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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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FWD: 1928

FWD: 1928

Washington, D.C., circa 1928. "Demonstration of Four Wheel Drive truck." Which, evidently, can go anywhere you pull it. National Photo. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

RHD in trucks

One reason trucks retained Right Hand Drive after most other vehicles conformed to LHD was visibility - the relatively slow-moving truck driver had more need to be concerned about hitting curbs, walls, and whatnot on the side of the road than he had to worry about oncoming traffic. RHD is still used for some vehicles in which drivers need to access or see roadside objects, such as postal vehicles, garbage trucks and road sweepers.

RHD Not Uncommon

Do not know the reasons, but right hand drive was not uncommon on heavy trucks of this era. Cars had only recently settled on left hand drive.


Has anyone noticed that the subject truck seems to be right hand drive? At first I suspected the negative might have been reversed but obviously not -- Dave's photos of the "FWD" logo examples clearly show the steering wheel on the right, and the logo would be mirrored if the negatives had been reversed.

If the vehicles were built in Wisconsin, why are they RHD? Were they being built for export to England? Or is there some reason why a truck should have the steering wheel on the other side from contemporary cars?

Holy Moley!

It looks like one of the scenes from the old 1960s "Batman" when Batman and Robin are climbing up the side of a building!


When I started my newspaper career, our local fire department had an FWD pumper, a 1954 model, as I recall.


Nice "cab over engine" design. Driving it uphill must have been a real "SOP" (seat of the pants) experience, though!

Safety Chain

The chain is merely a safety device to prevent the vehicle careening back down the hill in case of loss of traction, brake failure or engine/transmission failure. I surf this site every day during lunch and work at a non-specific military base where Army vehicles are tested for the military. We do tests with modern trucks in exactly the same manner today, at this and even greater degrees of slope.

Though we use steel cable nowadays.

Linked In

The chain, I'll grant you, is moving in the correct direction. But the chain has got to want to be pushed, and there lies the accomplishment. I just lost a job as spokesman for a government owned industry, any leads?


It's pushing that chain uphill!


This would be 4WD (four wheel drive), not FWD. FWD is car industry speak for Front Wheel Drive. I do wonder why they need that tow chain, though.

[The truck is an FWD, nameplate of the Four Wheel Drive Auto Co. of Clintonville, Wisconsin. - Dave]

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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