Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Featured Vehicle - 1919 Studebaker Series 19 Big Six Wrecker

by Nancy DeWitt

It's not the most handsome vehicle in our collection, but our bright blue 1919 Studebaker Big Six Wrecker certainly stands out in a crowd.

After making their fortune supplying wagons during the Civil War and Westward Expansion Movement, the Studebaker Brothers entered the car market in 1902. With a decade of electric car production and brief collaborations with Garford and the Everitt-Metzger-Flanders Company under their belt, Studebaker finally began manufacturing their first complete, gasoline-powered cars in 1913. These included their first Sixes, which, along with Premier, were the first mass-production cars to have six-cylinders cast en bloc.

Like the first tow truck invented in 1915, all wreckers of the era were developed by converting a sturdy automobile into a truck. The Studebaker Big Six certainly qualified as sturdy: its 354-cubic-inch, L-head engine was rated at 60 brake horsepower, more than adequate for towing a broken-down Reo or Ford. The wooden plank mounted on the front was used for pushing disabled cars.

Our truck started life as a Studebaker four-door, seven-passenger touring car, the only Big Six body style offered in 1919. According to old titles that came with this vehicle, its original owner converted it to wrecker in 1926. 

Manley Manufacturing Company of York, Pennsylvania made the towing mechanism. They claimed theirs was the first automobile wrecking crane manufactured for dealers and garage owners. The crane’s swivel-nose mechanism allowed disabled vehicles to be directly pulled from any angle.

The Studebaker wrecker is presently one of three trucks in our collection, the others being a 1915 Mack and a 1918 Duplex.

1 comment:

  1. I love these units! Mannkaniks Inc Auto and Towing


Blogging about the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum's latest news, adventures and research