Annual Marmon Truck Gathering planned for April 25-26

By Sandi Soendker, Land Line editor-in-chief | 3/11/2014

With a deep teal blue paint job and gleaming chrome, the last Marmon truck rolled off the line in 1997. Going on close to 2 million miles later and a bit faded by the Texas sun, it’s still on the road.

It’s owned by OOIDA Life Member Ken Matuszak of McKinney, Texas, who pre-ordered it from Marmon Motor Truck and enjoys the distinction of owning the last one ever made.

Photo courtesy of Ken Matuszak

OOIDA Life Member Ken Matuszak’s Marmon is the last one made.

“My truck has 1,750,000-plus miles on it and it’s still out there every day, hauling freight,” says Ken.

Marmons were handmade and famous for their solid design. They were considered by many the ultimate work rig and were called by some “the Cadillac of heavy trucks.” Ken enjoys the interest he gets from other drivers when he exhibits his Marmon, and has a lot of fun with the attention he getswhile it’s on the road.

“Some drivers come up to talk to me who just haven’t seen one in a while,” says Ken, “but the questions I get a kick out of are from the younger drivers who ask,‘Who makes that truck? What is it? Where did it come from?’”

Every year, Ken and his wife Carol host a gathering in McKinney. The 13th annual Marmon Truck Gathering will be held April 25-26. Ken describes the event as more like a family reunion to the dozen or so Marmon owners and their families who attend. This year, the two-day barbeque and raffle will include something new – a Marmon parts swap meet.

“The parts won’t be there. It’s kinda hard to lug around a lot of parts, but people will bring a paper list of stuff they have or want to swap or a list of some part they are looking for,” says Ken.

And of course, they’ll talk history. Marmon launched its highway tractor back in 1961 under the name Marmon-Herrington. The company was based in Indianapolis. The first trucks built were cabover designs made of steel, says Ken, “And they had Cummins engines and then later Caterpillars.”

According to Ken, Marmon-Herrington was sold in 1963, and the name was changed to Marmon Motor Truck Co. and moved to Denton, Texas. The next year, it built its first all-aluminum cab. The company was sold to Space Corp. in 1964 and moved to Garland, Texas. Production of the cabover ended in 1985. In 1992, big changes were made and the conventional offered a bigger cab and new integrated bunk.

The last one – Ken’s Marmon – was made in Garland in February 1997, and then the plant closed.

How many Marmons are still out there working? That’s a question he’s often asked.

“I can’t get access to every state’s registration so it’s hard to tell,” says Ken. “Plus, Marmon sold a bunch of trucks to Kentucky to work in the coal mines and those trucks were never registered.”

Ken says most people don’t know this, but 50 percent of the Marmon truck production went to Saudi Arabia to the oil field.

“No telling how many are there. They were also sold to a holding or exchange-type company in Australia as Max Marmons,” he says. “So I get email from Marmon owners in Australia and New Zealand, plus the United Kingdom and Nova Scotia and other countries. We’d like to know,but there is no way to tell how many are out there.”

At age 69, Ken’s not sure what the future holds for the last Marmon.

“I am debating on putting it in a museum or keeping it until I die. I’m not sure yet. But right now, it runs good and I’m in good health.”

The location of this year’s event is the Days Inn Motel parking lot at 2104 N. Central Expressway (Highway 75) in McKinney.For more information on the annual Marmon gathering, call 469-667-7158.

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