Mafia Secrets
43 and gorgeous
Not the driver, the 1972 Pete

By Bryan 'Boss Man' Martin, contributing writer

It has been said, “Lookin’ out a small window, across a narrow nose … Driving has never looked any better.”

It’s true. Hard to beat the nostalgic perspective a 1972 or older Peterbilt offers. This 1972 Peterbilt model 358 has a serious and aggressive personality that sure gets a driver’s attention.

After incessant nagging and recommendation from our longtime friend Bill Long of BLT Chrome Shop, OOIDA Member Bob Harley decided to take his truck to Joplin, Mo., and let the Boyz at Chrome Shop Mafia at 4 State Trucks do a makeover on his prize possession. Bob is the owner of Ohio-based RD Excavating and Trucking.

He acquired the Pete more than 20 years ago in a fleet buyout. When Bob got it, the truck was painted burnt orange and equipped with a 36-inch crawl-through sleeper. He wanted it to look sharper, offer a smoother ride, and be more comfortable for the times his wife went on trips with him. So he changed out the sleeper to a flat-top 63-inch, painted the entire truck a dark purple and operated it on a daily basis for many years.

In 2011, he brought it to our shop here and together we laid out a build plan to make this ’72 Bob’s “perfect truck.”

Like many of us, Bob likes the simplicity the older mechanical trucks offer – no cruise, no tilt, no self-canceling turn signals, but easy to diagnose, fix and work on. The truck is set up with a 3406 Cat engine, and a 13-speed main transmission with a four-speed auxiliary tranny.

We lengthened the frame to a

300-inch wheelbase, up-fitted the truck with 3.55 rear differentials and a 2007 low air leaf suspension. Then we did a full Unibilt air ride cab conversion to get Bob the smoother ride he was after.

Bob was insistent on the dark purple paint choice, but gave us the liberty to add the simple but “on target” marbleized charcoal stripe trimmed with a thin silver breaker stripe. The perfect color choice and the bare bones stripe design really add the no-nonsense stance. So much so that Bob officially named the truck “Bad Attitude.”

Nearly every square inch of the rig was upgraded with the exception of the engine compartment and transmissions.

Cody and the fabrication team did a super job on the frame covers, grille, tank straps, battery boxes, floorboards, light bars on the rear axles, tank filler panel and countless other pieces to add to the truly custom appearance of Bob’s ’72.

BF Goodrich tires were mounted on chrome-plated aluminum rims; 8-inch exhaust with the long “Pickett” elbows was installed; a painted bow tie sun visor was added; 24-inch American Eagle bumper was picked; LED headlights were swapped in; WTI fenders were put on the two rear axles; custom fiberglass fenders for up front; and brand-new interior upholstery with Bob’s company logo.

RD Excavating offers heavy haul and general trucking all over the central and eastern U.S. It’s true Bob may have more than 15 trucks and 30 trailers in operation, but this 1972 Pete turns Bob from an overworked, multitasking, gruff fleet owner into a happy, smilin’ truck driver “just doin’ what he oughta be doin’” every time he gets behind the wheel.

Be on the lookout for this hot rod purple Pete, as Bob plans to display it at a few truck shows in 2015. We have enjoyed making Bob’s acquaintance, helping him build the truck he had always wanted, and forming the friendship we have today with the Harley family. Thanks for letting us be part of your dream. LL