Hershey | Lot 127

1916 Republic Beer Truck

The Richard Roy Estate



$19,800 USD | Sold

United States | Hershey, Pennsylvania

8 October 2015

Chassis No.
Engine No.
  • Offered from the Richard Roy Estate
  • Originally used by Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley Brewing Company
  • Wonderful original and unrestored condition
  • One of only two known survivors

220.8 cu. in. Continental Red Seal L-head four-cylinder engine, three-speed selective sliding-gear manual transmission, drop-forged I-beam front axle and live rear axle with semi-elliptical leaf-spring suspension, and rear-wheel external-contracting brakes. Wheelbase: 124 in.

In 1916, Edgar Rice Burroughs, the famous author of Tarzan, traversed the United States in a heavy-duty truck. His trip is not likely to have been comfortable, but it was certainly memorable, and Burroughs recorded the adventure in a book based on the trip, An Auto Biography. This book was later distributed by the builders of his vehicle, the Republic Motor Truck Company, of Alma, Michigan, which by 1918 was the largest exclusive truck manufacturer in the world, reportedly building one out of every nine trucks on the road in the United States. Their product was known as “The Yellow Chassis Truck,” after the distinctive color of the frame.

Among the Republic trucks on the road was this hardy specimen, which originally served the Lehigh Valley Brewing Company, of Allentown, Pennsylvania, a consolidated brewing firm established in 1901 by a Philadelphia promoter. According to a printed history of the truck from Mr. Roy, which is on file, the truck was used for local deliveries until 1939, when it was retired and put into storage. During the scrap drive for World War II, it was literally on the way to the junkyard when it was rescued by an early antique car collector in Pennsylvania.

This collector held on to the truck until the 1960s, when it was sold to a New England collector. In the 1980s, it returned to Pennsylvania in the ownership of J.H. Beers, Inc., of Windgap, Pennsylvania, and was eventually acquired by Mr. Roy in 1991 from Helms Antique Autos, of Milford, Pennsylvania, apparently at Hershey. Mr. Roy displayed the car at the Owls Head Transportation Museum in Maine for several years.

Much of the Republic’s wooden bodywork remains original and, indeed, still carries much of its original paint, although the majority of the signage is no longer readable. Only minor woodwork was performed, which was done in 1992 by Alan Esenlohr, of Green, New Jersey. The truck is fitted with dual Gray & Davis headlights with their original lenses. No effort was ever made to put the truck into running order, and it will require at least a thorough servicing before being put back on the road. It is accompanied by a small collection of photographs and correspondence, a reproduction hood ornament, and a 1921 Republic catalogue in fair condition.

Reportedly one of only two known surviving 1916 models, this fascinating industrial beast is a wonderful part of Pennsylvania history.

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