For some people, buying a truck is a sacred experience – that truck might stay with them for many years or decades (or even a lifetime). And then there are those who consider trucks to be mere “commodities” and/or investments. When there is money to be made, everything is for sale, for the right price. Neither of these scenarios are right or wrong, it’s just that everyone sees things differently. Greg Ragan of Lewistown, Missouri, would certainly fall into that second description, as he is known for changing trucks often. But many of the trucks he’s had over the years have been nothing less than amazing – especially the one featured this month, which, not surprisingly, he no longer owns!
We have been trying to get Greg and one of his trucks on our cover for years, but right about the time we get excited about his latest ride and start making plans to shoot it, he would sell it. When we saw the truck featured here on these pages, we got excited again. And when he told us he was building a matching reefer to put behind it, we got even more excited. We planned to take pictures of the combination last summer at the truck show in Rantoul, Illinois, where his new trailer was making its debut, but the photo shoot got rained out. So, we rescheduled to do it a couple months later, at the end of September, while at the GBATS show in Joplin, Missouri.
Everything was going as planned, and the shoot was a success. Now, we had to get it on the cover fast, because we knew how Greg is with trucks. December was the next available cover, so we booked it, figuring that two months was not a long time, but we were wrong! As Greg so famously says, “Don’t put a price on something if you aren’t prepared to sell it.”
Coming to California in October to attend the Truckin’ For Kids Show & Drags, Greg took his rig to a friend’s shop in Santa Fe Springs, California, to get it cleaned up and ready for the show. While there, he spied a 2002 Peterbilt 379 sitting in the corner and asked about it. His friend, Ron Beer, purchased this truck new and only put about 500K original miles on it, but the DMV recently refused to register it because it was not CARB-compliant. So, Ron just parked it in the corner. When Greg asked about it, Ron said it was not for sale, however, a week later, he called Greg and said it might be for sale to the right person. As it turned out, Greg was the “right” person!
Just putting some feelers out there, Greg listed his Peterbilt 389 and matching spread-axle Great Dane reefer for sale on Facebook and, lo and behold, his phone blew up with calls. When a farmer in Iowa made him an offer he couldn’t refuse, he sold the truck and then went back to California and bought Ron’s 379. This was a good deal for Greg, but for us, not so much. In our 25 years of doing this, no one has ever sold their truck, which was shot and slated for a cover, before it could actually get on the cover. But, after a brief discussion, we decided to move forward with the plan, because this combination was just too awesome not to feature – even if it technically does not exist anymore.
Born in Illinois in 1966, Greg’s parents got a divorce when he was four years old. At that point, his father moved to Colorado and his mother, along with Greg and his siblings, moved to Missouri. Greg’s mom got remarried to a union pipe fitter and together they bought some land and began doing some farming. Over the years, Greg’s dad drove trucks and buses, but Greg did not do much trucking with him – most of it was done with his older brothers. Greg’s dad had a heart attack in 1980 and then a stroke in 1997, which ended his driving career. Sadly, he died about five years ago.
With no interest in going to college, Greg worked several local jobs after graduating from high school in Missouri. One of his early jobs was working at a car and RV dealership, which is probably where he adopted the “vehicles are just commodities” attitude. Looking to start a real career, Greg got his CDL in 1992 at the age of 25 and then went to work for a few local companies before landing a good driving job at TMC Transportation out of Des Moines, Iowa, pulling a flatbed. Greg stayed at TMC for five years, then switched over to Long Haul Trucking out of Albertville, Minnesota, in 1998.
In 2000, Greg bought his first truck – a white 2000 Kenworth W900L with a purple frame and fenders – and became an owner operator. Over the next 18 years, Greg would buy, drive and sell over 20 trucks! Selling this first truck in 2003 after having multiple transmission and suspension issues, Greg then bought a brand new yellow 2003 Pete 379 extended hood. In 2005, he ordered a new 2006 Pete 379 with a 63” flattop, painted orange and cream with a Seminole scheme, a 300” WB, and a C-15 Cat. 4 State Trucks in Joplin, Missouri, did a lot of work on this rig, which ended up being featured in the 2007 Shell SuperRigs calendar.
