A lot of people think Henry Ford invented the first car. However, about 20 years before Ford automated car production with the assembly line, Karl Benz invented the first automobile. It was not until 1916 that the first drivers licenses were issued. A couple of years after that a model T Ford was driven into a creek in Tennessee and the seeds of the tow truck evolution were planted.
A local business man heard of the wreck and got his brother, the local service station owner to help him get the car out of the ditch. With the help of a few more volunters, a block and tackle and a little bit of sweat the men finally got the car out of the Tennesse creek. And it only took 8 hours to get that done. The business man thought, there has to be a better way!
His name was Ernest Holmes and he went back home a started puttering around in his garage rigging up a winch of sorts on the back of his 1913 Cadillac. The first time he tried to use it his car started to tip over. He realized he need some lateral support and design crude outriggers that he could attach to the side of the Caddy to keep it from tipping. He tested and modified his Caddy with the winch and the outriggers over the next 3 years until he had a product which worked reliably and without incident.
He file for a patent in 1919. The Holmes 485 was the first vehicle produced for the sole purpose of towing broken down automobiles in the early 20th century. He produced his “wrecker”, as they were know in those days, and sold them to service stations at the time. He continued to produce tow trucks well into the 1970's. His 1919 Holmes 485 still exists in an auto museum in Tennessee.
Tow trucks today have come a long way. There are trucks for a simple car tow which put the cars drive train on a fork shaped lift. This prevents any damage to the drive train while the car is being towed to the body shop. One the other end of the spectrum are very large semi trailer sized trucks which have large cranes on the back decks that have tha capability of setting on its wheels an over turned 18 wheeler.
Most tow trucks now have GPS navigation and tracking systems, on board HD cameras and other modern technology which make the job of getting damage vehicles of any size safely back to the shop.
Most tow truck companies offer a complete line of automotive services that include flat tire repair, car lockout rescues, out gas breakdowns, jump starts for dead batteries and other automotive services necessary to keep your automobile on the road and you on your way.
Quality tow companies have 24/7 phone answering and drivers on call so that if you have a breakdown or an accident anytime, day or night, help can be dispatched to help you.