MATS 'Build-Off' winner: Immaculate '24 Peterbilt 389 built with old-school style

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Updated Jul 8, 2024

Owensville, Indiana-based custom truck shop Davis Bros. Designs went all-in on the build of a brand-new 2024 Peterbilt 389 for the Mid-America Trucking Show's Big Rig Build-Off back in March.

Davis Bros. was one of four shops invited to compete in the invitation-only event, part of the annual PKY Truck Beauty Championship in Louisville, Kentucky, attendant to the bigger show.

When all was said and done, three shops were able to get a truck to the show, and Davis Bros.' "Lessons Learned" 389 came out on top, beating out a a 1980 Kenworth K100 restomod from Johnson Hill Customs and a totally custom 1996 Peterbilt 379 from Dickerson Custom Trucks.

"We kind of stepped it up," said Davis Bros. owner Brian Davis, anticipated tough competition after the invite. The goal: A unit that stands head and shoulders above the shop's typical custom builds -- impressive in their own right, no doubt.

The rig's paint job is probably the first thing to grab your attention, and Davis said he had the color scheme in mind with a stripe layout, "going for kind of an older-school type thing." The shop went with an overlaid or over-under stripe style, something Davis said Peterbilt offered back in the 1960s and '70s. 

The paint scheme features seven total colors, "any painter's nightmare," Davis noted. "It was a lot of tape work, lots of tape work, and of course we painted right through the jambs and all the way to the back sides of our jambs and all that in the truck, so it was a long process to paint it and get ... the lines perfect and crisp and, you know, absolutely no bleeds anywhere and that type of thing. Going to the Build-Off, it's got to be right."

Front right paint jobThe truck came off the assembly line and to the Davis Bros. shop in November as a white cab with a red frame. All the paint work was done in-house by painter Brooks Martin.

Brian Davis noted that with a typical build the shop does, they usually "don't go crazy on our engine bays. We'll chrome them up a little bit and get them clean and paint a few parts, but we don't get in-depth and pull our engines and that type of thing."

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That wouldn't be the case with the "Lessons Learned" 389.

565-hp Cummins X15 and 18-speed fully painted and chromed"We upped our game a little bit on the engine bay a little more than what we probably would have" typically, Davis said. The 565-hp Cummins X15 and 18-speed was fully painted and chromed.

The story's similar in the cab. The bed was removed and a couch added instead. The overall theme: Brian Davis channeled his background playing in a band to evoke an old music venue/bar. He added repurposed Fender tweed amps as covers for the speakers in the doors.

Sleeper of Davis Bros.' 2024 Peterbilt 389The sleeper is totally redesigned to have the look and feel of a bar, complete with neon lights and much more.

Fender tweed amp speaker cover on Davis Bros.' 2024 Peterbilt 389Davis said he found a company that makes products to recondition Fender tweed amps, so they bought everything from them, made the amps to fit the areas they need and cover the speaker grills.

"I played in a band for over 25 years, so I really have always liked the stereos and that type of thing," Davis said. "With the theme of the old bar inside, I thought, 'Man you know it'd be kind of cool to to make it look like there's some old amps sitting around, you know, when you're in there sitting on the couch.'" 

With the help of JL Audio, the truck also has a "very large stereo system inside and outside," Davis noted. The tractor features eight 12W7 subwoofers in the bunk and 18 7.7-inch speakers in the cab. A custom trailer from Mac Trailers built to tour with the truck this year also features 16 13W7 subwoofers and 28 8.8-inch marine speakers, mounted thanks to custom compartments build into the trailer by Mac. "It does sound off," Davis said.

Mac flatbed trailer with Davis Bros.' 2024 Peterbilt 389The trailer's subwoofers and speakers can be seen here on the underside of the flatbed.

[Related: MATS 'Build-Off': Dickerson Custom Trucks' '96 379 boasts Cat dozer power]

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.


Brian Davis: I am Brian Davis with Davis Brothers and we're out of Owensville, Indiana. We build trucks, and we run a trucking company,  and we also grain farm. We appreciated the invite and honestly was back and forth on whether to do it or not. It takes a lot of time and effort and there was just a lot of things going on. Of course, with the rest of the business. We're busy and we got customer stuff to get done and it takes a lot of time to devote to this and we finally decided to do it and we done it and I'll need a few years off to kind of recover from it.

It said 2024 Peterbilt 389. It was built in Denton, Texas in November of '23, so it was pretty fresh truck and it's X15, 565 to 18 speed and 295 wheel base. We upped our game a little bit on kind of the engine bay, a little more than what we probably would've, what we were going to build interior. We had a lot of ideas for a lot of the wild stuff done on the interior and once we decided that we would do the build off, then we kind of stepped it up. But for the most part, I mean I already had an idea of the colors in my head, a stripe layout. I was going for kind of an older school type thing. The interiors is kind of like an old bar basically is the theme of the interior of the truck. And so we was trying to keep a pretty classic look and so came up with a paint scheme and done the overlaying interlocking stripes over unders, whatever people call 'em, all kinds of different things.

But Peterbilt had that type of paint job on some of their paint schemes from previous back in the sixties, seventies paint schemes just was kind of my take on that. Once I got into how the stripes were going to lay out, then I had to add a couple more colors to make it look right. So we ended up total colors of seven, which is any painter's nightmare. It was a lot of tape work, lots of tape work, and of course we painted right through the jams and all the way to the backside of our jams and all that in the truck. So it was a long process to paint it and get it to slick and the line's perfect and crisp and absolutely no bleeds anywhere and that type of thing going into the build off, it's got to be right. But as far as the colors, I ordered the truck, white cab, sleeper hood with a red frame, so I kind of was wanting to base around that.

People that know us know that we base around blue a lot, we do a lot of blues and just kind of wanted to do something different. Interior we probably went a little further with than we do sometimes. I mean, we put a couch in, took the bed out, put a couch in, that type of thing. So I played in a band for over 25 years and so I really have always liked the stereos and that type of thing. And with the theme of the old bar inside, I thought, man, it'd be kind of cool to make it look like there's some old amps sitting around when you're in there sitting on the couch. And so that's kind of where we got that. So the truck has got eight 12 W sevens in the bunk and 18 seven point sevens in the cab, and the trailer has 1613 w sevens and Mack built between the rails for us.

They braced it in such a way that it left us compartments that are about five feet long and 40 inches wide for those boxes to set up in and places the mount and the whole deal. So that worked out great. There's a lot of speakers in the trailers that got the 16 subs and then 28, 8 0.8 JL marine coaxial, so it does sound off. So the truck's lessons learned. So we always name our trucks off of songs, so the back wall of the bar in there says where I find God, which is a Larry Fleet song that everyone at the shop liked and they liked that, but it was a little long to put 'em. So we put it in there, lit it up behind the couch, kind of like sitting on that couch. That kind of explains it. The lessons learned is a Tracy Lawrence song and we played that song at the shop. It was very fitting. We learned a lot of lessons building this truck for sure, and it's kind of a collaboration of the lessons we've learned over the years.

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