Peterbilt Motors Company, founded in 1939, is an American
manufacturer of medium- and heavy-duty Class 5 through Class 8 trucks
headquartered in Denton, Texas. Peterbilt operates manufacturing facilities in
Denton, Texas (1980), and Sainte-Thérèse, Quebec. From the early 1960s until the
mid-1980s, the company was based in the San Francisco Bay Area of Northern
California, with its headquarters, and main plant all in Newark, California. The
Newark plant closed in 1986 and consolidated manufacturing at its facilities in
Denton, TX and Madison, TN. In 1993 headquarters and engineering also moved to
Denton. The Nashville plant was closed in 2009.
In the early part of the 20th century, Tacoma, Washington plywood
manufacturer and lumber entrepreneur T.A. Peterman was faced with a lumber
logistics problem. He could not get logs from the forest to his lumber mill
quickly or efficiently. He sought to improve upon the methods of the day:
floating logs down river, or the use of steam tractors and horse teams. Peterman
knew that if he could develop the then-nascent automobile technology and build
trucks, he could solve his problem.
Peterman was rebuilding surplus army trucks, improving the technology with
each successive vehicle. Then he put a battery on the starter (instead of the
crank) and soon purchased the assets of Fageol Motors of Oakland, California in
1938 to supplement his need for a custom built logging truck chassis. Fageol had
gone into receivership in 1932. By 1938, the Great Depression had driven the
value of the assets to nearly zero. Peterman acquired the defunct truck
manufacturer and although he produced two chain-drive logging trucks, they were
unsuccessful. In 1939 he began selling his trucks to the public. T. A. Peterman
died in 1944. His wife, Ida, sold the company (less the land) to seven
individuals within the organization. They expanded it into a major producer of
heavy-duty trucks. In 1958, Ida Peterman announced plans to sell the land to
develop a shopping center. The shareholders, not wanting to invest in a new
manufacturing facility, sold the company to Pacific Car & Foundry Co., then
primarily a manufacturer of railroad freight cars, which was looking to expand
its truck manufacturing presence. Pacific Car & Foundry Co, which had acquired
the assets of Kenworth in 1944, was already a competitor in the heavy truck
market. In June, 1958, they acquired Peterbilt Motors as a wholly owned
subsidiary. One year later, Pacific Car started construction of a modern
176,000-square-foot (16,400 m2) manufacturing facility in Newark, Calif. In
August, 1960 Peterbilt moved to the new facility and became a division of the
parent firm. Pacific Car and Foundry Co. changed its name officially to PACCAR
Inc. in 1971.
A second manufacturing facility was built in Madison, Tennessee and started
production in July, 1969. A third manufacturing facility in Denton, Texas
started production in August, 1980. It became the only location to build the
then new 362 COE model. In 1986, Peterbilt closed the Newark plant, but left its
headquarters, engineering, marketing and sales operations there. In 1993
Peterbilt left Newark completely, moving its headquarters and engineering
operations to Denton as well. The Nashville plant was closed in 2009.
Peterbilt model numbers traditionally started with a "2" for single drive
rear axle tag axle models, and with a "3" for dual drive rear axle model from
1939 until 1981 with the 362. Peterbilt eliminated this distinction in the late
- 200/265: Small truck with Volkswagen/MAN G90-based cab. Similar
to the L80 cab series, Volkswagen production continues today in Brazil
- 260/334: On-highway, built 1939–1941.
- 270/334/345: On- highway, built 1941–1949.
- 354/355/364: Heavy duty, built 1941–1949. Twenty-eight Model
364s sold to Navy contractors in 1942.
- 280/350: This is the classic "iron-nose" conventional built
from 1949 to 1957. It has distinctive cycle-type front fenders, and a long
grille with vertical shutters.
- Main article: Peterbilt 281281/351: The classic narrow-nose
butterfly hood Peterbilt made from 1954 until 1976, though few were made
after about 1968. The truck was made notorious with the public with the
release of Steven Spielberg's 1971 thriller Duel, which featured a
1950s Peterbilt 281. (This truck was not a 351 because it had one tag axle.)
The 351 was also available after 1971 in a setback front axle (SBFA)
configuration (Peterbilt's first such design) aimed at the east coast
market. Nicknamed "The Autocar Fighter" by some staff. The design of the
companion trucks made way for later models, as the 351 SBFA evolved into the
- 282/352: Tilt-cab cab-over-engine model that replaced the Model
351 (non-tilting) cab over with "Panoramic Safe-T-Cab" in 1959. Formally
nicknamed the "Pacemaker" by a staffer at Peterbilt after an
in-house name contest in 1969 (the winner got a color TV). 1959-early 1969:
headlights closer to radiator. The UniLite cab was all hand tooled.
