Not to be confused with either the REO Speed Wagon or the bands REO Speedwagon and Diamond Rio, the Diamond Reo Trucks Company began with a merger under the White Motor Corporation. Diamond T and Reo Trucks pooled their resources and names together to become Diamond Reo Trucks in 1967. Both Diamond T and Reo Trucks came into existence during the early 1900’s, thanks to the founder of Oldsmobile, R. E. Olds and C.A. Tilt.
Throughout the early part of last century, Diamond Reo found itself creating not only commercial vehicles, but military vehicles as well, particularly for war efforts during World War II.
Times changed, and both companies found themselves in financial difficulties. It was deemed advisable to join together under the White Motor Corporation. This did not last long, as Diamond Reo was purchased in the early 1970’s away from the White Motor Corporation. Without their capital and facilities, however, Diamond Reo found itself once more in trouble and had to declare bankruptcy.
It was once again rescued (most likely due to its excellent reputation and quality vehicles) and production was moved from Michigan to Pennsylvania, thanks to two men, Ray Houseal and Loyal Osterlund, who purchased the right to keep using the Diamond Reo label. Their Class 8 trucks rolled out two at a time, up until the mid-1990’s, in spite of the factory being capable of producing up to ten trucks a day, for a total of about one hundred and fifty trucks a year.
The trucks run on diesel (options are either a Caterpillar or a Cummins diesel fuel engine), with the choice between an Allison or Eaton transmission, and axles by Meritor or Dana. Once the new century arrived, it was thought that a truck that hearkened back to a vintage design would be quite popular with truck enthusiasts and operators. There were also options for owners who preferred a long nose or short nose cab, though the long nose was more familiar to older enthusiasts.
Unfortunately, not even a special edition of the Diamond Reo could save it a third time, and the company quit producing vehicles and parts in 2010 and 2013 respectively, shutting down all offices and facilities in 2015.
Fortunately, however, the remains of the company live on under the name T-Line Trucks & Chassis, which provides vehicles to North America and Europe. By extending its repertoire, so to speak, and offering glider kits, made-to-order trucks, and promising to reinstate Class 6, 7, and 8 vocational vehicles for sale to commercial customers in the very near future, it seems that Diamond Reo isn’t dead yet.
With its classic long nose, powerful engine, and updated technology, the Diamond Reo truck just might just be poised to make a comeback. There are still hundreds of adoring fans around the world who would love to own one of these big beasts and show them off at festivals like the ATHS National Convention and in magazines like 10-4.
Staving off extinction thrice is not something many vehicles can boast, which makes the Diamond Reo motto a perfect fit. It really is the toughest truck.