The World War 1 Liberty Truck put the U.S. Military on wheels

Even though it’s been out of service for years, the Jeep is still the most iconic American military vehicle, but it may never have existed if it weren’t for the Liberty Truck of World War 1. In 1917 the U.S. Army’s Quartermaster Corps recognized the need for a standardized motor vehicle to replace the mishmash … Continue reading “The World War 1 Liberty Truck put the U.S. Military on wheels”

Even though it’s been out of service for years, the Jeep is still the most iconic American military vehicle, but it may never have existed if it weren’t for the Liberty Truck of World War 1.

In 1917 the U.S. Army’s Quartermaster Corps recognized the need for a standardized motor vehicle to replace the mishmash of trucks it was using, which made parts supplies and repairs complicated and inefficient.

Enlisting the help of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), it set out to develop a versatile three- to five-ton cargo carrier, and it was determined that designing one from scratch would be better than converting an existing model to avoid any patent infringement issues that might increase costs and delay its introduction.

Just 10 weeks later the team had a prototype with rear-wheel-drive and a four-speed transmission that was powered by a 52 hp 425 cubic-inch L-head four-cylinder engine and capable of chugging along at a top speed of 15 mph. After successful trials, it was fast-tracked for production in early 1918.

(National Archives)

The Army eventually contracted with 15 automakers, including Packard and Pierce-Arrow, to build what was officially called the Standard B truck. There were 9,364 manufactured by the end of the conflict on November 11, with roughly 7,500 of them being shipped to Europe to help with the war effort. Many of them arrived too late to see any combat action, according to The First Division Museum in Wheaton, Ill., but the process that brought the truck to fruition set the template for the mass-produced military machines that would follow, including the Jeep and similarly-nicknamed Liberty Ships of World War 2. It was also one of the final steps in shifting the U.S. Military away from horse-drawn and locomotive transportation.

But the Liberty Truck didn’t just play a role in how America fights wars. Commuters and travelers across the United States also owe it a debt of thanks.

Two of the vehicles took part in the pivotal 1919 transcontinental Motor Transport Convoy conducted by the U.S. Army Motor Transport Corps from Washington, D.C., to San Francisco. The 62-day exercise was meant to assess the military’s ability to mobilize over long distances and was observed by then-Lt. Colonel Dwight D. Eisenhower, who would later champion the U.S. interstate highway system as President, based in part on the experience.

Production of the Liberty Trucks continued into 1920 with a grand total of just over 17,000 built. Today, only a handful remain scattered between the U.S. and Europe, including one that just wrapped up a decade-long restoration by the First Division Museum, which says it is one of just five functional examples left.

Gary Gastelu is FoxNews.com’s Automotive Editor.

Toyota offers to give Camp Fire hero nurse a new truck

Toyota is coming to the rescue of a nurse who has been heralded for risking his life to aid others during the Camp Fire Paradise, Calif., fire last week.

Allyn Pierce was profiled in a New York Times story that recounted how he and some colleagues were stuck while trying to escape the fire surrounding the Adventist Health Feather River hospital, where he manages the intensive care unit, but when they had the opportunity to get clear, turned around and headed back to the hospital instead.

There, they pulled equipment outside of the endangered buildings and set up a triage center as people were evacuating the facility and the surrounding area. Soon, everyone was out and Pierce filled the seats of his truck and headed through the inferno for safety.

(AP)

After the ordeal, Pierce posted photos of his scorched white truck on his Instagram account, which is full of images of it in happier times. “This truck literally saved my life today,” Pierce wrote.

Unfortunately, while Pierce was unharmed, he lost his home and doesn’t know what’s going to happen with his job. On Monday, he reluctantly posted about a GoFundMe campaign that a well-wisher had set up on his behalf, but he also got some surprising news. Someone at Toyota had heard his story, and the company decided to thank him for his efforts by replacing the truck.

