Grumman LLV Mail Truck: A Miserable Tin Can Designed by a Fighter Plane Company
Mail carriers have a pretty darn demanding job. They spend their days waking up at ungodly morning hours in rain, snow, or shine to bring our letters and packages. That said, who on Earth thought it was a good idea to let them drive an un-air-conditioned metal box for 40 years?
That’s how long the Grumman Long Life Vehicle (LLV) has been in service, every single day since the mid-1980s. Considering the extreme conditions that come with the job, it’s anyone’s guess why it was so inadequate. To understand why the LLV was even devised in the first place, it’s important to understand what mail carriers were driving around in before.
Generally, this task was delegated to the Jeep DJ, otherwise known as the Dispatcher. Designed by the builders of the Second World War Army Jeep, Willys Motors, the type served for 40 years in the postal services of the American and Canadian governments. These purpose-built mail Jeeps featured a robust four-wheel-drive system and right-hand drive.
By the early 1980s, many of the older Jeeps in the North American fleet were starting to run on their last legs. What was needed was a cheap, easy to manufacture, decently reliable small box truck with the same attributes as the Dispatcher. More than a few design proposals passed the U.S. Postal Service’s (USPS) desk before the competition’s winner was announced.