Home » Another Old Guide To Truck Liveries, But Simpler: Cold Start

Another Old Guide To Truck Liveries, But Simpler: Cold Start

Cs Sunocoguide 1
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Remember last month when I showed you that fantastic 1970s guide to Bell System vehicle liveries, full of all the carefully-considered details and measurements and guides about how to paint their vans and other vehicles? It was pretty glorious. Today I want to show you another livery guide, in part as a contrast to the extremely precise and meticulous Bell System one. This one is far simpler, far easier for a local franchise to replicate, which must have been the point. This is Sunoco’s 1959 guide to its paint schemes, found preserved over at The Samba. Let’s look at some of these pages!

I don’t think it’s as impressive a livery as what Bell System did, but you have to keep in mind the context. Bell System divisions were huge companies, with actual art departments and lots of skilled workers to make these liveries, um, live. A Sunoco station may just be a family-owned franchise out in the middle of nowhere; keeping things simple is just a smart plan for Sunoco.

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The main goal of all this is made pretty clear on the cover:

Cs Sunoco 2

MAKE THEM LOOK ALIKE, it shouts. And, yeah, that’s pretty much the whole point of vehicular liveries, just distilled down to its essence. So, what are the basic rules?

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Cs Sunoco 3a

It’s pretty much that blue, that yellow, and that decal of the logo. Also – is the word “decal” short for “decalcomania?” That sounds like what happens when stickers drive you mad. It seems to be an image transfer method, developed in the late 18th century and used by the surrealists! It can be as simple as folding over a paper with wet paint to create a mirrored image on the other side!

There’s lettering, too, but no complex stripes with precise measurements or anything like that. There’s no typeface specified for the text, just the suggestion that the “lettering be done by a professional”:

Cs Sunoco 4a There’s a Chevy panel van example, too. What other examples do we get?

Cs Sunoco 5

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Classic Ford F-100, Dodge wagon. Some of these details on the drawings seem a bit… haphazard, but they work.

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The generic “4-door sedan” is interesting, mostly because the generic sedan shape of that era is what we would consider a fastback now, not the three-box generic sedan shape most of us think of. Is that a wood push bar, too? There’s also a Jeep panel van here, which is interesting.

Cs Sunoco 7

Here’s more Jeepy goodness; the Jeep Station Wagon (Brazilians know these as Ford Rurals) and Jeep pick-up, all with the V-shaped grille front end Jeep used for these.

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Cs Sunoco 8

These are my favorites: we have a Jeep cab-over up there, looking like a Jeep FC-based tow truck, but I suspect this would work for any cabover. The Volkswagen Type 2 van is great to see as well, even if the artist got the taillights pretty wrong. Plenty of room for text and graphics on the sides of an old panel Type 2!

Fascinating stuff! And Good Friday to everyone who celebrates!

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Andrew M
Andrew M
24 days ago

> Bell System divisions were huge companies, with actual art departments and …

Bell was so huge, there were a couple under-used neckbeards in the Research department with so much free time in the late 60s, that they built whole new computer operating system to play video games, gave it the ability in the early 70s to do typesetting for patent applications when their bosses found out what they were up to, and then it went on to become the foundation of almost all computing in existence today.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Unix

Dest
Dest
26 days ago

Am I reading that correctly that you could paint a whole truck with 1 gallon?

Nlpnt
Nlpnt
26 days ago

Since it’s calling for an all-over paintjob anyway, and is concerned with a rightward-pointing arrow in the Sunoco logo confusing approaching motorists, is it as glaringly obvious to everyone else how much more visible this would be if the colors were reversed with the bright yellow as the main vehicle color?

The generic 4-door sedan is typical for a 1941-48 (technically 1941-2/1946-8) model which in 1959 would’ve been considered ancient. Using an old sedan as a road service car I can see, but putting the discretionary money into it to have the fancy new livery the suits in Corporate want is quite another.

Theotherotter
Theotherotter
26 days ago

I’m tickled by the spelling of “phone” as ” ‘phone”, with the initial apostrophe still standing in for the absent “tele-“

Jesus Chrysler drives a Dodge
Jesus Chrysler drives a Dodge
26 days ago

I grew up around Sunoco stations but never realized the red arrow could point either way. That’s a fascinating detail.

Industrial_design_guy
Industrial_design_guy
26 days ago

This was the first thing I looked for when going through the brochures. I noticed the mention that they didn’t want to confuse other motorists, so I had to know if the arrow changed directions.

Jesus Chrysler drives a Dodge
Jesus Chrysler drives a Dodge
26 days ago

The horizontal arrow in the diamond suggests some kind of process or flow diagram, plus forward movement, which makes sense for a company that refines petroleum into go-juice. My memory, and the current design, is a DIAGONAL arrow that points down and right.

