Early-twentieth-century passenger cars and light-duty trucks often had enough in common that the only significant difference between the two was the actual body. Cadillac, for example, built vans from 1904 through 1908, according to the Complete Encyclopedia, by substituting closed bodies for those designed to carry passengers. The 1915 Studebaker Light Delivery 5’s specifications in the Handbook of Automobiles mirror those of the contemporary Studebaker Four Touring 5-D.
Manufacturers didn’t abandon the concept, but they did gradually move almost completely to the use of specialized designs and features for each of their passenger and commercial lines.
The Model E Ford Introduces a Commercial Option
Before the Model T propelled it to success, Ford built a series of personal automobiles while barely exploring the possibilities of trucks. That changed with the 1905 Ford Model E Delivery Van, according to the Complete Encyclopedia. Based on the Ford Model C passenger car – which accounts for its also being known as the Model C Delivery Van and Model C Delivery Car – it saw total production of a mere 10 examples, according to the Illustrated Encyclopedia.
The company effectively gave up on trucks at that point, although the Ford Model N passenger car’s chassis was used by suppliers of commercial bodies from 1906 through 1908.
The Model T Ford Was a Latecomer to Truck Market
When the Ford Model T arrived near the end of 1908, it lacked any form of commercial model but its availability as a chassis allowed body companies to use it to build nearly anything from a delivery van to a depot hack to an express. That changed in 1912, according to the Standard Catalog, when the Model T Delivery Car and the Commercial Roadster were added.
It was not to last; the Commercial Roadster – essentially a roadster whose rear body was easily removable – was gone that same year and the Delivery Car was dropped early in 1913. The chassis remained available, but it still differed little from the chassis of a passenger car, so the Model T Ford finally latched on to the truck market for real in 1917 with the one-ton Model TT.
At 124 inches, its wheelbase was two feet longer than that of the Model T chassis, according to the Illustrated Encyclopedia, and although it used the T’s 20-horsepower four-cylinder engine, the TT was approximately 400 pounds heavier. Other improvements ensured its viability as a higher-capacity vehicle and the TT remained in production with the rest of the Model T line – including a pickup added in 1925 – through 1927.
Trucks are in Model A Ford CatalogFrom the Start
Ford’s 1928 introduction of the Model A passenger cars and commercial vehicles marked a major change from the Model T. No matter how good and how beloved the older vehicle had been, Ford now had a product that was modern and conventional. Gone were such eccentricities as the foot-operated two-speed transmission, the hand-operated throttle and the service brake that acted on the driveline; the Model A’s major mechanical systems were direct ancestors to those in use today.
Another big change, of course, was that the commercial vehicles arrived at once. The first Model A truck was the roadster pickup, according to the Standard Catalog, with the closed-cab pickup following. The Model AA was next and its relationship to the A was about the same as that of the Model TT to the T. The Model AA’s 131.5-inch wheelbase was 28 inches longer than that of the Model A, for example, and The Legendary Model A Ford provides as an example of the price difference the $575 Model A Panel Delivery and the $850 Model AA Panel Delivery.
For the extra expense, the AA’s purchaser received such equipment as heavy-duty steel wheels, according to the Spotter’s Guide, as well as semi-elliptic front springs and longitudinal cantilevered rear springs in place of the lighter vehicle’s transverse leaf at both front and rear. The Model AA was obviously built to handle heavier loads, as The Legendary Model A Ford lists a dual-range three-speed manual transmission as an option and the truck probably needed it; the 40-horsepower four was the same engine used in light-duty Model As.
Subtly Improving the Model AA
The 1929 Model AA looked almost identical to its predecessor and so remained attractive. The sheet metal was shared with the Model A and when combined with the AA’s larger wheels and higher stance produced a pleasantly massive look. There were changes, though, even if they were not immediately visible. mas cargo
The Illustrated Encyclopedia lists the substitution of larger brakes, heavier wheels and a heavier rear axle, as well as the dropping of the dual-range three-speed transmission in favor of a straight four-speed. Not especially surprising is the fact that, like the Model TT, the Model AA often found itself wearing bodies built by outside suppliers.
The AA was mildly restyled with the rest of the Model As for 1930 and then continued through 1931.