Although they remained in relative obscurity
J. Tom Moore
& Sons (and their successor MCT) produced a reported 85% of the
armored bank trucks constructed during their half-century in business.
high-security vehicles transported money, bullion, jewelry and other
Brinks, Loomis, Wells-Fargo, Garda and others using purpose-built
Harvester truck chassis.
The firm dates to 1942 when Memphis,
Tennessee truck body
manufacturer J. Tom Moore found a waiting niche market constructing
trucks for Brinks and whose main supplier became engaged in
materials. The firm’s initial plant was located in downtown Memphis at
Ave. across the street from Memphis’ Masonic Temple on property now
the loading docks of the Downtown Elementary School. Moore’s listing in
1948 Memphis directory follows:
“Alf. T. Moore
J. Tom Moore & Sons) h 532 Goodland
Alvin Moore (Alma) welder, J.Tom Moore &
Sons h 1308
Benj. F. Moore (Ida M; J. Tom Moore &
Sons) h 476 Goodland
J. Tom Moore (Mabel; J. Tom Moore &
Sons) h. 500 Haynes
J. Tom Moore (Claudine) h. 504 Haynes
J. Tom Moore & Sons (J. Tom Moore, B.F.
Moore and A.T.
Moore), Custom Truck Body Mfrs., Truck Bodies Built, Repaired,
Welding, Auto Upholstering, Seat Covers, Convertible Tops, Truck
Rebuilt and Recovered. 295 court Ave (3), Tel 5-6283 (For further
see page 18 Buyers Guide.”
Brink’s was the first in the industry to
reinforce its cars
with armor and weapons. Brink’s vehicles were equipped with .38
revolvers, .44 caliber repeating rifles, 12 gauge shotguns, gas riot
As demand increased the firm relocated to a
foot facility located adjacent to Memphis’ airport at 2900 Airways
Blvd. in the
facility currently occupied by the Memphis branch of ABC Supply Co., a
distributor of roofing and siding materials.
The first diesel-powered Brink’s trucks were
bought in 1956
for $25,000 each.
They also manufactured hi-lift catering
trucks for air
carriers, poultry transport trucks and trailers. An offshoot of their
car business was the construction of mobile banking units and riot
vehicles. A short history of the firm was published in the February 21,
of the Nashua Telegraph:
“Memphis Firm Specializes In Building
“By Morris B. Baker
“MEMPHIS – Eighty-five per-cent of the
world's armored cars
are reported to be manufactured in a 20,000 square-foot plant built on
five-acre site that adjoins Memphis Metropolitan Airport.
“The firm, J. Tom Moore & Sons, Inc., is
also said to be
the South’s largest manufacturer of custom-made truck bodies.
“When the company was in its infancy a
quarter century ago,
the late J. Tom Moore looked for an area to create a business that
would not be
attractive to other manufacturers.
“‘We talked to armored-car operators,’ said
B. Frank Moore,
president and son of the founder, ‘and found two vital
the valuables to be carried and comfort for the personnel. We set out
achieve these goals.’
“Today Memphis-made armored cars transport
and other valuables in all 50 states and in most countries of the Free
“B. Frank Moore has been responsible for
included in every unit made by the company. Among them are laminated
construction of door locks for greater strength, improved gunposts and
efficient ventilation system for the interior.
“Each armored car is custom-made to the
the customer and required an average of six weeks to complete. Usually
armored vehicles are under construction at a time.
“The company also builds mobile bank units.
They are driven to
shopping centers, large manufacturing plants and communities which have
“The mobile banks are constructed basically
on the order of armored
cars but are much more elaborate inside. They have wall-to-wall
paneled interior walls, fluorescent lighting, air-conditioning and a
window of bullet-resistant glass that weighs 175 pounds.
“Two persons ride in each car, and, upon
destination, they serve as cashiers. Financial transactions are carried
sliding drawers of the type used at a bank's drive-in window and
with patrons is via two-way intercom.
“The company recently signed a $148,000
contract with the
State of Virginia to build six maximum protection personnel vehicles
for the Virginia
State Police. Delivery is to be made by the end of this year.
“International Harvester Co. will build
special chassis for
these units which will weigh approximately 33,000 pounds apiece.
“The four-wheel-drive vehicles will have
armor plating of
sufficient thickness to withstand a direct hit by a .30-caliber bullet,
three-inch-thick bulletproof windows and a built-in battering ram,
knocking down a brick or concrete wall.
