The Mack Trucks Historical Museum in Allentown, Pa., is celebrating the holidays with one of the most famous Mack models ever built: Evel Knievel’s 1974 Mack FS786LST model show truck.
Affectionately known as “Big Red,” it’s the sleigh Santa wishes he had. A temporary exhibit featuring the truck is open from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 12 and Dec. 19.
Special activities are planned for the Saturday openings, including face painting, refreshments available for purchase and a vintage Evel Knievel video showing in the Bulldog Theater. The Big Red exhibit will also be open during the museum’s regular exhibit hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
“The Mack Trucks Historical Museum is where the history of Mack Trucks comes to life, and Evel’s show truck is no exception,” said John Walsh, Mack vice president of marketing. “Seeing Big Red not only brings back memories for those who watched Evel’s incredible stunts, but also helps create new memories for those who didn’t.”
Big Red was custom built to Knievel’s specifications to haul the daredevil’s motorcycles, ramps and other equipment from event to event and was featured prominently as he attempted many of his legendary stunts.
The truck’s recent history began with its discovery in a Florida salvage yard before being fully restored by Lathan Mckay of Evel Knievel Enterprises and Historic Harley Davidson of Topeka, Kansas. Great care was taken to restore Big Red to as close to its original condition as possible, both inside and out. Original pieces and components were refurbished and reused where possible, with replica items created to match original items as needed.
The fully restored truck made its debut in July during an event at Historic Harley Davidson, where an Evel Knievel museum is under construction. The museum will feature several one-of-a-kind pieces of Knievel memorabilia, including motorcycles, leathers, helmets, medical X-rays, casts and other items. Once construction is complete, Big Red will become the cornerstone exhibit of the museum.
While construction continues at its permanent home, Big Red has been traveling the country, thanks to two Mack Pinnacle highway models provided by Mack to help transport the truck from stop to stop. To date, the traveling exhibit has visited Evel Knievel Days in Butte, Montana, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis, the premiere of the Evel Knievel documentary “Being Evel” in Hollywood, California, the Great American Truck Show in Dallas, Texas and the NASCAR race weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.
Big Red is scheduled to remain at the Mack Trucks Historical Museum in Allentown through June 2016. There is no admission fee to view the exhibit, though donations to the museum are welcome.
The Mack Trucks Historical Museum is a separate, not-for-profit corporation known around the world as the premier collection of Mack trucks and Mack history. With dozens of exhibits, displays and historical truck models, the museum offers a memorable experience that explores the history of Mack, as well as the industry-leading manufacturing techniques that have kept Mack at the forefront of heavy-duty trucking.