A Model Mack
When it comes to Mack Trucks, the A-Model Mack gets no respect. If you’re looking for information on its contemporary, the B model Mack, you’d be in luck; the B is one of Mack’s best-known and best-loved trucks. Looking for information on an R Model Mack? The internet practically trips over itself returning results. Clearly, Mack Trucks are some of the most respected heavy duty trucks in the world. So why doesn’t the Mack Model A get any love?
There’s actually a clue in the last paragraph. Part of the problem, it turns out, is Mack’s towering reputation as a manufacturer of heavy-duty trucks. That’s why there’s so much information readily available on the B, R, Granite, and other heavy-duty Macks; heavy duty trucks have been part of the company’s lifeblood from the time it was founded. Mack would experiment with medium- and lighter-duty trucks throughout its history, but these never captured the public imagination (or the love of drivers) the way Mack’s heavier trucks (or other companies’ lighter trucks) did.
It didn’t have to be that way. The Mack A Model was first designed in 1949 as the replacement for the Mack E-Series. It would make its debut in 1950, with an edition that was intended to celebrate 50 years of Mack trucks. Its design, in the meantime, would be more of a bridge between the heavy-duty Mack L and B models than a successor to the E.
Production of The A Model Mack
But the A Model had a disadvantage: it was only produced for three years, between 1950 and 1953. The Mack E-Series, which the A replaced, had been built for nearly a decade and a half, from 1936 to 1950, with over 78,000 produced. That gave it plenty of time to catch on with truckers, while the A-Series had only three years and a fraction as many models built, leaving them at a distinct disadvantage.
Nine versions of the A Model were produced. Six of these had Magnadyne gas engines, and three had Thermodyne diesel engines. The A20, A30, A40 and A50 would be the backbone of the A Series and would be built through the entire 1950-1953 production run (with the run on the A20 being extended to 1954). Other variations – the A52, A54, and the diesel A31, A51, and A55 – would be built at different times in the production run, and in different numbers (only 100 of the A52 were delivered, and only a scant 25 of the A31).
While the A-Series were medium duty, they proved to be every bit as versatile as their heavier-duty counterparts. A-Series Macks would be the backbone of fire trucks, tank trucks, stake trucks, flatbed trucks, and haul trucks, in addition to a handful of tractor variants (including some with sleepers).
The demise of the A Model Mack – and the subsequent introduction of the B Model – points to something very important in the evolution of Mack Trucks. When it was designed, the A model was a blank slate, a platform that could be adapted to nearly everything (and was). There was a feeling at Mack Trucks that they’d spread themselves too thin, trying to be all things to all comers. Furthermore, the philosophy of having the medium-duty A Model as a step-up or gateway to the heavier-duty L Series never quite panned out.
The B Model would offer a few less options, and would largely mark the end of lighter-duty trucks for Mack. This would turn out to be a winning strategy, since the B Model would endure for 13 years, and would perfectly position the Mack company just as truck transportation began to supplant rail transport with the rise of the interstate highway system. The A Model still holds its value among collectors, and a spot in the hearts of truck aficionados everywhere.
Having a hard time finding information on A-Model Macks? We feel your pain. That’s why we’ve done the searching for you. We hope that the information presented here has made your life a bit easier. If you have anything to add, contact us directly or sound off in the comments section below. We’d especially love to hear from you if you own, or have owned, an A-Series Mack. Share your experiences, your photos, and your restoration tips with us!