Q: Greg, I enjoy your articles on nostalgia trucks and wondered if you could tell me some history of the mail delivery trucks?
I live in the Keystone State and many were built in Montgomery, Pa., called Grumman LLV trucks.
Thanks, Robert from Pennsylvania.
A: Robert, I’d be glad to.
First, there have been more special mail delivery trucks built in Montgomery, Pa., than anywhere else in the United States.
This fact includes research dating back to the mail delivery truck’s earliest roots that include a Ford chassis prior to moving over to production Jeeps.
Although the mail trucks are not built in Montgomery anymore, these Pennsylvania built units are worthy of note. Built by the Northrop Grumman Corporation, noted for aerospace and fighter jet contracts, they are called a Grumman LLV, the letters stand for “long life vehicle.”
The LLV had a manufacturer stated life cycle of 24 years, much longer than the Jeeps, and all LLVs utilized a General Motors chassis and a 2.5 liter 4-cylinder engine with automatic transmissions. The USPS decided not to renew its LLV contract in 1996, and the actual last Grumman LLV was built in 1994 and are still out there to this day.
As for history, the United States Postal Service (USPS) used Ford as its base chassis from June 1929 to March 1932.
Ford sold Model A and Model AA chassis with engines to the USPS, where they underwent construction into a mail delivery vehicle by USPS regional workers at USPS garages. They were finished in either oak or white ash, and then painted in the USPS colors of red, white and blue.
USPS van/truck bodies for the Fords came from five distinct companies, including York-Hoover Body Company of York, Pa.; the Mifflinburg Body Company of Mifflinburg, Pa.; the August Schubert Wagon Works of Syracuse, N.Y.; the Metropolitan Body Company of Bridgeport, Conn.; and the General Motors Truck Company of Pontiac, Mich.
During and after World War II, Jeeps were used by the USPS after a great experience with the vehicles on all types of surfaces by soldiers at home and abroad.
Two Jeeps were used by USPS, including a 2WD CJ3A Jeep Dispatcher from 1955-64 and then the DJ5 model, produced from 1965-83 and based on the Jeep CJ5 with a 4x4 option. Also in the 1950s, special right-hand-drive Jeeps were introduced for USPS local carriers on suburban routes.
The Jeep continued its dominance of the USPS fleet until the late 1980s when they were replaced by the mail delivery van we came to know from Montgomery, Pa. However, cold rural carriers, where snowstorms are the norm, relied on Jeeps through 2001, the last official USPS Jeep being a 2001 Jeep Cherokee 4x4.
Fast forward to today, and the United States Postal Service awarded five selected manufacturers to build prototypes, and two are from foreign countries. However, all trucks will be assembled in the USA according to the contract awarding info, and the deal is said to be worth at least $6-billion for 180,000 new mail trucks.
Competing for the new contract are AM General (GM), Karsan (Turkey), Mahindra (India), Oshkosh (Ford), Utilimaster and VT Hackney. Most of the prototypes will feature electric/hybrid technologies and alternative fuel and electric plug-in capabilities. These prototypes are all interesting and a story in itself.
I recommend you check out this site for a good article by Jerry Hirsch that explains how this big money contract is loaded with political ramifications. Check here at www.trucks.com/2018/06/12/politics-complicate-mail-truck-contract/
Hope this info helps, and thanks for your question Robert.