Pretend for a moment you work for Holmes, the world renowned manufacturer of towing and recovery equipment. You just finished the design for the W-70 that ultimately will turn out to be the largest and most powerful mechanical wrecker ever built. Your final challenge is to figure out is what truck can handle this behemoth. Thankfully you’re a smart engineer and you start at the top of the trucking alphabet with A for Autocar.
Thanks to the bluster of Hurricane Matthew, Ed was forced to take a detour on the way to Florida via Tennessee. Chattanooga to be specific. While in town he stopped by the International Towing and Recovery Museum. Among the many exhibits one truck stood out not only for its size but for its history. This 1961 Autocar DC-9764SOH has the last remaining Holmes W-70 mounted to its chassis. One of four units produced in the early 1950’s for the U.S. military, the W-70 while powerful and capable, was deemed insufficient for the plans Uncle Sam had for it and the truck entered into life of heavy towing. A 180 Cummins connected to a 5 speed with a 4 speed auxiliary was and remains the beating heart of this truck. The W-70 was one of the first to use a PTO for boom swing and extension and has a 500ft drum capacity of 7/8ths steel wire. Unbelievably this unique truck was destined for scrap but was saved by the efforts of Ken Cruse, Donnie Cruise and Terry Humelsine. Bringing this truck back to original condition was a costly affair but one that is appreciated by all towing and trucking enthusiasts worldwide.
Below, a nicely done video by American Towman TV that takes us through the history of the truck including before and after shots of this amazing combo.