Monday, July 12, 2010

Big Rig Chronicles: Mack Trucks

"The first Mack was a bus and the first bus was a Mack"
True to my word and as promised, here's a post NOT about Kenworth! :-)

This post is kind of long and includes the following:

1. Brief history of Mack & some of their more popular truck models
2. History of the Bulldog (Was the first Bulldog really carved out of.... SOAP??
3. Major "firsts" by Mack
4. Collection of Mack truck photos - some from me, some from

I've been forever trying to put together a "Big Rig Chronicles" piece on the Mack.... Never in my studies of trucks and truck history have I seen such a complete & detailed history. I know the Mack is known far and wide across the world as a solid & well established truck, and boy has this Mack crew been busy since the two Mack brothers formed their company in 1893. (Granted, I realize the crew itself has changed over the course of the 117 years.....)

(MACK Granite )

I must have started compiling info for this post 3-4 times over the course of the past year. Each time I just wound up knee deep (no, forget the knees.... more like "eyeball deep") in info and time lines and I ended up shaking my head & putting my notes away. This time I was determined to at least get some history down in my blog. The Mack is too big of a name and too big of a trucker tradition to leave out.

So I've severely compiled the info I found on I've left out a lot of the company history (name changes, change of owner ship etc etc....) and some of the truck models that came out over the years.... If anyone wants to read more detailed information about the history of the Mack trucks, please visit the Mack website ... trust me, you'll get enough to last you for years :-)) It's a really good read and very interesting, just very hard to compile into a brief blog post ...

Here's my kind of brief compilation ... The photos I've included in the story itself are all borrowed from ...

At the very end of the blog post, I have some MACK photos that I've shot myself along with some genuine MACK photos from .

Enjoy the read!



I don’t know when the phrase “being hit with Mack truck” came into daily usage, but I do know that it had to be after 1893. That’s when 2 Mack brothers, Jack and Augustus, bought out a company that made carriages & wagons and started their own company, only to be joined by a third brother, William, in 1894. Following a steady stream of technological inventions, the Mack brothers wanted to follow suit by producing the more powerful heavy-duty trucks in the world. That was their dream.

In 1900, the Mack brothers introduced the very first Mack to the world. It was a bus! It was used for sightseeing for 8 years.After 8 years, it was converted into a truck and by the time this bus/truck retired, it had 1 million miles of service under its belt (hood, engine … insert your own mechanical part here….).The truck brought Mack into the spotlight and was a major part of its establishment as a reputable truck manufacturer.

1904 Mack Bus (not the one mentioned above)

In 1905, the Mack brothers made Allentown, Pennsylvania, the home of the Mack.

Mack was the very first company to mount the truck cabin over the truck engine. The first cabover saw the daylight in 1905 and that was the “Manhattan” cab-over model.

“Manhattan” was the name the Mack Brothers decided to use for their company’s motorized vehicle
In 1910, they finally dropped the Manhattan name and started putting MACK nameplates on all their vehicles. The Manhattan Motor Company officially became the Mack Motor Truck Company in 1914.
In 1910, Mack produced its first hook & ladder firetruck.

1910 Hook & Ladder Mack Truck

In 1911, the Mack brothers sold off their company and Mack went into “joint custody” to a Mack holding company, International Motor Company, and another truck manufacturer, Saurer Motor Company. John and Joseph Mack continued as directors of the International Motor Company until 1912.

The first standardized Mack was the medium-duty AB that was introduced in 1914. The first model had a chain drive (worm drive), and throughout the next 23 years, it was continually modified and upgraded and a total of over 55,000 units were produced over the course of those years.

1914 AB "worm drive"

In 1916, Mack introduced the AC model. The AC model rose to fame due to its reliability and durability as a truck, it was known for its ability to accomplish nearly impossible tasks, both for civilians as well as military usage. According to Mack, this is the truck gave Mack a degree of international fame that is unmatched by any other truck in history and was manufactured through 1939.

