The Texaco Doodlebug was a peculiar-looking Diamond T tanker truck designed and built in the 1930s. It was an experiment in streamlining – a design style that was proving popular at the time. The Texaco Doodlebug was designed by Norman Bel Geddes, and the specially fabricated bodies were constructed by Heil Co in Alabama. It was based on a Diamond T truck chassis.
The Texaco Doodlebug featured a rear-mounted six-cylinder engine. The drivetrain position meant the cab was more spacious and could be located lower down than in a conventional truck. Interestingly, because the engine was at the opposite end of the vehicle and the driver couldn’t hear it, the Doodlebug had a small microphone in the engine bay connected to a speaker in the cab which allowed the driver listen out for when to make a gear change!
The Texaco Doodlebug came about after the company hired the Bel Geddes design firm to refresh their entire brand and give it a more contemporary style. Updates included changes to the Texaco logo, gas station architecture and even the attendants uniforms.
The Diamond T Texaco Doodlebug looked way ahead of its time. It didn’t look like any truck built before, or since for that matter. In keeping with the streamlining design theme the Doodlebug was extremely aerodynamic for its size. Many of the features introduced on the vehicle were several decades ahead of their time. The compound curved glass for the windscreen was one such feature. Similar windscreens didn’t go into mass production until the late ’50s.
Forgetting the striking pill-shaped overall shape, another aspect of the Texaco Doodlebug tanker which was surprising was its height. It was only a few inches taller than a regular family car of the time.
After the introduction of the Texaco Doodlebug, several other oil companies decided to create their own streamlined tanker trucks. Part of this craze was due to the fact oil companies were trying to persuade the American public to ditch coal for heating their homes and move to oil. The thinking was that people would prefer a sleek, futuristic delivery vehicle rather than a dirty, noisy and ugly conventional truck.
Diamond T Texaco Doodlebug specifications:
Length: 26 feet / 8 metres
Height: 6 feet / 1.8 metres
Fuel capacity: 1,500 gallons / 5,680 litres
Engine: Hercules six-cylinder