379: The Truck that Peter Built

Despite the end of its run in 2007, the Peterbilt 379 (soon replaced by the Peterbilt 389 which had upgrades to both its hood and headlights), a Class 8 truck from PACCAR, is still recognized as a star among the rest of its fleet mates, due in part perhaps to its appearance in film as the character Optimus Prime in Michael Bay’s Transformers film.

In production from 1987-2007, the Peterbilt 379 was the largest highway truck available from the company at the beginning of its run, with both a standard and extended hood available (the standard was 119 inches while the extended hood was 127 inches). It differed from the Peterbilt 359 (which it replaced) in that the windshield wipers were horizontally mounted, and it had a windshield a bit larger than the Peterbilt 359.

The Peterbilt 379 was a powerful truck, utilizing a wide array of turbodiesel engines to maintain its edge on other highway trucks. The list of engines used include the Caterpillar (C-11, C-12, C13, C15, C-16 and the 3406 B,C, E, P, and EWS), the Cummins (NTC, N-14, ISM, ISX, ISMe5, ISXe5, the Signature 600) and the Detroit Diesel (60 and 90 series).

It was available with a variety of upgrades ranging from interior color (from 2000-2007, you could choose between black, tan and gray), exterior color (a range of choices including Arctic Gray, Sahara Tan, Burgundy Wine, and Maritime Blue), cab mounted mirrors, rear corner windows, the elimination of the vent window post (this was a change that gave the truck a vintage feel), and a special edition called the “Legacy Class” (the last thousand units before it was replaced).

Peterbilt (a subsidiary of PACCAR – which also owns Kenworth) began in the late 1930’s in Denton, Texas, although they have had factories in both the USA (California, Texas, Tennessee) and Canada (Quebec). It originally began as a logging truck company, using surplus army vehicles as the base, which then evolved into the trucks used until 2007.