Some readers have asked just what the “Diamond-T” in the title references.
I can’t say I blame them. No vehicle named “Diamond-T” has been produced in nearly fifty years.
But before the Chicago-based truck manufacturer merged with Reo to form Diamond-Reo in 1967, Diamond-T’s were quite the thing. The Chicago-based manufacturer made their name building some of the best trucks on the road:
Mack’s direct competitor in the light-duty big-truck field was Diamond T, builder of what many called the “Cadillac of trucks.” Diamond Ts, no matter the size, were never short on style or class. Flowing fender lines, aggressive grilles, rakish cabs-there was simply no way to mistake heavy hauler from the Chicago company founded by C.A. Tilt. “A truck doesn’t have to be homely,” he reportedly said more than once.
I’ve always been fascinated with things that go: Cars, trucks, bikes, planes, ships. I’ve seen and admired Diamond-T trucks in books and occasionally in museums for most of my life. One thing that always caught my attention — besides their obvious style and their usually-red color — was the logo.
According to the same reports, the company name was created when Tilt’s shoe-making father fashioned a logo featuring a big “T” (for Tilt, of course) framed by a diamond, which signified high quality.
So when the idea for the book occurred to me in 1992 or so, it came in the image of one of those stylish art-deco Diamond-T trucks hanging perilously off a bridge in winter just before sunrise — its hapless driver staring through the windshield at the obscure, stylized “T” pointing downward at the railroad tracks below him.
Over the years, it gradually occurred to me that in the opening scene of the story, we see can something about the America of the 1950’s as well as a clue about where things were headed. Times were great, people were confident, but secrets had been shoved just beneath the surface. Some of those secrets are revealed at a critical moment to Nick Pente: the driver who is just as much a product of America — and Chicago — as the truck he drives.
Thus, it had to be a Diamond-T. A White, or Mack, or Peterbilt, or any of the others wouldn’t have had the same overtones–nor the mystical logo. Nick’s truck is an honest product of a confident and abundant America, and it’s headed for a fall.