Much has changed over the last 20 years, but everything is still basically the same – that applies to both 10-4 Magazine and our cover feature truck this month. As 10-4 celebrates its 20th anniversary, we realize that although the magazine has changed a lot over the last two decades, our core beliefs and style have stayed the same. This month’s cover feature is a lot like that. Dave “Beerman” Brewer and his classic Peterbilt and enclosed car-hauler were featured on our cover over 15 years ago in 1998, and today, he still drives the same truck and pulls the same trailer. Since our last feature, this truck has changed a lot, but at its core, it’s still the same.
Born in Kansas and then raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, “Beerman” was the first one in his family to go trucking. After graduating from high school, he lied his way into a driving test and got his CDL, even though he had just driven a truck for the very first time the night before. Shortly thereafter he got a driving job, but after they found out he lied to get his CDL, they sent him packing after only a month. But, by then it was too late – the trucking “bug” had already bitten him! After driving locally for a while, he went to work for a beer distributor (the perfect job for a guy whose nickname is “Beerman”). After six or seven years of that, he got back into trucking, bought his first truck (a 1972 International COE with a 290 Cummins, a 10-speed transmission, and a tiny 18” sleeper), and then formed his company, Heavy Traffic Trucking, in 1977.
Dave was always a hard worker – nobody ever taught him anything, he just learned about everything on his own. Starting out with just one truck, one trailer and one customer, Dave built his operation up to four trucks, four trailers and 65 customers in five years. After that gig fell apart, he went back to one truck and one trailer and then began trip-leasing for the oil industry.
In August of 1987, Dave bought the 1970 Peterbilt 358-A seen here (and the cover and centerfold), and 26 years later, he is still running it. Back then, it had a 210” wheelbase, a small 30” sleeper, a 335 Cummins engine, a two-stick 4×4 transmission, and was painted maroon with white stripes. The first thing he did was stretch the frame to 267 inches and then he changed the Freightliner spring suspension to a Pete air-leaf system. He ran the truck like this for a while and then decided to shut it down to make some necessary repairs and swap out the 30” sleeper with a 36” model. After everything was tore apart, a friend suggested that he scoot the cab back eight inches and make an extended hood out of it. Since Peterbilt never made a narrow-tilt extended hood, Dave accepted the challenge.
Sliding the cab back proved to be a difficult task – everything had to be either shortened or lengthened eight inches. Building the extended hood, which has 133 three-inch long louvers on each side, took about two weeks to complete, which is why Dave always parks as far away from everybody else as possible. At this point, the truck was painted white with pink, orange and turquoise stripes – it was a wild looking unit! He ran the truck like this for 3 or 4 years, pulling flatbeds all over the country, until he got a job at Passport Transport in 1992 hauling cars. After purchasing a 1990 Dorsey enclosed car-hauler trailer with three hydraulic ramps inside, he began hauling antique, classic, exotic and just plain old cars. Being a car and truck nut since birth, Dave had finally found his calling.
After letting him slide for a couple years, Passport finally told “Beerman” that he had to paint his truck in the company colors. He decided that this would be a good time to make some other upgrades, too. Always wanting a big Double Eagle sleeper, Dave designed and then ordered a custom 120” bunk – which was the first sleeper Double Eagle ever built with a back door. The old truck’s frame was stretched to 319 inches to accommodate the big bunk, which features a shower, toilet, sink, refrigerator/freezer, central vacuuming system, microwave, generator and rooftop heat and A/C. Featuring a simple and efficient floor plan, the sleeper has a walkway down the middle, which leads to the back door, while the bed and bathroom are on one side and the kitchenette is on the other. Once everything was assembled, Passport’s two-tone green and gold paint scheme was sprayed on the truck and sleeper. This brings us to where Dave and his rig were when they were on our cover in 1998.
A few short years later, Dave met a truck-drivin’ woman from Canada named Debby and they fell in love. Since both of them loved trucking, they were a perfect match. After getting married in December of 2001, the two hit the road as a team and have been inseparable ever since. Sharing the driving duties, Debby inspects the cars and then drives them into the trailer, while Dave directs her in. The rear door on their trailer is like a giant upside-down “V” that folds down and out, forming a 22-foot-long ramp with a nice, gradual climb up into the trailer. Inside, the articulating ramps can be adjusted to hold all types and sizes of vehicles.
