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Peterbilt Motors Company
IndustryTruck Manufacturing
Founded1939 (1939)
FounderT. A. Peterman
HeadquartersDenton, Texas, United States
ProductsSee listing

Peterbilt Motors Company is an American truck manufacturer. Producing its first truck in 1939, the company specializes in commercial heavy-duty and medium-duty vehicles. Since 1958, Peterbilt has been owned by PACCAR, operating alongside sister division Kenworth Truck Company. Introduced in 1953, a large red-oval brand emblem distinguishes its vehicles.

Founded in Oakland, California, Peterbilt is currently headquartered in Denton, Texas (since 1986); the company manufactures vehicles in Denton, Texas and in Sainte-Thérèse, Quebec (predominantly the class 7 348 models).


A 1939 Peterbilt Model 334 truck (first year of production)

In the first third of the 20th century, logs for the lumber industry were floated downriver, hauled with steam tractors or horse teams. Tacoma, Washington plywood manufacturer and lumberman T.A. Peterman could not get his felled inventory to his lumber mill quickly or efficiently enough to suit his needs, so he looked at the then-nascent automobile technology for logging trucks that could do the job.[citation needed]

Peterman began by rebuilding surplus military trucks, improving the technology with each successive vehicle, such as replacing crank starters with battery powered ones. In 1938, near the end of the Great Depression, he purchased the assets of Fageol of Oakland, California, which had gone into receivership in 1932 (near the depths of the Depression). With the ability to turn out custom built chassis Peterman initially produced two chain-drive logging trucks, which proved unsuccessful. In 1939, he began selling his trucks to the public.[citation needed]

T. A. Peterman died in 1944. His wife, Ida, sold the company to seven individuals within the organization, but retained its land. They then expanded it into a major producer of heavy-duty trucks. In 1958, Ida Peterman announced plans to sell the property to develop a shopping center. The shareholders, not wanting to invest in a new manufacturing facility, sold the company in June 1958 to Pacific Car & Foundry Co., then primarily a manufacturer of railroad freight cars, which had acquired the assets of heavy truck competitor Kenworth in 1944. One year later, Pacific Car and Foundry started construction of a modern 176,000-square-foot (16,400 m2) manufacturing facility in Newark, Calif. In August 1960 Peterbilt moved to the new facility and became a division of the parent firm. Pacific Car and Foundry Co. changed its name officially to Paccar in 1972.[1]


Peterbilt 220
Peterbilt 389
Peterbilt 579


  • 220 (Class 7); low-cab COE[2]
  • 325 (Class 5); medium-duty conventional[3][4]
  • 330 (Class 6); medium-duty conventional[5]
    • 337 (Class 7); medium-duty conventional (semitractor)[6]
    • 348 (Class 7/8); conventional (vocational)
  • 365/367 (Class 8) severe-service/vocational
  • 389 (Class 8) extended-hood on-highway semitractor
  • 520 (Class 8) low-cab COE, vocational/refuse[7]
  • 567 (Class 8) severe-service/vocational[8]
  • 579 (Class 8) aerodynamic-body on-highway semitractor[9]


Peterbilt assembly plant and headquarters in Denton, Texas.

From 1939 until the mid-1980s, the company was based in the East Bay area of Northern California. The original plant was in Oakland, which closed in 1960 and moved to nearby Newark. Truck production moved to Denton, Texas at the close of 1986, but division headquarters and engineering remained in California until 1992, when a new administrative complex and engineering department at the Denton plant was completed. The Madison/Nashville plant opened in 1969 in Madison, Tennessee, for the east coast market. Originally it only manufactured the 352/282 cabover, then conventional production began in the 1970s until it was closed in 2009. Production of Class 8 trucks continues at the Denton, Texas plant (

See also[edit]


  1. ^ History Paccar
  2. ^ Nunlist, Tom; Editor, Associate. "Peterbilt 210 and 220 Low COE to Return Next Year". Retrieved November 18, 2019.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  3. ^ "Model 325 | Peterbilt". Retrieved November 18, 2019.
  4. ^ Retrieved November 18, 2019. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ "Model 330 | Peterbilt". Retrieved November 18, 2019.
  6. ^ "Model 337 | Peterbilt". Retrieved November 18, 2019.
  7. ^ Staff. "Peterbilt Unveils Model 520 for Refuse Fleets". Retrieved November 18, 2019.
  8. ^ Staff. "Peterbilt Showcases Model 567". Retrieved November 18, 2019.
  9. ^ Truckinginfo Staff. "Peterbilt Introduces 'New From the Ground Up' Model 579". Retrieved November 18, 2019.

External links[edit]