Big Rig - 1987 Peterbilt 359 EXHD

Daily Big Rig: Reviving Classic Elegance – Craig Stewart’s 1971 Peterbilt 359 EXHD

In the world of trucking enthusiasts, Craig Stewart stands as a testament to the enduring allure of classic iron. Based in Success, Missouri, this dedicated specialist showcased his automotive masterpiece, a resplendent 1971 Peterbilt 359 EXHD, at the Guilty By Association Truck Show hosted by 4 State Trucks in Joplin, Missouri, on September 21-23. Stewart’s journey with this vintage gem began at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic when he acquired the truck as a day cab. The vehicle had already been restored under the previous owner’s care, but Stewart wasn’t content to ride in someone else’s dream. He embarked on a meticulous personalization journey, including adding a 36-inch crawl-through sleeper, among other enhancements, to make this classic Peterbilt uniquely his own.

The Transformation

Upon acquiring the 1971 Peterbilt 359 EXHD, Stewart was at a crossroads between preserving the previous owner’s vision and imprinting his distinctive mark on the iconic vehicle. “He did a lot of stuff to it, then we redid a lot of stuff,” Stewart remarked, acknowledging the truck’s impressive state when he first saw it. “It was a nice ride when I got it, but I redid a lot.” While the previous owner’s work was commendable, Stewart had specific changes in mind that would genuinely make the truck his.

The Sleeper Addition

One of the standout modifications was the installation of a 36-inch crawl-through sleeper, a 1975 or ’76 model, which Stewart procured for a mere $250. However, it needed to be a more straightforward fit. The sleeper was initially configured for a square-door bunk and a square-door truck with a small window. To ensure everything fit seamlessly, Stewart had to lower the bunk, showcasing his dedication to creating a harmonious blend of vintage aesthetics and modern functionality.

Interior Customization

Stewart’s commitment to perfection extended to the truck’s interior. He undertook the task of refurbishing the sleeper’s interior, infusing it with a unique touch of craftsmanship. The result is a cozy and inviting space where wood accents adorn the dash and door panels, providing an air of rustic elegance reminiscent of classic trucking’s golden era.

Exterior Refinements

The exterior of the 1971 Peterbilt 359 EXHD received its fair share of attention as well. Stewart replaced the steps on the cab’s side, giving the truck a refreshed and polished appearance. Another significant change involved relocating the stacks from the back of the cab to the side, enhancing aesthetics and functionality. Stewart’s attention to detail extended to the rear fenders, which the previous owner initially added. Considering an upgrade, Stewart contemplated swapping them for stainless half fenders, showcasing his commitment to the truck’s aesthetic evolution.

From Hauling to Farming

Initially, Stewart planned to put his ’87 359 to work in his reefer-hauling operation and utilize the ’71 for this purpose. However, market dynamics and fluctuating freight rates prompted a change in strategy. As the owner of a sprawling 140-acre hay farm, he kept farm tags on the ’71 for the time being and put it to work on his land. Stewart’s recent 3-hour drive from Success to Joplin for the truck show reaffirmed his faith in the truck’s performance, as he confidently stated that he “wouldn’t be afraid to drive it anywhere.”

Craig Stewart’s 1971 Peterbilt 359 EXHD is not just a truck; it’s a labor of love and a testament to the enduring appeal of classic iron in the modern world. With meticulous customization and an unwavering commitment to both form and function, Stewart has transformed a vintage vehicle into a rolling work of art. As he continues to fine-tune and refine this automotive masterpiece, his classic Peterbilt serves as an enduring symbol of the passion and dedication that fuel the world of trucking enthusiasts.

See more photos: Custom Rigs.

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