History of Trucks » Mack Trucks
Photo: Classic Car

Photo: Antique Mack Truck

A Brief History of Mack Trucks

In 1890, John M. "Jack" Mack took a job at the Falleson & Berry carriage and wagon firm in Brooklyn. Three years later, Jack and his brother Augustus F. Mack purchased that same company, where they were joined by the third brother, William C. Mack in 1894.


Photo: Antique Mack truck with wooden wheels and crank on front

By the 1900s, the Mack brothers had phased out the carriages and put their combined creative focus to wagon construction and manufacture.

The First Mack Truck - Junior

Much of the brother’s time was spent manufacturing wagons and repairing vehicles. However, in 1909, they introduced the Mack truck known as the Junior Model.  The Junior Model was a lightweight 1-1/2 ton truck with a left hand steer and chain drive.  This was closely followed by the Mack Senior truck with right hand steer and chain drive. Because of the success of these vehicles, in 1922 the company name was changed to Mack Trucks, Incorporated.

The reason for changing the name was multifold.  However, the most important reason for the change was so the corporate name identified more closely with the company’s product.  In 1922, the Bulldog was also selected as the corporate symbol.  The most famous Mack model throughout the years has remained the AC model.

Also in the early 1900s, the Mack brothers were involved in producing Fire Apparatus. This production included many cities, expanding the reach of the Mack Truck market. Included in this group were Allentown, Pennsylvania; Boston, Massachusetts; Chicago, Illinois, and New York, New York.  Hundreds of smaller departments around the nation also began using Mack trucks in their cities and towns.

During wartime, Mack Truck became involved with production for the military.  In the 1940s, Mack produced trucks to support the needs of the Allied Forces.  The late 1940s and early 1950s saw Mack Trucks producing marine engines.  Known as “The Mariner,” these engines were used in pilot and work boats, as well as in power yachts.

In the 1950s And 1960s, Mack Trucks were designed with clean, timeless styling that made them increasingly popular. By combining aluminum components with powerful engines, the Mack Truck became known as a long distance hauler for West Coast operators, and more than 35,000 Mack L models were on highways during this time.

Additional product advancements included an all aluminum cab for light weight. The ability to haul larger payloads made the Mack truck ever popular for West Coast haulers. The advent of the H series “Cherry Pickers,” so named for their high cabs, had short bumper to back of cab dimensions that allowed accommodation of trailers within legal limits for maximum storage and hauling capacity.  Advancements in the direct-injection diesel engine created Mack as the standard for leadership in diesel performance and fuel efficiency in the industry.  In 1969, Mack introduced and patented the cab air suspension to increase cab durability.

The Maxidyne engine released in 1967 provided a wider range of engine speeds, which could reach more maximum horsepower than any other diesel engine of the day.  In 1971, Mack was distinguished as the first heavy-duty diesel engine manufacturer to create its own compression brake system, called the Dynatard, which gave engines top performance.

Mack continues to be North America’s largest producer of heavy-duty diesel trucks and components as a wholly owned subsidiary of the Renault Group. Name changes and transitions with acquisitions of companies is something Mack Trucks has in common with the history of GMC trucks. Throughout this period of development, Mack Trucks continues to develop sleek, aerodynamic styling using leading edge technologies. Drivers associate the Mack Truck with power, handling, and comfort, while fleet owners appreciate the low operating costs, serviceability of the trucks, and their overall efficiency.