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The Fageol 1950 TC CargoLiner a Trailer Without A Tractor

The Fageol 1950 TC CargoLiner – A Trailer Without A Tractor

William B. Fageol and his brother Frank R. began the Fageol Motors Company in 1916 at a location in Oakland, California. The first vehicle built was the sensational 1917 130 h.p. Fageol Supercar that was an unfortunate causality of World War I. Postwar the Company focused on the impressive Fageol Safety Coach and a line of Fageol trucks. 

Louis JFageol, Frank’s son, ended up managing the renamed “Twin Coach” Company by himself after his brother Oren died in 1943. In addition to running the business, Louis was a well-known speedboat racer who won the Gold Cup in 1951 with his hydroplane “Slo-Mo-Shun V.” He also constructed racing cars to run at Indianapolis and bought the unfinished Art Sparks coupe built for Joe Thorne, and completed it with one of his own engines and named it the Fageol “Super Sonic.” 

Sales of buses at Twin Coach and other bus builders dropped when General Motors began to dominate the market in the late forties. Needing a new product to bring to market in October of 1950 the firm introduced a new concept vehicle the Fageol “Super Freighter.” This unique truck was a self-propelled trailer minus the tractor with the driver’s compartment located up front, and the engine mounted in the middle of the vehicle below the floor.

Exactly who designed this new truck is not known, but Louis JFageol filed a patent application for the renamed Fageol “TC CargoLiner” on November 30, 1950. It used an under-floor diesel engine and transmission (seen in the last photo below) that drove through a rear drive axle, both apparently were built by International Harvester. 

The demonstrator, fabricated in 1950 as part of an effort to land an Army contract for 1,650 vehicles. The Fruehauf Trailer Corporation constructed the stainless body, and the front of it was mounted on a steerable bogey axle with hydraulicly actuated controls. This front axle assembly is visible in the third photo below.

It appears the effort only resulted in one “Cargoliner” being built, but at about the same time Twin Coach won a contract to build over 1500 F-32-F “Convertible” buses for the US Army. This was followed in 1952 by the production of the Twin Coach “Fageoliner”, a civilian bus. You can learn more about the Fageol Company and the vehicles it produced at The photos are courtesy of the W.B. Fageol Collection.

The Fageol 1950 TC CargoLiner a Trailer Without A Tractor






38 responses to “The Fageol 1950 TC CargoLiner – A Trailer Without A Tractor

  1. Wow, that is some innovative vehicle! Anyone know what diesel engine was used? Would have most likely been a Cummins or a GM Diesel (later to become Detroit Diesel)?

    That radiator location looks like an invitation to damage hanging down in front of the rear axle. Most likely design issues like that limited the commercial viability of the design.

    Great subject. Let’s have some more commercial vehicles that were innovators of their time if everyone else enjoys them too.

    • Actually the radiator is behind the front axle and in front of the engine. Still looks like a great rock catcher.

      I wonder how tippy this thing was when driving at full steering lock.

      • Hope your arm is feeling better, Mr. G. Got to agree with Andy; I remember my express-wagon I rode down the hill as a kid sure didn’t like strong steering input. The cab in the picture makes a old Freightliner slab cab look like a palace.

    • I worked for International Harvester in the 1960s. They made over 95% of the engines they used in their own manufacturing plant in Melrose Park Illinois.
      The article says it was an International Harvester engine and transmission.

      IH still makes engines used by various manufactures including stationary engines and boat engines both gas and diesel. They made the “Power Stroke” diesels for Ford and maybe still do.
      The engine verity is wide with inline 4 and 6 cylinders and V8s in gas & diesel naturally exasperated and turbocharged.

  2. One historical nitpick – Twin Coach wasn’t a renamed Fageol (although it was sometimes referred to as Fageol-Twin Coach), it was the company the Fageol brothers started in Ohio after they left Fageol Motors in California. Fageol Motors became Peterbilt after T. A. Peterman bought it in 1938.

    Lew – Twin Coach mostly used International Harvester Red Diamond engines, in the upper end of the size range (from 372 cubic inches to 501 cubic inches).

    • I worked for Central Freight Lines int he ’70s, and a picture of a similar concoction hung in their driver lounge in Waco, TX. I was told it was home grown by Central and was their attempt at putting more freight in the overall length limit that was in place in Texas at the time.

      Central ran 750 linehaul tractors and didn’t even cover all of Texas!

      • I heard one of the Texas based freight hauling companies never shut the engine off reasoning that most of the engines wear is on start up. Was this Central? I drove truck 48 states and 5 provinces of Canada. Back in the 70’s I drove for Johns-Manville. J-M had plants all over the country but in particular I used to get loads out of Denison, Fort Worth, Cleburne,

  3. Looks like that truck would be a trick to load properly. Assuming 1950 tires would allow a gross vehicle weight of 48,000 lbs (16,000 lb per axle) and if the load were evenly distributed in the cargo area, the front axle would be overloaded. With the odd bogey front steering, and if the front tires failed due to an overload, I’ll bet the vehicle would end up on its side. I sure wouldn’t want to drive that thing. Maybe that’s why the idea never caught on.

