Fleet graphics awards, 1976 Bicentennial edition

It's June 1976, time for Fleet Owner to give out awards for the best in fleet graphics. Whaaaaaat.

Some 480 issues and 40 years ago, it was just about time to celebrate the good old U. S. of A.'s big 200th birthday. And surprise! Like we do now every June, we were showing off sharp, innovative designs of fleet trucks, when at the time the norm for trucks was plainer and more straightforward. Fleet Owner saw the business potential in the truck as a clever rolling billboard.

Back then, we called these the Vehicle Color Design Awards and judged them like a fine, expressive art.

"An already difficult judging job becomes almost impossible when you have to face the fact that your native land is celebrating its [200th] birthday, and that two-thirds of the entrants in the design competition take an understandably proud attitude toward the celebration," the intro to our 40-years-ago feature reads. "Red, white and blue are fairly popular colors in any year, but for this year's competition it got to the point where one of the judges was giving serious thought to re-enlisting."

Sure, we see that. Today, actually, we wish more had survived the "stickler" cut — the competition rules disqualified a number of fleets' special, one-time "Spirit of '76" and USA-themed entries. The idea was that the awards were to commend fleets' design innovations rather than a limited or temporary theme, so there were also lots of those earthy, autumnal oranges, yellows, reds and so on favored in the '70s that had faded in following '60s psychedelia.

As the nation now prepares to celebrate her 240th this Independence Day, check out these fleet trucks we recognized four decades ago for their designs. And God bless America just as much.


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