History of Peterbilt Trucks

Peterbilt trucks have predominated as America’s premium quality, heavy duty trucks in the 5 through 8 class since 1939.As a well-known truck manufacturer, Peterbilt Motors Co has built a reputation for reliable low-maintenance all-round trucks with affordable price. This globally recolonized brand is headquartered in Denton, Texas with several manufacturing facilities. Before mentioning something about the history of Peterbilt trucks, you may want to have a sneak peek of the company’s truck models.

Peterbilt Truck Models

Peterbilt has an award-wining line up of truck models. Built from a rich history of quality as well as a commitment to innovation, all these models have been voted as the most efficient and durable trucks money can acquire. Whether off-road, around town or on any other terrain, these trucks are sure to deliver up to your expectations. Peterbilt manufactures a wide variety of all-round truck models and have been modifying them over time. The following list presents 2 models from the company as from 2008 and readers need not to forget that many other models have been omitted ;

a) The Peterbilt Model 567
This is one of the new models of Peterbilt trucks and it is particularly designed with rugged durability coupled with quality construction to withstand the harshest applications. It features an aluminum cab structure which is hardier for long lasting endurance and comes standard to meet rigorous service requirements.

b) The Peterbilt Model 579
The 579 is the brand’s latest aero model featuring a wide spacious cab which surrounds the driver to provider not only comfort but efficiency as well. It also has a removable sleeper to provide versatility and the longevity of a second life for the best resale value. This extremely efficient and low-maintenance truck provides efficient fuel consumption and enhanced aerodynamics to deliver the most cost-effective new model from the brand.

Studying the history of Peterbilt trucks should enable you to understand how this successful company has grown over time.


Pre Peterbilt

A sneak peek at the history of Peterbilt shows that it has not been a walk in the park for this renowned truck manufacturer. In fact, unlike small vehicles, motor trucks never had smooth beginnings. During the early part of 20th century, railroads, horses, canals and rivers were used for getting goods across the nation. What’s more, the lack of motor-ready roads meant that the idea of transportation through motor trucks was an unheard phenomenon.

However, the arrival of First World War turned out to be a blessing in disguise for movement of people and other items. Other means of transport were proving to be unreliable and insufficient for the transportation of armaments, food as well as other materials. This meant that more and more tracks were pressed into use by the government. The government also went ahead to construct tarmac roads and highways. By the end of the war, motor trucks had secured their place as an important means of transport.


The Founding of Peterbilt Motors Co

It is in the wake of this new age that a Tacoma, Washington plywood manufacturer-cum-lumber dealer T.A Peterman was faced with logistics problem in his business. This ambitious entrepreneur could not get logs from the forest to his lumber mill in time and efficiently. Peterman desired to improve on the regular methods of that time i.e using steam tractors and horse teams or floating logs down river. It should be noted that even though the government had begun to build quality roads and motor truck companies started to spring up, all these new developments had not yet become popular across the nation. Peterman knew that if he could come up with the then emerging vehicle technology and make trucks he could find a solution to his problem.

The growth continued to roll well in the motor truck industry until the arrival of the Great Depression which brought a mixed baggage for industry players. This meant that while some manufacturers continued to make profits and record growth, others like Fageol begun to experience financial difficulties and eventually had to become bankrupt.

As ambitious as he was, Peterman saw a potential in this promising brand and made an unexpected move to acquire it at an unknown price, a move that some of his critics during that time saw as extremely stupid. He was determined to fulfill his need for custom built logging trucks and nothing would stop him.

Unlike his competitors, he focused on quality rather than quantity. While some of them were manufacturing over a hundred units a day, Peterbilt was rolling slightly over 100 trucks a year. The company was the first to send out its engineers to obtain first hand experience of the problems faced by truckers and make appropriate improvements or adjustments using the knowledge from the field. Soon, the quality of his products earned a special place in the hearts of truck enthusiasts. Within just a short time frame, the brand hand climbed up the loyalty charts with individual truck owner operators and trucking companies.

A few years later, the death of this ambitious entrepreneur saw the rights passing into the hands of his widow who later sold the assets to Peterbilt’s employees only remaining with the land. Later, she declared her plans to build a shopping complex on the plant site, a decision that did not go down well with the new shareholders of the company. It put them into a dilemma. To avert the possibility of a huge and long-term debt, they decided to list the company for sale. It was later acquired by its distant rival the Pacific Car and Foundry Co which owned Kenworth Trucks.

Later, the new buyers went on to forge several innovative strategies including; the use of aluminum to minimize cab and chassis weight and increasing payload capacity, presenting right-hand stand-up drive capabilities and much more.


This is the overview of the history of Peterbilt trucks. Even though many other comparable truck manufacturers have sprung up today, Peterbilt trucks still continue to captivate truck enthusiasts with continuous innovations coupled with a realistic approach to truck manufacture.