The History of Peterbilt Trucks

By Allstate Peterbilt Group | Posted in Trucking Industry Information on Monday, June 17th, 2019 at 8:00 am

Have you ever wondered about the history of Peterbilt trucks? Who started it all? What contributes to its success? You’ve found the right place. From the very beginning in 1939, to the monumental milestone Peterbilt has reached this year, there are loads of interesting facts and details. Ready to begin?


The year was 1939. T.A Peterman leaves the logging industry after finding an interest in buying excess trucks from the Army and rebuilding/improving them for heavy hauling. He bought a failed Fageol Motors, turning it into, well you guessed it, Peterbilt. The first few truck models that Peterman came out with were Model 334 and Model 260. Both of these were known for their all-steel cab. When WWII started, Peterbilt focused on bringing their expertise in trucking to help out their country by creating Model 364, which was known for being a dependable workhorse. T.A was unfortunately only able to enjoy his success for five short years until he passed away in 1944; a year before the war ended. His wife sold the company to a handful of managers.


Once the war ended, Peterbilt had new goals to reach. 1954 comes and introduces Model 351, becoming the longest production in Peterbilt history! It was then that the Peterbilt’s Red Oval logo was made. It was in 1958, that the Pacific Car & Foundry, who later changed their name to PACCAR, purchased Peterbilt, starting a relationship that has lasted for 60 years (and still going).  The 1960s was a period of innovation for Peterbilt. One of the biggest changes was Model 352. The 352 switched to a lightweight aluminum cab and had a 90-degree tilt UniLite cab. The next big addition was made on Model 358 with the addition of the Peterbilt bird hood ornament.


Continuing on with Peterbilt’s history, a new manufacturing facility opens up in 1980 in Denton Texas. The main reasoning for the opening of this facility was to increase Peterbilt’s manufacturing abilities. One of the first revolutionary new designs from this facility was Model 362. This model increased the popularity of cab-over-engine tractors. In 1986, Peterbilt introduces the most iconic truck in generations: Model 379. After the 379, Peterbilt starts to apply their craftsmanship and expertise to seize new opportunities. Opportunity number one was entering the Medium Duty Market. Model 330 was the first of that market. In the 2000s, Peterbilt comes out with even more trucks! The first being Model 386, which was the first product designed to be environmentally friendly and fuel efficient. Peterbilt also came out with new trucks for the Medium Duty Market; models 210 and 220, which are both known for being comfortable and having great maneuverability.


New Era. New Truck. Model 587; sleeper model. This model took a great leap in its aerodynamic design. Peterbilt set a new goal to become more advanced and innovative in its company’s technology in 2012. Hello, Model 579. This becomes the highest technological advancement Peterbilt has made. 2013 arrives and Peterbilt moves its focus to the vocational side of the trucking industry. The first vocational truck is Model 567, which provided more job versatility. Peterbilt started offering the MX-11 engine in 2015. This particular engine had the power and reliability customers wanted. The engine features 430 horsepower and 1650 lb-ft of torque.


Mixing past with the future…that’s what Model 567 offered. With modern amenities and aerodynamics, this truck carries on Peterbilt’s tradition of pride and class. Paccar completed the new 12-speed automated transmission in 2017. This new transmission was designed from the ground up to maximize durability, fuel efficiency, and drivability. Model 579 is introduced in 2018, which was bold and distinctive. How so, you ask? By showing off the high-roof integral, which provides drivers the ultimate living and working environment. This feature took the already-superior model 579 to a new level of performance and comfort.


Here we are, in the year 2019, and Peterbilt is celebrating its 80th anniversary. Peterbilt is built on innovation, enduring craftsmanship’s, individualized solutions, and pride and class. They are the industry’s truck of choice, and Peterbilt’s history shows us why. The sky’s the limit for this company, and we believe Peterbilt will remain the truck manufacturer of choice because of this continued innovation.

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