If there’s a brand of truck you don’t see on the road often it would be a Marmon. Marmon Motor Company built trucks from 1963 until 1997 when the company closed its doors. Known for their quality, these handmade trucks were often referred to as the Rolls-Royce of trucks. To see one these days is a rare occurrence. And what is even cooler is when you see one that is still working. Such is the case for Gene Weaver’s 1988 Marmon conventional seen here. Still used every day, Gene’s Marmon is the true definition of real old school cool, and it, along with Gene himself, are both the real deal!
The Marmon Motor Car Company was originally founded in Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1902 as a maker of high quality (and costly) automobiles. In 1931, Marmon joined forces with Arthur Herrington and then became the Marmon-Herrington Company, which started focusing on building all-wheel-drive military vehicles and trolley buses. In 1963, Marmon changed plant locations from Indianapolis to Denton, Texas, when the product line was sold. But even after the sale, the Marmon company continued to struggle with sales. In 1964 the company was sold again and moved to Space Corporation’s plant in Garland, Texas.
In 1973 Marmon introduced a conventional style truck to add to their existing product line. In 1981 all the cabover models were restyled, and this increased their sales exponentially. Sadly, these sales still did not keep up. Sales dropped to about a third of the 900 trucks they were building a year, which was mostly due to truck orders from overseas markets. In the mid-1990s the conventional trucks had taken over and cabovers had dropped out of favor. But this was still not enough to save the brand. Marmon eventually leased their production lines to Navistar (formerly International Harvester) in 1997, where they began producing their Paystar line, effectively ending Marmon Trucks.
The 1988 Marmon 57P pictured on these pages is owned by Gene Weaver (41) of Bethel, Pennsylvania, and is powered by a B-model CAT hooked to a 13-speed and 3.35 rears. Gene is no stranger to trucks. “I grew up on a farm where we had trucks, and I started driving them at age 12,” explained Gene. Two weeks after his 18th birthday, Gene got his CDL. He continued driving for companies until May of 2010 when he got his own authority. “My first attempt at being an owner operator didn’t go so well… I ended up selling the truck and going back to being a company driver,” Gene told me.
After taking a job in the excavation field, Gene ended up driving an old triaxle dump truck, hauling stone and dirt. Later, Gene took on a second job driving truck for a good friend of his. What started as part time hauling live poultry turned into a full time position. In 2018, Gene purchased a 1982 Kenworth W900B and, as he explained it, “budget built it” to start hauling live chickens under his own authority, Circle W Enterprise, LLC. These days, Gene has another truck that his brother-in-law drives for him, which is still on a dedicated live poultry haul.
In 2019, Gene acquired the 57P from his friend and shop neighbor Luke Didden. Luke had purchased the truck with the intention of building it and running it, but he never did. “Every day I would look at that truck parked next to mine in the lot,” said Gene. He always liked Marmon trucks, so he kept asking Luke when he was going to build it. Luke’s answer was always, “Soon.” A few months later, Gene asked Luke again, but this time Luke said he was thinking about selling it. A handshake and a check later, the title was transferred to Gene.
The truck was made operable and was put to work hauling oversize precast concrete pieces used in the construction of buildings and other structures. One day, however, the truck suffered significant damage in the form of a broken suspension while hauling one of these heavy precast concrete pieces. As Gene put it, “This was the end of the line for the old Hendrickson suspension.” The truck became a shop piece, while Gene worked with his other trucks, making sure the bills continued to get paid.
Going back five years, Gene had spoken with John Rissler of Horse & Buggy Accessories. Horse & Buggy’s main shop is in Missouri, but they also have a smaller location not far down the road from where Gene keeps his truck. Over the course of a few discussions, Gene suggested keeping more parts in stock at the Pennsylvania location, and before he knew it, he was running a chrome shop out of John’s father-in-law’s barn. “I made a lot of friends in those three years,” Gene said. Starting with just a photo of the customer’s truck, Gene would envision it in his mind, and then try to make each truck he built different than the previous one. This stint at the chrome shop allowed Gene’s vision to flourish, so going into this build he had plenty of ideas. The Marmon seed was also planted here, as John had a cool Marmon with a standup bunk, that Gene said was run quite often.
