Edwardian Commercials

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Sir,

The Liberty lorry shown in your November issue is an example of the “standardised Class B” motor truck used by American Forces during the first war. It was built by fifteen manufacturers in this country and represents a rare attempt to establish a completely standardised vehicle. Generally, the Government is content to issue general specifications and allow the various factories to adapt their products to them, but in this instance our War Department, inspired perhaps by the success of the Liberty aeroengine, decided that everything was to be the same “down to the last nut and bolt”.” The actual designing was done by a committee from the S.A.E. and followed standard practice, although the result turned out rather heavy. Some 10,000 had been built by the end of the war. Apparently both “Liberty” and “U.S.A.” radiators were used. There were two sizes, the’ Class A (1½-ton) and Class B (3-ton). Both used 4-cylinder side-valve engines, cast in pairs, with a 4-speed transmission, worm or bevel-gear rear axle, and solid tyres.

Another letter refers to the Riker, the Locomobile, and the F.W.D. The Riker was named for Locomobile’s great designer, who produced the early Locomobile racing cars, and was built by that factory. The Four-Wheel-Drive Auto Co., which at first built cars as well as trucks, and which thus antedates the f.w.d. Ferguson by some 50 years, is still going strong. Its competition in the first war was the Jeffery (later Nash) Quad, which was somewhat lighter, had the engine out front instead of under the seat, and had 4-wheel steering as well as propulsion. The only possible reason I can think of for this extremely inconvenient arrangement is that it might facilitate getting out of the ruts left by horse-drawn vehicles. As for the obvious disadvantages, I may say that my Jeffery Quad was reputed to have languished in a barn for 35 years simply because the previous owner had driven it too close to the side wall and couldn’t get it out again.

Mr. Clutton is perfectly right about the model-J Duesenberg. Its handling characteristics compare unfavourably to the Jeffery.

Pennsylvania, U.S.A. J. G. S. SHERMAN.

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