Before becoming the museum’s director, I spent most of my working career at the U.S. Postal Service. From 1977 to 2001 I headed the transportation department. My group was responsible for the requirements for this contract. During that time, the service was faced with finding new letter carrier vehicles. Instead of following precedent and selecting an existing vehicle and ordering it with modifications for postal use, USPS challenged manufacturers to build a postal vehicle from scratch.
This 1 1/2-ton Long Life Vehicle (LLV) was manufactured by Grumman and General Motors. The vehicle is number 7200001, as indicated above the front windshield. The truck body is made from corrosion-resistant aluminum and can carry 1,000 pounds of mail. Grumman won the rights to produce the new U.S. Postal Service carrier vehicles in 1985 after surviving a series of tests against competing vehicles produced by Poveco (Gruehauf and General Automotive Corporation) and American Motors General Company.
The demanding tests were conducted by the Postal Service in Laredo, Texas. According to a postal official who helped monitor the Laredo vehicle tests, it was “the most grueling road test of a government vehicle this side of the M-1 tank.”