Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Autocars, Autocars and more Autocars

You can never be too rich too thin or have too many Autocars - you may quote me. Yes they are still making Autocars - the brand was sold by Volvo in 2001, with the rights to the name and to produce the Xpeditor model vocational COE. However poor old Autocar had been relegated to a badge only for many years. The real guts of Autocar actually was spun off as Western Star - but that is another story. Autocar got its start making cars in Ardmore, PA but concentrated on trucks after 1907. In 1953 White bought them out, moved the plant to Exton, PA and appropriated the driver cab. Nevertheless the White era was the heyday of Acars for me. Perhaps because of the greatly expanded dealership network with White, but certainly because of the tailor made and tough nature of the beast, Autocars became very popular in Canada. When Volvo took over White in 1980 the writing was on the wall, production moved to Ogden, UT and the last custom driver cab conventional was produced in 1987. Thereafter the Autocar badge could still be seen until 2000, but the image had faded. The last working (classic) Autocar I saw in Halifax was in 2005 - attesting to the ruggedness of these trucks. In commemoration of those five dry years since, here is a gallery of some of my faves. 1. L-J Transport of Dartmouth, NS ran this heavy hauler. It was well pinstriped, a tradition with many US owners of Autocars. It carries plates for Nova Scotia through to Ontario. Undated 1970s photo.
2. J.C. Tremblay & Fils ran this old Acar at Escoumins, QC, 1986-08-02.
3. Tremblay also ran this convincing 4x4 with a tag axle. It would would do winter duty as a plow.
4. At one time this was a typical Route 138 sight in Quebec. Heavy Autocar, and tarp top trailer with removable side boards. Murray Bay Transport ran this one out of Clermont, QC 1987-06-09.
5. Irving Oil was a big Autocar user. They used Acars exclusively to haul their tank trailers until they started to build their own Scot trucks. Here a semi-retired highway tractor has been "converted" to a tow truck for one of their Scot COEs, somewhere in New Brunswick. 1987-09-03.
6. Autocars were right at home hauling float trailers. Fernand Harvey of La Malbaie had this one in road construction work near St-Irenée, QC, 1988-09-02.
7. Ace Towing ran several Acars as tractors and and wreckers. This pinstriped tractor would make light work of carrying a couple of towmotors (as all forklifts are called on the Halifax waterfront.) 1988-03-05.
8. Harold Hines Services of Sydney, NS wisely employed an Autocar for heavy towing. This truck had to haul over the Cabot Trail from time to time, and needed to be rugged. 1989-07-13.
9. A typical US Autocar, nicely pinstriped, ran on some large tires for Wardwell Construction & Trucking in Bucksport, Maine. It also left no doubt about the nature of its load, unlike Canadian trucks with their international "D" symbol. 1991-08-22.
10. Garage Charlevoix of Baie-St-Paul, QC used a gantry rig wrecker for those heavy tows. They advertised themselves a radiator specialists, and probably had lots of work with overheating on the nearby mountains. The Michelin main is getting a free ride on the air cleaner.
11. JJ's Trucking had their Acar in for service in Halifax, NS, despite the Newfoundland plate. The truck may be a 4x4 judging by its stance, and what appears to be a transfer case just visible below the hydraulics. 1993-05-10.
12. Garage Dallaire ran this fine looking Autocar wrecker from Clermont, QC for many years. It was always spotless. That may be the driver at the right waiting for the call. 1993-07-30.
13. The Municpalité de St-Hilarion, QC kept good care of their prize Acar and ran it year round. It had a dandy array of lights mounted to clear the plow in winter. August 1995.
14. The last (classic) Autocar I saw working in Halifax was in the summer of 2005 when this beauty run by Lee G. Troop of Bedford, NS was working on the excavation of the new Marriot on Lower Water Street. This picture could have been taken any time over a 50 year span, but is unlikely to be seen again.


To be continued....................

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