Celebrating 125 Years of the Autocar Brand and Today’s Severe-Duty Vocational Trucks

Celebrating 125 Years of the Autocar Brand and Today’s Severe-Duty Vocational Trucks

The first truck carrying the Autocar name in 1899

The Autocar brand marks a significant milestone this year - 125 years being the first name in innovation and purpose-built trucks. It all started in 1897 with the very first Autocar vehicle, the "Autocar No. 1", created by Louis Semple Clark. Since then, the trucks that have carried the Autocar name have brought innovation and change to the severe-duty vocational truck industry. Today, customers and fans of the brand can celebrate its rich history and look forward to an even brighter future with the establishment of Autocar Day.

Celebrated in October, Autocar Day honors the legacy and innovation of trucks carrying the brand and their impact on American infrastructure and vocational trucking. The employees of both the Birmingham and Hagerstown locations are celebrated for their dedication and efforts in sustaining customer-centric and purpose-built commitments. 

As North America's oldest truck brand, trucks bearing the Autocar name have and continue to play a vital role in the vocational trucking industry and American infrastructure. Starting with the first vocational trucks designed for delivery, the Autocar name has been proudly carried on trucks for refuse, recycling, logistics, construction and concrete vocations. Today’s Autocar, LLC is committed to the same values the iconic brand has always represented– an intense focus on building purpose-built and custom-engineered trucks for our customers that get the job done-done!

A Legacy of Innovation for Severe-Duty Vocational Trucks

1900 Autocar Automobile

As the industrial revolution picked up steam, a new tool was needed to help move goods and materials around - enter the truck. Autocar-brand trucks were at the forefront of this new technology and introduced as America's first truck in 1899. The first commercially available truck with the Autocar badge came off the line in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. In the beginning of the 20th century, the brand continued to represent industry firsts and inventions. Those innovations are still used and are commonplace today on Autocar-brand trucks, like the first left-hand drive and the first American shaft-driven vehicle.

Other firsts and inventions marked under the Autocar name include

  1. The first double reduction rear axle, for smoother power transmission
  2. The first American porcelain-insulated spark plug
  3. The first circulating oil system

The iconic bowtie emblem first appearing on the trucks in 1919

In 1919, the historic bowtie emblem first appeared on trucks carrying the Autocar name. This iconic badging was reinstated on the grille of every truck in 2019 by Autocar, LLC. to honor the brand’s history. The first Autocar-brand electric trucks made history in the early 1900s under the Autocar name before the widespread use of diesel. In the first half of the century, the cab-over-engine model was brought back in the Autocar Model U truck, lessening the length of conventional cab models. By the 1940s, the transition into trucks for military use played a vital role in American efforts during the World Wars, earning acknowledgments from General Dwight Eisenhower.

1923 advertisement for the three-ton electric Autocar truck

The turn of the century saw a shift in the trucks towards construction and similar applications with new truck models introduced. It was then that the custom engineering of Autocar-branded trucks became standard on all severe-duty trucks so that each customer received a customized truck designed to fit their needs. After Autocar, LLC was formed in 2001, the company committed itself to staying true to everything that makes the Autocar name the gold standard for customer-focused, purpose-built and severe-duty vocational trucks, and looks forward to continuing the legacy.

A New Start in the 21st Century

A 2001 Autocar Refuse Trucks on Display in front of headquarters

The start of the 21st century started with a bang, with trucks carrying the Autocar name continuing to reinvent the way things are done in the vocational trucking industry with advancements in body integration, CNG fuel options and the approach to fleet electrification. After the formation of Autocar LLC, Autocar returned to the brand’s roots of being the first name in custom engineered severe duty trucks built to tackle to toughest terrains and the most relentless applications.

Currently, four truck models carry the Autocar brand name, the ACMD medium/heavy duty cabover, the ACX severe duty cabover, the ACTT terminal tractor and the DC-64 conventional cab. In 2021, Autocar, LLC announced its first all-electric vehicle, the E-ACTT terminal tractor, with the first model delivered to Old Dominion Freight Line earlier this year. In 2022, the all-electric E-ACX refuse truck made news as the newest entrant to electric trucking. The truck will be available in 2024.

Autocar Day Established to Celebrate 125 Years of Innovation

Proclamation from City of Birmingham declaring Oct. 21, 2022, as Autocar Day

Autocar, LLC currently operates out of two locations in the United States with its headquarters in Birmingham, Alabama and a manufacturing plant in Hagerstown, Indiana. To celebrate the 125th anniversary of North America’s oldest truck brand, Autocar, LLC worked with both cities to establish Autocar Day through official proclamations. 

On Autocar Day, we celebrate the brand's anniversary and the legacy of its trucks. From their impact on American infrastructure to their role in vocational trucking, these vehicles have shaped our country in countless ways. We're proud to honor the team behind Autocar and the employees, both past and present, for their dedication to keeping our commitment to customers and purpose-built trucks alive for all these years.

To learn more about the 125 years behind North America’s oldest truck brand, visit AutocarTruck.com/125-Years.