Site hosted by Build your free website today!

Oddball and Experimental Peterbilt Trucks

This is the story of a photograph. A photograph I took while on a tour of the Peterbilt Motors Company headquarters in July of 1975. I was almost 14, the tour was a birthday present. What a gift it was!

I took many photos of the spanking new Peterbilts behind the factory, including this truck

What a strange looking truck! I was asked not to take any additional photos of it, which I did not. I wish I had! I kept the photo of the truck with my other truck photos, in a box. Over the years I forgot about this truck.

In '99 I rediscovered this photo, or what is left of it. I had to know more about this truck! I made contact with Paccar, they had no records available without having a model number, and since I didn't know the model number, I was out of luck.

Then, in March of 2001, I called the Peterbilt office in Tennesee (I toured the Madison, TN plant in 1974). I was put in contact with Mr. Mike Jones. Having worked for Peterbilt since the mid 60's, Mike had the answers! I described the truck in the photo, he thought it might be a 352H prototype, or a early prototype 362, or maybe a Turbine Powered 352 test truck, but he couldn't be sure unless he saw the photo.

I emailed the photo to Mike, who contacted a fellow long-time Peterbilt employee in Denton, TX. The man contacted was Huston Marlow, and Huston was on the design team for this truck! I had hit the Jackpot!

I called Huston Marlow at Peterbilt Motors in Denton. According to him, the truck was designed in early 1973, and built in late 1973. New Federal noise control laws were soon to take effect, and the bigger engines had a real problem meeting the new regulations. Peterbilt's designers came up with the wide radiator, 1,950 square inches, and an unclutched 36" large blade fan.

The truck, designated the same as all 352's, was equipped with a Cummins KTA600 engine, twin stacks and breathers, tandem axle. The grille, grille and cab tilting mechanism were special patented designs. The grille would tilt out and down when the cab tilted, and then slam back in place when the cab was back in the run position.

Once built, and ran through the test track (or "test bed", it was discovered that the truck just barely met the new noise regulations, so more work was needed. But, in early '74 the fuel crisis hit the USA, and the economy suffered, and the engineering department at Peterbilt was forced to shelve the project.

The truck sat behind the Newark, California offices for the next year and half. That is when I saw the truck and snapped the photo.

The truck being neglected in the California sun for over a year explains why the truck looked weatherbeaten.

If you look closely at the photo, you can see cables dangling from near the left headlights, those are cables for test-track instruments.

Look closer and you can see there is no padding in the interior.

None was ever installed. Look at the exhuast stacks, and they are wrapped in sound deadening material so that the test-track's sound meter's microphone only picked up engine noise, and not stack noise.

This truck, nicknamed "The Waste Bed" (insider joke) was dismantled shortly after I snapped the photo in july of '75. It was never issued a VIN or titled. According to Huston, I most likley have the only photo of this truck, as he didn't recall any press photos or design team photos of it being taken. With that said, if you have a photo of this truck, please let me know!

A typical looking 352's face, and the prototype. A face only a mother could love! The red 352 was the company owned "parts getter" stake rack truck.

The 352H (H for High horsepower, and Higher cab) came out shortly after this truck was scrapped.

The H required a slightly different lower panel, taller grille and taller, deeper radiator. IT passed the new federal noise regulars with flying colors. The only carry over from the prototype to the H? The bumper.

I'd like to thank Mike Jones and Huston Marlow of Peterbilt Motors, a couple of the 'old timers' still there, for their help and memories of this odd-ball truck.

Now that I have discovered some of this trucks history, I am planning a 1/25th scale model of the truck. Another unique Peterbilt for my model truck collection.


Here's another Peterbilt experimental truck. A turbine powered 352 cabover! Peterbilt was big into testing the Turbine power, and even offered a 33RPM recording of the "Sounds of the Turbine Powered Peterbilt." I had that record, a small, red vinyl record. This pic is from a tattered advertisement from a 1972 Overdrive Magazine.

Note the fat stacks, the smaller grille, and the round turbine engine behind the grille.


What's THIS? A 352, or?


In 1975, Canadian truck builder Hayes was owned by Paccar, having been previously owned by Mack. When Paccar bought them, the use of the Mack style COE cab ended, and the Peterbilt cab and bumper were used. Hayes used their own chassis and spec's componants, and modified the Peterbilt cab for the harsher Canadian winters. The truck used the old-style Hayes grille and headlight buckets (used by Peterbilt after 1971), and resembled the pre-Mack Hayes. Alas, the truck was only made for 1 year, as Paccar closed Hayes at the end of 1975.

This photo is of my model of a '75 Hayes Clipper Coe, based on the brochure truck. Thanks to Rick Mark to RNK Conversions
for the brochure.(RNK is a parts and accessory company for the scale model truck builder).

My Hayes has a few inaccuracies, namely the use of the lighter Western Unit "Stabilair" suspension, most had a walking-beam suspension.

Back to Tims Model Trucks

The photos of the Prototype 352, the 352H, and the 352 are owned and copywritten by Timothy A. Ahlborn, and may not be used for commercial purposes without the expressed written permission to use them. If you have additional information on any of the Peterbilt based trucks, or other experimental Peterbilts, let me know! EMAIL ME!