Yard dog triumphant
wner showing strong at Custom Rigs Pride & Polish with’75 daycab Pete.
Story and photos by Todd Dills
Welding shop owner Wade Wardlaw of Woodville, Texas, had his first experience of the Great American Trucking Show in 2007, when he attended as a spectator. At the time, the hardworking 1975 Peterbilt 359 you see in the picture above was to the naked eye more like something you’d see in a junkyard.
It worked fine for what he needed it for,
Wardlaw says, but after walking through the Custom Rigs Pride & Polish truck beauty competition area, “a friend of mine at that first show talked me into it,” he says of the six months’ work he then put into the 359.
It was a total transformation of the yard truck into a slickly restored beauty. In only his second year in the Pride & Polish competition in 2009, he bagged First Place in the Antique class. This year, with hopped-up competition among a record number of entries, the 359 finished second, no less disappointing for the extra undercarriage polishing work he put into it.
Mounted to the back of the truck is a mammoth 80-ton Tulsa winch, originally used to lift a non-detachable-gooseneck equipment trailer from the fifth wheel in the original owner’s operation. The logging contractor had used the truck primarily to tote his heavy equipment around.
Much of the work Wardlaw put into the truck was in the way of cleaning, repainting and polishing, as he tells it. “I put new hinges on the doors,” he says, and fixed the hood for normal operation – prior to modification, he needed a team of mean to get it up and down.
He drew on his welding expertise in forming the black-painted diamond-plate rear fenders and other one-off custom touches. Aside from cleaning and replacing an injector, “I haven’t done anything to the engine,” he says. “Before the original owner retired it, he had it overhauled – it’s only got about 20,000 miles on the overhaul.”
And that mammoth steering wheel, well, he needs it. Aside from an hydraulic assist, the old beauty has no power steering. “It’s a workout to drive it,” Wardlaw says. All the same, he loves doing so. With the Great American Trucking Show just one of a few opportunities for such, you can bet on getting a chance to see it in Dallas again next year.