Peterbilt Motors Company USA


1939; 78 years ago

Denton, Texas, U.S.


Peterbilt Motors Company is an American manufacturer of medium- and heavy-duty Class 5 through to Class 8 trucks. It was founded in 1939. Its headquarter is situated in Denton,Texas United States. A subsidiary of Paccar, which also owns its longtime competitor Kenworth, it operates manufacturing facilities. It also has a factory in Sainte-Thérèse, Quebec. The company was based in the East Bay area of Northern California from 1939 until the mid-1980s. The original plant was in Oakland. It was closed in 1960 and moved to nearby Newark. Truck production shifted to Denton, Texas at the close of 1986, but division headquarters and engineering remained in California until 1992, when a new administrative complex and engineering department at the Denton plant were completed. Production of class 8 trucks continues at the Denton, Texas plant.



In the first third of the 20th century logs for the lumber industry were floated downriver, hauled with steam tractors, or horse teams. Tacoma, Washington plywood manufacturer and lumberman T.A. Peterman could not get his felled inventory to his lumber mill quickly or efficiently enough to suit his needs, so he looked at the then-nascent automobile technology for logging trucks that could do the job. Peterman started by rebuilding surplus army trucks, improving the technology with each successive vehicle, such as replacing crank starters with battery powered ones. With the ability to turn out custom built chassis Peterman initially manufactured two chain-drive logging trucks, which proved unsuccessful. In 1939 he started selling his trucks to the public.

In 1944 T. A. Peterman died. His wife, Ida, sold the company to seven individuals within the organization, but retained its land. They expanded it into a major manufacturer of heavy-duty trucks. In 1958, Ida Peterman declared plans to sell the property to develop a shopping center. The shareholders, not wanting to invest in a new manufacturing facility. The company was sold in June 1958 to Pacific Car & Foundry Co. Pacific Car and Foundry started construction of a modern 176,000-square-foot (16,400 m2) manufacturing facility in Newark, Calif. Peterbilt shifted to the new facility and became a division of the parent firm in August, 1960. In 1971 Pacific Car and Foundry Co. changed its name officially to PACCAR.



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 1970s.


Peterbilt 281/351 :

The classic narrow-nose butterfly hood Peterbilt built from 1954 until 1976. The truck was built notorious with the public with the release of Steven Spielberg's 1971 thriller Duel, which featured a 1950s Peterbilt 281. 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 353.


282/352 :

Tilt-cab cab-over-engine model that replaced the Model 351 (non-tilting) cab over with "Panoramic Safe-T-Cab" in 1959. Formerly nicknamed the "Pacemaker" by a staffer at Peterbilt after an in-house name contest in 1969. 1959-early 1969: headlights closer to radiator. The UniLite cab was all hand tooled. 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".


379 :

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. 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. 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.


387 :

The 387 was launched in 1999. It 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 fall 2005, as an aerodynamic truck. It is only offered with a 126" BBC (Bumper to Back of Cab dimension.) and aside from not having external air cleaners, it is available with most all of the options of a 389. It was ceased in 2015.




389 :

Peterbilt launched 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.


388 :

The 388 replaced the 378-119." 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.


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. 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. It has a lightweight aluminum cab, newly designed ergonomic dash, standard air disc brakes, 123" BBC and detachable sleeper.


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