A look back at 2023's top Custom Rigs

Updated Dec 31, 2023

There was no shortage of news in trucking in 2023 that affects or could affect the everyday lives of owner-operators and truck drivers. From emissions regs to speed limiters and so much in between, there was plenty for drivers to fret over. And that’s not to mention the stress of day-to-day business operations with rates in the tank and high fuel prices for much of the year.

With all that to worry about, it’s never a bad idea to move over to the slow lane and find something enjoyable to wind down with. And what’s more enjoyable in trucking than seeing the hard work pay off in the form of pristine show trucks and just overall good-looking rigs?

Below, catch some of the most popular posts of 2023 from Overdrive’s Custom Rigs, and if you want to see more, be sure to subscribe to Overdrive’s Custom Rigs newsletter to have more like these delivered to your email inbox weekly.

10. C.J. Donovan’s “jack-of-all-trades” 1984 Peterbilt 362

C.J. Donovan's 1984 Peterbilt 362 and 2023 Great DaneC.J. Donovan's 1984 Peterbilt 362 and 2023 Great Dane

Antique trucks were certainly popular throughout the year, as you’ll see as you work your way down this list. The first of those, Donovan’s classic rig was featured after it won in the Working Combo, 2007 & Older class in Overdrive’s Pride & Polish. The truck runs between 50,000 and 80,000 miles a year, hooking to anything from reefers to open-decks -- basically wherever it’s needed in the Donovan Transport fleet. Donovan has owned the truck since 2017 and ended up doing a full-on restoration on it rather than just putting it to work as he originally intended.

9. 'Tweety Bird': Owner-operator Michael Gerber's 1999 Kenworth W900

Michael Gerber's 1999 Kenworth W900LMichael Gerber's 1999 Kenworth W900L

Overdrive caught up with Gerber at the Mayberry Truck Show in Mt. Airy, North Carolina, in September. The canary-yellow Kenworth primarily pulls a reefer for Gerber today after having pulled a flatbed before.

8. Rare beauty of a 'time capsule': Introducing the 1948 Peterbilt of Jason Nickels

Jason Nickels' 1948 Peterbilt 270DDJason Nickels' 1948 Peterbilt 270DD

This piece of trucking history was on display at the Guilty By Association Truck Show hosted by 4 State Trucks in Joplin, Missouri, in September. It was built by owner Jason Nickels’ father, Ron, in the 1980s, and Jason has recently pulled it out of storage and cleaned it up again. Ron picked it up from a salvage yard and rebuilt it from the ground up.

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7. 1984 Kenworth W900B restomod still a workhorse

J.R. Schleuger's 1984 Kenworth W900BJ.R. Schleuger's 1984 Kenworth W900B

Britt, Iowa-based J.R. Schleuger showed this rig at the Shell Rotella SuperRigs working truck show in Gillette, Wyoming, over the summer. He had owned it for a year at the time of the show and had taken three months to tear it down and rebuild it with custom parts from his Lifetime Nut Covers business. The truck won second place in the Classic Division at SuperRigs.

6. Independent's 2022 W9 hauls livestock coast-to-coast

Cody Davis' 2022 Kenworth W900LCody Davis' 2022 Kenworth W900L

Another from SuperRigs over the summer, independent livestock-hauling owner-operator Cody Davis’ rig stood out among the crowd of impressive trucks at the event. The tractor itself is eye-catching enough with its “Mojito” green paint scheme, but coupled with a polished 2023 Merritt livestock trailer, it’s a can’t-miss combo. The judges agreed, as it won first place at SuperRigs in the Tractor-Trailer Division and Best Lights. As a bonus, the truck also won in Working Combo, 2008 & Newer as part of Overdrive’s Pride & Polish this fall.

5. Patterson Farms' pristine fleet of vintage Peterbilt 379s

Patterson Farms' fleet of Peterbilt 379sPatterson Farms' fleet of Peterbilt 379s

Sunderland, Massachusetts-based Patterson Farms put its fleet of 379s on display at the annual Gear Jammer Magazine Truck Show in Greenfield, Massachusetts, in July. The farm had about two dozen units at the show which, even among a crowd of beautiful showpieces, stood out as impressive.

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

Joe Scetto's 1986 Peterbilt 359Joe Scetto's 1986 Peterbilt 359@Candid_road_shots via Instagram

Another standout rig from the Gear Jammer show was Joe Scetto’s 359, which he spent 14 years and 4,100 hours restoring. The truck still sports 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. Since completing the restoration, he put personal plates on the truck and now just uses it as a show truck.

3. Maryland-based hauler's V8-powered 1986 Mack Super-Liner

Tom Menges' 1986 Mack SuperlinerTom Menges' 1986 Mack Superliner

Tom Menges brought his classic Bulldog to the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville this past March, showing off its mostly original paint and that impressive V8 engine. And despite its age, Menges estimated the truck only had about 400,000 original miles on it. He bought it in April 2022 after it had been parked "in the weeds" for 11 years. He'd been familiar with the truck since it was new and said the original owner took it to Mack truck shows for about seven years before he parked it.

2. 1966 Peterbilt 281 a piece of trucking history, and a Pride & Polish champ

Kevin Cimmiyotti's 1966 Peterbilt 281Kevin Cimmiyotti's 1966 Peterbilt 281

Winning the Antique class in this year’s Pride & Polish competition was this ’66 Pete, owned by Kevin Cimmiyotti out of California. Cimmiyotti, the rig's second owner, lovingly restored and updated the 281, mostly over 13 weekends driving an hour and back from his friend's shop in southern California. Among contemporary touches include an air-leaf suspension, power steering, air conditioning, and a refurbished 1992 110-inch Double Eagle sleeper.

1. Custom-built 1979 International Transtar II of Iowa-based Andy Goettsch

Andy Goettsch's 1979 International Transtar IIAndy Goettsch's 1979 International Transtar II

Rounding out the list of most popular Custom Rigs is another antique in Goettsch’s ’79 International cabover. It was shown at MATS in March and won first place in Antique Custom -- Bobtail. Just about every part on the truck was touched in some form or fashion during the rebuild, ranging from the engine through the interior. The truck is powered by a 350-hp Cummins Big Cam with a 13-speed.