Peterbilt is celebrating their 75 year anniversary this year. With this historical year for Peterbilt, I decided to do some more research into the company. Peterbilt is a well-known brand of trucks and I was curious about their history and what kind of contributions they made with regards to heavy duty truck parts in general.
During my research I had found an article on Truckinginfo.com entitled “The Story behind Peterbilt’s Anniversary Truck”. The article details how Peterbilt came across the 1939 Model 260 Peterbilt Truck they have showcased at the Mid America Trucking show back in March and will showcase again in October for an anniversary show in Stockton California. The article describes where the truck was found, who originally restored it and how Peterbilt had acquired the truck for their 75 year anniversary. Before and after pictures can be seen below.
Peterbilt was established in 1939 when T.A. Peterman purchased Fageol Motors of Oakland, CA in 1938. Mr. Peterman was looking to build custom trucks for his logging business. He produced 2 ‘chain-drive’ logging trucks, but both had failed.
Here is a brief history of Peterbilt and some of their contributions to heavy duty truck parts:
In 1939 Peterbilt started selling trucks to the public. Peterman actually sent his engineers out to speak with the truckers themselves to see what their needs and expectations were for their truck.
He didn’t just think about engine performance, but all aspects of heavy duty truck parts from grill, to hoods and overall cab design. This attention to the truckers paid off as the overall design of the truck was a hit and set the stage for the distinctive styling that Peterbilt would become known for.
Dedication to quality was also very important to Mr. Peterman. As Aftermarket Ford was producing hundreds of trucks a day with their assembly line and manufacturing plant, Peterman set a goal of 100 trucks a year. In 1939, they built a total of 14 trucks (partial year) and in 1940 the company built 82 trucks.
1945 – Peterbilt pioneered the use of aluminum to reduce cab & chassis weight, which increased payload capacity. In 1949, the company unveiled a practical cab-over-engine model in anticipation of highway length limits.
1958 – Peterbilt was purchased by Pacific Car & Foundry who primarily manufactured railroad freight cars. Pacific Car had purchased Kenworth in 1944 and was already a competitor in the heavy duty truck market and replacement parts. The Pacific Car & Foundry later changed its name to PACCAR in 1972
1959 – Peterbilt introduced the 90-degree tilt hood for easier service, then in 1965 built the 1st all aluminum tilt hood for conventional models.
1960 – Peterbilt opened a new manufacturing plant in Newark, CA. 800 trucks were produced in the 1st year.
1969 – Peterbilt opens their 2nd manufacturing plant in Nashville, TN. They closed this facility down 40 years later in 2009
1970’s – Peterbilt began manufacturing trucks for refuse.
1980 – Peterbilt opened a then state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Denton, TX. Most of the manufacturing from the Newark plant was consolidated and moved to Denton. The Newark plant was officially closed in 1986.
1984 – Peterbilt introduced Model 349 which introduced innovations such as the rear engine power take-off and the self-steering lift axle for the construction industry.
1993 – Peterbilt moves their official headquarters and engineering from Newark, CA to Denton, TX
Jumping ahead some.
2011 – Peterbilt introduced Model 386 which is the first Smartway Designated Alternative Fuel Vehicle of the industry.
2011 – Peterbilt introduced Model 587 which set new standards of aerodynamic and operational efficiency. This was also the first truck in the industry to become standard with Air Disc Brakes.
2014 – Peterbilt introduces the EPIQ Package for their Model 579 truck, which already had broken new ground in aerodynamic efficiency and fuel economy.
The EPIQ package Includes: Complete Aerodynamic Package, a PACCAR MX-13 Engine, Fuller Advantage Automated Transmission, Single Horizontal Exhaust, SmarTire Tire Pressure Monitoring System, Low Rolling Resistance Tires and Optimizing Spec’ing Software.
Darrin Siver, Peterbilt general manager and PACCAR vice president has been quoted saying “Peterbilt’s products are among the most technologically advanced and we continue to invest and develop new innovations that boost productivity, durability and Safety.”
As Peterbilt continues to push boundary edges, it will be interesting to see what the next 75 years will bring as technologies continue to advance.