Once Gene heard about a “good mechanic” in town, he got more serious about finishing the Marmon. The mechanic’s name is Josiah Landis, and he calls Telford, Pennsylvania, home. Josiah had been wrenching for a company but was in the process of putting his own service truck together to work for himself full time. “I made contact with Josiah, and he was pretty excited about this whole build,” explained Gene. It took a little time before Josiah could make the time to come out and help Gene, but once he did, things went great. Josiah is not just a good mechanic, he also has a fantastic eye for making things cool. “Together we thought about and dreamed up some ideas for the Marmon and put them to work. And the coolest part is that we both like to be different, which is why you see some custom or different things on this truck,” Gene said.
A Freightliner Airliner cutoff was fabricated in place of the old Hendrickson suspension. The new wheelbase of the truck is a cool 282 inches. In addition to the new rear cutoff, a wide beam car hauler front axle was installed in place of the stock Marmon axle. The front end being on air plus this axle lets the truck sit nice and low when it’s aired out. “The air ride kit is pieced together. My other shop neighbor, Mike Horst of House of Air, helped me design this setup. We were able to scrounge parts from yet another shop neighbor, Tony Giorgio of Giorgio Transport. We got lucky with springs, as the thin leaf springs (off of a 20Kfront axle) needed to get the truck to sit right, were off the front end of a parts truck. Even the TRW steering box was sourced from another parts truck. It took a few to build this one!”
The reason Gene really likes this truck is because it was a challenge. Since Marmon is no longer in business you can’t just call a dealership and get parts. Gene went on to tell me, “You have to know people for certain parts, and in a lot of cases, you have to fabricate something yourself. As my dad always says, “If it were easy, everyone would do it!” More inspiration for building a Marmon came from Gene driving Karl Seyler’s green Marmon. Gene even had the pleasure of taking this truck to a few shows. “William Muckel was another guy who helped tremendously with providing parts that he had left over from his Marmon build. William’s old gray Marmon, that is now green, will make just about anyone appreciate a Marmon truck!”
Watermelon glass lenses and incandescent bulbs adorn the interior and exterior of the truck. Pinstriping on the ends of the fuel tanks, deck plate, and suspension were done by Brittnea Barnes of Lady Lines Pinstriping. Also cool to note are hand painted “M” and “Marmon” logos on each suspension hanger, which were also done by Brittnea. The truck maintains its original faded paint, which gives it a lot more character. The interior also maintains most of its original components, except for a new driver’s seat and a hardwood floor. The entire build took about three years from start to finish. As explained previously, a lot of the work was on and off because of work and time commitments.
Usually hooked to a 2009 Reitnouer 48-ft. aluminum step-deck, Gene’s 57P Marmon will haul whatever he can fit on his trailer. “So far all the feedback has been great about the truck,” said Gene. “My biggest inspiration was hearing from Marmon purists that lowering this truck would ruin it. I wanted to prove them wrong, and I think I did!” Gene ended up at MATS 2023 in Louisville, KY. While he did not enter the show, the truck still got a lot of attention while parked outside in the spectator lot. He even got multiple offers for the truck as it sat in the lot. “It was a little surreal to hear the numbers people were throwing at me to buy it,” he said. Nonetheless, Gene did not sell the truck.
When Gene is not trucking, he can be found in his shop doing regular maintenance, hanging out with his family and friends, and enjoying truck shows when time allows. He is also starting a new adventure in the form of a “Mini Ranch” in which he will begin breeding mini cows. Gene would like to thank his friends and family for their help and understanding during the build. Without the help of William Muckel, Josiah Landis, John Rissler, Tony Giorgio, and of course Luke Didden for selling him the truck, we would not be talking about the 57P on these pages.
When choosing a location for the photo shoot, I had run through my mind of places that it would look good. Funny enough, Gene sent me a photo he had taken a few weeks prior when was delivering concrete blocks to a warehouse. The warehouse ended up being one of Bethlehem Steel’s facilities in Lebanon, Pennsylvania. With permission granted, we utilized the outside of the facility for the combo shots and the inside for more of the truck-oriented photos. As luck would have it, a fairly nasty storm rolled in, and we just happened to time the indoor portion of the shoot just right. All in all, the pictures turned out great, and the location fit the truck well.
This was definitely one of the coolest shoots and articles I have been a part of, and to be given a cover feature – my first ever for 10-4 Magazine – is an honor. I look forward to doing more in the future. Being a very unique truck, along with a really cool location and a great story, it all came together nicely. At only 41 years young, Gene Weaver may not be “old” yet, but his truck is certainly the epitome of old school cool, and both he and his Marmon are definitely the real deal!