Some say that the glory days of trucking and the trucks that made it all happen are long gone, but the 2015 American Truck Historical Society’s National Convention and Antique Truck Show proved this theory wrong. Held on May 28-30, 2015 at the York Expo Center in York, Pennsylvania, it was an antique truck lover’s paradise. Since the ATHS moves the show to a different destination every year, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to attend this event while it was being held so close to my home in West Virginia – I just HAD to go!
With Allentown being less than two hours away, seeing a bulldog on a hood, as you might imagine, was an extremely common sight at this show (from some of the earliest Macks known to exist today, to B-models, R-models and Superliners). But, one of the most impressive Macks on site was one of two Mack locomotives Mack bought from GE in 1939. Mack bought the two rare locomotives to try an experiment with gas electric power. After the locomotives were repowered with two 120-hp Mack EP 6-cylinder gas engines, Mack tried to sell them as a new product. But, after failing to sell, they went to work as switchers in Mack’s Allentown factory yard until 1960. The locomotive was restored and brought to the show by the McHugh family.
Besides all of the Mack trucks, a wide variety of trucks were scattered throughout the expansive lots of the expo center. In addition to several 351 Peterbilts with Mercury sleepers and Brockway heavy-haulers, there were also plenty of “Needlenoses” and “Bullnose” Kenworths. And the trucks came in all conditions, too. While some were close to perfect, others had to be hauled in on trailers, but don’t think for a minute they all just sit in garages all year. It was just like any other truck show – most guys found loads for the trucks into or near York, and some even work year-round.
If walking around in the heat and looking at cool old iron wasn’t your thing, the ATHS provided an option of many extra activities for pre-registered attendees. Among the list was tours to Hershey, the Mack Trucks Museum, and the Volvo Truck assembly plant. You also had the option of doing a ride-along with Ice Road Trucker Alex Debogorski around the track at the fairgrounds.
Another way to beat the heat was inside the fairground’s hall. Inside, there was an array of vendors selling just about anything an antique truck builder, model builder or enthusiast could ask for. From manuals, photos and uniform patches, to emblems, hard-to-find parts and more. Across from the booths sat restored and untouched trucks – mostly from the early 1900s – such as a drivable 1918 3-ton Packard that was used in WW-I, a 1915 Kissel tanker, a 1917 Duplex, a 1919 Hahn and a 1919 AB-model Mack moving truck. This was definitely the stuff that legends were made of.
By the close of the day Saturday, the registered count had hit close to a record-breaking 1,300 trucks – which were stuffed onto every patch of grass and every piece of pavement of the York Expo Center! If you love antique trucks, hanging out with great drivers who know them like the back of their hand, and enjoy reliving “the glory days” of trucks and trucking, I highly recommend the annual ATHS show and convention.
Next year (2016), the show will be held out west in Salem, Oregon, at the Oregon State Fair and Expo Center. We can’t wait to see the rigs that come out of hiding there, and hope to see you there, too! Stay tuned to 10-4 Magazine for more details, as they become available, or visit www.aths.org for more information.