“Our hearts go out to the victims of the devastating California wild fires,” the automaker's statement reads.

”We are extremely grateful to all of the emergency crews who are working tirelessly to extinguish the fires and helping people to safety. We are especially thankful to one hero in particular, Allyn Pierce, for risking his life and sacrificing his Toyota Tundra to drive people to safety. Toyota is so humbled by Mr. Pierce’s selfless act that we’re pleased to offer him a brand new Tundra.”

A new Tundra Crewmax like Pierce’s starts at around $37,000. Pierce has not yet publically commented on the generous offer.

Gary Gastelu is FoxNews.com’s Automotive Editor.

‘Jeep Death Wobble’ reported on new Wrangler

An old problem has surfaced on the all-new Jeep Wrangler.

A handful of owners have reported experiencing the dreaded “Jeep Death Wobble” to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), according to the Detroit Free Press.

The issue, which hasn’t actually led to any known deaths or been officially deemed a safety hazard, is a violent vibration felt through the steering wheel, usually at high speeds.

Its cause is sometimes hard to pin down, but is typically blamed on loose or worn parts in the steering system for the Wrangler’s solid front axle. It’s also common in other vehicles that use a solid front axle, including heavy-duty pickup trucks and the Mercedes G-Class SUV.

Video

NHTSA told the Detroit Free Press that it is looking into the complaints. In the past, similar investigations resulted in the agency determining that the wobble did not pose a significant safety risk.

Jeep has nevertheless addressed Wrangler steering system problems through several Technical Service Bulletins over the years, which instruct mechanics how to deal with a known issue that doesn’t require a recall.

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Gary Gastelu is FoxNews.com’s Automotive Editor.

Mechanic takes last ride on favorite truck used as hearse

A mechanic who passed away at age 80 was driven to his funeral in style on the back of his favorite flatbed truck last week.

Tony Penny of London. U.K., spent decades driving and working on Foden trucks, first at a delivery company and then as an independent mechanic, SWNS reports.

The post-war FG model was his favorite and his wife Pat said he knew it like the back of his hand.

(SWNS)

Searching for a way to give him a proper send-off, his family was amazed to find a company on the internet called Classic Foden Lorry Funerals, which runs a 1957 22-ton FG as a hearse.

The outfit was more than happy to oblige them, despite the fact that it was headquartered 150 miles away in South Wales and the FG’s top speed is just 40 mph.

"I wanted it to be a celebration of his life, we have all these weeks and months to mourn,” Pat said.

(SWNS)

"There were lots of people from the lorry [truck] trade at the funeral and they could not believe it but said what a wonderful send off for him."

Penny’s daughter Natalie said that he “would have been looking down with a massive smile on his face, getting a ride in his beloved Foden for the last time.”

FOLLOW FOX NEWS AUTOS ON FACEBOOK FOR MORE CLASSIC CARS

Gary Gastelu is FoxNews.com’s Automotive Editor.

The Rivian R1T is the American-made electric pickup of the near future

Normal, Ill., may soon be the home of a very unusual vehicle.

Startup automaker Rivian has unveiled the electric pickup it plans to build at a former Mitsubishi plant in the Land of Lincoln starting in late 2020. The Michigan-based company has collected a team of industry veterans and a half-billion dollars in funding so far to bring the project to fruition.

The midsize truck features a conventional pickup shape that’s wrapped in sleek contemporary bodywork echoing the technology underneath it. Its oval headlight clusters and full-width running light giving it a particularly sci-fi look.

As is becoming an increasingly common approach to electric vehicle design, the R1T is built on a “skateboard” chassis that houses the battery pack, drivetrain components, and everything else that makes it go. It will also form the basis for an SUV, with the two trucks being targeted primarily at premium “lifestyle” buyers, rather than commercial customers.

