Forgotten Fiberglass research takes us to all ends of the earth – and to little known magazines too. Several years ago good fiber-friend Glenn Brummer alerted me to a magazine I’d not heard of before – “CLUES.” It was geared toward the truck owner in the 50s and it’s still new to me – but I’m glad we found it.
For in the hidden pages of this long-lost tome was a story untold for decades – a story of the first fully built fiberglass truck and the man who designed it – well known industrial designer Walter Dorin Teague – famous for his design (son’s design) of the Marmon V16 car from the 1930s.
Let’s have a look at the story about one of the earliest – if not the earliest – fiberglass bodied trucks – penned by Walter Dorrin Teague himself. And away we go…
Design For Payload
Clues To Successful Truck Operation: July-August 1955
Prominent Designer Tells How and Why He Originated First Molded All-Plastic Truck Body
By Walter Dorin Teague
About three years ago, United Parcel Service came to Walter Dorwin Teague Associates to have us study problems of initial truck body cost, maintenance expense and operating costs in order to recommend economies wherever possible.
We were not asked to design a molded, all-plastic truck body. But, after 18 months of careful study we were convinced that it would be the most effective solution to UPS’s particular problem. It is not the answer to all body problems by any means. But, mounted on a one-ton Ford Parcel Delivery chassis, it certainly seems to have great advantages in the light delivery field.
Fully equipped, this plastic body is about 600 pounds lighter than a comparable steel-aluminum body. Thus it cuts gas consumption, lowers license fees and prolongs tire life.
The reinforced plastic is tough and resists denting and penetration. But if damaged it is much more easily repaired than metal. Since its color is impregnated in the material it will never need repainting, and scratches and abrasions are easily buffed out.
In addition to low weigh, toughness and strength, the material is impervious to rust, corrosion and weathering and is heat and flame resistant. Another saving: tool cost and unit cost in mass production at Lunn Laminates, Inc.
UPS has tested the first unit of this type for over a year. Nineteen more are under construction for further nationwide testing. If the early performance figures are confirmed in these later tests, the savings will be tremendous on a fleet such as United Parcel’s 6000 trucks.
I repeat: this isn’t the answer to all truck body needs. But if you think it answers your specific problem contact us through CLUES, as the builder has been allowed to sell bodies to other delivery fleet owners.
Captions Around Truck Illustration:
- Molded in 9 pieces of fiberglass reinforced polyester resins – color integral in plastic
- Rectangular corrugations in roof for rigidity, drainage, and interior lighting
- One piece radiator cover removes for engine servicing
- Molding allows smooth clean lines and surfaced – ideal for design
So how many of these trucks were finally built? How many are left? If they started a year before this article was published, this would give us the year 1954 for these trucks – very early indeed – and it may be the first all-plastic truck.
Should Rick D’Louhy and I find one and give the guys at American Pickers a run for their money with our vintage fiber-truck criss-crossing America in search of long lost fiber-treasure?
And I’m glad they mentioned who built the prototype – Lunn Laminates. This company should be familiar to some of you. Lunn Laminates built their first fiberglass car – the 1952 Rockefeller Yankee – before their next more famous car – the Corvette. And to know they were involved in this fiberglass truck prototype is pretty neat. I’m on the lookout for the family of those who ran Lunn Laminates in hopes of photos they may have. And if we find them….
These stories and more will be reviewed in future posts here at Forgotten Fiberglass 🙂
Thanks again to Glenn Brummer for making today’s post possible, hope you enjoyed the story, and until next time…
Glass on gang…