Duncan Putman Trucking Photography - Cool Photos of Cool Trucks

Truck of the Month

October 2019
David Price's 1949 Peterbilt model 350
David Price's 1949 Peterbilt model 350
  • Mark Harter
  • Dylan Lambert

When T.A. Peterman founded the Peterbilt Motors Company in 1939 from the remnants of the Fageol Truck Company, which had fallen on hard times due to the Great Depression, little did he know how popular the trucks that carried his name would become in the decades to follow. While many different Peterbilt models have been built over the years, many of these trucks are sought after, such as the model 351 "needlenose", the model 359 and 379 extended hoods. These rigs have defined the image of the American owner-operator and are as iconic as a cowboy and his horse from the old west.

To many, Peterbilt Trucks are considered a status symbol. With their big hoods, classic styling and loads of options along with aftermarket support, there's no shortage of accessories consisting of chrome, stainless steel and lights for many Peterbilt models. In a sense, these trucks are "catalog" trucks. You can get the same parts and accessories as every other Peterbilt rollin' down the highway has.

David Price's 1949 Peterbilt model 350
David Price's 1949 Peterbilt model 350

But for some Peterbilt Trucks, you just can't get parts anymore and you can't go to the dealership or order the parts out of a catalog either. Needless to say, it can be a challenge to restore and rebuild early Peterbilts at times.

For David Price, owner of Olive Hill, Kentucky based Price Solutions, he loves a challenge. His company provides crane services, moving overdimensional and heavy objects for the mining industry and a challenge is just part of his every day life. So, when the opportunity to purchase a rare 1949 Peterbilt model 350 presented itself, David bought the truck, knowing it would be a challenge to restore, and went all in.

Produced from 1949 through 1957, the model 350 came to be known as the "Iron-Nose", by Peterbilt fans due to it's long grill and vertical radiator shutters. The most famous example of the 350 in trucking lore is "El Turbo", also a 1949, and was a common sight working on the West-Coast for many years. The truck is currently owned by collector Jerry Howard of Fairborn, Ohio.

David Price's 1949 Peterbilt model 350
David Price's 1949 Peterbilt model 350

While David's 350 didn't have the historical prominence of a truck like "El Turbo", and as a matter-of-fact, it was far from a beauty queen when he acquired it. The truck was essentially a roller; no engine and no transmission. An attempt at restoration had been made once before on the truck, and needless to say, it was less than satisfactory. David told us that he unfortunately doesn't know the history of his truck. Who it was built for, who has owned it, its mileage; are all a mystery and he does not know its original powertrain.

But with a vision in mind, David set out to build one of the most impressive and downright coolest 1949 Peterbilts in existence.

With a worn-out cab and butterfly hood riding on a worn-out aluminum frame, David quickly found he couldn't get readily available parts for this truck. While he was able to source certain parts from Courtland Truck Works of Courtland, California, who specialize in vintage Peterbilt restorations, David went to work rebuilding the cab and other structural components of the Peterbilt along with reskinning parts of the cab and hood.

David wanted to keep the truck looking traditional, yet wanted the modern powertrain of a current class 8 truck, making it a "fun, unique and driver friendly rig" as he explained. So, with no expense being spared, new aluminum frame rails and cross members began as the base for the vintage Pete with its wheelbase stretching to an impressive 240-inches. But to keep the cool factor going, David purchased a car hauler Peterbilt low air-leaf suspension for the truck to ride on along with a full set of 24.5 Alcoa aluminum rims wrapped in lo-pro Michelin rubber.

David Price's 1949 Peterbilt model 350
David Price's 1949 Peterbilt model 350

As the truck was coming together, David still needed an engine and transmission. Since he was going modern with his "Old School" Peterbilt, he had a wrecked 2007 Peterbilt model 379 sitting at his shop that had been slowly getting cannabalized for parts. Looking at the ‘07 Pete and then at the ‘49, David got the idea to use the big Caterpillar 3406E 2WS, which was pushing 550 HP (and is upgradable to 625 HP!). After taking some measurements, both the trucks had a 127" BBC and he wondered if the big Caterpillar out of the ‘07 379 would fit. Sure enough, after pulling the CAT, David's shop placed the big 2WS CAT in the 1949 model 350. While a tight fit, the big CAT fit snugly under the butterfly hood with a minimum amount of room to spare.

With the "King of the Hill" CAT in place, David mated the engine to an Eaton-Fuller 18-speed transmission with power being pushed to 3:55 rear-ends. While the old Pete looks "old", it's about as modern as it gets inside. With the modern electronics installed in order to run the engine, the cab was completely rewired. New gauges from Rockwood were mounted in the dashboard, with a custom interior being manufactured by Steve Holcomb for the truck as well.

Painted in a beautiful ivory, green and black paint scheme, the truck is highlighted by a big Texas drop bumper, stainless visor, 8" dual exhaust pipes, polished aluminum fuel tanks and a full set of stainless-steel fenders placed over the drive axles, along with plenty of more goodies adorning David's classic Peterbilt.

After a year of non-stop work, the Pete finally rolled out of David's shop for the first time this past May. Wanting to show it off a bit, David took it to a local car show at a truck stop in the area. Being the only truck in the car show, the Peterbilt received a lot of attention and the show organizers had David park his impressive Pete out front for everyone to see. While David was proud to show off his Pete, he did tell us the truck won a couple of trophies too!

  • Special thanks to David for sharing his awesome Peterbilt with our readers!
  • Do you own a unique rig? Get your truck featured here on our website and show-it-off to the world! Click Here to contact us and tell us about your truck!

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