1963 Mack B61: Intimidating Purchase

macktruck

When I look at a truck like this, all I can think of is the movie “Duel.” Simultaneous to that, I ponder what it must be like to have to restore something so large, given it will likely have to sit idle somewhere while parts are sourced or the engine is rebuilt. Either way, both thoughts are intimidating! This 1961 Mack B61 truck here on eBay is listed for $5,000 or best offer and represents an era of commercial-grade work trucks that still brought a fair amount of style to the party, in addition to their tough-as-nails reputation. The seller mentions it was special-ordered when new, and it makes me wonder what that translates to in the trucking world. I doubt it had to do with interior features and far more to do with whatever its intended use was going to be once delivered. That’s a part of this working girl’s history I’d love to know more about. Would you ever take on a classic rig as a restoration project?

Fast Finds

Comments

  1. Brian

    with a 146.5 in wheelbase I bet it rides like a tank. I know Mack trucks don’t ride the best anyway but yikes

  2. Jaygryph

    I say chop the rear axel off and make an adorable little pickup bed for it just big enough to haul something like a Crosley or other such tiny vehicle in it and have fun being the conversation piece of any show’s you take it to.

  3. Chris in Nashville

    I wish I had the cash. Have always wanted to do one of these. Unless the drivetrain is a simple fix I would go with a modern poweplant. Likely a drag worth diesel engine and chop the back axle off.

  4. Flman

    Would definitely be badass to see this live again as a pickup running a modern power plant. Huge beefy cab, big bulky nose, and a lift kit! FTW

  5. Dave Wright

    Basically, All heavy trucks are special ordered and custom built. There are too many variables to simply have a stock type vehicle. These were built for a job and each job has its own requirements, more or less power, different differential ration, different transmissions, Mack has great records, even with there early trucks you can learn who ordered it new and what the original specifications were. Macks are unique in that they built the complete truck, including engine, transmissions and rear ends. Other makers were more prone to using off the shelf parts from various suppliers. In Mack’s case this was a good and bad thing. The trucks were well built but parts can be a challenge compared with another make that used say, Cummins engines and Rockwell axles. Macks could also be ordered with more common parts but many were “all Mack”. This is a great old company that literally built America, from the earliest chain drive models to late model high powered road tractors. The B cabs make great collectors, find an old Mack fire truck with chrome grills for parts, a set of Alcoa aluminum wheels, power steering and off you go.

    Like 5
    • Ed P

      Maneuvering this Mack without power steering must have been a real muscle builder!

      Like 1
      • Dave Wright

        You learn very quickly to get it moving before trying to steer it.

        Like 3
    • The Walrus

      I thought the color of the Bulldog told you whether it was ‘all Mack’… my understanding was a gold dog was All Mack and the silver meant parts were externally sourced.

  6. Jim Capp

    Always loved the look of these old Mack’s, my father was a Truck Mechanic & sometimes went to work with him during the summer. I still have a Mack dog mounted on a piece of wood from an old truck there.

    • matthew

      The silver dog was all mack from stem to stern.
      The gold dog was also the same except for the engine which was a low rev high torque engine called a maxadine and a high torque mack trans a 5 speed dual stick tranny or a single stick 6 speed.The first engine you would lug down to 1200 rpm and not kill it.
      again mack inside and out.
      also all macks had arm strong stearing,with a 24 inch stearing wheel

      Like 2
  7. Charles in TX

    pic attached!

  8. KLHarper

    Dave is pretty accurate in his assesment. I worked as an engineer for mack when volvo purchased them. Volvo has pretty much ruined them and now they are mostly just rebadged volvos

    Trivia bit. In the old days if you had a gold bulldog it was all mack. If it was silver then part of the driveline was not mack.

    A b61 firetruck is a very cool truck

    • The Walrus

      My uncle once called the gold dog ‘Macksodine’ or ‘Macksimize’ or something to that effect. Was that ever a thing?

