A Diamond T in the rough
Here's another hauler for Robb Mariani and his American Trucker crew to inspect when they get to Cuba. This bruiser, advertised on Revolico.com, is a 1952 Diamond T dump truck.
Built in Chicago, the Diamond T was known as "the Cadillac of trucks." These days, of course, Cadillac makes its own trucks, or at least sport-utilities, but it was strictly a passenger car producer throughout the Diamond T's 62-year run.
Diamond T also started as a carbuilder. C.A. Tilt, son of a successful shoe manufacturer, founded the Diamond T Motor Car Co. in 1905 to make four-cylinder roadsters. In 1911, after assembling a truck at the request of a customer who owned a plumbing supply company, Tilt decided that commercial vehicles represented a better opportunity and shifted his production exclusively to trucks. Tilt's enterprise would become one of the largest independent truck builders in the United States, turning out some 250,000 vehicles over more than five decades.
Diamond Ts were celebrated as much for their styling flair as their solid construction. Radiators and windshields were raked for a streamlined appearance, while chrome-slatted grilles and other slashes of brightwork announced that these were machines of value and substance. Backing up that assertion were heavy-gauge steel bodies, carefully formed to reduce wind noise, and massive frames supported by long, easy-riding springs and advanced rubber bushings.
After the Second World War, however, independent truck companies had increasing difficulty competing with the lower-priced commercial products of the big automakers, which could draw on huge economies of scale. In 1958 Diamond T was acquired by the White Motor Co. It survived as a separate nameplate until White merged it in 1967 with another subsidiary, REO, to build trucks under the Diamond Reo banner. That company declared bankruptcy in 1975.
The Diamond T shown here, probably from the manufacturer's 622 series, appears more solid than stylish. Its chrome grille is long gone, and its crude and massive replacement bumper looks ready to plow snow, should it ever snow in Cuba.
In place of the original overhead-valve, six-cylinder "Super-Service" gas engine (built for Diamond T by the Continental Motors Co.) is a Ukrainian KrAZ diesel. The transmission is also from KrAZ, and the differential from Fiat.
Asking price for this hefty machine, according to the Revolico listing, is 25,000 CUC. That's $25,000 in either U.S. or Canadian currency, given today's exchange rates.
A lot, perhaps, if this were some other brand from 1952 — but not so much for the Cadillac of trucks.
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And see photos of Diamond Ts, Diamond Reos and many, many more trucks at: