'Period correct' 1986 Pete 359 a part of the family after total restoration

Screen Shot 2021 06 28 At 3 39 52 Pm Headshot
Updated Aug 16, 2023
joe scetto 359
This totally restored 1986 Peterbilt 359 aims to bring back the trucking glory days of the 80s, but it's also a member of the Scetto family.
@Candid_road_shots via Instagram

Joe Scetto's 1986 Peterbilt 359 has become a part of the family, with his 14 years and 4,100 hours restoring the truck stretching back to the day of his wedding.

"It all started when we got married in 2005," Scetto said. "I was filling in part-time for this company Jackson Transport in Ontario, and we got Peterbilts to be our limousines" for the wedding. "This one was a day cab. We drove it to the church, then I drove my wife and I to the reception in it."

Scetto, who showed the rig at the recent Gear Jammer Magazine truck show in Greenfield, Massachusetts, subsequently bought the classic 359. By 2007, he'd begun a "frame out restoration" of the classic. 

Joe Scetto 359Here's the truck after the sleeper went on, probably with at least 2,500 more hours of work to go until she'd be show-ready.Joe Scetto

But in the intervening years, the newlywed Scettos "built a house and had kids," he said. "There was a lot going on."

"I call it my sister wife," Scetto's wife joked after he finally admitted to having spent more than 4000 hours on the truck. "I've had to share him with it for 14 years. I can't compete." 

peterbilt frameHere's the long frame going in during Scetto's rebuild.Joe Scetto

The rule then, in the Scetto family, is when the truck gets something shiny, so does she.

"Before COVID started we finished it and started working on the trailer, which is a 1984 Great Dane 466, which is period correct for the 1980s, because it's 96 inches wide and not a 102," said Scetto. 

That idea of "period-correct 1986 359" extends beneath the surface as well. While Scetto does have new lights inside and out, all the parts are either restored and redone by Scetto or bought out of California from fellow enthusiast Henry Velasquez.

Joe Scetto 359 nightHere it is at night, in all its brightly lit glory.Joe Scetto

That includes the original 1986 425 V "white head Caterpillar" engine and a six and four double overdrive transmission, which Scetto called his favorite detail from the truck. "When I put in the six and four transmission double overdrive, I had no idea how to drive that transmission," he said. "I went with my mechanic for the first trip, went up to road speed and said, 'I don't know what to do now.'" Here he laughed. 

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The mechanic: "just pick a gear," and they figured it out from there.

Joe Scetto's 359 at the Gear Jammer Magazine truck show in Greenfield, Massachusetts. Scetto made fast friends by projecting classic trucking movies like Smokey and the Bandit on the trailer at night.Joe Scetto's 359 at the Gear Jammer Magazine truck show in Greenfield, Massachusetts. Scetto made fast friends by projecting classic trucking movies like Smokey and the Bandit on the trailer at night.Joe Scetto

At the end of the long restoration, Scetto decided to simply put personal plates on the truck and only use it as a show truck. He said it has more than 1.5 million miles on it, but only 1,000 or so since the restoration. 

Look for him at truck shows as he looks to drive that number up. With a 298-inch wheelbase, he said it "rides nice," and certainly seemed fun for the whole family, including his two daughters, who followed along in a four wheeler as the "period correct" sleepers don't exactly leave room for a family of four. 

joe scetto 359@Candid_road_shots via Instagram

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