Coca-Cola Delivery Trucks Through the Years

  • Coke2
  • A Ford Model AA 1-1/2-ton panel truck in Denver, Colorado

In 1886, an Atlanta Georgia pharmacist, Dr. John S. Pemberton created a new soft drink using a flavored syrup, which when mixed with carbonated water proved to be a very refreshing and popular. The Doctors partner, Frank M. Robinson, has been credited with coming up with the “Coca‑Cola” name along with designing the distinctive logo.

Pemberton sold his interest in the company during 1888 to Asa G. Candler, a local businessman who then moved to widen the market area of the beverage beyond the Atlanta area. Later in 1894, Joseph Biedenharn started bottling Coke in a room behind his Mississippi soda fountain, this marked the first time it was able to be distributed and sold outside of a soda fountain.

Three businessmen in Chattanooga, Tennessee, then took the next step in 1899, when they purchased the bottling rights from Asa Candler and built a large-scale bottling plant. From that point on the partners moved to wide-spread distribution that ended up with local deliveries handled with a horse and wagon.

  •  Coke3      Coke4      Coke5
  • A modified Ford – A Ford with a 24-case body – A Chevrolet Panel Truck 

Soon automobiles modified to carry goods came into use by the various distributors. Ford and Coca-Cola have had a long association and the photos they have supplied begin with the use of the Model “T” Ford: On the left above can be seen a 1912 Ford Torpedo Roadster on a lengthened wheelbase, with heavy-duty demountable rim wheels and a special rear section built for carrying the product. In the middle above can be seen an early twenties Ford fitted with a twenty-four case delivery body in France.

As soon as purpose-built light and medium duty trucks came on the market, bottlers and distributors turned to them to deliver the product: At the top of the post can be seen a late Ford Model AA 1-1/2-ton panel truck in downtown Denver, Colorado. The Chevrolet Panel Truck above right was used in El Paso, Texas.

The Ford Model AA truck pictured below left was used in Birmingham, Alabama. A 1935 Ford truck below center makes a delivery during a flood in Richmond, Virginia. It appears that post-war, distributors changed to the same basic type of truck body minus the tambour doors, as are still seen in use today; a 1953 Ford cab-over-engine Model P500 Coca-Cola delivery truck of this style can be seen below right. All photos courtesy of the Coca-Cola Company.

Coke8      Coke 6      Coke9

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4 Responses to Coca-Cola Delivery Trucks Through the Years

  1. Tom M. says:

    That is quite a photo, showing the delivery continuing even during a flood. Shows how important Coca-Cola was to folks.

    Say – is it a Freudian slip that this page uses “Coke-Cola” instead of “Coca-Cola”? The beverage’s ingredients list has an interesting history!

    Tom M.

  2. Ariejan Bos says:

    The oldest Ford is a 1912 Torpedo Runabout. I don’t know why it was called Torpedo, because it is not very torpedo-like. From the side the body looks rather rectangular, which changes in 1913 when the body looks more ‘integrated’ and roundish. The electric lights suggest a later modification indeed, because these became standard only in 1915. The high rim of the wheels is a mystery for me: I don’t see them this high on any other commercial Ford, even not on the heavier ones. Normally the spokes become thicker and the rim wider. The Coca-Cola shield is hiding the gas tank, so I guess the car is used only for promoting purposes, not for commercial transport.

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