A Journey with a Classic: Kevin Cimmiyotti and His 1966 Peterbilt 281

A Journey with a Classic: Kevin Cimmiyotti and His 1966 Peterbilt 281

In the world of classic trucks and trucking heritage, Kevin Cimmiyotti’s 1966 Peterbilt 281 stands out as a notable icon. This remarkable vehicle not only clinched the top spot in Overdrive’s 2023 Pride & Polish Antique category but also serves as a vibrant testament to the evolution of the trucking industry.

The Restoration Saga of a Trucking Legend

Cimmiyotti’s dedication to this vintage beauty is nothing short of inspiring. Over the span of thirteen weekends, he committed himself to restoring and upgrading the 281. This labor of love took place an hour away from his home, in a friend’s shop in Southern California, prompting a light-hearted inquiry from his wife about having a ‘girlfriend’ over there. His witty response? “Yes, she’s big and red.”

The Historical Significance of the 281

Beyond its physical restoration, the 1966 Peterbilt 281 carries with it a rich history. Cimmiyotti, a passionate aficionado of the brand, provides a unique oral history of Peterbilt, taking us back to the era before the emergence of models like the 359, 379, and 389. This truck’s story began with its original owner, Vic Landrum, who utilized it for hauling in the Bay Area during the late ’60s and early ’70s. Facing challenges in the industry, Landrum moved his operations to Redding, California, to transport lumber. His choice of a distinctive two-tone orange and white paint scheme for the truck became a trendsetter, influencing Peterbilt’s factory designs.

The Truck’s Features and Upgrades

Cimmiyotti has not only preserved the truck’s historical essence but has also infused it with contemporary comforts. The truck, originally a two-axle model, now houses a Cummins Big Cam 1 engine, a 15-speed against-the-dash transmission, and a 23160 rear-end with a tag axle on a ’97 Pete air leaf. Modern amenities include power steering, air-conditioning, a tilt wheel, Bluetooth radio, and a refurbished 1992 Double Eagle sleeper with luxurious features like running water, a cassette toilet, microwave, and a PowerTech 8,000 kW generator.

More Than a Showpiece

For Cimmiyotti, this Peterbilt is not just a showpiece. It’s a functional part of his life, a testament to his hands-on approach to truck restoration. Unlike some antique truck enthusiasts who focus solely on historical accuracy, he values comfort and usability. He drives this truck to about six shows a year, enjoying the journey as much as the destination. The small, dark-tinted cab is his world, carefully designed for comfort and efficiency.

The Truck’s Legacy and Cimmiyotti’s Personal Connection

Now retired from active trucking and working in truck parts sales, Cimmiyotti finds a unique joy in his classic Peterbilt. It brings back memories of his childhood in Southern Minnesota, where the sight of narrow-nose Peterbilts at the Hormel factory sparked his lifelong fascination with trucks. Today, when he looks at his 1966 Peterbilt 281, he’s reminded not just of his personal journey in the trucking world, but also of the rich history and evolution of the industry he loves.

See more photos and thanks: Custom Rigs




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