor Company)
Also acquired Detroit Diesel Corp, although it was acquired by another branch of Daimler Chrysler, the operation eventually migrated into Freightliner.
Several fire engine manufacturers were also acquired and rolled into American LaFrance.
2001 – plants were sold & consolidated in order to save money as DaimlerChrysler was up to their eyeballs in used trucks that they couldn’t move.
2002 – Consolidated Freightways shut its doors for good.
2005 – American LaFrance was sold to a private equity fund. DaimlerChrysler’s attempt to roll American LaFrance production into the Western Star plant had failed, as the fire engines were too specialized for a high-number mainstream manufacturing plant like Western Star.
2007 – DaimlerChrysler sold Chrysler and renamed for Daimler AG
Freighliner laid off 800 workers and relocated its manufacturing from Portland, Oregon to a new plant in Mexico. The Portland plant remains open today and serves as production plant for military vehicles.
2008 – Freighliner LLC became Daimler Trucks North America
(All these nice photos were borrowed from http://www.freightliner.com - if you want more 18wheel eyecandy, there's plenty more there to browse through!)