Monterey

Monterey Conference Center
18 - 20 August 2022
Lot 301

1936 Twin Coach Helms Bakery Delivery Truck

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$90,000 - $110,000 USD  | Offered Without Reserve

United States | Monterey, California

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Chassis No.
40324
Identification No.
C839211165F
Documents
US Title
To be offered on Saturday, 20 August 2022
  • An extremely rare surviving example of the fabled Helms Bakery delivery fleet
  • Beautifully restored in the bakery’s instantly recognizable yellow and blue livery
  • One of only 148 of these hard-working trucks constructed by Twin Coach of Ohio
  • Accompanied by delightful accessories including Helms order sheets and mock baked goods, as well as a history file
  • An unforgettable piece of Southern California history
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To Angelenos of a certain age, few vehicles are as instantly evocative as the Twin Coach Helms Bakery truck. Looking not unlike a plump bread loaf on wheels, these delivery vehicles—along with the special whistle sounded by the “Helmsman” at the wheel—announced the arrival of bread and sweets, fresh from the ovens at Helms’ sprawling, modern bakery facility in Culver City, California.

Helms Bakery products were never sold in stores, and founder Paul Helms, who established the company in 1931, wisely realized that distinctive delivery vehicles served as an effective form of advertising in their own right. To that end, he commissioned Twin Coach of Kent, Ohio to produce 148 of these flat-nosed vans. A stout Hercules four-cylinder provided ample power, while wooden cabinets in the back housed the delivery items.

As is so often the case, these commercial vehicles were used hard for years on end, and they were typically upgraded over their working lives before being disposed of and scrapped. This 1936 Helms Twin Coach is one of very few that have survived to the present. Wonderfully restored in the Helms livery of light yellow and blue, it retains its four-cylinder engine (many were converted to six-cylinder power over the years). Mock baked goods line the wooden shelves in the back, and the exterior is adorned with period-correct graphics.

Worthy of special note is the “First and Finest on the Moon” poster on the driver’s door, which recalls a remarkable moment in Helms history; its bread accompanied astronauts into space on the 1969 Apollo 11 mission. Unfortunately, this new Lunar delivery territory was not enough to overcome market pressures from modern supermarkets, and the company shuttered later that year.

Helms used a range of delivery vehicles over the years, but it is these iconic Twin Coach trucks that have endured in the public memory. Whether you grew up hearing stories of the fabled Helms Bakery fleet, or perhaps even recall the days when these trucks roamed the streets of Southern California, this rare Twin Coach would make for a unique and historically notable addition to your collection. Restored in its proper Helms livery, this rare survivor is sure to bring smiles—if not fresh-baked cookies and bread—to all who see it.