      • Dave Wright

        Mack had colorful names for there engines. Some were Thermodine, Maxidine, and I think there was an econodine or something like that. There were a lot of Mack military trucks with diesels. At one time the surplus engines were a flood on the market and very cheep to buy. Mack had a tendency to under rate the horsepower of there engines. They built a 237HP diesel for ever that would run with a 300 Cummins. There are many improvements you could do to improve these old trucks…..not only Macks……Modern spring technology has done an incredible job of improving the ride quality, Leaf springs are now tapered to give a good ride and equal or even more strength. These old trucks had huge spring stacks that were really rough and of course there is air bag suspension that has been long perfected. A common reason for being written up at the inspection stations used to be broken springs. I had an International that was very similar to this truck, if you went over a rather smooth Rail Road crossing over 10 MPH, you would bang your head on the roof. That truck had the great IHC 549 gas V8 that would out pull many diesels. This type of vehicle is not terribly expensive to restore but it requires heavy equipment to do a good job. They are simple machines that never had a Porsche like finish. They are tools and a much more important part of our history than any individual car. Macks were much more popular in the east than here in the west. We like our western built trucks, Peterbuilt and Kenworth among others. We were a little quicker to embrace high power over the road trucks with the greater distances and grades we had to deal with. We used to have great fun with “eastern” drivers negotiating a 7% 10 mile down grade. Brakes on fire, no Jake brake……lots of white knuckles and escape ramps…….the not so fun parts were many fatalities of drivers in an unfamiliar environment. Another note……many old truckers are deaf from driving short stack non air conditioned trucks…..with the windows down.

        Like 2
    • Brian

      I have driven a 14 Mack and a 14 volvo and from a drivers perspective they are 2 different animals. I know they are the same company but switching back and forth nothing is in the same spot

      • Viper tom

        Now that you have teased us with your experience, which do you prefer and why? Inquiring minds want to know.

  9. Bobsmyuncle

    This thing is so cool it’s unreal. I’d love to find a way to use something like this. Maybe drop it on a modern chassis like you see done with COE these days.

    Though I haven’t seen him in some time I have an old friend that was a trucker during the heydays of the business.

    Running back roads to avoid the scales, running from cops with all lights off in the middle of the night, truckers blocking cops by driving two abreast, runaway rigs, the stories were amazing.

    He custom ordered his Peterbilt and as mentioned gearing was a big one. Needed long legs to avoid the Boys in Blue!

    Like 1
  10. Rev Rory

    So there.

  11. James

    heres my mates commercial that he restored. its a 50’s Mercedes that belonged to holsten pils when new hence the beer barrel instead of the Mercedes emblem. not as big as the Mack but still a challenge for parts

    Like 1
  12. 1969Deuce

    It should be no surprise that this truck came up on my Ebay feed the day it was listed. I used to move B61s around the lots when I was just out of high school and working for a demolition company. They are an absolute HOOT and you learn quickly not to slip the clutch. This is close to the preferred method of running the gears, but the left arm should actually go through the steering wheel.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2mf6AUbjT-s

  13. Duffy

    There was a truck collision shop in Geneva, NY who used to paint 4-5 of these Mack trucks a week for a company called Bean Mack in Rochester,NY and Beam Mack of Elmira,NY. The trucks where all brand new they use to change the color from red to white or white to red. People use to go see the men get these trucks ready while being painted. Phil Trunzo’s Collision also had International Harvester Trucks where they use to paint the big bird on the side of the sleeper trucks which where all black, the bird was 7 colors. In those days it was a site to see. This old Mack brings back a lot of memories.

