Initial production for the M35 was done by REO Motor Car Company. They were first delivered to the U.S. Army in 1950, as a replacement for the GMC CCKW and M135 family cargo trucks. The M34 6-wheel, 2 ½ ton was actually produced first in 1949, but was quickly superseded by the 10- wheel, M35 design. The M36 was a long 10-wheeled variant that featured a 16ft (4.8m) cargo bed, which doubled the standard 8ft (2.4m). The M34/ M35/M36 was designated as G742 by the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps Supply Catalog. The M35 was originally intended for U.S. Army use but has also been utilized by many nations around the world while evolving into a family of specialized vehicles such as cargo trucks, tank trucks, wreckers, gun trucks, vans, “war wagons” and guided missile launchers. The M35s served the U.S. Military well into the late 1990s, with some still used today in active and reserve components across many foreign armies. By the early 1980s, over 150,000 units were produced with production ending in 1988.
The M35 truck series comes in a wide variety of variants and sub-variants. The main variants are the original standard, A1, A2 and A3. The original M35 has a REO Continental OA331 6-cylinder gasoline engine. Most come with a 5 speed transmission but a few of the first produced have a 4 speed. The first A1s have a Continental LDS-427-2 turbo engine with a 4-450 Schwitzer turbo, with the later A1s having a 4D454C Schwitzer turbo and 5th gear is overdrive. The first built A2 trucks have a bigger LD-465-1, naturally aspirated (no turbo or super charger) 478 CID multi fuel engines, while keeping the transmission of the A1s. The later produced A2s were upgraded to LD 465-1C engines with the addition of a turbo charger. In 1994, the A3 variant was announced as part of an Extended Service Program, which lasted until 1999. These units have a new Caterpillar 3116 Diesel engine and the manual transmissions were replaced with automatic transmissions. Along with a redesigned frontal appearance, some other improvements include a new cooling system, reworked axles and transfer case.
The M35 is based off the M44/M45 basic chassis. The truck has no key for the ignition. To start it, put it in neutral and press a few switches. The engine is located in the front, crew cab directly behind and the cargo bed in back. The chassis is 10 wheels across 3 axles with the 2 rear axles holding 4 wheels a piece. The engine is exhausted through an upright pipe along the right side of the crew cab and the fuel tank is placed along the right side under the passenger seat floor. The weight of a M35 is between 13,000lbs (5900kg) and 16,000lbs (7500kg) empty varying on the configuration. Even though the M35 cargo truck is only rated to carry 10,000lbs (4,500 kg) on flat roads and 5,000lbs (2,300 kg) off-road, they have been known to carry twice as much.