Battery sizes of 105 kWh, 135 kWh and 180 kWh will be offered, all of which are larger than anything available on a retail electric vehicle today. Rivian projects that they will deliver ranges of over 250 miles, 300 miles and 400 miles per charge, respectively, and be able to be recharged to the tune of 200 miles worth of electricity in 30 minutes at public fast-charging stations.

An electric motor for each wheel provides the R1T with all-wheel-drive and a combined output between 400 hp and 750 hp, depending on the model. Rivian claims the fastest of them will be able to accelerate to 60 mph in a supercar-quick 3 seconds, while all will tow over 11,000 pounds.

A computer-controlled air suspension increases ground clearance from approximately 9.5 inches to 14 inches for better off-road capability, or lowers it to less than 8-inches to make the vehicle easier to enter and load. Since there’s already a compressor onboard, Rivian installed an air pump valve in the bed, along with power outlets and a security camera system to monitor anything stored in it.

Even with all of the important electronics riding low in the truck, it’s all fully-sealed and the R1T can wade through a meter of water.

The flat-pack chassis layout also allows for some unique storage opportunities, including a “frunk” under the hood, a cubby beneath the bed floor that can either be used as a trunk or a spare tire carrier, and a “Gear Tunnel” between the cab and box that can accommodate long items like skis. The doors for the tunnel double as stools, and the tailgate can be released to fold down 180-degrees to offer closer access to the bed.

The cabin features a digital instrument cluster and a large central display for the infotainment system. It’s trimmed in a mix of authentic wood and synthetic upholstery inspired by sports equipment to give the whole thing a premium feel that you don’t mind getting dirty, according to CEO. R.J. Scaringe.

Scaringe also promises that the R1T will be equipped with all of the cameras, sensors and positioning technology needed for Level 3 self-driving functionality, which allows for autonomous control in certain locations and situations.

Prices will start at $69,000 and reservations are now available for a $1,000 deposit, but only high-end models will be available at launch. If it hits its target date, Rivian will likely beat Tesla and the Big Three truckmakers to market with an all-electric pickup by months or years.

FOLLOW FOX NEWS AUTOS ON FACEBOOK FOR MORE

Gary Gastelu is FoxNews.com’s Automotive Editor.

‘Jeep Death Wobble’ reported on new Wrangler

An old problem has surfaced on the all-new Jeep Wrangler.

A handful of owners have reported experiencing the dreaded “Jeep Death Wobble” to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), according to the Detroit Free Press.

The issue, which hasn’t actually led to any known deaths or been officially deemed a safety hazard, is a violent vibration felt through the steering wheel, usually at high speeds.

Its cause is sometimes hard to pin down, but is typically blamed on loose or worn parts in the steering system for the Wrangler’s solid front axle. It’s also common in other vehicles that use a solid front axle, including heavy-duty pickup trucks and the Mercedes G-Class SUV.

Video

NHTSA told the Detroit Free Press that it is looking into the complaints. In the past, similar investigations resulted in the agency determining that the wobble did not pose a significant safety risk.

Jeep has nevertheless addressed Wrangler steering system problems through several Technical Service Bulletins over the years, which instruct mechanics how to deal with a known issue that doesn’t require a recall.

FOLLOW FOX NEWS AUTOS ON FACEBOOK FOR MORE

Gary Gastelu is FoxNews.com’s Automotive Editor.

The World War 1 Liberty Truck put the U.S. Military on wheels

Even though it’s been out of service for years, the Jeep is still the most iconic American military vehicle, but it may never have existed if it weren’t for the Liberty Truck of World War 1.

In 1917 the U.S. Army’s Quartermaster Corps recognized the need for a standardized motor vehicle to replace the mishmash of trucks it was using, which made parts supplies and repairs complicated and inefficient.

Enlisting the help of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), it set out to develop a versatile three- to five-ton cargo carrier, and it was determined that designing one from scratch would be better than converting an existing model to avoid any patent infringement issues that might increase costs and delay its introduction.

