Back in time – Cadillac style
The Southers rebuilt their 1986 Peterbilt 359 from the ground up, making it as comfortable inside as it is dependable outside

By Jeff Barker, contributing writer

Who says old trucks can’t be comfortable to drive? OOIDA Members Mike and Kim Southers from Gaffney, S.C., will readily prove them wrong with this cool 1986 Peterbilt 359.

Mike and Kim Southers are a business-savvy couple who have figured out what it means to work smarter, not harder. They understand the benefits of being diverse and how it helps their bottom line. Between Mike’s knowledge of mechanics and Kim having a college degree in accounting, they work together as a team in every aspect of their business, including behind the wheel whenever a time-sensitive load calls for it.

Mike and Kim have owned numerous trucks over the years and most of them have been Kenworth W900s and Peterbilt 379s with large custom sleepers. They have hauled numerous types of open-deck loads, including aircraft engines, overdimensional cargo and other high-value loads.

After purchasing a brand- new truck in the spring of 2007 they dealt with numerous breakdowns, costing them a lot in downtime and missed loads. So they sold that truck a short time later and bought a 1992 Peterbilt 379. They eventually set out to build their Peterbilt 359 dream truck they drive today.

They bought and refurbished this 359 from the ground up, including sending the original Caterpillar 3406B engine to Bruce Mallinson at Pittsburgh Power to have it completely rebuilt and upgraded to run more efficiently. The engine has an estimated output of 750 to 800 horsepower – plenty of juice on tap when it’s needed.

They use Shell Rotella oil along with a bypass filter setup and have been able to extend their oil changes as long as the samples remain clean. They have been averaging an impressive 6.8 miles per gallon with their mechanical engine. They put about 125,000 miles on this truck annually, with a big part of that involving team driving.

Mike and Kim kept the cab interior as original as possible but upgraded the seats to Legacy units with black and maroon upholstery to match the paint scheme on the truck. The wheelbase was stretched out to 350 inches and then the ICT 120-inch custom sleeper with all of the comforts of home was put into place.

There is also a deck plate and ramp setup behind the sleeper to carry their 2008 Harley Davidson Electra Glide motorcycle to get around during their layovers on the road.

They also have it set up for Max, their Doberman, to be able to travel with them and protect what is basically “his truck.” The cab and sleeper are on rubber mounts as this truck rides well on the long wheelbase, according to Kim.

The truck is currently equipped with an Eaton-Fuller 13-speed single-overdrive transmission and 3:90 rears on air ride. As of press time, they are in the process of doing some changes, including an 18-speed direct-drive transmission and higher ratio (numerically lower) rear ends.

I have personally known the Southers for many years and they are a true class act. This beautiful truck is yet another extension of that. LL