New local business services America’s oldest truck brand

Brian Hughes | Special to the News Bulletin/USA TODAY NETWORK

CRESTVIEW — A Crestview Area Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting on May 21 was flanked by a pair of impressive “severe-duty” Autocar trucks representing a 122-year heritage as America’s oldest, continuously operating truck brand.

Flanked by a pair of Autocar “severe-duty” trucks and surrounded by members of the Crestview Area Chamber of Commerce, Southern Commercial Diesel owner Kyle Ramos cuts the ribbon opening his Lloyd Street diesel truck maintenance and repair business recently in Crestview.

Southern Commercial Diesel owner Kyle Ramos and his staff were joined at their North Lloyd Street location in Crestview for the ribbon cutting by representatives of Autocar, Southern Commercial’s main client.

Crestview Area Chamber of Commerce board member Alex Barthé chats with Autocar regional business manager Ross O’Malley during Southern Commercial Diesel’s ribbon cutting on May 21 in Crestview.

Autocar's history

The Birmingham-based track manufacturer continues a tradition begun in 1899, two years after Autocar rolled its three-wheeled Autocar No. 1 out of its factory in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (That tiller-steered car still exists and is in the Smithsonian’s collection.)

Autocar began manufacturing trucks two years later with the Delivery Wagon, a chain-driven vehicle with the motor under the driver’s seat. It was the first truck manufactured in the Western Hemisphere. When Autocar developed the driveshaft in 1901, chain-driven vehicles were promptly relegated to history.

By 1907, Autocar was making only trucks and hasn’t stopped since.

As seen during the ribbon cutting ceremony, the Autocar trucks that Southern Commercial Diesel repair are substantially heftier than the open Delivery Wagon. Today, the vehicles are coordinated during manufacture with makers of dump bodies, flatbeds, and other configurations.

Bright red, white and blue patriotic graphics leave no doubt where this Autocar “severe duty” truck was made. The vehicle was displayed during Southern Commercial Diesel’s chamber of commerce ribbon cutting May 21 in Crestview.

Company officials at the ribbon cutting said Autocar’s advanced exhaust system scrubs out diesel fumes' inherent particles, resulting in exhaust that is almost pure oxygen and nitrogen, a mixture cleaner than the air the trucks’ mammoth grilles suck in.

A bank of gauges and dials on the sweeping instrument panel in front of the driver keeps an eye on all of the truck’s systems.

“It must be kind of like driving the space shuttle!” one chamber member said after he got to sit behind the wheel.

More about SCD

Southern Commercial Diesel LLC is a locally owned and operated diesel repair and heavy equipment maintenance provider based out of Crestview.

SoCo provides 24-hour-a-day, seven-days-a-week, on-site diesel repairs and fleet maintenance services, plus RV repairs on location.

SoCo’s service area covers Crestview, Destin, Holt, Fort Walton Beach, Pensacola, Santa Rosa Beach and surrounding areas. Visit or call 850-520-2797.