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Adam Black & Sons
Adam Black & Sons, 1886-1983; Jersey City, New Jersey
Associated Builders

Adam Black started a small blacksmith and wagon building shop in Jersey City, New Jersey in 1886. Black specialized in horse-drawn commercial vehicles and heavy-duty trucks, and as Jersey City grew, so did his business. When his sons, Edward A., Clarence B., and Frederick O. Black became old enough he brought them into the business renaming it Adam Black & Sons.

When early self-propelled commercial chassis became available, Black supplied their bodywork, and he became well-known for his Model T-based hacks and delivery vans.

As did most urban truck body suppliers, a large part of Black’s business involved installing knocked-down van, coal, dump and refuse bodies supplied by larger mid-west manufacturers although they occasionally built custom bodies for local businessmen and municipalities.

On September 4, 1925, Adam Black & Sons filed papers of incorporation, with a capitalization of $150,000. Officers included Edward A., Clarence B., and Frederick O. Black.  

The third generation of Blacks took over in the 1940s, with William C. Black, the founder’s grandson, president. Black was an authorized Mid-West Body and Anthony Hydraulic Hoists dealer during the 1940s and 50s. In the 1950s they also built a truck-mounted swimming pool that was donated to the Jersey City Rotary for use by the city’s residents.

The firm built a few automobile-based ambulances for regional rescue squads starting in the late 20s. Their mid-1930s models were attractive, emulating the style of the major mid-west manufacturers. Production continued into the early 1970s using Ford, Chevrolet and GMC vans and Suburbans.

Black also built rescue bodies for regional fire and civil defense agencies on light and medium duty chassis from the 30s through the 1970s. Known customers included fire and rescue agencies in Saddle Brook, Point Pleasant Beach, and Boonton, New Jersey as well as Greenwich, Connecticut.

In conjunction with United Parcel Service engineers, Adam Black & Sons helped design the now-infamous P600 package delivery truck that was introduced in 1966. Black also received a portion of the contract to build the P600, but as they did not have the capacity to build the numbers required by UPS, two other manufacturers, Union City and Grumman-Olson also produced the P600.

Along with the rest of the country’s truck body builders, Adam Black & Sons experienced an economic downturn in the late 70s, and unable to recover, closed its doors in 1983.

A handful of Black bodied vehicles are known to exist, a 1964 Dodge Salvage & Rescue truck and a 1965 Chevrolet van-based ambulance. 

The former Adam Black & Sons factory at 276-300 Tonnele Ave is now a U-Haul Moving Center.

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