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Moving the Metal – Part II

  • Haul10
  • New 1949 Mercury’s on a W&K trailer in Chicago

The post war boom in new car production had a marked multiplier effect on the American economy. Once they were finished, cars had to be shipped to the dealers. Construction of specialized trailers built for that purpose provided employment opportunities in those factories, too. Drivers were also needed to move the rigs down the road. All this activity kept not just the metal moving but money, too. Our photos today show a number of different styles of these trailers from various manufacturers.

  • Hauler2      Haul3      Haul4
  • A Dodge COE and an  MHS “Clipper” trailer with trademark portholes – 1950 Nashes behind a Reo, nicknamed “The Flying Cloud”

Whitehead & Kales, builder of the trailer in our first shot, was a large structural steel company that manufactured railway cars and new car haulers from the 1920s through the 1980s in Detroit and River Rouge, Michigan. During the early 1960s, they fabricated and erected steel for the new Chrysler Stamping Plant in what was then Sterling Township. Mechanical Handling Systems (MHS), another well-known trailer company, also built special oversized trailers to haul B24 wings and fuselages between various assembly plants during the Second World War.

  • Haul5
  • 1951 Fords behind a Central Truckaway Ford tractor

Note that all the trailers in our photos are four car carriers. As diesel engine power increased and overall truck length laws were relaxed over the years, capacity increased to six or more cars per trailer and tandems became more common thus reducing per unit shipping costs significantly. You can find our earlier post about car haulers here, take a look at how cars once were shipped here and also see many more interesting trucks, buses and equipment.  Photos courtesy of Dick Copello.

Pages of trucks, buses and equipment on The Old Motor. Today’s photos courtesy of Dick Copello. – See more at:



4 responses to “Moving the Metal – Part II

  1. Doesn’t look like the flying cloud worried much about tire tread. Now a days the DOT would have him out of service in a NY minute!! I knew a guy who hauled six cars with a F600 with a 292 gas engine. That was in the early to mid 60s. About that time Jack Cooper Transport was still running gas engines also. Just think, they were probably lucky to get 3 or 4 miles to the gallon.

  2. I have seen car transporters as early as the late twenties. In 1929 Arcade cast iron toys brought one out. I have also seen cars being prepared for shipment by Railroad box car. Did both methods of shipment co-exist or did one supersede the other?

  3. David, you continue to amaze me with the depth and breadth of your posts. As it happens, I own a racing car that was sponsored and run by a man named Eugene A. Casaroll, owner of an enterprise named The Auto Shippers Company. According to his son, Mr. Casaroll was one of the earliest proponents of road delivery of new cars and had a close relationship with Chrysler. However, in 1955 he sold the company (and his racing cars) to take on a new project: the design, development and construction of the Dual-Ghia automobile, of which only 117 original examples were made. It was again an early example of cooperation between a European body designer and an American manufacturer.

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