Another Old Guide To Truck Liveries, But Simpler: Cold Start


Remember last month when I showed you that fantastic 1970s guide to Bell System vehicle liveries, full of all the carefully-considered details and measurements and guides about how to paint their vans and other vehicles? It was pretty glorious. Today I want to show you another livery guide, in part as a contrast to the extremely precise and meticulous Bell System one. This one is far simpler, far easier for a local franchise to replicate, which must have been the point. This is Sunoco’s 1959 guide to its paint schemes, found preserved over at The Samba. Let’s look at some of these pages!

I don’t think it’s as impressive a livery as what Bell System did, but you have to keep in mind the context. Bell System divisions were huge companies, with actual art departments and lots of skilled workers to make these liveries, um, live. A Sunoco station may just be a family-owned franchise out in the middle of nowhere; keeping things simple is just a smart plan for Sunoco.

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The main goal of all this is made pretty clear on the cover:

Cs Sunoco 2

MAKE THEM LOOK ALIKE, it shouts. And, yeah, that’s pretty much the whole point of vehicular liveries, just distilled down to its essence. So, what are the basic rules?

Cs Sunoco 3a

It’s pretty much that blue, that yellow, and that decal of the logo. Also – is the word “decal” short for “decalcomania?” That sounds like what happens when stickers drive you mad. It seems to be an image transfer method, developed in the late 18th century and used by the surrealists! It can be as simple as folding over a paper with wet paint to create a mirrored image on the other side!

There’s lettering, too, but no complex stripes with precise measurements or anything like that. There’s no typeface specified for the text, just the suggestion that the “lettering be done by a professional”:

Cs Sunoco 4a There’s a Chevy panel van example, too. What other examples do we get?

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Classic Ford F-100, Dodge wagon. Some of these details on the drawings seem a bit… haphazard, but they work.

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The generic “4-door sedan” is interesting, mostly because the generic sedan shape of that era is what we would consider a fastback now, not the three-box generic sedan shape most of us think of. Is that a wood push bar, too? There’s also a Jeep panel van here, which is interesting.

Cs Sunoco 7

Here’s more Jeepy goodness; the Jeep Station Wagon (Brazilians know these as Ford Rurals) and Jeep pick-up, all with the V-shaped grille front end Jeep used for these.

Cs Sunoco 8

These are my favorites: we have a Jeep cab-over up there, looking like a Jeep FC-based tow truck, but I suspect this would work for any cabover. The Volkswagen Type 2 van is great to see as well, even if the artist got the taillights pretty wrong. Plenty of room for text and graphics on the sides of an old panel Type 2!

Fascinating stuff! And Good Friday to everyone who celebrates!



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