This month’s creation was built for James Mitchell (57) of Byrdstown, TN. Back in 2013, James ordered a Pete 389 glider from me, but we never featured it. We meant to, I just never got to it. Back then, most of what I was building had stripes, so the plain yellow rig always got put on the backburner. These days, more people are opting for subtle trucks, and although James’ new rig seen here looks like just a plain ole black truck, it has a lot going on.
The oldest of two boys of Clyde and Mary Mitchell, James grew up on a tobacco farm with cattle. The Mitchell family has been on that farm for six generations, and James’ brother Jerry still lives there and works the farm, keeping the family business going. James said cattle and tobacco faming was hot in the summer and cold in the winter, so when considering a career, he wanted something with a climate-controlled environment. His cousins owned a cattle hauling outfit so James was no stranger to trucks, and he went out with them on the road whenever he could.
After high school, James went to college for two years, then left to drive full-time for his uncles. He did this for three years and then got married. Wanting to be home more, he got a local job at Mullins Lumber Co. hauling chips and dust for the mill. After two months, the company got him a new KW COE. Eventually, they just gave James the checkbook when they needed another truck, so James found a used 1991 KW W900. In 1997, he picked out a new yellow Pete 379 with black fenders. He drove that truck until 2002 when he quit.
Married to his first wife for 17 years, the couple had two girls. Victoria (26) and Kaylee (23) are both grown and married now. When James and his wife split up, she left him with bills he had no idea he owed. James called the local gas company to explain his situation, promising to pay, just looking for a little extra time. His current wife, Charlotte, was the one that took his call. He called her every time he was able to make a payment, and the two eventually hit it off and went on a date. The rest is history. She is the love of his life. They met in 2002 and got married in 2005.
Once they were together as a couple, Charlotte convinced James to get his own truck. The first one he bought for himself was a yellow 2000 Pete 379, and then he got a new yellow 2005 Pete 379 off the lot. He drove that one until ordering his own yellow 2007 Pete 379, and then ran that one until ordering the previously mentioned yellow 2013 Pete glider kit from me. James runs livestock in the Midwest, so we get the pleasure of seeing him a lot here at the dealership, and I always enjoy his visits. He drove that 2013 for six years and put 933,000 miles on it. When it came time to get a new one, he came to me.
The new rig is a 2020 Pete 389 with a flattop (he said he sleeps better laying down) and Cummins power. Charlotte said no more yellow trucks, so he opted for black. When the truck showed up, our guy Tyler added an exhaust diverter which allows James to have small boxes and a weed burner system underneath for driving and standard pipes up the side of the cab he can switch to when sleeping or creeping around a dusty lot. It’s the best of both worlds!
Our body shop crew continued the customizing by installing a drop visor, seven cab lights, a Texas bumper, steer axle dump valves, extra grill bars, air cleaner lights and painted aluminum drop panels with underside lighting. The crew also hid the DEF tank, painted the fuel tanks and added a flush and painted Merritt deck plate. James decided to repaint the frame from the sleeper to the back end, block sanding the middle section with the frame bolts out, to get it really slick. Lastly, painted window chops were added, the dash panels were painted black, the seat bases were lowered, and a set of painted Shift bicycle-style rear fiberglass fenders were mounted.
James was always close to his grandpa. Something he once said that stuck with him was, “Never worry about stuff you have no control over – there’s nuthin’ you can do about it.” To this day, James lives by those words. I get to see James and Charlotte a lot, and they are truly really good people. And although this truck just looks plain and simple, it is not. Everyone here at KC Peterbilt enjoyed building this one for our buddy, James.