the 359 peterbilt:
a big rig legend

1986 359 Peterbilt Big Rig

The 359 Peterbilt, is one of THE most popular models of all big rig trucks, originally built for the discriminating owner operator who needed a truck that could stand up to the challenges of long haul trucking.

The 359 Pete was Peterbilt's top of the line conventional highway truck. In it's day, it was THE hottest rig to own... certainly the best 18 wheeler around.

Peterbilt has made some great trucks, but this model, truly helped to make the company what it is today.

At the time the 359 was first introduced to the market, if a trucker wanted a long hood rig, the choice was the Peterbilt 359 or the Kenworth W900A truck. Freightliner, wasn't even in the race, back then.

5 Reasons Truckers Loved the 359 Peterbilt 

1. Any specs could be ordered.

2. Cool '359 signature' features such as long hood, large breather canisters, high stacks, prominent grill.

3. Aluminum body extended life of the unit.

4. Excellent turning radius, due to the steering box and the length of the steering axle.

5. Solid after market value.

Watch this YOUTUBE video of some fantastic old 359 Petes.

Light Weight and Full-Size

If a trucker was looking for the lightest unit possible, this truck could be ordered with an all aluminum cab and bunk, and even the frame could be ordered in aluminum. It was 'full size', and didn't weigh very much.... a factor that was especially important to truckers hauling extra heavy freight, like produce haulers.

Another added perk to the aluminum composition, was that it didn't suffer from corrosion, so the bodies of this model, would, and have lasted a long time.

Lots of Choice

1984 359 Peterbilt  blue and white

The Pete 359's had a large engine compartment, so almost any engine and transmission combination, could be spec'ed for an order. This was a huge advantage as they could be designed for logging, produce work and any kind of specialized trucking.

At the time, the 3408 Cat engine was popular and it would fit under the hood of a 359....a popular choice.

Virtually any tranny could be placed in the 359 model, even the Spicer 604, the transmission of choice at the time.

Resale/after Market Value of The 359 Pete

Not only was the style of this rig, top notch in it's class, but it's resale was like no other!

Because it could be ordered just about any way possible, the resale of these rigs were excellent... a major factor for owner operators and trucking companies.

In fact, the 359 Peterbilt, still maintains excellent value, even today, with a market flooded with used old semi trucks.

The last 400 or so, of 359's manufactured, were 'numbered'. These particular units are especially valuable.

Pete had a series of custom paint jobs which were unique to the 359's and if a 359 has one of these paint jobs, it will bring in even more money in resale value.

Peterbilt Stops Making the 359

When Peterbilt announced their decision to discontinue their 359 model, it set off a frenzy, and many people rushed to buy them, thinking that the company was discontinuing this long hood truck..... a smart marketing move on their part.

1987 359 Peterbilt Black Gold

But what the company really did, was actually make some improvements to the design and the quality control, and essentially just made the 359 Peterbilt even better.

They improved the cab by making it wider with more leg room..... the 'Unibilt' cab ...which is a cab and bunk on one air ride system, which substantially improved the ride of the vehicle....and this was the beginning of another legend, the Peterbilt 379.

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