The following year, Greg sold that Peterbilt to Terry Price, and then he took a driving job at his company, Price Transport, for about six months. After that, he went to drive for Jake Eilen, staying there for about a year and a half, before switching to First Class Services. After about six months there, he decided it was time to get his own truck again and found a maroon 1987 Freightliner cabover with original factory stripes and bought it in January of 2010. Later that year, he sold the cabover and bought a dark blue 2006 Pete 379 with gold fenders, which he kept and drove for about a year.
In October 2011, Greg bought a rare rig and a true classic – a 1990 “007 Edition” KW. Known for their striking white paint with bold black and gold stripes, Greg kept this truck for several years and did a lot of work to it. While still driving the 007 KW, he bought a black 1993 Freightliner cabover, but sold it pretty quickly, because it was really underpowered. Later that year, he bought a slick 1993 International 9370 conventional and put a driver in it. In 2013, Greg bought a white 2005 Pete 379 with a 70” bunk and a turquoise frame and put another driver in it. Shortly after buying the 2005 Pete 379, he sold the International to a friend, and then, not long after that, a bull-hauler from Nebraska saw the 379 and just had to have it. After making Greg a good offer, that truck was gone, too.
In February of 2015 he sold the 007 KW and then bought a maroon 2000 Kenworth W900L, from a guy in New Jersey, who was halfway through rebuilding it. Greg finished it and customized it to his taste, and then drove it for almost a year. In anticipation of taking a few months off for weight loss surgery in the beginning of 2016, he sold the KW in December of 2015. Around that same time, he bought a silver and maroon 1999 Pete 379 with a 63” stand-up and a Detroit, cleaned it up, and then sold it before stopping to get his surgery.
After having weight loss surgery (Gastric Sleeve) in January of 2016, he stumbled on a great deal he just couldn’t refuse on a 2007 Kenworth that needed a lot of work to look good, which Greg did during his recovery period. With a 310” WB and a Studio sleeper, Greg bagged the truck and did a bunch of other stuff to it, and then posted some pictures on Facebook. Not intending to sell it, someone saw it and offered Greg a good amount of money for it, so he let it go before he ever even put it on the road.
In March of 2016, while still healing from his surgery, Greg bought a white 1996 Pete 379 daycab with a maroon frame and fenders from a guy in California. After installing a 48” stand-up sleeper and finishing his healing process (which resulted in Greg going from 400 pounds down to 250 pounds), he went back to work in this rig in June 2016. A few months later, in August, he bought a teal 2007 Pete 379 with white fenders, a 63” stand-up sleeper and a 300” WB, which he sold a month later. The very next month, in October 2016, he bought a white 2014 Peterbilt 386 with black stripes, a black frame and black fenders. This clean truck had a 500-hp Paccar engine with DEF, a 260” WB and an 18-speed transmission. Greg liked this aero truck and decided to drive it for a while, putting a driver in the white and maroon 1996 Peterbilt.
A few months later, in February 2017, Greg bought a red 1988 Freightliner FLD120 with stripes and a 444 Cummins. He had this rig for just a few months, but when one of his brothers needed another truck, he sold it to him. In May, the white and maroon 1996 Pete was sold, and then in July he bought a light blue 2007 Pete 379 with a 300” WB and a 63” stand-up sleeper. After cleaning it up, while still driving the white and black 386, he sold the 379. In January of 2018, Greg bought a cool 1976 A-Model KW from a guy in Nebraska. Featuring tan and patina paint, which was clear-coated over, and a black frame and tanks, Greg had planned to use the rig on a local haul, but the deal fell through, so a month later (in February 2018) he sold it. We told you that Greg had a lot of trucks over the years – we hope you are keeping up.
Although he never had any problems with his Pete 386, he got tired of everyone saying, “It looks good for what it is!” So, he posted it for sale in March of 2018. Ryan Derrickson, a former cover truck owner himself (July 2011), saw Greg’s truck and liked it, and a trade + cash deal was made in April 2018, which sent Greg’s 386 plus some cash to Ryan, and Ryan’s latest wild ride to Greg – the one featured here, and on our cover and centerfold, this month.