    Like 1
  14. Howard A Member

    Now this is what I’m talkin’ about. 1st, the truck in “Duel” was a 1955 Peterbilt. A “B” model Mack was used in the movie “Maximum Overdrive” ( totally lame movie, but great truckspotting) I’ve always liked the B model Mack, although, I’ve never actually driven one, I spent a lot of time in a R model, and have a bad back because of it. Truth be known, these were miserable trucks to drive, day in and day out. They rode terrible, cramped, hot, noisy, rattled, underpowered and shook your guts, at least the R model did, so rough in fact, it would pop out of gear, and I believe this had the same suspension ( camelback?) I never knew that about the gold and silver bulldogs ( we called the bulldog hood ornament, one axxhole looking at another) Mack, without question, was THE toughest truck out there. The saying was, if you killed a Mack, you shouldn’t be in a truck. I’ve taken Mack trucks places you’d never think a loaded truck could go, but it rarely broke. The 5 and 4 boxes should keep you busy, as the 711 motor, I think, was 250 hp. Pulling 73,280 lbs. ( legal load limit when this truck was new), you dasn’t be in a hurry, and you WILL be working those shifters up a hill. ( believe me. I know, trucked for 35 years) I agree, the best thing to do with this, is convert it to a single axle, and make a motorhome out of it. Trucks have come a long way, and although the B model was a tad before my time, this was the best there was in the day. http://www.videotapeswapshop.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/maximum-overdrive-two.jpg

    Like 1
    • Howard A Member

      One more thing. That straight exhaust pipe (no muffler), may look cool, but I guarantee you, after 20 minutes with your foot to the floor, it gets old pretty quick. ( don’t get me wrong, I love loud machines as much as the next motorhead, love Top Fuel dragsters, it’s just, hour after hour, day after day, it gets old). And the “armstrong steering”, like Dave ^ sez, you have to be moving to turn the steering wheel, especially when loaded. I drove a R model with manual steering, ( spare tractor) when my other truck was being serviced, and I had “Charley horses ” in my arms by the end of the day. ( boss said, “drive that truck for 2 weeks, and you could arm wrestle anyone”) I owned a Peterbilt with manual “center-point” steering, and that was a little better, but still PS is the way to go. Drove a Mack with “air-assist” steering once. Better, but you’d run out of air backing in somewhere.

      • Brian

        I spend 10 hours a day with twin 5 inch stacks no mufflers and twin turbo c13 KW t800and it isn’t to bad with the windows up lol

    • geomechs geomechs Member

      Hi Howard. We had a couple of oilfield hauling companies that used exclusively Mack until they decided to sell off their trucks and hire OO’s. Suffice it to say that I overhauled a lot of fuel systems for those trucks. I remember the fleet operator telling me why they used Macks: ‘You can put a complete idiot behind the wheel and he can’t hurt it.’ I was at a show a couple of weeks ago. The documents on this truck say that it was on the job building the Hoover Dam back in the day.

      Like 2
      • geomechs geomechs Member

        Oops. Looks like this image didn’t go through. I’ll try it again.

        Like 1
    • Edd L. Brock

      Actually, Howard, TWO trucks were used in “Duel”: the 1955 Peterbilt 281 and a 1960 Peterbilt 351. https://www.imcdb.org/vehicle_5148-Peterbilt-281-1955.html
      https://www.imcdb.org/vehicle_1336935-Peterbilt-351-1961.html

  15. Rob

    Coolest looking truck ever. IMHO

  16. 1969Deuce

    I’d repair, then either preserve or restore. I’d never bob it because there are plenty of single rears that pop up for sale. Parts are available, including the smaller engine right now on Ebay for $2K rebuilt. Two sites have want ads and information. http://www.oldmacks.com/trucks.htm and http://www.bigmacktrucks.com/

    I can see removing the 5th wheel for a different back end, or perhaps making a removable slide-on body that docks on top of it. They aren’t cushy riders and you shift a Quadraplex constantly, so I wouldn’t think it would make sense as a camper or the like for frequent long trips. It would be a cool car hauler. Again, don’t bob it so you can carry that Gran Prix or ’58 Caddy.

    Unfortunately, their resale value really isn’t in line with the restoration costs, so taking one on happens because you’re hooked on them. And yes, I would in a heartbeat, if I didn’t have the Deuce already.

    Like 1
    • geomechs geomechs Member

      Hi Deuce. If one looked at most of the restoration projects out there, it’s doubtful if you would find anything that would bring what was put into the job. The way I (and others) see it, it’s the journey itself; a labor of love. I went to a show a couple of weeks ago and saw some really nice old trucks. I was told that some of them were well past the six figure mark to make new again. The owners/restorers just dig in and do what needs to be done. The end result is worth it.

