1934 FORD MODEL BB TOW/RECOVERY TRUCK
HOLMES BODY/ 485 WRECKER PACKAGE
This 1934 Ford Model BB tow truck has a flathead V8 engine, 3-speed manual transmission and Ernest Holmes 485 crane package.
Ernest Holmes Company was located in Chattanooga, Tennessee, making wrecker booms and towing equipment. Their museum of vintage towing equipment is also located there.
The towing industry was born in 1916 in the city of Chattanooga, after Ernest Holmes, Sr., a native Chattanoogan, helped a friend retrieve his car, with three poles, a pulley and a chain hooked to the frame of a 1913 Cadillac. After patenting his invention, Holmes began manufacturing wreckers and towing equipment for sale to automotive garages and anyone interested in retrieving and towing wrecked or disabled autos. His first manufacturing facility was a small shop on Market Street, just a few blocks from the museum.
Holmes’ business grew as the auto industry expanded and eventually its products earned a worldwide reputation for their quality and performance. Ernest Holmes, Sr. died in 1943, and was succeeded by his son, Ernest Holmes, Jr. who ran the company until he retired in 1973. That year the company was sold to the Dover Corporation and that same year, the founder’s grandson, Gerald Holmes, left the company and started a new one, Century Wreckers. He built his manufacturing facility in nearby Ooltewah, Tennessee, and quickly rivaled the original company with his hydraulically powered wreckers.
Eventually, assets of both companies were bought by Miller Industries, which also bought other wrecker manufacturers. Miller has retained the Century facility in Ooltewah where both Century and Holmes wreckers are presently manufactured. Miller also makes Challenger wreckers.
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An older gentleman reminiscing…….:
“They had a boom testing sort of thing to rate your truck with, due to all the home-built wreckers back then. It was some sort of a big spring scale – like a huge fish scale – cemented into a hole in the ground. You would hook your wrecker to it and pull all you could. Then your boom rating would be based off that.”