A century of Autocar vocational trucks

Autocar, America’s oldest truck brand, marks the 100-year milestone of its vocational truck series

This year marks the 100th anniversary of purpose-built vocational trucks from Autocar. 

Today, the company creates custom-engineered OEM trucks, collaborating with customers in waste and recycling, terminal tractors, construction and concrete, road maintenance as well as military support.

After the debut of Autocar No. 1, a single-cylinder gasoline-powered tricycle in 1897, the manufacturer and its founder Louis Semple Clarke saw a need to develop custom-engineered trucks to provide purpose-built tools for demanding commercial and municipal customers. 

By 1921, the company offered three truck models with capacities ranging from 1.5 tons to 6 tons, various wheelbases and conventional and engine-under-the-seat designs.

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“Knowing that the Autocar brand represents 100 years of dedication to the vocational truck industry, we at Autocar truly understand the challenges that go into building heavy-duty trucks that are always up,” said Tim Thornton, Autocar’s vice president of strategy and commercialization. 

According to the company, its approach to truck development is unique in the industry. They start by collaborating with customers to spec the right tool for the job. From there, the vehicle is custom-built using pre-engineered parts, all designed for a specific application. 

“From the brand’s inception in 1897 to becoming a major supplier of trucks for the military effort in the Second World War and to the trucks we produce now, we operate today under one mission. We take pride in our focus on severe-duty, vocational trucks, being very collaborative and offering exceptional service to our customers,” said James Johnston, president of Autocar.

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Through its 100-year history, Autocar pioneered a continuous stream of industry-shaping innovations and today is the only brand of Class-8 severe-duty cab-over trucks that are both made in the United States and American-owned. Today, Autocar builds four models of custom-engineered, severe-duty trucks and has regained positions in several vocational segments.

In 2020, Autocar introduced its new DC series truck models. The DC-64D is engineered specifically for the demands of a dump truck and general construction use. The DC-64M is purpose built for mixers, with specialized frame rails, suspension, cab and electrical features to withstand the challenges of mixer operations.