Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Big Rig Chronicles: The Freightliner

Since I've sorely neglected the trusty Freightliner in my blog, I thought I'd make it up by publishing the Freightliner history as my next post! I got most of this info from Wikipedia, I went through a lot of information and pulled out the most essential timeline of the Freightliner.

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!

Freightliner - Coronado model


1930s - Very few trucks at this time had the power that was required to get up the mountain roads in Western part of the US, which prompted Consolidated Freightways to produce their very own line of trucks.

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.

Freightliner - First model sold to Hyster

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.

1950 Freightliner

1949 - first truck sold to an individual

1950s - one of the first trucks with an engine powerful enough to pull two trailers

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.

Freightliner High cab-over Engine (70s)

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).

1983 Freightliner

1992 – Freightliner became the leading heavy truck in the US
1996 – Acquired American LaFrance, a 130 year old fire engine manufacturer.

1974 American LaFrance

1997 – acquired Aeromax from Ford Motor Company & renamed it to Sterling.

Sterling truck

Sterling truck

1998 – Acquired Thomas Built Buses, which was the producer of all school buses bodies & forward control chassis.

In my search for a Thomasbuilt bus, I came across this cool photo! They are testing to see how strong a Minotaur bus is, Thomas places this 18,000 pound bus on top of the Minotaur EL. Cables pulled the bus on top of the Minotaur, which had a cradle on top to hold the bus in place. The cables were then released, alloweing all 18,000 pounds to rest on top of the bus. Pretty cool huh?

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

Freightliner - Coronado

Freightliner - Columbia

Freightliner - Classic

Freightliner - Century

Freightliner - Cascadia model

(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!)


Anonymous said...

I am a laid off worker from the portland plant it does build military trucks but also builds all western star trucks at the same plant

safdar ali said...

So nice collection of amazing and all category strength trucks.

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Evelyn Polanco said...

Haha! Now how in the world did that bus get on top of another bus? =D Anyways, those are really mighty-looking trucks! I especially love the ’83 Freightliner. The latter models are undoubtedly high-tech, but the vintage ones never fail to amaze me, just like a Kentworth K100 truck. Does “Optimus Prime” ring any bells? ^-^

Evelyn Polanco

Anonymous said...

Nice trucks! Actually, those kind of trucks are very useful and helpful on trucking and hauling industry, because they can increase the speed of transportation job.

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