Semi trucks are cool. I don’t know what law of humanity determines this to be so, but it is a basic fact of life that big honk honk diesel daddies are among the most awe-inspiring modes of transportation in the world. Among them, a COE rig is significantly cooler than the standard engine-forward tractor configuration. There’s just something extra about climbing up into a seat above the front wheel, hanging it all out there, and hauling a little more than ass.
Despite the environmental impacts of the goods transportation industry, so long as we spurn trains in this country trucks and truckers will be the backbone of a capitalist society. These trucks haul the necessary components of daily life that we humans demand not just for maintaining life, but maintaining comfort. We love our stuff, and these trucks are happy to haul that stuff all around the country.
As a youngster, I was obsessed with trucking culture for much of my pre-teen days. There were two or three years where I would listen to practically nothing but C.W. McCall’s anthemic trucking songs. I grew excited when seeing vintage haulers and the tall cabover boxes which were so prevalent in the 1970s. I can’t explain exactly what it was that had me enraptured by the ideology of solo life on the road, a middle-class salary without post-secondary education, or big dirty engines, but enraptured I was. I also can’t explain why I never pursued that dream job as my vocation. I’d probably be pretty good at it.
Let’s recap. Semi trucks are cool. Old semi trucks are cooler. Old cab-forward trucks are coolest. Nobody could possibly ever disagree with this statement, and I wouldn’t listen to you if you tried.
I was crawling through eBay today when this 1978 White Freightliner caught my attention. It is pretty much the exact opposite of everything I value in a car, as it is heavy, chrome-laden, and ostentatious. But I instantly fell in love with it. The metallic paint work looks like it would be at home on an east Los Angeles lowrider. The interior work, from the gold flake steering wheel to the tufted leather and wood grain, is exquisitely late-1970s opulent.
While many of these were sold with a 350 horsepower Cummins six, this one appears to get its power from a much larger 3408 Caterpillar V8 “Powerliner” engine delivering 600 horsepower. It was restored six years ago, and appears to have been sitting in a collection all the time since. It’s damn near perfect. I have no real desire to own one of these, but it’s super cool to look at. Then again, maybe I should put in a bid and kick off my highway hauler career fantasy.