When someone mentions a “working truck” a certain image probably comes to mind. This image is more than likely a plain truck without a lot of chrome or custom work, which probably lands on the side of slightly beat-up, as well. But, some truck drivers out there still want that custom ride, even if it’s going to be put through severe and nasty terrain to get the job they do done. Ramon Munoz and his 2001 Peterbilt 379 are in that latter category.
Ramon (41) has spent most of his adult life behind the wheel of a truck. Ramon first drove in 1985 when he was 15 years old when his brother, Horacio Munoz, got him interested in trucking. In the beginning, he ran a long-hood 359 Peterbilt. Since 1985, Ramon has spent 16 of the past 26 years driving a truck, currently operating independently as T&CH Trucking.
Though Ramon sometimes hauls interstate freight, the majority of his work is local to the Denver area, being that he is based in Thornton, Colorado. Pulling a half-round end-dump trailer, Ramon hauls sand and gravel, as well as larger types of aggregate and rock. Hauling in and out of the pits can put his truck in some tight and rough places. But, these obstacles do not bother him or slow him down – it is just what needs to be done to accomplish his job. And that’s not idle talk, either. Our photo shoot location was one of the sand pits that he hauls out of, and I got a front-row seat to his driving abilities.
Ramon’s truck is no ordinary “dump” truck. When Ramon began building the truck, he didn’t want it to have a particularly subtle look, and it doesn’t. The bright orange truck, which began its life as a stock 2001 Peterbilt 379, features many impressive and over-the-top parts and work. The rig’s most noticeable modification is the bumper-mounted headlights. Set into a 20” American Eagle bumper, the 359-style double round headlights certainly give the truck an outlaw look. Moving back, the truck also features drop front fenders and a drop visor, similar to the one used on Outlaw Customs’ “Vigilante” rig. There is not a lot of chrome on this truck, but what there is, it is big – the shiny air cleaners are followed by 10” Dynaflex pipes that are nearly the same diameter! Other features of the truck include painted sleeper and cab extensions, as well as painted step boxes and fuel tanks.
However, what is perhaps one of the most extreme changes to the truck is the sleeper. It, to many, probably just looks like another Peterbilt standup sleeper. But, on closer inspection, you’ll notice it is quite a bit shorter. Ramon and his son, Ramon Jr., chopped an entire 7” off the sleeper height, which now rises only slightly higher than the cab. The exterior of the truck was finished off in one last, loud note, when Ramon added double-hump rear fenders that were airbrushed with skeleton bandits toting smoking shotguns. All of the airbrush work was handled by close friend Pedro Gutierrez. At the tail end of the truck is a nice, polished rear light bar. Ramon’s truck, which is powered by a 550 horsepower Cat routed through an 18-speed transmission, sits on a 270” wheelbase. The interior of Ramon’s truck is no less understated than the exterior. Featuring copious amounts of wood, including a hardwood floor he and his son installed, the inside also features a full set of chrome gauges, a polished steering wheel and alligator-skin seats, too.
Ramon would like to thank his wife, Olivia Estrada, and his two children, Ramon Jr. (16) and Tania Munoz (17) for their support and help in both building the truck and trucking in general. He’d also like to thank those friends who helped him build the truck, too. Much of the work was done by Ramon and his son, along with a few friends – it certainly is not a shop-built rig.
You’ll probably never see Ramon’s truck sitting at one of the big truck shows in Dallas or Louisville, and he’d probably have a tough time competing there. But, that is okay, because Ramon’s truck is a working truck – not a show truck. Perfect or not, Ramon is proud of what he has created, and even prouder that it gets out on the road every day and gets the job done. After all, why drive a truck you don’t enjoy? Ramon and his rig definitely are the real deal!