Volume 17, Issue 13
December 2009

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ABF Freight Systems

Mack R Model Dry Goods Van with Pup Freight Trailer

 ABF Freight System, Inc., prides itself on operating the newest and best maintained trucks on the road. In the mid-1960s, that meant driving the Mack R Model, a Class 8 heavy-duty truck introduced in 1965 by Mack Trucks as a replacement for the very successful Mack B Model.

ABF has always made its headquarters in Fort Smith, Arkansas, where it has grown from a small local carrier in 1923 into one of the oldest and most experienced motor carriers in North America today.

Throughout the 1920s and early 1930s, ABF operated in and around Fort Smith as OK Transfer. In 1935, the year Congress gave the Interstate Commerce Commission regulatory authority over the trucking industry, ABF acquired Arkansas Motor Freight, assumed its name, and then acquired Motor Express. The acquisitions boosted ABF into interstate carrier status.

For the remainder of the 1930s and throughout the 1940s, ABF operated as a regional carrier with routes to and from Fayetteville, Little Rock, and Texarkana, Arkansas, Kansas City and St. Louis, Missouri, and Shreveport, Louisiana.

After Fort Smith attorney and businessman Robert A. Young, Jr., purchased the carrier in 1951, the company grew even faster. Key acquisitions during the 1950s included Robertson Truck Lines, Smock Transportation, Arkansas Express, Memphis-Arkansas Express, and Best Motor Freight. By end of the decade, the carrier was operating in 11 states as Arkansas-Best Freight System, Inc., the name it operated under until becoming ABF Freight System, Inc., in 1980.

The 1960s brought more growth and system expansion as ABF acquired Healzer Cartage Company, Fine Truck Lines, Brad Shearer Truck Service, Delta Motor Line, CEI&I Express, Fast Freight, and Krema Truck Lines. In 1966, ABF spawned Arkansas Best Corporation, a holding company that would operate with ABF Freight System as its largest subsidiary. 

Throughout it 86-year history, ABF drivers were more often than not driving Mack trucks. The R Series trucks used a one-piece fiberglass hood and fender assembly that was front-hinged and tilted forward for easier servicing.  R Series trucks were driver-friendly and versatile. Thin roof pillars and tall, vertical windows gave drivers excellent visibility and the cabin an airy feel. 

"A whole generation of successful businesses has been built on the back of these trucks," said Tom Kelly, Mack vice-president of marketing, when Mack retired the R model in 2003. "R models have helped build roads, bridges and buildings throughout the country."

Its production ran for 40 years until the RD model was discontinued in 2003 and the RB and DM models were discontinued in 2005. The first R models introduced were powered by Mack Thermodyne diesel and gasoline engines. In 1973 the R cab was given a makeover to include a deeper rear wall for more room and a new dashboard design.

Dedicated to quality, reliability, and total customer satisfaction, Mack Trucks, Inc. has provided its customers with innovative transportation solutions for more than a century. Own a piece of that history with this 1/34 Scale Die-cast Metal truck from the ABF fleet.

Measuring over 16” in length, this numbered collector series truck has a fully detailed interior and undercarriage, smoke stack, and air breather. The ABF Freight System truck features hand-painted marker lights, mud flaps, trailer hitch, and safety chain loop. The “four wheel” trailer (as they were known in the industry) features a safety draw bar, hand-painted marker lights, mud flaps, and cast spoke wheels. 

Only 1,260 of these special trucks were produced, each stamped in numbered sequence on the back of the tractor and the trailers. These exact replicas are now available for a limited time exclusively from The ABF Company Store.

Call Jennifer Edwards-Barker at 800-820-6122. Or visit abf.com/store.

 


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