Just 10 weeks later the team had a prototype with rear-wheel-drive and a four-speed transmission that was powered by a 52 hp 425 cubic-inch L-head four-cylinder engine and capable of chugging along at a top speed of 15 mph. After successful trials, it was fast-tracked for production in early 1918.

(National Archives)

The Army eventually contracted with 15 automakers, including Packard and Pierce-Arrow, to build what was officially called the Standard B truck. There were 9,364 manufactured by the end of the conflict on November 11, with roughly 7,500 of them being shipped to Europe to help with the war effort. Many of them arrived too late to see any combat action, according to The First Division Museum in Wheaton, Ill., but the process that brought the truck to fruition set the template for the mass-produced military machines that would follow, including the Jeep and similarly-nicknamed Liberty Ships of World War 2. It was also one of the final steps in shifting the U.S. Military away from horse-drawn and locomotive transportation.

But the Liberty Truck didn’t just play a role in how America fights wars. Commuters and travelers across the United States also owe it a debt of thanks.

Two of the vehicles took part in the pivotal 1919 transcontinental Motor Transport Convoy conducted by the U.S. Army Motor Transport Corps from Washington, D.C., to San Francisco. The 62-day exercise was meant to assess the military’s ability to mobilize over long distances and was observed by then-Lt. Colonel Dwight D. Eisenhower, who would later champion the U.S. interstate highway system as President, based in part on the experience.

Production of the Liberty Trucks continued into 1920 with a grand total of just over 17,000 built. Today, only a handful remain scattered between the U.S. and Europe, including one that just wrapped up a decade-long restoration by the First Division Museum, which says it is one of just five functional examples left.

Gary Gastelu is FoxNews.com’s Automotive Editor.

Toyota offers to give Camp Fire hero nurse a new truck

Toyota is coming to the rescue of a nurse who has been heralded for risking his life to aid others during the Camp Fire Paradise, Calif., fire last week.

Allyn Pierce was profiled in a New York Times story that recounted how he and some colleagues were stuck while trying to escape the fire surrounding the Adventist Health Feather River hospital, where he manages the intensive care unit, but when they had the opportunity to get clear, turned around and headed back to the hospital instead.

There, they pulled equipment outside of the endangered buildings and set up a triage center as people were evacuating the facility and the surrounding area. Soon, everyone was out and Pierce filled the seats of his truck and headed through the inferno for safety.

(AP)

After the ordeal, Pierce posted photos of his scorched white truck on his Instagram account, which is full of images of it in happier times. “This truck literally saved my life today,” Pierce wrote.

Unfortunately, while Pierce was unharmed, he lost his home and doesn’t know what’s going to happen with his job. On Monday, he reluctantly posted about a GoFundMe campaign that a well-wisher had set up on his behalf, but he also got some surprising news. Someone at Toyota had heard his story, and the company decided to thank him for his efforts by replacing the truck.

“Our hearts go out to the victims of the devastating California wild fires,” the automaker's statement reads.

”We are extremely grateful to all of the emergency crews who are working tirelessly to extinguish the fires and helping people to safety. We are especially thankful to one hero in particular, Allyn Pierce, for risking his life and sacrificing his Toyota Tundra to drive people to safety. Toyota is so humbled by Mr. Pierce’s selfless act that we’re pleased to offer him a brand new Tundra.”

A new Tundra Crewmax like Pierce’s starts at around $37,000. Pierce has not yet publically commented on the generous offer.

Gary Gastelu is FoxNews.com’s Automotive Editor.

Mechanic takes last ride on favorite truck used as hearse

A mechanic who passed away at age 80 was driven to his funeral in style on the back of his favorite flatbed truck last week.

Tony Penny of London. U.K., spent decades driving and working on Foden trucks, first at a delivery company and then as an independent mechanic, SWNS reports.

The post-war FG model was his favorite and his wife Pat said he knew it like the back of his hand.

