Snapshots of trucking history

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If you think the inclusion of a classic Diamond-T truck within the confines of a Peterbilt dealership’s annual calendar is surprising, think again, for not only did the dealership in question – Sioux City Truck Sales (SCTS) – help restore this piece of trucking history, back in the day, it used to sell them, too.

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You see, SCTS started out as a Diamond-T franchise in 1954 and sold a group of five 630 Series heavy-service dump trucks in 1957 to Irving F. Jensen Co. of Sioux City.

By 1967, however, SCTS changed over to become an exclusive Peterbilt dealership – today operating four full-service Peterbilt Nebraska-based dealerships in: Sioux City, Des Moines, Council Bluffs and Norfolk.

The brand change by SCTS at the time also reflected a broader shift going on within the truck manufacturing ranks back then, as that’s the year Diamond-T, then a division of the White Motor Co., was merged with fellow subsidiary Reo Motor Company to form the now-famous moniker Diamond Reo Trucks Inc. Not long afterward, Diamond Reo exited the industry altogether, becoming another piece of the industry's past.

[Just for fun, here’s a short clip of an old Diamond-T highway tractor model at idle, captured at an American Truck Historical Society gathering in 2009.]

Diamond T actually started out building cars from 1905 to 1911 in Chicago as the Diamond T Motor Company. Later on, trucks became its bread and butter, with the 980/981 model becoming popular with – of all things! – the British Army. The Brits used it model as a tank transporter and the trucks saw a lot of action in the North Africa campaign in World War II.

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There’s another more localized interesting historical twist here, too, as SCTS’ body shop and service department got involved with restoring this vintage truck as it was still owned by the customer it originally sold it to: Irving Jensen.

Now retired, Jensen recently donated this fully restored Diamond-T to the new Sioux City Public Museum, part of his efforts to preserve local history.

Jensen’s Diamond-T is also, of course, prominently displayed in SCTS’ annual truck calendar, which is free to its customers. Tom Schoening, the company’s marketing/communications manager and a former journalist, took all the photos and designed the calendar to boot (and did a terrific job, if you ask me!)

Entitled Working Trucks of the Midwest, SCTS’ one-of-a-kind calendar is packed with newer Peterbilt models alongside more classically-designed iron, outfitted with a variety of bodies or trailers, for handling specialty jobs.

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And on that note, everybody, I’ll take a moment to wish you all a very happy (and very safe) Thanksgiving holiday and look forward to “seeing” you again in this space come December. Enjoy!

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Trucks at Work: Sean Kilcarr comments on trends affecting the many different strata of the trucking industry.

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