Mack Trucks Historical Museum of Lehigh Valley with Mack the Bulldog

Mack Truck Historical Museum of the Lehigh Valley
Lehigh Valley Visions

Video released on: July 3, 2013

Tracy: Welcome to this edition of Lehigh Valley Visions. Today we’re in Allentown at the Mack Truck’s Customer Center Museum, and I’ve got a special guest joining me for today’s tour, the one and only company mascot, Mack the Bulldog.

Receptionist: Mack, how are you? Welcome back! Good to see you, buddy!

Mack the Bulldog voice-over: It’s good to see you too. I’m here to see Tracy and find my grandpa’s statue.

Tracy: Everyone recognizes the iconic Mack Bulldog hood ornament on the trucks, but do they really know the history of the company it belongs to? The displays at the Heritage Center tell the company’s history decade by decade, as do the ambassadors who are former company employees.

Mack Truck’s, the oldest heavy truck manufacturer in the United States, was incorporated as the Mack Brothers’ Company in 1900 by brothers John, William, and Augustus Mack. The business quickly outgrew its facility in Brooklyn and moved to Allentown in 1904, where it was rechristened The Mack Brothers’ Motor Car Company in 1905.

The oldest existing Mack vehicle is this 40-horsepower, 28-passenger sightseeing bus, with over a million touring miles on the streets of Chicago and New Orleans.

Mack the Bulldog voice-over: My grandpa would tell me he used to drive this truck, but we don’t have any opposable thumbs.

Tracy: The company proceeds to build its first truck lines, including the two-to-five ton Senior and the one-to-two ton Junior Models for local hauling. The Mack AB Model, which later replaced the Junior Model, was one of the first Mack models to display the famous Mack Bulldog on the radiator cap. Over 51,000 AB vehicles would be built between 1914 and 1936.

But how did the bulldog ever become identified with Mack Trucks? It started in World War I with the AC Model’s extensive use by British, French, and American soldiers. The snub-nose appearance of the hood and the vehicle’s top performance reminded the British soldiers of their own national symbol, the British bulldog. So they nicknamed the AC trucks Bulldog Macks, and the name stuck.

It first appeared as a corporate symbol in 1921. The model for the hood ornament was designed in 1932 and tweaked only once in 1979, when the ears and tail were shortened a bit.

Before moving on with your tour, enjoy a break in the Mack Theater, which shows three short videos about the company on a continuous loop.

Mack the Bulldog voice-over: I didn’t know they had a movie theater in here. This movie is so much better than “Air Bud.”

Tracy: One truck not to be missed is this one, the Megatron Truck from the third “Transformers” movie. It’s actually a granite truck from the company’s line of military vehicles. Mack Trucks have also been seen in other Hollywood movies and TV shows, even animated ones.

Mack the Bulldog voice-over: “Transformers” is my most favorite movie ever. I wish someone would transform me some lunch.

Tracy: The hallway that leads to the Mack Museum is lined with photos from the company’s history and a variety of Mack-logo’d items, historical artifacts, works of art, and memorabilia; some of which is donated to the collection by retired Mack employees.

Mack the Bulldog voice-over: Dude, why are you just standing there? This water’s great!

Tracy: This room was originally built to conduct a wide variety of engineering vehicle tests. Today it is used for the restoration of antique Mack Trucks, which are restored and preserved by volunteers, some of whom are former company employees.

Mack has also produced a variety of specialty vehicles including hook-and-ladder fire trucks, pumpers, garbage trucks, dump trucks, and even war vehicles.

The B Series was the leading diesel conventional truck in its day and featured high-performing, durable, economical, direct-injection diesel engines. Well over 120,000 B Series trucks were built between 1953 and 1965.

Several Brockway motor trucks are also on display since Mack acquired the company in 1956. And be sure to check out the various engines and transmissions on display in the museum.

Mack the Bulldog voice-over: Running is my least-favorite activity, but all these trucks are pretty cool.

Tracy: This sound room was once used to conduct vehicle noise-reduction tests. Due to advances in how emissions are tested, the room is no longer used for that purpose. It’s amazing how the materials on the walls completely deaden all sound in the room.

Mack the Bulldog voice-over: Really funny, guys! Really funny!

Tracy: Additional Mack Trucks can be found at the America on Wheels Museum of Over the Road Transportation, also located in Allentown.

Don’t be surprised if during your visit, you happen to see a Mack Truck whizzing by you on the test track that surrounds the facility. The test center opened in 1975 on a 62-acre tract of land located just one mile from Mack’s World Headquarters on Mack Boulevard, which opened in 1970. The oval course designed with banked turns is used to test trucks driving through curves and at higher speeds. There are also several hills with 12, 15, and 20% grades used to test starting, stopping, acceleration, and torque.

Tracy: Hey, Mack! This bulldog arcade ride looks just like you!

Mack the Bulldog voice-over: I finally found my granddad’s statue. This is the best day ever! Thank you for coming with me to the Mack Truck’s Historical Museum.

Mack Truck Historical Museum
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