      Like 1
  17. krash

    The CEO of Mack used to go to dinner with my parents once a week…

    Grew up with all sorts of Mack memorabilia around the house…toy trucks, bulldogs, t-shirts…you name it….

    Got to tour factories and play in the new models every year…

    Nice memories….Mack Trucks hold a special place in my childhood..

    …one of the factory mechanics set up a hood ornament on an old Mack ….the bulldog would rotate and spray water on you as you walked by…..from a hidden spray in between the bulldog’s legs…..funny!

    Like 1
    • David G

      Really, do you remember the Mack CEO’s name?
      Were you in Allentown then?
      I toured Mack as a kid (approx ’68) and met the CEO, wonder if it’s the same guy…

  18. Chris in Nashville

    Anyone wanna lend me $5000 to go get this one?

  19. Dave Weight

    If I was going to do a Mack…….I would look for a Jr Pickup or an LT from the early 50’s

    Like 1
  20. Dave Weight

    Love the long nose

  21. jim s

    i could go for a Mack Jr pickup. i would rather have the B61 then the lifted 4x4s i see all the time. learned something new on the gold/silver dog.

    Like 1
  22. Chuck Foster Chuck F 55chevy

    I was in 3rd grade about 1966, my step dad drove a red Mack like this hauling building materials from Terre Haute IN to Ft Wayne, where we lived. He let me ride with him once and I remember it being too noisy in the cab to talk, and a pretty bouncy ride until we loaded up and headed back. It was a similar cab, but looked older, maybe that big bumper makes this one look more modern. This would be a great car hauler for that old vehicle that’s not quite up to long interstate road trips, put a sleeper cab and car ramp behind that, or make a longer RV style with a 5th wheel style trailer.

  23. gkrone

    Rock River Cartage in my home town ran Macks exclusively hauling steel for the local mill. My dad was good friends with the owners and the company is still there.

    Like 1
  24. Stu

    The original specs for the truck should still be available from Mack. We ordered the specs for our single axle 1961 B-61 and it’s more like a 1/2 thick book. Mack doesn’t charge for this but they do accept donations.

    We’ve had our truck about 10 yrs. It came with a big Tulsa winch that wasn’t hooked up and no bed. We had a 5th wheel plate on it for a while but found pulling a flat trailer you had to have a way to load and unload at each end of the trip. After letting it ‘rest’ the last 5 yrs or so my son and I are leaning toward a flatbed dump with a gooseneck hitch in the middle of the bed. What a blast it would be to pull our 25′ gooseneck tilt flatbed trailer with tandem duals, and hydraulic winch. Then the dump bed would be good for hauling dirt, gravel, firewood, etc.

    The 673 Mack is about the same rated power as our Dodge Cummins pickups but this one has the 5 times 3 gear choices and a little heavier suspension and brakes than the Dodges. Whenever you SMOOTHLY (no synchros) shift both boxes at once without even a little scratch, it makes your whole day!

    Like 1
    • 1969Deuce

      I’d love to see photos of your truck.

  25. Jim Ward

    I think leave dual axles remove 5th wheel and make a bed would be a neat truck and if done correctly you could haul a car on the back and even tow a trailer if you had more than one car to take to a show.

    • 1969Deuce

      One of the best reasons not to bob a dual like this one is that single axles pop up fairly regularly if that’s what you want. They were very popular for local work. This day cab just came up on Ebay. Leaving aside the ugly factor, it gives a good idea of the shortened frame. I think I’d want every foot I could get.

      http://www.ebay.com/itm/1965-Mack-B61-Single-Axle-Day-Cab-Tractor-/131574951290?forcerrptr=true&hash=item1ea27a6d7a&item=131574951290&autorefresh=true

      • Dave Wright

        I think if I was going to do a B cab I would look for a single axle and stretch the frame for a 20 or so foot flatbed. The longer frame really improves the ride quality. I would also look for a truck with Budd wheels. They are much more attractive and simpler to deal with than the Gunite spokes that were common on these trucks.

