Trucking… for some, it’s simply a means of income or a way to feel independent, moving America’s freight and seeing the country. Then, there are the drivers who have diesel fuel flowing through their veins. These individuals have embraced their personality and footprint on this industry as a lifestyle, and a sport all its own. Most are born into the industry, growing up within a family of truckers. These types of truck drivers cannot tell you who won the last Super Bowl, but they could certainly tell you the difference between a Peterbilt 359 and 379, or how to split gears on an 18-speed. This breed of hardcore trucker best describes Bill Long of Polk, Ohio.
Bill grew up on a dairy farm in Wadsworth, Ohio. As time passed, Bill started feeling the desire to drive trucks the more he heard his mother’s stories about his grandfather’s days as a truck driver. Sensing the connection to his grandfather, Bill could never shake those thoughts and feelings of piloting his own big truck, and he finally took the leap in 1988 when he began pulling a dump trailer with a 1979 International cabover. Instantly, Bill understood his calling in life – and all those stories he had heard about his grandfather and when he drove, aligned his stars and validated his choice to make trucking a way of life.
Over the last 30 years, Bill has had an extensive career in the trucking industry. Many trucks have been under the ownership of Bill Long Trucking. The trucks that have adorned the Bill Long Trucking logo on the door began in 1990, when he bought a 1985 Autocar. Then, two years later, Bill purchased his first new truck – a 1992 Kenworth T600. The Peterbilt bug bit Bill, sending him to the nearest dealership in 1996, to buy a brand new 379 extended hood, and then another one again in 2004.
When 2005 rolled around, Bill’s life took a different turn when he married his beautiful girlfriend, Holly. Holly is no stranger to the trucking world, as her family has roots deeply planted in the Ohio trucking industry, too. Keeping 2005 a busy year for the Longs, Bill purchased another Peterbilt 379, this time a 2003. Watching and studying the market, and seeing how popular the aftermarket parts and accessories for commercial trucks were becoming, Bill and Holly put pencil to paper and the numbers made sense to start their own chrome shop. Keeping the letters of Bill’s company, BLT Chrome Shop was born. For the past 12 years, Bill and Holly’s BLT Chrome Shop has grown from servicing the north central Ohio region to covering the needs of truck owners in all 48 states. This span has supplied many of the cool trucks you see running the highways and back roads, along with being shown off at many of the trucking events across the country.
Still having a trucking company and now a chrome shop, there was no reason to not be rolling in a cool ride. Bill’s ’03 Pete – dubbed the “Street Rod” – became his first rolling business card. Piece by piece, Bill reworked his truck with the wares from his chrome shop, and showed it at multiple events. The “Street Rod” was a name that many recognized, and they truly appreciated the look and style of this rig. Eventually, the time came for Bill and Holly to say goodbye to the “Street Rod” and begin the process of saying hello to the next rolling business card in the BLT Chrome Shop stable – the “Street Rod II” Pete.
Bill and Holly studied and then planned-out each aspect on the “wish list” for their latest creation to adorn. Their mission: drop jaws and raise eyebrows – and, as you can see, you will quickly realize, mission accomplished… without a doubt!
Once Bill had all of his thoughts and ideas in place, he called Leo Zimmel of Hunter Peterbilt in Pennsylvania to place the order of the new BLT Chrome Shop flagship – a 2016 Peterbilt 389 glider, which would become “Street Rod II” when completed. While the truck was being built, the talented team over at High Country Motors in Loretta, Pennsylvania started work on the Cat 6NZ engine. Mike Osterico of MO Power was also invited to the engine party, to add his special touch. Prior to painting the Cat, Mike stuffed in a big fat 800-hp marine camshaft, and then topped it off with an 80-mm turbo. The guys at Diesel Freak, headed up by Wade LaLone, fine-tuned this purring Cat into a roaring beast pumping out 894 horses. The heartbeat of this rig was then handed back to the High Country team, where they bolted on the 18-speed and dropped it into the awaiting frame rails of the newly-arrived Blue Effect 407 glider.
With the truck ready to roll under its own power, the fun was really about to begin. At this point, it was just a blank canvas, waiting to accept the creative thoughts that Bill had brainstormed about to best represent his chrome shop and show-off the wonderful quality products that he and Holly sell and stand behind at the BLT Chrome Shop.
First on the list was to finish the extension of the new engine build by topping it off with a set of pipes from Dynaflex. Bill didn’t want to settle on a stock visor like everyone else, so Bub at The Weld Shop reworked his magic on some flat metal to create the truck’s very cool one-off visor. The smooth-mounted deck plate and rear light box were both fabricated by MO Power, and show off the rig’s aluminum fifth wheel nicely. Lifetime Nut Covers milled-out a set of custom ovals in place of the stock Peterbilt badges with the BLT logo, while 12 Ga. Customs laser-cut the grill, which includes the BLT letters offset in a subtle placing. Valley Chrome’s 20-inch bumper tastefully finishes off the front. The Fibertech cab and bunk extensions blend flawlessly into the overall look, filling those gaps perfectly. Bill also had the tanks, visor and WTI fenders painted Blue Effect to match the rest of the truck, while the deck plate was painted black, to match the truck’s chassis.
The true show-stopper of “Street Rod II” is between the doors. The interior is a work of art. Bill demanded nothing less than spectacular, and the teams that were put in place to work together and achieve his vision smashed a home run out of the park. Rockwood Products was asked to tackle the headliner and floor. The Rockwood team delivered, and the final result is beautiful hickory wood that shines and shows off the wood grain, exuding top-notch class. A close family friend, Brock Van Sickle, assisted on the interior creature comforts, and did not settle for anything but perfection with the install. Rockwood was not done there, as they also provided the dash panels and trim pieces, along with matching door panel inserts.
Bill wanted to go the extra mile on the doors and called upon Austin Mielczarek of Rockwood to design something to take up the “blank” spaces. Austin once again did not disappoint, with incredible pieces that flow along the contouring lines, with illuminated lettering spelling out “Street Rod II” showcased inside with matching blue. To keep Bill and Holly comfortable on those bumpy roads, Portage Trim added their stitching skills to recover the seats, while Lifetime Nut Covers provided the machined pedals, and V.I.P finished it all off with a painted-white steering wheel for Bill to keep it true and pointed in the right direction.
But don’t let the gorgeous “Street Rod II” fool you – it is not just a show piece for the BLT Chrome Shop. No sir, this truck is a work truck. Every day, Bill puts it through the paces of step-deck trucking, hauling mulch, brick, block, steel and whatever else will ride on the deck. Bill goes far off-road on some of his daily commutes and the mud, dirt and potholes are not forgiving, to say the least. But Juan Galvan, owner of Unique Auto Spa, always keeps a close eye on the “Street Rod II” to make sure the shine is never too far away.
Bill and Holly have created and built a beautiful truck, but it couldn’t have been done without the help of the many people and companies mentioned. Special thanks from Bill goes out to Holly for being patient, supportive and understanding throughout the build. Bill recently underwent a knee replacement and the trucking community, friends and family kept a close eye on him and his rig while he recovered. All this support gained Bill the phrase “Team Billy” (#teambilly), and it has stuck with him ever since. If you see Bill and Holly at a show, stop and say hello. They are truly fantastic people with big hearts, and are a valuable contributing commodity to our beloved trucking industry.