The consideration with a protruding directional element like an arrow is that on rotating signs it will be “backwards” half the time: http://www.countywidepetroleum.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/sunoco-2.jpg. Probably why Nike never went into the gas station business.

Last edited 26 days ago by Jesus Chrysler drives a Dodge
Industrial_design_guy
Industrial_design_guy
26 days ago

That’s a good point about the rotating signs, hadn’t considered that. Good graphic design should always consider these aspects.

Collegiate Autodidact
Collegiate Autodidact
26 days ago

This being Easter and all, one wonders if florists took care to avoid painting lilies on their delivery vehicles lest wags call them ‘lily-liveried’ especially during WWII when the insult would’ve been familiar to many people thanks in part to the Warner Bros cartoons et al.
Speaking of Easter and lilies, here’s an extremely important PSA, especially for novice caretakers of cats like DT: lilies are extremely toxic to cats!! Don’t even think about bringing Easter lilies into the same household as cats!! Even just the pollen from lilies (especially in situations such as falling into drinking water) can have deadly consequences for cats. So those blessed with feline overlords, take heed!!

Tagarito
Tagarito
25 days ago

Tried to google “ww2 lily livery” but the results point back to this site and this particular comment. Anybody care to share trivia on this? Sounds interesting

BigThingsComin
BigThingsComin
25 days ago
Reply to  Tagarito

Lily-Livered was a euphemism for cowardice.

Last edited 25 days ago by BigThingsComin
Tagarito
Tagarito
22 days ago
Reply to  BigThingsComin

Wow thanks for this history tidbit!

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
26 days ago

This livery scheme would make for some colorful Easter eggs, too.

Mechjaz
Mechjaz
26 days ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

Holy damn, that’s the best Easter idea I’ve ever heard. Imagine being the lucky lad or lady that finds the Gulf or Martini liveried eggs.

A. Barth
A. Barth
26 days ago
Reply to  Mechjaz

I haven’t tried the Martini livery, but I like to do a half orange and half light blue egg as a nod to Gulf.

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
26 days ago

Been on vacation and haven’t been online much this week. This is great to come back to, thanks Torch!

Also, 7 pages of comments on the stick shift article? C’mon guys, how am I supposed to catch up on that?!?!

Mark Tucker
Mark Tucker
26 days ago
Reply to  MATTinMKE

They’re all pretty much variations on “yep, this guy doesn’t know shift from Shinoda.”

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
26 days ago
Reply to  MATTinMKE

I was here, and still stayed away – by the time I’d gotten to it, I felt any effort to engage would be woefully inadequate.

Church
Church
26 days ago
Reply to  MATTinMKE

My rule of thumb is that if an article has more than two pages of comments, there is nothing I can contribute. I feel safe in the knowledge that my opinion was shared by at least one person with no confirmation required on my part. I can go about my day without reading the comments. If anyone else made a good comment, it will be COTD so I’ll see it there.

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
26 days ago
Reply to  Church

Agree completely. I don’t comment that much anyhow, but I do like to read the comments. 7 pages of them is alot to read.

A. Barth
A. Barth
26 days ago

Curiously, most sections use the word telephone in its entirety, but the Lettering paragraph uses the saucy shortened version of ‘phone.

I was thinking the sedan got the 2×12 wooden push bar as an alternative to towing, but the Jeep Cab-over tow truck has the same lumber nose. Maybe it was an option for Sunoco vehicles in general.

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
26 days ago
Reply to  A. Barth

I remember seeing tow trucks with giant rubber push bumpers as a kid. Dad said it was for bump starting.

MrLM002
MrLM002
26 days ago

A FC tow truck? Damn that’s cool.

I still think Jeep needs to bring the FC back, and that Jeep’s best chance of survival long term is to pivot to building commercial vehicles instead of their current path which seems to be slapping Jeep badges on CUVs.

Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
26 days ago
Reply to  MrLM002

They’ve been sitting on an excellent design for 12 years now, just recently deemed by David to be the best Jeep concept ever shown at Moab. And yeah, to me it feels like more of a money printing machine now than ever before. In an era when people fawn over the Cybertruck based on marketing and weird looks alone, turning a bling eye on every single shortcoming, it does feel like Jeep could move quite a few of these if marketed properly.

JKcycletramp
JKcycletramp
26 days ago

The franchising agreement says I have to change my name to Raymond Jones. This is going to get confusing at the Sunoco franchise convention.

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
26 days ago
Reply to  JKcycletramp

Yeah, but it sure saves time at the nametag table.

Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
26 days ago
Reply to  StillNotATony

Time and money. And as we all know, time is money. So, basically, money and money.

Keep cutting costs like that Jones, and our CEO will be taking home a pretty darn nice bonus this fiscal year.

SAABstory
SAABstory
26 days ago
Reply to  JKcycletramp

Insert Spider-Man pointing meme. All Spidey suits in Sunoco color scheme, obviously.

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