  26. Polarisky

    Duel! I first saw that movie as a kid and it scared the wits out of me, but I loved it! Didn’t think anybody remembered it.

  27. geomechs geomechs Member

    I never tire of looking at old trucks. Here’s a B61 from a show a couple of weeks ago. Well done for sure. I did up the fuel system for a ’56 model last year. The owner said it was off the same truck his dad drove NEW back then. It took a lot of research and then getting it home.

    You wouldn’t believe what these guys do in a restoration. They take the FRAME apart; grind off the rivets and drive them out; clean everything, repair what needs to be then line it all up and rivet it back together again. No bondo in the sheet metal; gas-weld (no migs) patch panels in place, hammer everything till it’s straight then paint it. But the end result is worth it all.

    Like 1
  28. 1969Deuce

    “…Here’s a B61 from a show a couple of weeks ago…”

    I’d like to see photos of that. They didn’t seem to come through.

    Meanwhile, it doesn’t look like the title truck in this thread sold.

    Steve

    Like 1
  29. geomechs geomechs Member

    Hi 1969 Deuce. I guess my pictures were a little too big and they didn’t go through. Try this one.

    Like 4
    • 1969Deuce

      Very, very nice. And it’s a natural bobber for those guys who want one.

      Like 1
  30. 1969Deuce

    Another natural bobber has popped up for sale on Ebay in CO. I’d offer, not pay the asking price, but it’d make a heckuva’ car hauler.

    Steve

    Like 1
    • geomechs geomechs Member

      Hi Steve. It’s nice to see the interest on these pick up again. For years, after a lot of successful miles, the poor B-series kind of faded away. Now it seems that they’re coming out again. I have to say that they’re fairly easy to work on albeit heavy, and parts aren’t all that much trouble. Been having some problems finding parts for the Woodward governors on the injection pumps but there are a few specialists who are holding out on stashes of them. Of course one can simply convert the injection pump over to a later version. I’d like to restore one; I’ve even got one on my radar but my shop is too full and my better half might start suggesting very strongly that I change my zip code…

      Like 2
  31. Cap10

    OMW! This brought back memories… my Dad drove dump trucks and snowplows working for the township of New Berlin, NY. They drove Oshkosh, Brockway, International, and an old Army “Duece and a quarter” they fitted with a sander (since it had six-wheel drive).

    But his favorite was the 1958 B-Series Mack. Kinda got into his bloodstream.

    After that, he stuck with Macks for the remainder of his 33 year career with the township. During his career, his CB handle was “Big Mack”, he had a Mack Bulldog hood ornament on every one of his pickups, and one of my Aunts even knitted a sweater for it. A few years ago, I gave him a cane with a Mack Bulldog hood ornament as a handle.

    I watched the “Twin Stick Pappy” video link someone provided here showing a guy rowing the twin shifters. Maaaaan, did THAT bring back memories of watching my Dad do that in his ol’ Mack.

    Thanks for occasionally posting “big boy toys”!

    Like 1
    • Steven Ligac

      I’m not a restorer (alas, $) but I read nearly every post here on FB. I’ve enjoyed this one the most of all. I did drive a big truck for a whole (Volvo). I’ve never driven a duplex, though, which is a bucket-list item for me.
      Thanks to all faithful commentors. I’m a DAV and unable to work. Y’all make my days much brighter.
      Thanks,
      Gypsy Steve

  32. Ray Jurgensmier

    I am looking for a average single axle b model mack. Running shape driveable, nothing fanncy,I like it in its work clothes. Just to drive a little bit in tithe country roads. I appreciate any leads I can get. I am from wis. Near fond du lac. Rayshandywipes5@ gmail.com or 920 579 9978.Thank you.

  33. Ray Jurgensmier

    The b modell mack i am looking for would have a gas engine?

  34. Barbara L Ahalt

    I am looking for a B61 Mack fire truck in the years 1960 through 1965 for sale. Nothing fancy, decent priced. barb.ahalt@gmail.com

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.

*

Notify me of new comments via email. Or subscribe without commenting.