'01 Peterbilt 379 an 'ultra rare' find for Ohio-based owner

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Marcus Sommers, the Apple Creek, Ohio-based owner of M. Sommers Trucking, has only owned the 2001 Peterbilt 379 featured in this video since 2019, but he’s been through a lot with the rig in five years -- including surviving a hail of bullets aimed his way in the summer of 2020.

Sommers uses the rig to haul LTL reefer freight in a 2018 Utility Tri-temp reefer, which has bulkheads separating the box into three compartments, allowing three separate temperatures set for different commodities.

Marcus Sommers' 2001 Peterbilt 379It was during one of those runs in 2020 that Sommers’ “Mr. Green” 379 got some of its “battle scars,” as he puts it.Video and photos by Lawson Rudisill

On June 8, 2020, Sommers was driving across I-70 in Ohio, and “I got shot at driving down the road. I was the first trucker to get shot at, that I’m aware of,” during the riots of that summer, he said. “It was quite a surprise for me, driving down the road about 11:30 at night, and ... I was hailed with bullets.”

Glass shattered on the driver’s side of the truck. “I was covered in glass,” he said. “I wasn’t sure if I was hit or not.”

chipped paint from bullets on Marcus Sommers' 2001 Peterbilt 379Some of the "battle scars" Sommers refers to are still visible on the side of his sleeper.

He pulled over and had the police come out, but they “still don’t know who it was," he said. Nevertheless, "I’m OK. I dodged some bullets, and God spared my life, so I’m still here to talk about it.”

Sommers said he’s come a long way with the rig in five years of ownership. He’s replaced all the wiring harnesses, the axles, the rears, drive shaft, U-joints and more. “Brakes, shocks, bags, you name it,” he added.

He’s also added glass watermelon lights around the rig -- not “an excessive amount of lights, but it gives it a nice glow,” he noted.

Watermelon lights and train horns on Marcus Sommers' 2001 Peterbilt 379Some of the lights he's added are under the frame rail at the back of the cab, as shown here. He's also installed a three-horn Leslie train horn behind the cab.

He's got a ways to go yet, too. Sommers said if he decides to hold onto the truck, he wants to redo the side panels of the cab, then get to work on the interior once the panels are done.

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One feature on the sleeper is pretty rare, Sommers learned after taking ownership of the rig.

TV & Phone hookup on the side of Marcus Sommers' sleeperBefore the days of the IdleAir hookups at truck stops, there was another system with a wire that would plug into the side of a sleeper for phone and TV service. His unit has that hookup, which he's been told was only installed on about 1,400 units at the time.

The truck is powered by a 550-hp Cat with a 13-speed and 3.36 rears. He said it originally had an 18-speed transmission when he bought it, but he switched it to a 13-speed "simply because I didn't need the extra weight,  and I didn't need the extra low gears, the five low gears. I don't haul heavy."

[Related: 'Stupid Money': Andrew Pagels' 1972 Peterbilt 359]


Find plenty more views of the rig in the video up top, and for more videos and custom-equipment features delivered to your email inbox, subscribe to Overdrive's weekly Custom Rigs newsletter via this link.

Transcript

Marcus Sommers: I wanted it because it was a 379 Ultra Sleeper and those are kind of hard to come by, at least the clean ones are, and this was fairly clean. It is an ultra rare ultra sleeper and there was only 1400 of these made. My name's Marcus Sommers. I own M Sommers Trucking and I've been driving for 37 years now, but it is a 2001 3 79 pea with a five 50 cat. I put 3 36 rears in it. It had, I believe, three 50 fives in it and just for what I'm doing, I needed it to be a little bit higher geared. So I pull reefer, LTLI got a Trit temp 2018 utility reefer, and I haul LTL. Right now I'm running Florida every week.

Basically since I've owned it, I've pretty much replaced everything in it on it except the cab, the sleeper, the hood, and the frame rails and the interior. So I do have a lot of battle scars on it. I've got bullet holes on the driver's side. June 8th, 2020, I got shot at driving down the road on I 70 in Ohio. It was in the middle of the riots and I was hailed with bullets, so shot out the glass, I was covered in glass. Cops came out and they shut the road down. Everything, still don't know who it was, but nevertheless, I'm okay. I dodged some bullets and God spared my life, so I'm still here to talk about it. Lights, yeah, I added a few lights. I added a few extras here and there. I switched over to the glass, watermelon lights, giving that a try, so hopefully they'll hold up pretty good. I did get to mount my three bell, Leslie on the back finally, and they're pretty loud.

There's an ultra rare ultra sleeper, I guess I wasn't aware of that when I bought it, but a good friend of mine told me about this particular sleeper. It has a plug on the driver's side door of the sleeper, back before Idle Air. They had, I'm not sure what it was called anymore, but they had these grate metal grates in the parking, lots of the truck stops, and then they had these wires that come up like a phone and a cable mount wire that you could run into your truck. This particular sleeper has a plug on the outside and there was only 1400 of these made. So I guess if that's worth anything, I don't know. But it's unique, I guess at best. I love the sleeper. I love the truck. I call it Mr. Green. That's his name, and he can be very cantankerous.

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