March '20

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34 THE SHOP MARCH 2020 34 THE SHOP MARCH 2020 an immediate need for FWD trucks. The British Army quickly ordered 50 units. Later, the U.S. Army ordered 147 trucks, many of which were used to chase down the bandit Pancho Villa in Mexico. By 1917, FWD tendered its total output to the U.S. Army and 3,750 FWD Model B 3-ton trucks were ordered. The Wisconsin company was now on the international map, as was the City of Clintonville, which grew larger as new workers and thousands of soldiers who had to be trained to drive the trucks flocked into town. POST WWI To keep up with wartime demand, the FWD Model B truck was produced under license by Peerless Motor Co. of Cleve- land; Kissel Motor Car Co. of Hartford, Wisconsin; Premier Motor Corp. of India- napolis; and Mitchell Motor Car Co. of Racine, Wisconsin. A Canadian subsidiary was also set up in conjunction with Dominion Truck of Kitchener, Ontario by 1919. A British sub- sidiary was set up at Slough in 1921. In the post-WWI era, business slowed. About 20,000 trucks of various brands that returned to the U.S. were given away or sold cheaply as war surplus units. Many of these were released by the government to state highway departments. Some operators found the hard-rubber tire trucks of this era difficult to steer. Olen wanted to show that FWDs were the easiest to steer, so he picked a young woman test driver named Luella Bates to show how easy the company's vehicles were to operate. Bates was one of 150 women test drivers the company employed during WWI to train soldiers to drive the trucks. Women were used because most of the men in Clintonville were away fighting in the European war. Naturally, with fewer trucks being ordered, Clintonville itself grew smaller. However, the Model B remained in pro- duction until 1930, by which time it was pretty much a dinosaur. New FWD trucks were designed and aimed at specialized, purpose-built markets such as snowplows, utility trucks, fire engines and oil field ser- vice trucks. In the five years between 1941-'45 when World War II was being fought, FWD built more than 30,000 military vehicles that had a variety of special features. In 1958, the The First Overlanders In a grainy old wintertime photo, Luella Bates works on her FWD truck. Female test drivers such as Luella Bates were needed to instruct soldiers on FWD operations while the local men were away at war. Bates was one of 150 women hired to teach sol- diers how to drive FWDs. By the 1920s, FWD Model 30s were being produced with pneumatic truck tires.

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