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Restored Little Giant Jitney Proves Chicago Pneumatic Power and Reliability Are Timeless

April 30, 2019

Company News

The year 1912 marked the U.S. Presidential election that saw Woodrow Wilson elected over incumbent William Howard Taft and third-party candidate and popular former President Teddy Roosevelt. It also marked the production of a few specially-built utility trucks from Chicago Pneumatic called “Little Giant.”

At least one Little Giant Model D Jitney from 1912 has survived the years, and was recently restored to its glorious, gleaming beauty in Pennsylvania. The labor of love, once exquisitely restored to its original state, paid the favor forward by raising money for the next generation of children who need a cure for juvenile diabetes.

"It was truly an honor to have the Little Giant in our show," says Mark Lizewski, a board member for The Elegance at Hershey auto show. The Elegance at Hershey is an invitation-only celebration of vintage automobiles from bygone eras held each year in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Only 75 cars a year are chosen to be included, and they can only appear once.

The weekend's events at the Hotel Hershey include a Vintage Car Hill Climb, a gala dinner party and charity auction, and the marquis event, The Elegance -- a garden party featuring the selected collector vintage and antique cars arranged around the formal gardens of The Hotel Hershey. The weekend's events raised money for Museum and Library of the Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA), and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).

Photo by Mark Usiak

"The Little Giant won our People's Choice Award," says Lizewski. "We truly are appreciative of having such a unique vehicle in our show."

The Little Giant engines were built by Chicago Pneumatic between 1911 and 1917 as rugged, mid-sized trucks that could be easily adapted for a wide array of industrial uses. The Model D could be a bus, stake-bed truck, or panel truck -- or even upfitted for specific uses like fire service, commercial hauling, or mining. Fewer than 10 are believed to exist in the world today.

The award-winning Jitney Bus featured in the Elegance at Hershey was discovered in 2009 by a collector in Pennsylvania. Restoration had been started, but had stalled. The new owner meticulously researched the Little Giant from period brochures and advertisements, and by visiting and carefully measuring every inch of a utility truck that is one of five other Model D's that survive in the U.S.

The restored bright blue Little Giant Model D bus sits on a pale yellow chassis, with brass lamps and accessories, wood and leather throughout the 8-person cab, and gold lettering to match the period. The horizontally-opposed two-cylinder Chicago Pneumatic engine still runs well, with its two-speed transmission and a chain-driven axle boosted by an updated electric start.

The owner who restored this sturdy Chicago Pneumatic engine and cab to its original beauty won several national awards for his work from the Antique Automobile Club of America. He has since sold it through Hyman Ltd. Classic Cars to a private buyer. Even a hundred years later, the Little Giant Model D Jitney shows the classic power and reliability of Chicago Pneumatic products.

Check out some beautiful photos of the restored Jitney here.