Early Mechanically Refrigerated Trucks

This page shows examples of mechanically refrigerated trucks prior to their supposed "invention" by Frederick McKinley Jones in 1938. (A few dubious websites mention 1935 as the year Jones assembled his first unit; however, none of them offer any explanation or evidence in support of this earlier date.) In any case, the refrigerated trucking industry had already been born before Jones's contributions, as can be seen by browsing the mechanical engineering and food industry journals of the 1920s and 1930s.


An early mechanically refrigerated (as opposed to ice-cooled) truck body.

Source: "New Self-Contained Refrigerator Truck." Compressed Air Magazine, vol. 34, no. 3, Mar 1929, p.2706.


Example of refrigerated trucks being used on commercial long-haul routes.

...[I]n 1930, the Borden Co. put ten more mechanical jobs on its ice cream routes. To date [August 1932], its eleven trucks equipped with this type of cooling are all giving satisfactory performance. All Borden's mechanical units receive power from the drive shaft, and they are operated on outlying, long-haul routes.

Food Industries, vol. 4 no. 8, Aug 1932, p 270-1


Refrigerated trucks used in the delivery of ice cream and meat products. (source: SAE Journal, vol. 31 no. 6, Dec 1932, p.459)

Gasoline-driven refrigeration unit in rear compartment of 2nd truck


A mechanically refrigerated semi-trailer (Food Industries, vol 9 no 8, August 1937, p. 450). The cooling system is located mostly inside the trailer body. In later years, it became more common to mount the units externally.