“‘If a criminal starts shooting form within
a building. ‘
said Felix G. Tanner, sales manager, ‘one of these vehicles can move
down a wall, if necessary, and open fire on the gunman without
police personnel in the car.’
“In addition to being a volume builder of
armored cars, J.
Tom Moore & Sons is one of the largest builders of specialty truck
“Its units range from a trailer built for a
manufacturer to carry and display four caskets to the bodies used by
food-catering firms that serve the airlines. The catering units can be
to a height of 13 feet for easy access to the service doors of jet
“‘We don’t know of any company that comes
close to building the
variety of trucks today that we do,’ said William C. Moore, also a son
founder and current executive vice-president and general manager of the
“‘One customer wanted a horse transportation
van with a
walnut paneled interior. We had never heard of horses being transported
the county in such a luxury vehicle but we build what the customer
this customer got his walnut paneled horse van.”
An article in the August 25, 1967
Harrisonburg Daily News
Record provides more details about the Vehicles constructed for the
“Massive Armored Car For State Police Rolled
“Memphis (AP) – They rolled out Thursday the
the Virginia State Police will be using if civil disorder hits that
state – a
massive battleship class armored car designed to withstand a major
“The Memphis firm building six of the huge
Virginia says the one unveiled Thursday is the only one of its type
designed for police department use.
“The manufacturer terms the bullet-proof
personnel protection vehicles’ and each one costs in excess of $35,000.
conditioned truck carries eight officers.
“The Virginia State Police have had armored
cars for a
number of years. But W.C. Moore, vice-president of J. Tom Moore &
says his firm has never been called upon to construct a police vehicle
heavy-weight type now being made for Virginia. The Moore firm is a
manufacturer of armored cars.
“Moore says police departments can easily
find uses for
armored cars. ‘Had the Austin, Tex., police had one of these vehicles
when Charles J. Whitman stationed himself atop the 27-story tower on
University of Texas campus Aug. 1, 1966, they presumably could have
before he shot 44 people, killing 14 of them,’ he said.
“Many man-hours of engineering went into the
new vehicle in
the Moore drafting rooms, which like the plant are kept closed to the
a platoon of security guards.
“The aim was to make the new vehicle nearly
“Precautions were taken against the truck
by a mob. The entire lower edge of the body has steel finger-piercing
Even without the barbs, it would not be an easy matter to topple the
“The gasoline tanks are inaccessible except
when the driver
opens his door. All windows have three-inch laminated glass capable of
a .30 caliber armoring-piercing ammunition.
“For added protection, the driver can
hydraulically lower a
steel plate across the windshield. The radiator is protected from any
punctures by armored louvers controlled by the driver.
“The truck has all-wheel-drive, six 14-ply
tires, with 10
forward and two reverse speeds, and is powerful enough to ouch a car
out of the
way or go straight through a brick or concrete block wall.
“It also has a winch to pull obstacles from
“Like a tank, the weight of the vehicle
prevents it from
winning any road races. Its top speed is 45 miles per hour.”
A J. Tom Moore & Sons mobile banking
truck was pictured in
the August 1967 issue of Popular Science with the following caption:
“Instant money from instant bank
“Mobile banks now serve shopping centers,
and towns without banks. Wood paneling and fancy drapes add dignity,
teller's window is of bullet-resistant glass. The builder is J.
Moore & Sons, Memphis, Tenn.”
Moore & Sons passed down to Rick Moore's
C. Moore, who sold it to a Fort Worth-based conglomerate in 1975.
C. Moore took the proceeds and organized a competing firm, MCT
Custom Trucks Bodies,
Inc., at 3155 Industrial Dr.,
in Hernando, Mississippi, his son Rick taking over the helm as
February 3, 1992 issue of the Memphis Business Journal revealed that at
the time 70% of its sales come from armored truck bodies.
In 1985 the firm survived a chapter 11
and within the decade it was purchased by John Halstead who transferred
MCT’s operations to a leased facility 4 miles to the north of the
Hernando plant - adjacent to Interstate 55/69 - at
Pleasant Hill Rd., Nesbit, Mississippi. Unfortunately, succees did not follow and MCT had vanished from industry
Coincidentally another leading armored bank
manufacturer was founded by a former Moore employee named Elon Griffin
He left the J. Tom Moore & Sons in 1969 founding his own firm,
Inc., in Byhalia, Mississippi. Griffin retired in 1994 and sold the
to its current owner Greg McKay who has transformed it into one of
leading manufacturers of armored vehicles in the cash transit industry,
manufacturing vehicles for Brinks, Loomis and others.
Theobald for Coachbuilt.com