Dave worked for Passport Transport for 14 years, until FedEx bought the company and then screwed everything up in 2006. After that, Dave and Debby, along with a few of their fellow car-hauling friends from Passport, went to an outfit called Blue Highways, but that deal did not last long. While there, though, Dave repainted his truck to fit their company colors – red and cream, which it still is today. In 2008, Dave and his friends decided to start a car-hauling co-op, for lack of a better description. “Beerman” and six of his cohorts, all single-truck owner operators, each with their own authority, began working together. After all, they had good relationships with all of the customers, they knew the business, and they had all the contacts – they did not NEED to work for anyone! And that is where they are today – not becoming millionaires or setting the world on fire, but paying their bills and loving every minute of what they do!
Since Dave has owned this 1970 Peterbilt, it has gone through a lot of changes – and not just the cosmetic ones. This truck, which had almost two million miles on it when Dave bought it and now shows four million on the odometer, has seen five engines (it is currently equipped with a 400-hp 3406-B Cat), a few transmissions (it currently has a true 6×4 two-stick setup), a couple different rear-ends (it is currently geared at 3:70), and the frame rails have been cut, stretched and sleeved several times. Over the years, this truck has seen its fair share of new bumpers, lights and accessories, but, for the most part, it is the same as it was back in 1998, besides the paint. A few small exterior changes since the last time it was on our cover include the headlights, grill, side boxes, smooth rear fenders and bigger stacks. The trailer, besides the paint, hasn’t changed much, either, getting a bigger “bubble” and polished stainless steel on the front, and new boxes on each side. This true working truck is truly a work of art!
The red and cream paint scheme, inspired by a 1998 Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail that Dave always loved, was painted by Dave’s friend Barry Meyers of Barry’s Body Shop in Rosholt, Wisconsin. Dave spent a month at Barry’s place, helping him tear it all apart, paint it, and then put it all back together, when they painted it in 2006. Dave is very proud of the fact that he has the first (if not only) needle-nose, skinny-window Peterbilt with an extended tilt hood, and the first Double Eagle sleeper ever built with a back door.
Inside the cab, the dash is crammed with a gauge and toggle switch for just about everything and anything you could think of. Up on the roof, a custom overhead console houses the stereo, along with a bevy of communication devices, detectors of all sorts, and more toggle switches. This is not a show truck, and the cab is a good example of this fact, because it is all business in there! One neat thing he has inside – well, actually two – are hand-blown glass shifter knobs. Made by a friend in Riga, Michigan named Steve Wright, these one-of-a-kind knobs are swirled with red and white to match the truck. Dave actually got a third knob for the “jockey-shifter” on his 1996 Harley-Davidson Heritage, which is also painted red and cream.
Servicing many high-end auctions and car shows, Dave and Debby have had some cool cars in their trailer over the years. The Concours d’ Elegance is an automotive event held each year on the Pebble Beach Golf Links in Pebble Beach, CA. It is considered to be the most prestigious event of its kind, and is the finale of a week-long festival of classic cars and events held in the Monterey, CA area. Every year, Dave and Debby haul cars in and out of this event, and last year they had the privilege and honor of hauling the 2012 Best of Show car back to its owner in Texas after the event. This car, a 1928 Mercedes “Torpedo” Roadster with a 6-liter supercharged engine, just sold at this year’s show in an auction for $7.5 million. One of only three made, there are only two known to exist and this is the only one that had been restored – and being the reigning Pebble Beach champion, well, that added some value, too. When we shot Dave’s truck, he had a 1934 Packard and a 1931 Marmon sedan in his trailer, on their way to a big show in Detroit.
At 61 years old, Dave has no intention of slowing down or ever retiring, and after 36 years of trucking, he still loves it every day. Being fully self-contained, and wanting to protect his truck from the newbies, Dave and Debby try to stay out of the truck stops and rarely ever go to truck shows. They cook in their truck, shower in their truck, sleep in their truck, and take care of their Yorkies (Mutt Dog and Pebbles) in their truck – it is their home away from home, and they absolutely love it. They do, however, try to take a month off each year, in July when it is slow, and stay with their friend Mickey Gwillim and his son Tyler at their home in Carlinville, IL. This is where we “hooked up” with Dave and shot the pictures of his truck – right there in Mickey’s beautiful back yard! We would like to thank Mickey and Tyler for all of their hospitality – we missed their annual truck show (The World of Large Cars) by just a few days, but we more than made up for it while we were there, for sure!
We would like to thank “Beerman” for allowing us to include him and his rig in our special 20th anniversary edition. Like Dave and his truck, we have changed a lot over the years (for the better, we hope), but much remains the same. It is amazing to think that his 43-year-old rig with 4 million miles on it can still run hard every day and earn its keep. It just proves that the old trucks were built to last! Dave’s company slogan – “A Classic Hauling the Classics” – could not be any more correct. And although a lot has changed over the decades, at its core, this classic is still the same cool truck it has been for over 40 years – and it just keeps gettin’ better.