1930’s graphic design – the Texaco tanker logo

Shortly after we bought the tanker truck, we realised that there are subtle, quirky differences in the 1930’s Texaco tanker logo when compared to other Texaco branding of the same era.

I am mindful that this topic won’t interest everyone, so the second part of the post refers to some more parts for the Diamond T that we came across and the amazing property on which the parts were found.


The Texaco Tanker Logo

The Texaco logo is no stranger in our home and, in Steve’s collection, there is a diverse range of Texaco items. We see these on a daily basis and between the two of us, we have looked at the Texaco branding hundreds of times over the years.

We also have photographs of the great old Texaco Dodge Airflows displaying the iconic, bold name of Texaco along each side. If anyone had asked us to describe the Texaco logo on these tankers, we would have said it was written in a standard font using capitals.

But when we started studying the original porcelain enamel lettering on the Diamond T, we noticed some unique characteristics in the font of the Texaco tanker logo that is indicative of the art deco era in which it was designed.


The first difference that stood out was the letter ‘O’. Most pieces of vintage Texaco collectables have the ‘O’ in the Texaco branding either as an upright, standard capital letter or a circular shape.


But on the side of the tanker, the letter ‘O’ has been turned and placed horizontally to form a ‘sideways’ design.


The horizontal design has also been repeated in the ‘Texaco’ logo on the trunk lid. Note the word ‘Tour’ above, contains a standard upright ‘O’.


The shape of the lettering can get distorted when photographed depending on the angle at which the photo is taken. In this image, the ‘O’ appears quite circular, as does the letter ‘C’.


But the letter ‘C’ is stretched out horizontally the same as the letter ‘O’. This image taken straight on, when compared to the one above, looks like a totally different letter style.


When placed on top of the ‘O’, the ‘C’ is formed identically in both shape and size.


The letter ‘E’ has been formed with the bottom bar being 20mm ( 13/16″ ) longer than the top. Once we noticed the difference in length, we looked very closely at some old photographs and sure enough, the longer bottom bar is visible.

The other anomaly in the ‘E’ is the non-symmetrical placement of the centre bar, symbolic of the art deco influence.


Although not that noticeable, the top width of the ‘X’ is narrower than the bottom, resulting in the bars crossing slightly above the centre point.

Such is the timeless design, the powerful logo could easily have been created by a graphic designer of today.


A Surprising Discovery

Barn finds are not surprising to hear about in rural areas of the United States, or indeed NZ, but to find out about a collection of vehicles sitting at a property in urban Auckland is just astonishing.


Steve was taken by Bryan Belcher to a private property not far from Auckland International Airport. Sitting in the paddocks were three Diamond Ts, a few other trucks and over forty cars, all having been exposed to the elements for more than four decades.

With Bryan’s assistance, Steve was able to look over the Diamond Ts and make a plan to revisit and recover a couple of parts. There was some urgency in this as the property was about to be cleared of all the trucks and cars in readiness for redevelopment.


Steve returned with Tom Andrews and Alan Sharp, and with their help was able to gas cut a front end and rear end complete with wheels from two of the Diamond Ts before they joined the scrap pile.

We are very thankful to Bryan for the opportunity to access these trucks and recover the parts as a back up in case we end up needing to use them on the Texaco tanker. Also, our thanks and appreciation to Tom for providing a digger, and him and Alan for giving up their day to come up from Hamilton and help with the recovery.


TOUR WITH TEXACO – the trunk lid – Update # 4


Sandblasting the Heil tanker – Update # 5


  1. Tony Devereux

    Hi Steve & Sue
    Really enjoying your updates
    Tony Devereux

  2. Bryan Thomas

    Hey, all the updates are great along with the side info.
    Good reading.

  3. Steve curle

    That’s really interesting about the letters
    Enjoying reading your post

    • Sue Keys

      Thanks Steve. Would love a photo of the tanker sitting in your warehouse in LA if you have one on file somewhere.

  4. Aubrey Ellen

    What a neat journey . thank you so much for letting me be part of it.
    looking forward to the next update .

  5. n2oldcars

    I thought you might like to know there is a restored Chrysler Texaco airflow tanker at the Henry ford museum in Dearborn, MI. You can see some pictures of it on line. Good luck on the restoration.I love to see any old piece of transportation history brought back to life, Mike

    • Sue Keys

      Thanks Mike. The Airflow is a fantastic piece and a beautiful restoration.

  6. John Taylor

    Very interesting project. I especially like the writing and story telling. John Taylor

    • Sue Keys

      Thanks so much John. There is such a lot of history associated with the project so it is really enjoyable doing research and recording all the details. We learn something new every day.

  7. Allan Gyde

    Great site Steve and Sue. I especially enjoyed your description of the graphics. Well done.

    • Sue Keys

      Thanks Al. You’ll have to come by and see the project in person next time you are in Auckland.

  8. John Ruch

    The letter shapes may have been deliberate distortions by the designer specifically so that they would appear “normal” when seen on the sloped metal panels by a passerby. Architects, for example, have to design buildings that are not quire rectangular so that when a person looks up at them they appear correct. Human perception makes a lot of adjustments to what actually reaches the retina. You might try putting an actual round or tall “O” against the sloped side and see if it then looks distorted. (A similar effect might have led to the “X” shape.)

    • Sue Keys

      John, thank you for this. I will certainly try your suggestion and see what the visual effect is. Thanks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

©2024 Texaco Tanker Project