Mack AC truck 1918

Over the next few years, Mack came up with a lot of automotive improvements that became very popular with the automotive industry, I have a brief list of some of them at the end of this post.
In 1927, Mack introduced their BB and BJ series. The demand for trucks with larger storage capacity and higher speed, along with new state regulations for truck sizes and weight limitations, prompted new designs and finer engineering technologies.

BB Mack Truck 1.5 Ton 1928-1932

In 1936, Mack’s E-Series was introduced. It was a series of medium-duty streamlined trucks, gross vehicle weight up to 23,000 lbs. Through 1951, over 78,000 units were produced.

During the 1940s, WW 2, Mack built heavy duty military trucks to support our armed forces.

Mack 1940 NR Model for Allied Forces

1940 DE Mack Model Ambulance

Significant product advancements came from Mack during the 1950s.

The G series was introduced with an 100% aluminum cab for lightweight and ability to carry bigger loads.
The H series, “the Cherry pickers”, had really high cabs but short front-to-rear-bumper dimensions. It was a response to the 45 foot legal limit, so that trucks could still pull 35 ft trailers without exceeding the length limit.
The B series came out in 1953, it had a more rounded appearance and this style seemingly more pleasing to the eye than what was currently being produced, it became a styling standard for all new trucks.

1953 BGI with the rounded body style

Mack built off-highway or mining trucks from 1926 to 1972, from 15 to 100 ton capacity. It's first model was a Mack AP model

1960 M-series off-highway mining truck

Mack LF Coal Hauler

In 1966, the B series was replaced by the R series. Just like its older sibling, the R series became one of the world’s most popular heavy duty trucks

RS 700 Mack Truck - 1966 (starting to look more familiar now? :)

RW Super Liner 1977-1990

Mack F-Model, all-steel, no-sleeper COE, 1962

1990 – After years of Renault gradually buying up stock in Mack, Mack finally becomes a subsidiary of Renault.
1999 – Vision by Mack is born! Commonly seen on the freeways today, the Vision by Mack truck is sleek & stylish, featuring aerodynamic styling & high-tech technologies

Vision by Mack

The Bulldog:
The MAck AC model(ca.1916)is the truck that is credited with giving Mack its bulldog identity.

Here’s a direct quote from explaining how Mack earned its Bulldog reputation:

“The story goes that the British soldiers ("Tommies") would call out when facing a difficult truck problem, "Aye, send in the Mack Bulldogs!" The primary, and generally universal, story is that the British engineers testing AC's and the Tommys in France said that "the Mack AC's have the tenacity of a bulldog." At that time, the symbol of Great Britain was the bulldog, and this was high praise for the trucks. American "Doughboys" expressed the same opinion of the truck.”
The Bulldog was adopted as Mack’s company symbol in 1922. It was drawn first in 1921, showing a bulldog tearing up a book named “Hauling Costs” and the name of his collar is “Mack”.

The first Bulldog AB name plate

Mack’s Chief Engineer, Alfred Masury, was admitted to the hospital for surgery. The engineer wasn’t one to lie about idly while recovering, so he decided to carve a bulldog.Some rumors say that his first bulldog was carved out of a bar of soap, some say it was carved out of wood. He received a patent for his design and this is the bulldog that is being used for Mack hood ornaments today.

Bulldog patent illustration

A few of the many technologies & improvements introduced to the truck world by Mack:

