People are always talking about “the way it used to be” as if things were better back then. Well, in some ways maybe they were, but in others, maybe not so much. CJ Donovan of Donovan Transport in Gordonville, PA built this 1984 Peterbilt 362 with the phrase “The way it used to be… only Cooler!” in mind. Blending the best of yesterday along with a few “cool” twists from today, CJ has created a uniquely cool cabover that stands out in any crowd of big rig trucks – old or new.
For as long as CJ can remember, trucking is all he has wanted to do. His father worked for Case New Holland when CJ was growing up, and he hauled equipment for CNH’s field testing department. CJ has always been around trucks and tractors, so it isn’t hard to see why he gravitated towards them. Once he graduated high school, he went to Penn State University to pursue a degree in Agricultural Engineering.
In the summer of 1996, CJ obtained his CDL and started driving for a custom harvesting company out of Buhler, KS. After the summer of 1996, he came back to PA and finished out his degree. At this point, he decided he wasn’t quite ready for the white-collar life, so trucking became his job. CJ has now been in the trucking industry for 26 years, 23 of which have been over-the-road. CJ has been in a partnership with his father for 21 years and they haul equipment for Case New Holland. His father always drove a Peterbilt cabover so, needless to say, that’s what CJ wanted in his fleet. CJ’s first truck was a 2000 Peterbilt 379 daycab and the second was a 2005 Peterbilt 379 with a 63-inch sleeper.
CJ’s sweet 362 cabover seen here is powered by a Big Cam 400 Cummins, which is backed by a 15-speed with 3.58 rears. The wheelbase of the truck is 240 inches, and it has a Freightliner “airliner” rear suspension, along with 24.5 low profile rubber all around. The truck is also equipped with a car-hauler front axle and an air-ride kit made by J. Ferrell Custom Trucks, LLC. CJ’s 362 was painted by Diehm Services, and the colors are Peterbilt Flame Red, Quick Silver and Black.
Although there is plenty of “cool” to look at on this truck, the three Double Eagle diamond windows in the back of the cab are probably the coolest. Made by Jim Groff Custom Iron Works, these windows just happen to be CJ’s favorite part of the truck. The exhaust system is made up of a Dynaflex 379 “T” pipe off the turbo, along with factory Peterbilt 379 mufflers and guards with 5-inch flat tops. Rounding out the exterior features are stainless battery boxes by ProFab, and then Spare Time Fab, based out of Myerstown, PA, gave the rig’s interior a complete makeover, which included a custom dash and panels.
Taking it to the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, KY in March of 2019, CJ’s truck turned many heads, including our editor, Daniel Linss, who told me that it was his favorite truck at the show. “There’s just something about the way it sits,” he said. Adding, “That stance and paint is just perfect!” At MATS, which is the premier truck show in the country, CJ took 1st Place in the Antique Custom class – a tall feat, for sure. CJ plans to take the truck to a few more shows, but for him, it is more about the friends and atmosphere rather than the awards.
Thinking back about the build, CJ says the truck really began developing its personality when the Double Eagle diamonds were skinned into the back of the cab. The smaller details and paint are dedicated to the “old school” side of the trucking industry. The small details are often conversation starters, and CJ loves to hear the stories from the older guys in the industry. A lot of the features on this truck were experimental for his next build, which is going to be a Peterbilt 359. The 359 will have a similar look to the 362, although CJ says he needs to have the 362 make him some money before he starts on that new project!
Outside of trucking, CJ enjoys playing golf, fly fishing, hunting, off-roading and traveling in and out of the country with his wife. CJ would like to thank Spare Time Fab, Fuhrman Industries, LLC, Jason Martin and everyone else who helped in the build of his 362. Looking to respect the past and tap into the future, CJ hit a home run with this one, that is definitely, “The way it used to be… only Cooler!”