    • Hi Terry, I don’t believe a rig like this was going for max weight, and certainly not very far. I’m sure these were for bulky city deliveries, maybe even cross plant. Trains were still the main mode of goods transportation. I agree, the steering looks funky, and dangerous, think coaster wagon handling.

  4. Lou Fageol definitely thought “outside the box.” He also designed, built, and raced at least two twin-engined Porsche 356s.

    • Frank, I believe that in this case Mr. Fagiol was not thinking “outside the box” but rather “inside the box”! I agree with those of you who have piloted a wagon down a hill; the ’tiller’ was a handful until that final moment when the entire contraption went head-over-heels. Nearly all of us thankfully survived but I know of at least one boy whose face still bears the effects from the road rash he suffered on a most memorable hill in the Pennsylvania countryside on that now long ago day.

  5. Hope you get better soon David!!!.
    I don´t think that that rigid frot axle give any good steering conditions as driving fas tha trailer…

    • It better be a damn good heavy duty bulkhead at that!
      One would not want a 5-ton load piling on the driver should he have to stop fast!

  6. Fageol also built the rolling Post offices. We used to have one come through out little town. They would throw the mail in at Houston and it was sorted en route by a number of mail handlers and delivered to the various post offices in small towns along the route. When they would stop at the various post offices they would also pick up mail that went back to the city and shipped out from there.

    I don’t think I would want to drive that truck in the winter time. It has absolutely no insulation. The cab of the truck is right in the cargo compartment.

    • Michelle, The GM&O Railroad ran Highway Post Offices between Mobile Alabama and Saint Louis MO up until the 70’s at least. I had two brothers in-law, and a sister in-law that worked in the headquarters building in Mobile.

      And in my youth, I lived in Clay County MS, and rode the “Rebel” from West Point to Mobile to visit kin. Eventually moved to Baldwin County AL in 1949, No more picking cotton this boy.

  7. ‘Wagon” , or: “Center pivot” steering was apparently chosen for slow-speed activity. This would be “okay” for paved city street jobs like hauling extremely heavy loads that must be protected from water, snow, ice, – during transport. an example would be the huge electric trucks that the company that Published LOOK Magazine used for Moving very large rolls of Magazine & Newspaper rolls from their manufacturer to the print-shops. this was done at 20 to 25 mph maximum for decades. This would also be okay for most “city ” Moving van use , on the flat. Center pivot “wagon” steering requires : “Swing WAY wide” To accommodate: “two — eight-in-hand” Horse or Mule teams. “Ackerman steering, Fixed axle, each wheel pivots, — in correct radii. I can only conclude that: the advantage of the design would be: short wheelbase for heavy load , for low speed maneuvering only with protected load applications. It might be a design that “got caught up in” : WW-2 Truck demands interfering with development time for this special design. I agree that high speed use would not be practical. I would hope that a “Screaming Mimi” GMC 2- stroke Diesel – would not be used in the application, to protect the operator’s sanity, in underbelly use. A Hall – Scott Bus gasoline engine would suffice, But not economical, — gas mileage wise.

  8. Lou Fageol only drove Slo-Mo-Shun to victory in the 1951 Gold Cup . The boat was owned by Stan Sayers of Seattle and I think designed by Ted Jones. It may have been the first 3 point hydro.

    • Good catch Doug. Stan Dollar, who was a noted Lake Tahoe racer (with both The Harmsworth International Trophy, and Gold Cup to his name), were teammates (Stan mainly piloted Slo-Mo-Shun IV) in this famed team.

  9. I would like to correct part of the artical in that Lew only drove the SloMo and didn’t own the boat. Both the 4 and 5 were owned by a another. I was there and watched him drive as i lived in Burien at the time. JC

  10. Stan Sayers had a Dodge dealership on Roosevelt Way near the University of Washington. That property was recently developed to apartments. His SloMo V flipped during a boat race and he had a fatal heart attack before the boat returned to Seattle from Detroit after the race.

  11. My cousin and I drove a 1953 Fageol Superfreighter from Kent, Ohio to San Diego, California in 1960. It was a 40 footer with a Leyland 6 cylinder pancake engine under the Fageol cargo body. What a trip that was! We were loaded with oddball expensive items for that time, and we pulled a trailered hydroplane behind it. 59′ total length and over width. Needless to say, we had lots of trouble with “ports of entry” in the western states. This unit ran well with plenty of power. It had 5 speeds with 2 speed axle. Great trip – I was 18 years old just out of high school!

  12. I remember a gentleman name Bill Fageol who worked in the Scout division at International Harvester Company in
    Fort Wayne Indiana. A super guy to know and work with. I don`t know how he was related to the Fageol family.

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