Historic FWD vehicle returns to Clintonville


Grace Kirchner Leader Correspondent

A historic FWD vehicle located in a Minnesota scrap pile recently returned home to Clintonville.

The rare, 1950s-era FWD “LD” truck, which stands for “light duty” was only produced for a few years at FWD. It was designed to be able to be dismantled, loaded onto pallets and airdropped into remote areas, where it could be reassembled once on the ground.

This LD truck was located in an auto scrap yard in Laporte, Minnesota, about 200 miles north of Minneapolis, and purchased by former Clintonville resident Mark Thomas. With the help of Terry Lorge and Dick Fletcher – who donated their time, along with the use of a truck and trailer – the LD truck returned to Clintonville two weeks ago.

Thomas is working with another former resident of Clintonville Marcia Olen – granddaughter of Walter Olen, the first president of FWD – to head up the FWD Museum project at 325 E. 15th St. They said that while the LD truck is mostly complete, it needs cleaning and some restoration. Museum volunteers hope to have the truck running again soon.

The first four-wheel drive vehicle was invented in Clintonville in 1908 at the East 11th Street machine shop of Otto Zachow and William Besserdich, which visitors can still see today.