As a former truck driver, I’m in in awe of the cramped, sparce cab, the noise of the big Detroit under your bum and the bone shaking over-axle driving position. It’s labelled as “1960 GMC Crackerbox”. What a superb piece on something I knew little about. When I first met my wife in 1991 he was driving a GMC Astro cabover, and now that he’s retired he still keeps his AZ license (Ontario, Canada) up to date and still drives occasionally – usually dump trucks and the like. Meanwhile, GMC, which along with International had for decades been the two top selling medium/heavy-duty truck brands, only had an older style non-tilt COE, dubbed the “cannonball” for obvious reasons. Great article, I worked for the GMC Truck and Coach Division from 1978 to 1986. I think there may have been a little “brown, manual diesel wagon” going on. Up north, Scania and Volvo. Part of that success was by severely limiting customer choices. Located in chicago, Illinois. Your head will spin! was the conduction of engine heat normally enough to keep the cab warm and windshield clear? "A Brief Outline of the First Century of GMC Truck History - Generations of GM", Rigs of Rods; GMC Astro 95 & Chevy Titan 90, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=GMC_Astro&oldid=966563233, Articles needing expert attention from January 2017, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 7 July 2020, at 20:18. It is interesting how the trucks went from last inline to the front of the line. The survival rate on the IFS trucks appears to be nil or close to nil, because of the problematic front suspension.
I surely saw a few of these in my youth but did not pay much attention to big trucks back then. 96,000 miles. Remember, we are not talking consumer products, but commercial fleets. Amazingly how wrong them seemed to get it. I don’t think articulated trucks were very common in the UK then; seems many/most were rigids with trailers. Great story as usual. In this case, the failure of the DLR8000 directly led to the GMC Truck division’s terminal decline in the heavy duty field. As Bryce says above, they were ahead of the curve in the engineering. It has the 2 speed rear axle.
All these wonderful shots came from Dick Copello’s fabulous collection of truck photos, many he shot himself over the decades. The DLR’s frame (upper left) was quite distinct from the DFR’s frame (lower right) with a deep X member.
You can change your preferences any time in your Privacy Settings. This ad from 1959 only shows the DLR8000. Afterward, he owned a couple of Volvo tractors – he found them to be quite smooth riding. Maybe I, and a lot of others who don’t seem to appreciate modern pickups, just are so blinded by love of cars that we didn’t see the way pickups have steadily evolved to be their best selves, maybe because the “car guy” executives paid them little to no attention. Even if not, it is easy to imagine the truck guys being a little jealous of all the engineering pyrotechnics going on elsewhere in the company. Are you sure it wasn’t a DF series truck? The set-back front axle version (like the DLR) was not offered on this new series. The most successful big US cabover here: the Mack F-series.
This one has an added “pup” trailer, since it’s operating in length-lenient California. I also find it interesting that the X-brace was only used the the DLR trucks and not the DFR trucks.
Air suspended cabs are quite nice but scary at first I went from a Navistar conventional tractor unit to a FH Volvo with no warning the cab swaying around on turns in the Volvo was unpleasant to say the least I’d only driven the lower FM model up till then, check mirrors, curtains still standing upright ok were all good, Ive driven them since without a lazy cab airbag or two and they are ok, And issues with the IFS were pretty much inevitable, realistically. I’ve looked at large numbers of truck show images and none of these two. For a typical dealership, this meant dedicating profitable space that would have otherwise gone to selling passenger cars. There’s just some anecdotal comments out there, but it’s easy to come to obvious conclusions. Sorry, this item doesn’t ship to France. Of course GM went on to kill its medium duty and HD light duty trucks too. I am sorry, I should have been more clear. They rode so rough, the solid axle trucks on the next generation Super Duties that replaced them were actually better riding. Fantastic article of an interesting story. As their name implies, the Tilt Cabs were of a design where the entire cab tilted forward in order to provide great access to the engine. The Crackerbox was a common sight in my childhood but I never could’ve imagined it started out with IFS and front cab.
Instead of listening to the market, they now appear to answer to the management team, with their profitability and margin the deciding factor over all. From some accounts, the DLR8000 sold poorly from day one, due to these reasons as well as its higher cost.  For the 1969 model year, the GMC F was replaced by the GMC Astro, while the Chevrolet Titan 90 was unveiled for the 1970 model year.. from Dick Copello’s fabulous collection of truck photos. Set where you live, what language you speak, and the currency you use. GMC started installing Cummins. I always enjoy the sight of COE trucks but no kidding that there’s not much GM signature style in this one. In contrast to other GM brands, a key requirement of GMC franchisees of the time was the ability to sell and service the entire GMC product line. We covered that subject here. More details on the front suspension and steering. The few restored crackerboxes all appear to be later versions, which of course were built in drastically larger numbers. I wonder about that welded frame. Fuel injection didn’t show up until later in the medium duties and again we got junk.
