The remarkable streamlined Reo Speed Tankers owned by the Socony Vacuum Oil Company of Australia have been the subject of research by others for some time. Unfortunately little information turned up about them other than a couple of photos, a bit of information about the builder and the fact that the trucks were built on a Reo Three-Ton Cab-Over-Engine chassis.
The photo (above) courtesy of the Australian NSW Library has a caption that states: “The tank capacity was 1075 Imperial gallons, and the tire size was 7.50 x 20. Enough of the trucks were built to be assigned to each of the seven Capitol Cities in Australia (probably for the units advertising value). Some of the streamliners were also reported to have been sent to New Zealand”.
- One of the Plume Super Ethyl tankers posed for photographs at the “Dog on the Tuckerbox” historical monument near Gundagai, New South Wales, AU. Thanks to reader TinIndian for the identification.
Thanks to researcher Ace Zenek, who spent a great deal of time combing the photo and newspaper archives of Austraila and New Zealand we now have the full details of the Speed Tankers. Ace was able to find two more photos of one of the trucks and a number of newspaper articles from the time when the units were first introduced.
The form of the Streamliner was a concept by an unknown Melbourne artist, who worked with Vacuum’s Transportation Experts. Martin and King Coachbuilders also located in the City, built the bodies with four internal tanks for the Oil Company on Reo Model 2LM forward control bus chassis’. The discharge hoses were stored in the chrome tubes that started at the rear of the headlights and followed the catwalk on each side of the body
Ace describes the results of his work: “The flurry of newspaper articles in late March to early April appears to have happened because a Streamliner (the first?) was being driven from Melbourne, Victoria, where the Martin and King shops were, to Brisbane, Queensland. The Reo arrived at Sydney, New South Wales on March 22nd, and it left for Brisbane on March 24th”.
“The Maryborough Chronicle article and photo (above) was printed one day before the truck may have appeared at the Coronation International Motor Show. A piece in the May 25th, 1937 The Argus, of Melbourne, had the following sentence. “On the Reo stand is the most extraordinary vehicle in the show — a fully streamlined tanker which looks as if it is several years ahead of its time.” No mention is made of the Vacuum company or Plume brand”..
- Streamlined Reo Van on a Cab-Over-Engine chassis offered during 1937 in the US.