Pacemaker style sheet metal 1969–1980. The Pacemaker cab was refined through
the 1970s. Pacemakers 352s were available in cab sizes ranging from 54" to
110" bumper to back of cab (BBC). A 352 Pacemaker appeared in Knight
Rider as super-truck Goliath, and the "cab-over Pete" is referenced in
the classic CB radio song "Convoy".
- 352H: high cab model introduced circa 1975 for larger engines,
with higher cab and 1,512 sq in radiator, instead of the normal 1,050 sq. in
radiator. The 352H was available in 86" and 110" BBC lengths and the very
rare 63" BBC cab.
- 358: The 358 (288 single drive) was Peterbilt's first tilt
hood. Basically a tilt hood 351. Later available with a fiberglass hood. 358
was available from 1965 until 1976.
- 359: Introduced 1967 this was the first long-nosed conventional
Peterbilt (289 single drive). In 1967–1972 it had the small-windowed
"Unilite" cab. The first 359 was spec'd as a wrecker and sold to Coast
Counties Peterbilt. In 1973, the 1100 series cab with bulkhead-style doors
debuted (late 1972) Distinctive "Corvette" dash added 1977. Formal name
"Dash of Class". The 359 was in production until 1987, when it was replaced
by its successor the model "379". 1987 Peterbilt produced the "359 Classic",
a limited run of 359 trucks with numbered dash plaques. The bulkhead style
doors of the 1100 series cab are still used today.
- 346: The second-rarest Peterbilt ever made. It was made from
1972 to 1975, and only 10 were made. The 346 was intended to be a concrete
mixer, dump truck, or snowplow with 4×4 versions planned but never built.
The first 346 featured the Unilite cab and was sold to Rinker Construction.
In Traverse City, MI, there is a 346 crane truck still in operation. (JB
- 348: The 348 was a fiberglass hood aimed at mixer and dump
truck applications. The sloped hood afforded additional visibility. This was
Peterbilt's first fiberglass sloped hood (1970). The 348 was in production
from 1970 until 1986. The 349 was similar but with a slightly wider hood.
349 was later marketed for lightweight highway duty in the 1980s. The 348
6×6 used a 359-113 SBFA hood.
- 353: The 353 replaced the 351 flat-fender and 381 construction
models in 1973. The 353 had flat "pit style" fenders, butterfly hood and was
aimed at construction.
- 387: The 387 (1976–1987) looked similar to a 353 but had a
heavier frame, longer hood, full flat fenders and under cab steps, larger
bumper and overall heavier specs. Originally designed as a coal hauler, the
first 387 was built in the Madison, Tennessee plant in 1976 and can be seen
in the 1977 Working Class brochure as a coal truck. (JB Selvidge)
- 362: The 362 replaced the aging 352 in 1981 as the company's
flagship cab over. The 362 was available with a large one-piece center
windshield with three wipers or two center pieces with two wipers. The
latest refinement was the 362E, which had a slightly set back front axle for
longer front springs. The last 362 was built as a SBFA for oilfield use in
August 2005. The 362 was available in cab sizes from 54" to 110" BBC with
SBFA and tandem steer options. There was also an 8×8 362.
- 372: Designed for high efficiency and driver comfort, this was
the most aerodynamic Peterbilt cabover ever built. The nose piece of the cab
flipped forward (similar to the old 350 COE of the 1950s) allowing access to
maintenance items. The 372 was in production from 1988 until 1993. The 372
proved that 10+ MPG can be achieved with a class 8 truck. The truck has the
distinction of being the most unusual Peterbilt design offering a sinister
Darth Vader look that some also thought looked like a motorhome (think
Winnebago) or a football helmet.
- 377: Peterbilt's aerodynamically designed conventional with a
fiberglass hood and headlights incorporated into the fenders. Available in
set forward front axle (SFFA) and set back front axle (SBFA) configurations.
Available 1987 until 2000. Replaced by the 387 in theory but continued as a
- 378: Similar to the 379, the 378 has a fiberglass hood and
steeper hood slope. It is not available in an extended hood, but is
available in set back front axle (SBFA) configurations. The 378 is popular
in local and vocational trucking, as well as over the road applications.
Available 1987–2007. Whereas the 378 and 379 both are available in a 119"
BBC, the 378 sits four inches (102 mm) higher above the frame rails compared
to the 379. This accounts for the slight downward angle to the hood.
