Owner-op Dustin Bates’ 34 years young hauler: The ‘Just Passing Thru’ 1984 Freightliner FLC120

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Updated Jan 30, 2019

Owner-operator Dustin Bates has owned 14 trucks in his 19-year trucking career as an owner-operator, if that tells you anything — in addition to having been steeped in the trucking business as representative, with his brother, of the third generation of Bates owner-operators out of Goodman, Mo., clearly the owner-operator also has a passion for restoration and preservation as an enthusiast for the trucks themselves. And, sooner or later with virtually every truck he’s owned, after Bates has put in a little work to keep the rig in good working order, time comes when someone offers him more money for it than he can turn down.

As he told plenty of inquirers at his first show with this power unit recently, though, he’s “still in the honeymoon phase” with it, he says, no plans to sell.

Dustin Bates with his wife, AmandaDustin Bates with his wife, Amanda

I got a close look at his latest at the Guilty By Association Truck Show at 4 State Trucks in Joplin, Mo., last month. Bates had been running it for just a couple weeks, fresh off a haul South to New Orleans and back, when I caught the rig back in a corner of the various show areas for the hundreds of units at GBATS. The classic mid-’80s Freightliner conventional body style and striping immediately set it apart. As Bates himself says, you don’t see many of them around any more.

The history of the 1984 Freightliner FLC120 runs back through the business of a single owner, Bates notes in the video up top, who passed away somewhat recently and who had clearly cared for the truck as his own. What little Bates did to spruce it up consisted of polishing, waxing and a few small touches here and there, as he describes in the video, where you can catch a myriad of further views of it.

The rig features a Big Cam 400 Cummins, overhauled by the original owner, under the hood with an 18-speed transmission, 3:90 Rockwell rears and the “Las Vegas” stripe, Bates says.The rig features a Big Cam 400 Cummins, overhauled by the original owner, under the hood with an 18-speed transmission, 3:90 Rockwell rears and the “Las Vegas” stripe, Bates says.

One interesting piece of the story not included in the video involves the hand-painted “Just Passing Thru” moniker on the back of the sleeper:

Around the time Bates’ acquired the Freightliner, his father had bought an old needle-nose KW that came with a “box of old memorabilia,” he says. Just a week before the show in Joplin, his father found this just-perfect license-plate frame among that memorabilia:Around the time Bates’ acquired the Freightliner, his father had bought an old needle-nose KW that came with a “box of old memorabilia,” he says. Just a week before the show in Joplin, his father found this just-perfect license-plate frame among that memorabilia: Exact alternative spelling and all … Fate works in mysterious ways, as they say …Exact alternative spelling and all … Fate works in mysterious ways, as they say …
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