Special Delivery: The Harley-Davidson Package Truck
When Harley-Davidson introduced the package truck in 1915, they had no idea how the commercial market would react. Their previous attempt at a commercial vehicle, the motorcycle truck, had been far from successful, so there were high hopes at the Motor Company for the package truck. In it’s stock form, it was basically just a cargo container mounted to a sidecar frame, but like every Harley-Davidson product, customization radically changed the original design.
During their 42 year production, the package trucks were modified in ways that would make even Arlen Ness envious. From the start, Harley knew that the flat sides were perfect for advertising, so they offered custom lettering from the factory. Customers also began replacing the original boxes with job specific containers that could carry everything from dry cleaning to ponies. From there some companies dropped the idea of delivery completely and just used the package truck as a base to build a rolling advertisement. My favorite of these was a life size cow replica used to advertise a dairy. Just imagine riding around town with a fake cow sitting next to you!
Needless to say, the package truck was a great success for Harley in the commercial market. Production might have even continued past the 1950’s if it hadn’t been for Harley’s most famous commercial machine, the Servi-Car.