Mafia Secrets
Roll with the changes

By Bryan 'Boss Man' Martin, contributing writer

Take a look at Troy Huddleston’s truly retro 1991 Freightliner. Perhaps a more fitting name for this feature would be: “Rolling back in time, despite the changes.”

Based out of Yale, Ill., this 32-year trucking veteran has owned and driven this same truck since 1995. Powered by a 425 horsepower Cat, a 15-speed OD Fuller transmission, and 3.58 ratio gears with more than

300 inches of wheelbase, this li’l red FLD 120 Freightliner wasn’t all that little in 1995. These were pretty large specs back in that era.

In 1996, shortly after purchasing the truck, Troy was pulling a load of anhydrous ammonia and got involved in a wreck where the rig was laid over and totaled out by the insurance. He retained the truck and installed a brand-new cab and hood, and changed it to a classic XL front end. After the wreck and because of the severity of the incident, the truck was appropriately named “Flirtin’ with Disaster.”

Recently, in 2016, Troy and his brother Randy got busy and did an extensive full body makeover on the truck to literally make it appear like an FLC model. The FLC series went out of production in the 1980s. The brothers found a used aluminum hood, changed out the windshield mask and cowl panels, and put an old authentic paint job on it. They cut some cool heart-shaped windows in the bunk and decided to go back with an original style sun visor, cab lights and stacks.

One of Troy’s favorite parts of the truck is the old “Jackson” paint stripe design, which Freightliner offered in the ’80s and which was inspired by one of Carl Alt’s trucks from Huddleston’s childhood days. He also really likes the “double-stacked” front bumpers.

Today, Troy hauls liquid fertilizer and food grade organic grains with his truck. After operating 25 trucks back in 2010, he found a buyer for a portion of his business. He has definitely acquired a new level of contentment in overseeing this one truck and being able to have a lot less stress and enjoy more of his family time.

Like so many of us in the industry, Troy grew up riding with his dad, “Big Hudd” as folks called him, every chance he could get. He rode shotgun with his dad in the summer, on weekends, and any other time he could. His father owned day cabs back then, and he jokingly recalls that when they would get to a destination, he would sleep on the floor, curled up around the shifter. Or sometimes Big Hudd would pull the tarp back on the trailer, and Troy would lie on top of the beans and take a nap.

After Troy launched his owner-operator career, he owned a Peterbilt for a short time. Although he loved the look, he couldn’t stand the rougher ride. So he sold it and got back in his pride and joy, this ’91 Freightliner.

Troy’s advice to someone just becoming an owner-op: “Do one thing, get it down pat, do it right, and be the best you possibly can at it. Don’t get spread too thin, chasing too many rabbits. Next, listen to what some of the old-timers in trucking tell you, take it earnestly to heart, and apply it to what you do.”

We have known Troy for many years and can certainly tell you from personal experience that he not only has been a friend, and wonderful customer, but he also has strong and admirable family values, is surrounded by great people, and is one of the “best sports” you’ll ever meet!

Troy thanks the Lord for the opportunity he has been given to do something he enjoys to earn his living. As he says, “If you make work your hobby, you’ll never work a day in your life.”

He is especially grateful to Maria, his wife of 20-plus years, and their three awesome children Austin, Allison and Alivia. They are the reason he “gets up and goes.” He also thanks his brother Randy for continuing to work on the truck while Troy had to go trucking from time to time; Dammit Dave and Rob for all the help and late nights working on the ol’ girl; Roadworks for building the stacked front bumpers; and DynaFlex for jumping in to help with the exhaust pipes.

In closing, this rig is no longer known as “Flirtin with Disaster.” Troy officially renamed the truck in 2016 “Roll with the Changes.” LL