In 1918, Mack became the first truck manufacturer to apply air cleaners and oil filters to trucks.
In 1920, they also came out with the first power brakes on trucks, using a vacuum-booster system.
In 1921, they greatly improved shock resistance by coming up with rubber isolators as cushions in mounting chassis components. This invention became so popular, they had to form a separate company, the Rubber Shock Insulator Company, in order to handle the demand for license agreements with other car companies who wanted to apply this technology to their vehicles.
In 1938, Mack was the first company to produce its own heavy-duty diesel engine, by which they established a tradition of “balanced design” (Quote from in which the integration of the powertrain and vehicle design maximize performance). This is still in use today.
In 1953, Mack introduced the Thermodyne open chamber direct-injection diesel engine, further establishing Mack’s leadership within the diesel technology and fuel efficiency.
1967 – Maxidyne engine is introduced, improving fuel efficiency and reducing the need for shifting by leveling the horsepower curve. With this type of improvement in engineering, a truck with 5-speed transmission could now be used for over-the-road applications, instead of the 10-speed trucks that had been used up till now.
1967 – Maxitorque transmission – first triple countershaft, compact length design for Class 8 trucks, providing a 5-speed transmission only 2/3rd the length of the multi-speed transmissions, welcomed among truckers who were concerned about the gross weight of their vehicle.
1969 – pioneered & patented cab air suspension
1971 – introduced & patented the Dynatard engine brake, the very first engine compression brake.

I'm sure there have been many more patents since... especially in the way of technology.

At last, here are some random Mack truck photos...... because a truck blog isn't really a truck blog unless you include some truck photos :)

The MACK below was photographed one afternoon at a local quarry (Holliday Rock). I see this faithful steed pulling loads up and down the streets a lot, it's almost like we're friends now. lol.

The MACK truck below is one I posted about in May, it's a 1918 MACK truck, now retired & on display @ Griffith Travel town museum. The info I got on this truck did not include the model name, however judging by the time period and the description, I'd say it's probably an AB (although, judging by the strength & the work load this fellow was able to pull, I'm tempted to say it's an AC.... however the grill on the AC photos I've seen don't look like this so I'll stick with the AB for now.... Anyone reading this, please feel free to verify or deny :))

The photos below have been borrowed from

I really hope these truck sites don't mind me using their photos in my posts, it's just that nobody else can do their trucks better justice than they can themselves! I love posting their pics in these blogs so people can get a nice, up-close view of their models.

A lineup of MACK's Pinnacle Series

MACK Pinnacle Smartway

MACK Pinnacle Sleepers

MACK Pinnacle Rawhide Edition

MACK Rawhide

MACK rocks! One simply can't argue with tradition. Their new Highway series looks very nice, I hope to see many more MACKs on the freeway so they can be thoroughly admired up close!


altec bucket trucks said...

The Mack history is lovely to read and very interestingly like many other big brands they have innovated in every level and gone up to make a success story.

austin said...

I like all the picture of old Mack Trucks in old days Mack Truck was really popular than other.History of this truck is superb.

International Trucks said...

i have some pictures some place my fileing is that good i cant find any thing, the night time picture looks good pity it had not been a scania. mack truck is used for a commercial purpose which is awesome features.

Dewey Brown said...

I helped build the new Mack truck assembly plant in South Carolina way back whenever it was...mid to late 80's, i think. I always liked the looks of the older ones, like the picture of the 1953 model in this blog. THANKS for a great blog!
...Dewey Brown
PS ...May I link to your blog from my FaceBook page?

Bucket Trucks said...

Mac truck are very powerful trucks still today. the classic looks are very great. thanks for the pics

Used Trucks said...

Mack Trucks is having well known name in the trucking industry when it comes to buy heavy duty trucks. The experience over the century has made the Mack Trucks for manufacturing trucks on large scale industry.

Hey by the way nice pics where did you get this old Mack trucks pics. They are really amazing.

Tow trucks said...

Great modification.Mack is so heavy is number one truck in world .it looks very nice then other trucks really nice post........Thanks for details

Cheap used cars said...

Mack had developed so much trucks with different styles and so powerful which can be used for any work regarding business. Mack is the best manufacturer of the commercial vehicles.

Anonymous said...

Nice information about Mack trucks! I really love Mack trucks because my father have a truck and he's using it until now on his heavy hauling business. They're really good on pulling and carrying heavy equipment.

Heavy Haul

Gerald Vonberger said...

Wow, Mack trucks have a huge history. That first version is SO DIFFERENT from what we see today. I guess back then it was a pretty sweet ride. I can see the 1900s version of Walmart shipping things around with those.

Gerald Vonberger |

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