When the oldest automotive brand in the U.S. needed an automotive design firm bring its product range into the 21st century, the company contracted Hydra Design Labs.

Autocar, an American OEM that has been making heavy duty work trucks for over 120 years, contracted Hydra Design Labs to refresh its brand and redesign the exterior of its most popular extreme-duty Class 8 work truck – the result was the Autocar DC-64 model. In all, Hydra provided the complete exterior design of the DC-64 model, including sketching and CAD, Class-A surfacing and VR prototyping. But before putting pencil to paper on the new truck design, Hydra provided Autocar with a brand refresh – including modernizing the brand’s logo and badging. This 360-degree approach to updating the Autocar brand helped give the new product line a consistent, updated look and feel – and ushered in a new era for the venerated OEM.

“Its not often a studio gets to help reinvent an automotive brand with 120 years of history. There was such a rich legacy of vehicles to draw inspiration from that made it equally challenging and exciting to come up with a new recognizable brand identity – something that both Autocar historians and entirely new generations of owners could appreciate.” Mike Desmond, Principal Designer at Hydra Design Labs

Refreshing a legendary brand

Founded in 1897 in Pittsburgh during the “brass era,” Autocar developed an early specialty producing heavy-duty trucks and is now among the top three work truck brands in the world.

As Autocar approached its 120-year milestone in 2019, the company took the opportunity to reintroduce its DC series line of conventional trucks. Initially launched in 1939, the Autocar DC was the first diesel-powered work truck on the market, revolutionizing the way that trucks were designed and built from that point forward. To re-launch the DC series, Autocar contracted Hydra Design Labs for a complete exterior redesign of this legendary truck.

Starting with a deep dive into the more than a century of Autocar brand, products, photography and advertising materials, the Hydra team identified consistent design motifs across past Autocar trucks and began sketching a distinctive new exterior truck design. The resulting DC-64 model is a rugged Class 8 work truck designed to suit numerous vocation applications, such as refuse, recycling, construction, concrete and more. The new truck featured exceptional side-to-side and upward visibility, thanks to its wide, curved and steeply raked windshield, giving drivers 325° visibility.

Project details



Date of launch


Provided services

  • Design
  • CAD
  • Class-A Surfacing
  • Brand Identity
  • Logo Design

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