Home » Happy Juneteenth! Also, Look At This Gleefully Bonkers Truck Concept: Cold Start

Happy Juneteenth! Also, Look At This Gleefully Bonkers Truck Concept: Cold Start

Cs Juneteenth Thompsontruck
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Happy Juneteenth, everyone! We take Juneteenth as a holiday here, at least in the sense of us editors and founders giving our writing staff the day off – except for our non-American writers, because this is an American holiday, dammit. Also, Lewin, in Australia, kind of already had his work day while we were sleeping, and Thomas, our captive Canadian, well, he’ll get Boxing Day off. And Adrian, our Brit, he never listens to us, anyway. But everyone else! Enjoy, reflect upon the Emancipation and hope for better times ahead. Maybe take a walk, have a cocktail, whatever. But while we’re here, let’s talk about that fantastic concept truck design up there, and the man who made it, McKinley Thompson, Jr.

I actually have mentioned Thompson before, on Juneteenth of 2022, when I showed you his amazing, rear-engined amphibious car called The Warrior, currently in the collection of The Henry Ford Museum. This time I want to show you a few of the drawings he did while working at Ford. McKinley was a vanguard in many ways; he was the first Black student to attend Art Center College of Design, still one of the premiere automotive design schools in the world, and he was also the first Black designer to work at Ford, which, at the time he was hired in the 1950s, also made him the first Black person to be a designer for a major American carmaker.

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As someone who has a huge soft spot for cabover truck designs, I was immediately taken by that concept truck up there; I really like the proportions, and how the cab looks like a separate little pod plopped onto the long, low main body of that truck. There’s hints of the Econoline pickup that would come later in there, but this is a far more exuberant and wild expression of that idea.

Thompson was also on the team that designed the Bronco, and these early Bronco sketches are pretty remarkable, too:

Cs Juneteenth Bronco

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You can see what would become the Bronco here even in these early sketches; tall, simple, rugged, able to be stripped down to the very basics like the top sketches, or sporting a more refined look with a hardtop below. I especially like the angled B-pillar in that hardtop, too.

Also, look how high they considered mounting that spare tire inside the body! That seems like such an odd choice, when compared to just mounting it on the rear? But I suppose lots of off-roaders, like Jeep, did it that way.

Okay, one more. Check out Project M.A.R.S.:

Cs Juneteenth Mars

M.A.R.S. stood for “Minimum Air-Resistance Semi-tractor” and was a design study for aerodynamic tractor-trailers. What Thompson was designing here back in 1956 was a very early version of an idea that would come to be known as the “cab-under” truck which was first really seriously experimented with back in the 1960s and continues to show up occasionally even recently, with autonomous truck designs like Volvo’s Vera concept:

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Thompson’s MARS truck had essentially this same design, albeit human-piloted, over half a century ago, and looked excitingly like a fighter jet towing a rocket.

We’re still likely a ways out from these cab-under trucks becoming commonplace, and if they do, I doubt they’ll have the jet-age charm of Thompson’s prescient renders, which is a shame.

McKinley Thompson Jr. is one of those car designers I think we should all know about; it’s likely many of you reading this already did, and if not, well, now you do. Happy Juneteenth!

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AJ
AJ
1 month ago

What an excellent article and a fine way to commemorate the day. Happy Juneteenth!

El Barto
El Barto
1 month ago

Whoa. In the lower left-hand corner of the M.A.R.S concept, McKinley drew a double-semi trailer combination that we Down Under call a B-train, way back in the mid-’50s. Started seeing these in NZ around 30 years later, so that’s really forward thinking.

McLovin
McLovin
1 month ago

Lewin gets Invasion Day off. Kind of the down under opposite version…

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
1 month ago

That pickup looks like it would make a great hovercraft.

Canada wishes your nation well. Don’t let those civil rights slip away!

Titillating Bustline
Titillating Bustline
1 month ago

Sasifier?

Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
1 month ago

Happy Juneteenth!!!!

Leon Muks
Leon Muks
1 month ago

The first thing I thought of was a cabover Falcon.

John Patson
John Patson
1 month ago

Looks downright sensible compared to the Tesla truck…

Aaron
Aaron
1 month ago
Reply to  John Patson

A ‘busa-powered cargo bike is a sensible alternative to a Cybertruck…

James Carson
James Carson
1 month ago
Reply to  Aaron

Converse IMO

Mercedes Streeter
Mercedes Streeter
1 month ago

The short version is that basically I’m off and maybe our video person. David is already on vacation. I wrote an RV post last night so I’ll be here in spirit! 🙂

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
1 month ago

I believe McKinley earned his scholarship to the ArtCenter College of Design by winning a design contest sponsored by Motor Trend. Looking at his work, it’s easy to see why. Love the dualies on the concept pickup in the top shot.

Chronometric
Chronometric
1 month ago

Just look at the driver door shut-lines in that cab-over truck!

Swing_Axle
Swing_Axle
1 month ago
Reply to  Chronometric

Oh god, I just really looked and

That’s glass-on-glass.

Did… did that ever show up, irl? That feels like one slight door misalignment away from needing a broom.

Hugh Crawford
Hugh Crawford
1 month ago
Reply to  Swing_Axle

I think that’s pretty standard way of drawing that. Look at any concept drawing of a pillarless hardtop. They never draw the seal things ( they must have a name )

Well now that I think of it, the Mercedes 280 SE coupe has glass on glass like that.

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
1 month ago

This reminded me of the 2022 Hyundai Hydrogen Truck Drones….
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3YWR6Crk35Y

… which lead me down the rabbit hole to this earlier gem:
https://www.designboom.com/technology/hyundai-semi-truck-concept-hydrogen-powered-11-04-2019/

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