Reborn the right way

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The last time I’d visited the 159,000 sq. ft. Mack Customer Center (MCC) outside of Allentown, Pa., it actually didn’t exist – for the facility now home to the MCC served back then as the engineering development and test center for Mack Trucks, complete with security guards to ensure all sorts of secret projects being cooked up within its 65 acre environs stayed that way.

That was then; this is now. Gone are the guards and super-secret engineering work; the test trucks painted funny colors and packed with computers to record all sorts of data. In their place stands a building that serves multiple roles: a museum, historical archive, an 18,000 sq.-ft. vehicle modification center for customization work, plus a showroom for Mack’s latest products.

[To view some more pictures of this one-of-a-kind facility, you can click here to view a photo gallery that includes some of the antique vehicles that call the MCC home.]

Interestingly, though, the MCC still retains some of its “test center” mojo, of sorts, too, as Mack invites customers up to the place to test drive trucks they’ve ordered on a two-lane, .73 mile oval track with multiple grades, along with on- and off-road durability courses and a skid pad.

Mack formally rechristened its former engineering and test center as the MCC back in November 2010, but this week is the first time I’d been able to visit the place in its new incarnation.

Truthfully, it proved more than a little weird to me to see this building’s unique “sound chamber” and formerly super-hush-hush engineering work bays transformed into museum space: chock full, however, of some of the most extraordinary restorations you’ll ever see in the truck world.

Indeed, one of the best things about the museum-portion of the MCC is that it doesn’t remain static – like any museum, items on display are rotated constantly, with private owners from across the country getting a chance to show off their lovingly-restored Mack iron. That’s pretty cool, if you ask me.

It’s refreshing, too, in this highly disposable day and age that Mack didn’t sell off its former engineering and test center building after the Greensboro relocation – or have it razed to the ground. Rather, the company retooled the place to serve in a variety of different – yet still highly useful – capacities. That’s something I always like to see. 

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on Nov 2, 2013

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