Warren Caves catches up with Tasmanian Furniture Removals and its immaculate Peterbilt 379
Peterbilt Trucks epitomise the American truck styling with classic lines and a long serving look that, as this 379 model shows, has changed little over the years.
That commitment to its heritage and the “When you’re on a good thing, stick to it” approach may well play a part in cementing the success and popularity of the brand for such a long time, particularly in America.
Peterbilt has been manufacturing trucks in America under the Peterbilt Motors Company banner since 1939, commencing with the 260 model that year in which 15 examples were produced.
In 1980, a new manufacturing facility was opened in Denton, Texas, where they produced only one model, the 359 and production numbers totalled 15 units per month. That Denton location is still home to its headquarters today.
Currently, the trucks are produced by the Peterbilt division of PACCAR.
Whilst Peterbilt Trucks have been immensely popular in the USA and Canada for nearly eighty years, in Australia there are not so many to be found plying our highways, mainly I assume due to the importing and right-hand-drive conversion costs.
Companies such as RETRUCK in Brisbane, American Truck Works in Adelaide, and Kent Collision and Kustom at Ingleburn in Sydney, are providing importation, conversion and compliance services to cater for operators looking for something a little unique in the Peterbilt range. The high standard of the conversion work is obviously just one of the contributing factors to the increasing numbers appearing on our highways.
The popularity of the 379 model has over the years been helped out by Hollywood filmmakers in using this iconic-styled model to enhance their productions by way of either saving the world or harbouring fugitives in blockbuster films. The 379 production run lasted from 1987 to 2007, with the final 1000 units produced being designated as Legacy Class, with numbered badging and authentication.
This month’s Custom and Classic featured truck is a 2006 379 Peterbilt owned and operated by Nathan Dean of Tasmanian Furniture Transport.
This truck is running a Cummins Signature 600 and 18-speed Roadranger transmission. A heritage bonnet, lights and grille give it the old-school look, which Nathan says, really gets some attention, “It’s the best promotional tool I’ve ever had, it gets noticed wherever I go. A massive 70-inch sleeper keeps that homely feel with no chance of suffering claustrophobia”.
A polished alloy bumper, fuel tanks, and steps, plus stainless steel drop visor and air cleaner housings, really set off the charcoal paint scheme as the chromed eight-inch exhaust pipes send combustion waste skyward. Adding an abundance of LED lighting also ensures that the 379 doesn’t go missing at night.
Originally converted and complied for Australia by RETRUCK in Brisbane, the truck was used on bitumen tanker duties, said Nathan. It was painted white with a green roof and guards before Nathan purchased it from a guy in Sydney.
A major refurbish was then embarked upon, dramatically changing the look of the truck.
Tas Truck Refinishing of Launceston did the complete colour change respray and Spectrum Signs, also of Launceston, did all the signwriting work, which is hand-painted.
The mechanical and fit-up work was carried out by Nick Brown of Chelby Mechanical, which, as a collaborative effort, has morphed this truck into what is arguably one of the tidiest 379 Peterbilts on the road in Australia.
Nathan has had the truck for about 12 months now and does regular runs from Launceston up to Brisbane, as well as Australia-wide household moves.
The Brisbane run involves a one-hour drive to the port of Devonport, embarking onto The Spirit of Tasmania, loading and lashing down of the truck and trailer before a ten-hour boat ride across Bass Strait to Melbourne, and then the Melbourne to Brisbane return run, before hopping back on the ship and returning to Launceston.
“The ship passage for the truck is quite expensive, the most expensive part of the journey in fact, but we all have to factor that into our quotes as it’s the only transport option available,” said Nathan.
“You drive the vehicle on the ship yourself, and it is then lashed down via the mandatory lashing points and you grab yourself a cabin for the duration,” Nathan explained.
Tasmanian Furniture Transport employs six people and operates four trucks, including a Ford L9000 that has also been refurbished in matching colour scheme, servicing all over the country as well as locally throughout Tasmania.
“The trailer utilises a mezzanine deck, which allows us to transport the family car alongside our clients’ furniture for moves. We have also been able to diversify with this set-up to move exotic and rare cars from the mainland and back for shows, events and for the National Car Museum here in Tasmania”.
With enduring style and almost cult-like following amongst American classic truck purists, time seems to stand still for the 379 model of Peterbilt. Thanks to the existence of dedicated companies investing in equipment, infrastructure, and finetuning the import and conversion process, we may see more of these trucks happily competing with local players, albeit with a touch of individualism, on Australian highways.