This is really a double edged deadly sin, it missed the mark by trying to innovate, and ultimately the lesson to be learned was “don’t innovate!”, I don’t think I have ever seen one of these trucks before, even the longer lived crackerbox successors. The big game-changer in Europe was the 1965 Volvo F88. Even the Dodge at least added some flare with the D100 like pie pan headlights.
Their distinctive long-nose big-grille conventional trucks came to define the big American truck, and this image rubbed off onto their COE models too. Great! Here’s a few more crackerboxes in assorted roles. We loved our first child so much that we neglected the other kids, to our detriment. Really enjoyed this deep dive and glimpse into GMC history. Cars got fuel injection around ’81, light truck didn’t get it until 86-87 and we got the junk not the good stuff. At least some of its features, like the air ride, became common place later on. Cookies and similar technologies are used to improve your experience, to do things like: Without these technologies, things like personalized recommendations, your account preferences, or localisation may not work correctly. The frame design is something I find interesting in these trucks. It’s an excellent piece of engineering. That was the case for essentially all cars and trucks back then. I would need some proof of that before I change my conclusion. Article by Hank Hill. Vintage equipment still in daily use really appeals to me so I thought it was really cool.
 In 1975, GMC introduced a Dragfoiler roof spoiler as an option. It was somewhat influential in that regard, and it helped keep GMC in the game for a while longer, until 1987, when GMC exited the HD market. Not many, apparently. I recall reading about how Mark Fields moved around a lot, every 2-3 years before getting the top job. EMD absolutely revolutionized railroading in the US with a revolutionary product. They had them engineer a more complex and expensive truck that was suitable for just one slice of the market. Here’s one with what looks like a 35′ trailer, common back then in many length restricted states..
1960 GMC Cabover Tilt Trucks Vintage Look Metal Sign,   France   |   English (US)   |   € (EUR), 1971 Quaalude 300 Vintage Look Metal Sign, 1968 Plymouth Barracuda 2 Vintage Look Metal Sign, Boundary Waters Canoe Area Vintage Look Metal Sign, Copyright and Intellectual Property Policy, Review how we define handmade, vintage and supplies, See a list of prohibited items and materials, remembering account, browser, and regional preferences, remembering privacy and security settings, personalized search, content, and recommendations, helping sellers understand their audience, showing relevant, targeted ads on and off Etsy, remember your login, general, and regional preferences, personalize content, search, recommendations, and offers, to ensure that sellers understand their audience and can provide relevant ads. Excellent.  Featuring a (much) larger radiator grille, improvements to exterior and interior trim, the SS package was meant to market the Astro/Titan towards owner-operators. The GMC Astro/Chevrolet Titan are Class 8 cabover-engine (COE) trucks, sold in both single and tandem rear axle configurations. We got no such trucks in Aus. A very compact sleeper cab version was available in either configuration. I assume that running a gas engine full out all the time increased the possibility of pre-detonation, due to the higher heat.
It’s the first Crackerbox I’ve seen on the road in decades. COE (Cab Over Engine) trucks became popular in the mid-late ’30s, like this 1937 GMC semi tractor. How many were actually sold with the air ride is another question. These are trucks I only knew about in passing so it’s nice to read an in-depth look. Trans-European transport, on a large scale, had yet to start. In fact, good luck finding a restored DLR8000 on the web; extremely rare, yet they were built for several years at volume. From some press releases and other snippets, I’ve become increasingly convinced that the DFR8000 (right, in the brochure cover) version was likely never actually built in production. I will be spending a lot of time on those! Why did the once dominant GMC Truck division fade away after 1959? Why so low? It didn’t help solve Dodge’s problems, and lasted until 1975 when Dodge exited the market. Proudly Hung in my Man Cave . Distinguished by its boxy appearance, it became nicknamed the "Crackerbox". Back then, the market for heavy trucks was a regional / local affair.
Item as described and prompt delivery. It’s amazing these trucks were produced as a “one size fits all” proposition. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. There was a problem calculating your shipping. I didn’t know about these, and I’m not usually interested in the truck pieces (sorry Johannes D), but this told a good story, about how one can have a lot of great ideas, but nonetheless miss the market entirely.
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