GATS Pride & Polish preview: ‘Contender,’ J&L Contracting’s custom ’15 389, Blackhawk RGN

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Updated Aug 30, 2016

Contender

With voting in the bag in the Truckers’ Choice portion of Overdrive‘s Pride & Polish National Championship, this is the first of three rigs I caught last month in the lens at the Tennessee edition of the truck beauty-show series I’ll share this week. All three you’ll see out at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas this week if you’re in attendance, and here’s wishing the National Championship rigs and all other competitors the best for a solid outcome at the show.

This unit pictured above would be the second of Springfield, Mo.-based J&L Contracting that I’ve profiled within the month, a 2015 Peterbilt 389 — dubbed “Contender” — that you might be forgiven for thinking is a glider, says J&L head James Williams. Think again.

The Cummins-powered unit’s DEF tank has gotten something of a peek-a-boo treatment as a compartment of the main driver-side fuel tank, fashioned from two tanks cut in half and mated, the DEF cap covered by a stainless tank strap:

Custom DEF-fuel tank combo on J and L Contender

J&L got its start, Williams says, in 2005. “My father and I own a construction company and got into excavating,” and hauling, “as a necessity.” The fleet grew from there to where it is today, with 13 dumps and four semis that pull end dumps, 20 pulling flats and RGNs and with 50 trailers all told, including some custom heavy-haul trailers.

The unit behind Contender at the Crossville, Tenn., show was a Blackhawk RGN with plenty of custom features. Catch some of those in the gallery that follows.

Here's a wide view from front to back of the trailer.Here's a wide view from front to back of the trailer.

The then-recently-resin-treated deck.The then-recently-resin-treated deck.

In-deck ratchet binder storage.In-deck ratchet binder storage.

Detail toward the rear of the heavy-hauler. Note the upside-down license plate on the auxiliary axle, flipped up for display.Detail toward the rear of the heavy-hauler. Note the upside-down license plate on the auxiliary axle, flipped up for display.

The J&L Logo under the license plate is modular, sliding in and out and capable of being turned right-side up depending on how the trailer is displayed.The J&L Logo under the license plate is modular, sliding in and out and capable of being turned right-side up depending on how the trailer is displayed.

Rear view, with custom logo cuts made upside down to display in correct orientation when the auxiliary axle is up.Rear view, with custom logo cuts made upside down to display in correct orientation when the auxiliary axle is up.

Rounds for tail-lights are repeated throughout both truck and trailer, here shown at the rear of the RGN.Rounds for tail-lights are repeated throughout both truck and trailer, here shown at the rear of the RGN.

Note the lights above the headache rack -- the box was manufactured by Brunner in Joplin, Mo., hewing to a design J&L owner James Williams suggested himself. (For a look at a similar design, follow this link to the J&L 'Back in Black' 2013 Peterbilt glider that also showed at Crossville.)Note the lights above the headache rack -- the box was manufactured by Brunner in Joplin, Mo., hewing to a design J&L owner James Williams suggested himself. (For a look at a similar design, follow this link to the J&L "Back in Black" 2013 Peterbilt glider that also showed at Crossville.)

That's Williams reflected across the custom back-lit lettering in Contender's tractor's bumper.That's Williams reflected across the custom back-lit lettering in Contender's tractor's bumper.

Another feature here -- you may have noticed it in the tank shot above -- that I don't think I've seen before: an embossed-type treatment for most of the crucial lettering on the truck.Another feature here -- you may have noticed it in the tank shot above -- that I don't think I've seen before: an embossed-type treatment for most of the crucial lettering on the truck.

Detail view of the lettering treatment, this being the truck number.Detail view of the lettering treatment, this being the truck number.

A similar approach was taken to the company logo on the steps into the cab and ...A similar approach was taken to the company logo on the steps into the cab and ...

...even up onto the tractor's rear deck....even up onto the tractor's rear deck.

While 'most of my lowboy trucks are white,' Williams says, the red-and-black primary colors of Contender reflect the scheme of the remainder of the fleet.While "most of my lowboy trucks are white," Williams says, the red-and-black primary colors of Contender reflect the scheme of the remainder of the fleet.

Attention to detail is clear throughout the rig, which qualified for this year's Pride & Polish National Championship after the show in California -- for evidence, look no farther than this logo detail, featured on both external breathers. Find views of the immaculate interior and full specs in the images below.Attention to detail is clear throughout the rig, which qualified for this year's Pride & Polish National Championship after the show in California -- for evidence, look no farther than this logo detail, featured on both external breathers. Find views of the immaculate interior and full specs in the images below.

Contender Interior View From Driver Side

Contender Interior View Pedals Floor

View From Side Compartment Into Sleeper

J And L Contender Specs

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