- 357: The 357 looks like a 378, sharing the various hoods (SBFA,
SFFA, Vocational "Heavy Haul" and short hood versions), but is heavier
spec'd for construction and heavier applications. The 357 was available in a
111" BBC also. The 357 was also available with flat fenders, much like the
353. The 378 and 357 SBFA received a new hood and grille/crown for 2004. The
vocational hood debuted in 2004 for customers needing a front engine power
take-off (FEPTO). This model quickly became popular as a heavy truck or
tractor and became known as the Heavy Haul option.
- 385: The 385 looks like a 377 with a more sloped hood. The 385
has a more sloped hood, shallower grille surround/crown than 377 had (later
year 377s and 385s were nearly indistinguishable). Produced to be a direct
competitor to the Freightliner FLD. 385 1996–2007.
- Main article: Peterbilt 379379: The 379 was Peterbilt's
flagship truck from 1987 until the 2007 model year maintaining the
nameplate's signature long-nose styling. Available in standard (119" BBC)
and long hood (127" BBC) lengths, the 379 is the last conventional
over-the-road truck available with an aluminum hood. Replacing the "359" in
1987, it remained in production until March 2007 with the last 1000 379s
called the "Legacy Class 379." The 379 family received interior changes
through the 20 year run, like the "Original (Square) Dash" from 1987 to
2000, the "Ergonomic Dash" from 2001 to 2005, and the current "2006+ Dash"
currently available in Arctic Gray, Saharan Tan, Burgundy Wine, and Maritime
Blue configurations. Peterbilt dropped the long running "American Class"
interior in 2005 with the end of the "Ergonomic Dash." The main dash color
was black up until the 2000 model year, which was the last year for the
"Original Dash;" you could either order it in gray, tan, or black. Currently
Peterbilt does not offer the "2006+ Dash" in black. Peterbilt also made
changes to the cab doors in late 2004 when the vent window post was
eliminated and the mirrors moved from the door to the cab. (Interestingly
the "original cab" from Fageol had no vent windows and thus a retro look was
achieved). The passenger door received a much larger peep window. New door
release handles and locksets replaced the 1972 units. The 2005 models had a
flat door window lower ledge. For 2006 and 2007 the doors received a new
window with an angled-towards-the-hood lower ledge allowing for additional
visibility, especially to the right. Rear corner windows also became
available. The new for 2005 cab mounted mirrors allow for enhanced view and
allow the driver to keep his view facing forward without leaning to see the
mirror. The rear window of the cab saw changes from the original 36" × 28"
window. The Unibilt Daycab window size became standard around 2003.
- 387: The 387 was introduced in 1999 and is an aerodynamic over
the road conventional. It uses the same bare cab shell its cousin with
different sleeper, roof, cab skin, interior and hood, and Peterbilt frame.
The 387 was available in two sleeper lengths: raised roof, mid roof and a
daycab. The Model 587 replaced the Model 387.
- 386: Entered production in spring 2005, it is an aerodynamic
truck, with a lower price tag than the 387. It is only offered with a 126"
BBC (Bumper to Back of Cab dimension.) The 386 is quickly becoming a popular
design and aside from not having external air cleaners, it is available with
most all of the options of a 389.
2008 and beyond
- 389: Peterbilt introduced the 389 at the Mid-America Trucking
Show in 2006. The 389 replaced the 379-127." The BBC of the 389 comes in at
just over 131" making it the longest hood Peterbilt has ever offered. The
389 features new headlamps with a stylish wraparound design, new fender
front and rear trim (the rear bracket is a styling cue back to the step on
the old 351 fender). The 389 offers the same popular configurations that 379
offered. The 389 went into production in late 2006 as 2008 models and
officially replaced the 379 in March 2007. The built-after-January 1, 2007
EPA compliant engines dictated many of the changes to the new Peterbilt
models. The 389 model is now available in Australia with Retruck Australia
Pty Ltd producing the countries best RHD conversion using laser scanned CAD
drawn RHD dashes. Converted cabs are also available for export worldwide.
- 388: The 388 replaced the 379-119." Sporting a 123" BBC, the
388 shares the same styling as the 389. Both 388 and 389 are Peterbilt's
aluminum hood "traditional styled" trucks. The 388 and 389 are subtly
different yet remain very true to the bloodline.
- 384: The 384 is a shorter BBC version of the 386. The 384 went
into production during mid-2007.
