June 27, 2024

BETHLEHEM

Bethlehem Motors Corp. (1917-1926)
Allentown, Pennsylvania 


This is a Bethlehem radiator emblem (poss 1917-1920)    mjs
Size: 68mm high 45mm wide   MM: D L Auld

The first Bethlehem trucks were of 1-1/4-ton capacity using 23hp GB & S engines and 2-1/4-ton capacity using 26hp North American engines. Bethlehem also built Liberty trucks for the US military during the First World War. By 1919, Bethlehem offered 1-1/2-ton, 2-1/2-ton and 3-1/2-ton capacity trucks. Bethlehem enjoyed good sales in the early years with 3,500 trucks built in 1919.

Bethlehem bought out North American Motors in 1920 and began to produce their own engines. Bethlehem introduced a 3/4-ton Delivery Boy to the truck range in 1920. Bethlehem also began production of buses in 1920 and made an automobile for export only called the Ideal. Bethlehem also expanded its plant in anticipation of increased sales but these did not materialize and Bethlehem was in receivership by the end of 1920.  The new Bethlehem management continued the old models in limited numbers from 1921. Only 42 trucks were built in 1924 and it was all over for Bethlehem by 1926.

Emblems

There are very few good original period photos of Bethlehem trucks showing the radiator and a limited number of surviving Bethlehem trucks, so there is some speculation regarding the dates of use of known Bethlehem emblems. 

The earliest Bethlehem trucks in 1917 had conventional brass radiators, see illustrations shown below:

Bethlehem truck ad (1917)    ma

Bethlehem favored the color green and even as early as October 1917, the available Bethlehem truck chassis color schemes were noted as "the famous Bethlehem green and black, army tan and black, and gray and black". The Bethlehem green was also shown in some Bethlehem advertisements, see example shown below:

Bethlehem truck advertisement (1917)    ebay

The following Bethlehem truck photo taken from a 1917 newspaper article appears to show a radiator emblem:

Bethlehem truck showing a radiator emblem (1917)     pittsburgh sunday post

It is not possible to see the details of the design of this radiator emblem from the poor quality photo shown above. It is likely that this first Bethlehem truck radiator emblem was the rectangular blue, green and white enamel Bethlehem radiator emblem shown above at the top of this post and again below. This Bethlehem radiator emblem is very rare.

This is a Bethlehem radiator emblem (poss 1917-1920)   mjs
Size: 68mm high 45mm wide   MM: D L Auld

The following Bethlehem emblem could be a radiator emblem, although I had assumed that it may be a Bethlehem hub emblem. This Bethlehem emblem is very rare.

This is a Bethlehem emblem (c1917-1920)     mjs
Size: 53mm diameter    MM: Unknown

Emblem collectors should beware, as there are multicolored reproduction copies of the Bethlehem emblem shown above, see example shown below:

This is a reproduction Bethlehem emblem     ms

There was a change in Bethlehem radiator emblem for the 3-1/2-ton heavy duty truck that appeared in about 1918 for the 1919 model year. This truck had a heavy cast iron radiator with the "Bethlehem" name cast into the ribbed cast iron top section,  see Bethlehem factory illustration shown below:

Bethlehem heavy duty truck with cast rad emblem (c1918-1919) lktec

Bethlehem heavy duty truck radiator (c1918-1919)  lktec

The heavy duty Bethlehem truck also displayed the "Bethlehem" name on a nameplate mounted on the rear chassis cross frame member, see Bethlehem factory illustration shown below:

Bethlehem heavy duty truck with rear nameplate (c1918-1919) lktec

The new Bethlehem truck range introduced in 1920 included the 3/4-ton Delivery Boy truck, which had a conventional radiator. The following artist's impression of the Delivery Boy shows the "Bethlehem" name displayed across the radiator tank top, possibly using a decal or painted using a stencil.

Bethlehem Delivery Boy ad (1920)  ccj

Bethlehem Delivery Boy truck showing radiator emblem (1920)

A Bethlehem specification sheet for the 1-1/2-ton truck includes the following photo showing the same radiator emblem as for the Bethlehem Delivery Boy truck:

Bethlehem truck showing radiator emblem (1921)   statis.wikia

The heavier duty Bethlehem trucks continued to use a slightly changed ribbed cast iron radiator with the cast in radiator emblem, see example shown below:

Bethlehem 2-ton truck showing radiator & emblem (1923)  hatm

Close up Bethlehem heavy duty radiator & cast in emblem  moroz

I have not found any photos or illustrations of Bethlehem trucks showing body side or hood side nameplates. However, these nameplates were certainly used, see original examples shown below. Original Bethlehem truck nameplates are rare.

This is a Bethlehem nameplate (dates unknown)   mjs
Size: 372mm wide 76mm high

This Bethlehem nameplate is also found with a green star, see following simulation:

This is a Bethlehem truck nameplate (dates unknown)   ms
Size: 372mm wide 76mm high

This is a Bethlehem truck nameplate (dates unknown)   ms
Size: Unknown






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