The History of Peterbilt

The three most famous brands, under which American trucks were and are produced, are three brands: International, Freightliner and, of course, Peterbilt - the legendary trucks with the red oval emblem.

The first Peterbilt truck was assembled in 1939 (the same time when the company was founded), but the beginning of the company goes back to 1915 and is associated with the names of Frank and William Fageol, who built comfortable cars, trucks and buses in Oakland, California. In the early years, Fageol assembled general-purpose trucks that were powered by Waukesha four-cylinder engines. In 1924, Fageol became a well-known company that produced trucks for the lumber and timber industries. Because of this success, an offer came in from the American Car Foundry to build a truck assembly plant in Kent, Ohio, for sale in the Eastern market.

The deal ultimately turned out to be a sham, and in 1929 Fageol went bankrupt. The economic crisis devastated many businesses, and in 1932 Fageol joined the long list of debtor firms. The Waukesha Motor Company and the Central Bank of Oakland bailed Fageol out.

Even with such a precarious position, Fageol continued to produce large batches of trucks in the 1930s. In 1938 Fageol was bought by Sterling Motors, which then stopped production of Fageol cars. Soon a certain T.A. Peterman, a prosperous businessman from Tacoma, Washington, an intermediary in the lumber and lumber trade, showed up. In 1939 he took over all Fageol/Sterling Motors operations to build trucks for his own hauling in the vast forests of the northwest. Two trucks were assembled, but the project ended there.

Nevertheless, the venture helped Peterman to establish himself well in the truck industry and paved the way for a highly successful product - Peterbilt trucks. The transition from Fageol to Peterbilt began in 1939, when 14 trucks were built. The very first trucks greatly resembled the latest Fageol trucks and featured not only an oval front grille, but also the now-famous chrome lettering specific to each Peterbilt. It is believed that the motto in the metal is Peterman's own signature.

By 1941 Peterbilt had produced a total of 89 trucks, and the specific grille was replaced with a more modern-looking front end. Faintly visible changes began to appear in Peterbilt trucks of early 1940s. In late 1944 a distinctive feature appeared - the signature made in metal began to be framed by a rectangular frame. During the war the production rate, typical to the 40's was very different, but by 1945, when Peterbilt died, 225 trucks were built. In the same year the company began using aluminum for frame and chassis construction, thereby increasing the truck's capacity.

Demand for Peterbilt vehicles was growing, and in 1946, 350 heavy trucks with semi-trailers were produced. The next year Peterman's widow sold all the fixed assets of the company, except for the land, so the name of the Peterman Manufacturing Company was changed to Peterbilt Motor Company. There are contradictory explanations of the origin of the traditional red oval Peterbilt emblem on truck hoods. Some suppose that the emblem first appeared in 1949, others say that this sign, which distinguishes Peterbilt vehicles, was introduced in 1951.

In 2005 Peterbilt discontinued production of the once popular cabover tractor trucks Series 362, and introduced a new product - the streamlined long-haul 386 Series. On the rest of the bonneted models, changes occurred in design and finish, and electronic multiplexing was introduced, with the standard J1939 bus replacing the former multiple-wire electrical system. An expanded range of engines is available for a number of trucks. Peterbilt 320 chassis are designed for making special construction and utility trucks on their base. For this purpose, they are equipped with a low cab with a length just over 1 m with a comfortable entrance and a flat floor. For garbage trucks, it is equipped with an additional right-side control post. If it is necessary to reduce external noise level, Cummins and Caterpillar engines with power of 210-335 hp can be enclosed in a soundproof casing. Transmission is manual Fuller with 7, 10 or 13 gears, or automatic Allison 5- or 6-speed. Vehicles are offered with 4x2 or 6x4 axle arrangements, but it is possible to use an additional non-driven axle in front or rear. Since March 2005, the company offers an optional Cummins ISM 11-liter diesel engine with an output of 280-350 hp. Do not forget to use Peterbilt VIN decoder in order to avoid potential problems when buying a used car.

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