(SWNS)

Searching for a way to give him a proper send-off, his family was amazed to find a company on the internet called Classic Foden Lorry Funerals, which runs a 1957 22-ton FG as a hearse.

The outfit was more than happy to oblige them, despite the fact that it was headquartered 150 miles away in South Wales and the FG’s top speed is just 40 mph.

"I wanted it to be a celebration of his life, we have all these weeks and months to mourn,” Pat said.

(SWNS)

"There were lots of people from the lorry [truck] trade at the funeral and they could not believe it but said what a wonderful send off for him."

Penny’s daughter Natalie said that he “would have been looking down with a massive smile on his face, getting a ride in his beloved Foden for the last time.”

FOLLOW FOX NEWS AUTOS ON FACEBOOK FOR MORE CLASSIC CARS

Gary Gastelu is FoxNews.com’s Automotive Editor.

The Rivian R1T is the American-made electric pickup of the near future

Normal, Ill., may soon be the home of a very unusual vehicle.

Startup automaker Rivian has unveiled the electric pickup it plans to build at a former Mitsubishi plant in the Land of Lincoln starting in late 2020. The Michigan-based company has collected a team of industry veterans and a half-billion dollars in funding so far to bring the project to fruition.

The midsize truck features a conventional pickup shape that’s wrapped in sleek contemporary bodywork echoing the technology underneath it. Its oval headlight clusters and full-width running light giving it a particularly sci-fi look.

As is becoming an increasingly common approach to electric vehicle design, the R1T is built on a “skateboard” chassis that houses the battery pack, drivetrain components, and everything else that makes it go. It will also form the basis for an SUV, with the two trucks being targeted primarily at premium “lifestyle” buyers, rather than commercial customers.

Battery sizes of 105 kWh, 135 kWh and 180 kWh will be offered, all of which are larger than anything available on a retail electric vehicle today. Rivian projects that they will deliver ranges of over 250 miles, 300 miles and 400 miles per charge, respectively, and be able to be recharged to the tune of 200 miles worth of electricity in 30 minutes at public fast-charging stations.

An electric motor for each wheel provides the R1T with all-wheel-drive and a combined output between 400 hp and 750 hp, depending on the model. Rivian claims the fastest of them will be able to accelerate to 60 mph in a supercar-quick 3 seconds, while all will tow over 11,000 pounds.

A computer-controlled air suspension increases ground clearance from approximately 9.5 inches to 14 inches for better off-road capability, or lowers it to less than 8-inches to make the vehicle easier to enter and load. Since there’s already a compressor onboard, Rivian installed an air pump valve in the bed, along with power outlets and a security camera system to monitor anything stored in it.

Even with all of the important electronics riding low in the truck, it’s all fully-sealed and the R1T can wade through a meter of water.

The flat-pack chassis layout also allows for some unique storage opportunities, including a “frunk” under the hood, a cubby beneath the bed floor that can either be used as a trunk or a spare tire carrier, and a “Gear Tunnel” between the cab and box that can accommodate long items like skis. The doors for the tunnel double as stools, and the tailgate can be released to fold down 180-degrees to offer closer access to the bed.

The cabin features a digital instrument cluster and a large central display for the infotainment system. It’s trimmed in a mix of authentic wood and synthetic upholstery inspired by sports equipment to give the whole thing a premium feel that you don’t mind getting dirty, according to CEO. R.J. Scaringe.

Scaringe also promises that the R1T will be equipped with all of the cameras, sensors and positioning technology needed for Level 3 self-driving functionality, which allows for autonomous control in certain locations and situations.

Prices will start at $69,000 and reservations are now available for a $1,000 deposit, but only high-end models will be available at launch. If it hits its target date, Rivian will likely beat Tesla and the Big Three truckmakers to market with an all-electric pickup by months or years.

FOLLOW FOX NEWS AUTOS ON FACEBOOK FOR MORE

Gary Gastelu is FoxNews.com’s Automotive Editor.