The Corbitt D800 is a strange looking truck from the fifties of the last century. The looks of D800 always attract a lot of attention, and yet it is almost impossible to see this truck with your own eyes since only several of them survived to this day.
For its interesting appearance, the truck was nicknamed the Highboy. Production of the Highboy began in 1951 and ended in 1953
But this fact only makes this truck even more interesting. How to get into the cabin and to the appropriateness of its design?
In the late forties of the twentieth century, all American truck manufacturing companies without exception were struggling with an important problem – equipping a berth directly in the cabin itself. The states were overgrown with a network of high-speed highways, so trucks had to cover thousands of miles on their own. And the problem was that drivers had nowhere to sleep.
In search of a suitable option, everyone invented something of their own. Someone attached a sleeping berth behind the cabin, someone equipped a sleeping bag right in the semi-trailer, and Corbitt decided to make a sleeping place under the windshield.
The passenger part of the seat could be folded out, forming a double bed. It is hard to say that it was convenient. During a pit stop, it was still possible to sleep, but on the move, it was just terrible. But it could accommodate four people at once.
For its interesting appearance, the truck was nicknamed the Highboy. But the access to the engine itself was not convenient and its side hatches allowed only minor repairs. For more serious work, it was necessary to disassemble the floor in the cab. In addition, the front end was worsening the visibility for a driver. For these reasons, the project was not successful.
Production of the Highboy began in 1951 and ended in 1953, with the cockpit constantly changing and decreasing in height. The earliest versions were too uncomfortable.
Less than a dozen of these trucks have survived to this day, out of about five hundred of the total circulation. There are only two on the move. The tallest model remained in a single copy and now it is a forgotten classic.
The Corbitt Company was located in Henderson in northeastern North Carolina. It was in business there for roughly the first half of the twentieth century.
After an apprenticeship in the tobacco business under J.P. Taylor of Henderson, Richard J. Corbitt became a buyer and seller of leaf tobacco, representing Taylor in his birthplace of Enfield, NC and in Henderson, where he settled permanently in 1894. The following year he went into business on his own. Corbitt foresaw the big companies dominating the tobacco industry, so in 1899 he decided to enter the buggy manufacturing business. In 1899, there were four buggy builders in Henderson; eight years later, Corbitt had bought all three of his competitors.
In 1905, Corbitt built his first automobile, which he called a “motor buggy”. Automobiles went into full production in 1907. He imported laborers from Detroit so he would have workers knowledgeable about automobiles. But this only added to his costs, and he was losing money on every car he sold.
In 1910 Corbitt built his first truck and the profit picture began to change. In 1913, he decided to forget automobiles and become a full-time truck builder. For most of the next 40 years, the company made money, building trucks and trailers. The trailers included vans, drop-frame vans, and flatbeds up to 36’ in length. Most of the large motor carriers of the Carolinas came to be Corbitt customers.