The 2016 Peterbilt 389 was ordered as a glider and custom-built for Ryan. The hopped-up Cat 6NZ, with about 750-800-hp, along with the 18-speed transmission, was built and installed by Krug’s Towing & Repair in Medford, Wisconsin, and then the rest of the work was done by TA Truck Painting & Graphics and AMCAN Truck Parts, both in Pewaukee, Wisconsin. Featuring bright white paint with Scarlet red stripes and “Berry Purple” outlines, the truck features a 300” WB, a 70” stand-up, 8” Dynaflex stacks, and a ton of accessories from 12 Ga. Customs, including the cab and sleeper panels, mirror brackets, visor, window chops and more.
Inside the cab and sleeper, along with all the bells and whistles, the rig features a custom interior by Rockwood, which includes custom lighted door panels, a carbon-fiber floor, painted dash panels and a custom painted-to-match (the exterior paint scheme) shifter base plate. It also has an SCI steering wheel, custom black and red seats by Straight Line Upholstery in Sussex, Wisconsin, and polished billet foot pedals.
A month or two after getting the truck, Greg acquired a 2006 53’ Great Dane reefer with a 12’ spread to put behind the Peterbilt. Spending a few months fixing it up and getting it to match the truck, he had Quincy Industrial Painting in Quincy, Illinois, paint the chassis red and the TK-SB210 reefer unit white. Then, Thunder Grafix in Joplin, Missouri, added two red vinyl stripes. The complete combination made its debut at the Top Gun Largecar Shootout in Rantoul, Illinois, in July 2018, where it took “Best of Show” in the Working Combo class, and where we were supposed to shoot our pictures of it. And, you know where the story goes from there.
The new truck, as mentioned before, is a white 2002 Peterbilt 379 with a 63” stand-up sleeper, a rebuilt 550-hp 6NZ Cat, a 300” WB and an 18-speed. Featuring orange pinstripes and accents, the truck has a custom black and orange interior, which includes black door panels with orange double stitching. Greg wants to remove the 63” sleeper and replace it with a larger one, possibly a custom 96” unit. These days, his fiancé April rides with him, and the two would like a little additional space inside.
Dating for two years now, Greg and April are scheduled to get married this coming June (2019). They just bought a 5-acre piece of property in their hometown and are currently clearing land and drawing up plans for a combo shop/house – a metal structure that is part shop and part house. April has two grown kids from a previous marriage, and three grandkids. Greg has never been married, but he has multiple nieces and nephews, and he has always treated them like they were his own kids.
When growing up, Greg was the youngest of five – he has three older brothers and one older sister. However, he recently discovered that he has a younger half-brother, too. One of his nieces did one of those ancestry/DNA deals, and if you allow them to do it, they will search for other people in their system who might be related. Well, this search resulted in a near-perfect match! Once the investigation was done by Greg and his siblings, they realized that their father had an affair with a waitress at a truck stop, and this boy was born six months after Greg. Since then, the siblings have embraced their new “little” brother, and now consider themselves a family of six.
Since his days at the car dealership, Greg has always been a sporadic buyer and seller, but only when the deal is right. These days, when posting something he would like to sell, he is known for saying, “For sale – not on sale!” Greg would like to retire in 10-15 years but has no specific plans on how to accomplish that. For now, he would like to buy several different types of trailers, so he can be diverse and haul just about anything. As of this writing, the Great Dane reefer trailer in these pictures is posted for sale, so if you like it, get in touch with Greg.
Although his trucking future is not set in stone, because, as Greg puts it, “You never know what’s next,” one thing that is for sure is you’ll never find him behind a desk. “Even if I bought a bunch of trucks and had a bunch of drivers, I would still get out and truck every day,” said Greg. He says that he is going to keep this latest Peterbilt for a while, but we will see – we have all heard that before. Truth is, if someone makes him an offer he can’t refuse, he won’t! Either way, we wish him and April all the best, and look forward to seeing what he does with his latest ride – and all the other ones to come!!