Starting in 1911 the company began building the Little Giant truck chassis, which could be purchased as is, and owners could build whatever type of body that they wanted for it.
The company also contracted with a few coach builders to put open-bed truck bodies, panel truck bodies or bus bodies on the chassis. This way, ready-to-use vehicles or custom use vehicles could also be sold.
It is unknown how many trucks and buses were built from 1911-17, at which time the company got out of the truck business.
The trucks and buses were all built on the same 1-ton chassis with a two-cylinder, 20-horsepower engine and a two-speed planetary transmission with a top speed of about 25 mph.
Sometime before 2010, a friend of Wayne MacDonald of McConnellsburg, Pa., found this 1912 Little Giant Model D bus and took it to a restoration shop.
After getting some pretty high bills from the shop and seeing little progress, he took the bus and offered it to Wayne, who decided that he could handle the project. It would be a unique addition to his collection of antique cars, which includes his first car, a 1950 Dodge Meadowbrook sedan, given to him by his grandmother when he was 15. The old Dodge has been restored to its original condition in a Dominion Blue.
Wayne’s next project is a Dominion Blue 1950 Dodge Wayfairer convertible. His collection also includes a fully restored 1925 Dodge Bros. wrecker, a 1925 Chrysler and a 1931 Chrysler CM convertible coupe.
When Wayne got the 1912 Little Giant, the chassis was dismantled, and the bus body that the shop was building was incomplete, too narrow to fit on the chassis and of poor craftsmanship.
He also found that many parts were missing, so he reassembled the chassis and handcrafted the missing parts before he took it back apart to restore it.
In 2010 at the Hershey Antique Automobile Club of America Eastern Meet, he found some factory sales literature with pictures of the Little Giant; this aided him in restoring it.
He then located a man who owned one of the five remaining Little Giant trucks in the country. Wayne made arrangements to meet the man to take measurements of his truck bed because the attachment points would be the same.
Wayne fabricated the stunning 8 1/2-foot-tall bus body, which you see in these pictures.
When the bus was finished, he had to custom build an enclosed trailer to take the bus to shows.
The restoration was complete in the spring of 2014, just in time for the AACA Southeastern Spring Meet in Charlotte, N.C.
The Little Giant won its first Junior Award in the bus division. At the AACA Eastern Meet in Buffalo, N.Y., last spring, Wayne’s bus won its first Senior Award. In February it was nominated for and won a National Award in Philadelphia.
Wayne says there are only seven Little Giant trucks left in existence; his is the only bus.
There are two trucks in Australia, one of which is drivable; the other is in pieces. Of the five trucks in America, one is at the Imperial Palace in Las Vegas; one is in original condition and runs in Iowa; one is drivable in Kansas; and the restored truck in Connecticut from which Wayne got his measurements.
He has driven his Little Giant in local parades and at several shows around the eastern part of the country while “racking up” about 50 miles on it. The truck has a top speed of 25 mph, so he isn’t going to get anywhere fast, but he enjoys getting to where he’s going!
Until next week, keep on cruising!