- 367: The 367 replaced the 357 and the 378. Both have new 123"
BBC lengths with fiberglass hoods. SBFA as well as HeavyHaul configurations
are available. The 367 retains the older "379 family" headlight options,
although now mounted to the hood skin rather than the grille surround and
- 365: The 365 replaced the 357-111". The 365 has a 115" BBC and
is aimed at the construction markets.
- 330, 335 and 340: These models are the class 6, 7, and "baby 8"
units for pick up and delivery, short hauls and vocational applications.
Built in the Sainte-Thérèse, Quebec plants, the 330, 335, and 340 are
becoming popular platforms for snowplows, fire apparatus, and construction
- 325: The Model 325 is ideal for the complete range of Class 5
applications including vehicle recovery and towing, lease/rental, pick-up
and delivery and business services such as parcel delivery, landscaping and
construction. The Model 325 began production in mid-July 2007.
- 320: The 320 is the oldest model in the Peterbilt line up. A
direct descendant of the 300 and 310, the 320 is a SBFA COE aimed at the
refuse and concrete pumper market. The Model 320 is available in a full
range of axle selections, FEPTO and REPTO provisions and multiple drive
configurations for added versatility.
- 210/220: Both COE use a DAF cab and are targeted to the local
pick-up and delivery market. The Peterbilt Model 210 has a wrap-around
windshield and tight turning ratio for the ultimate in maneuverability.
Ideal for the urban environment and drivers without a CDL, the Peterbilt
Model 210 is available as a Class 6 straight truck with GVW rated at 26,000
pounds. The Model 220 delivers a combination of maneuverability, visibility
with a GVW of 33,000 pounds.
- 587: The EPA SmartWay certified Model 587 features an
integrated cab and sleeper that matches luxury with efficiency and
productivity. The spacious and ergonomic cab interior provides plenty of
legroom, swivel seats, dual arm rests and easy access to switches and power
controls for added comfort and convenience. It includes a full 30-inches of
walk-through space between the seats, offering easy access to a sleeper that
surrounds the driver with functional amenities and accessible storage space
such as cabinet enclosed closets and under-bunk storage. The 587 is
available in two sleeper lengths: raised roof, mid roof and a daycab.
- 579: The 579 is Peterbilt's latest aero model which features a
2.1 meter cab. The Model 579 has a wide, spacious cab that surrounds the
driver in comfort and efficiency. Through interviews and testing, drivers
helped to design the optimal size for the new cab. A detachable sleeper adds
versatility and the longevity of a second life for highest resale value. The
579 provides efficient fuel consumption and optimized aerodynamics to
deliver the most cost-effective Class 8 model to date. It has a lightweight
aluminum cab, newly designed ergonomic dash, standard air disc brakes, 123"
BBC and detachable sleeper.
- 567: The new Model 567 is specifically designed with rugged
durability and quality construction to endure the rigors of dump, logging,
construction and the harshest of vocational applications.The new aluminum
cab structure is stronger for long-lasting endurance and ruggedness and
comes standard to meet severe-service requirements. The durable Metton® hood
is lightweight and strong, withstanding impacts that would shatter or crack
fiberglass, and it opens a full 90 degrees for easier access to key service
points for improved serviceability.
In the 1960s and 1970s, 30" and 36" sleepers were
available. If a buyer wanted a larger sleeper, Peterbilt worked with Mercury
Sleepers for 40", 60", and custom sized sleepers. Mercury would paint the
sleeper to match the factory paint or the sleeper came with polished quilted
aluminum. In 1978 Peterbilt's engineers were tasked with making a bigger
sleeper. They designed the 63" sleeper with rounded doors and a walk-through
from the cab. The sleeper debuted on a 359-127" and can be seen in the 1978
brochure "Best in Class". This truck also featured the first set of rectangular
headlamps. The first raised roof (high cube) sleeper was on a 359 in 1986 and
with changes (no right hand forward door) carried through to the 379 family. In
1994 the Unibilt sleeper debuted with air-ride suspension for the cab and
sleeper with a large cab to sleeper opening. The Unibilt sleeper suspension had
a one piece shock/air bag mount system from 1994 to 2006, until Peterbilt
redesigned the suspension system for the 2007 model year, making the shock and
air bag system on separate brackets. The Unibilt cab/sleeper option allowed for
the sleeper to be removed for a daycab conversion. The UltraSleeper was
Peterbilt's largest and most luxurious. At 70" long, it featured a right-hand
access door, table, closet and a small "wet closet" accessible from the driver's
side to store boots, gloves, and other 'damp' items. The last UltraSleeper was
built in 2005