Fast and proud: Fitzgerald meets challenge to build custom 389

| April 11, 2018

This rebuilt Peterbilt 389 glider made its TV debut on Discovery Channel’s “Mega Motor Week” Feb. 26 through March 5. Segments of the truck’s rebuild appeared in a couple episodes, along with the big reveal of the truck to the Gas Monkey Garage team, the stars of Discovery’s “Fast N’ Loud.” In that show, Richard Rawlings and Aaron Kaufmann search for derelict classic cars to buy and restore at their Gas Monkey Garage in Dallas. (Photos by Brian Bourke)

The number seven played a major part in a recent custom truck build by Fitzgerald Glider Kits and Fitzgerald Collision and Repair.

One aspect was the seven days required to tear down and rebuild the 2017 Peterbilt 389 glider. The Gas Monkey Garage shop, featured on the Discovery Channel’s “Fast N’ Loud” series, needed a new truck built for Gas Monkey Energy’s team that races in the National Hot Rod Association, whose season kicked off last month. However, the rebuild had to be done during seven days in January because the Gas Monkey crew wanted to take it to the Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale, Arizona, in mid-January.

The truck features a 58-inch flattop sleeper and sits on a 312-inch wheelbase.

Richard Rawlings, owner of Gas Monkey Garage and star of “Fast N’ Loud,” said his shop builds cars and knew nothing about building trucks. After doing some research on who could build a customized truck, he settled on Fitzgerald. “We have been doing NHRA for a few years now, and it was time for us to do a rig,” Rawlings said. “We did a little research because we don’t do trucks, and we found Fitzgerald is the best in the business.”

Brian Bourke, Fitzgerald director of marketing, said the chosen 2017 Peterbilt 389 glider needed to be stripped to the frame and rebuilt with a new paint scheme and custom parts. Gas Monkey Garage wanted a green frame and green and black striping on the white cab.

The rig was given its “Lucky No. 7” moniker not only for the seven-day build but also for the sets of seven lights, including on the T-bars, visor, breathers and more. Also, Gas Monkey drag race car driver Alex Laughlin’s birthday is Sept. 7.

The custom grille with the Gas Monkey Energy logo was fabricated by 12 Gauge Customs.

Some of the truck’s custom parts include 24.5-inch ATX Octane wheels from American Racing; a custom grille with the Gas Monkey Energy logo made by 12 Gauge Customs; stainless, smooth step boxes and a bumper lift kit by 12 Gauge Customs; front and rear Tbars by 12 Gauge Customs; a flush-mount deck plate by Iowa Customs; a stainless visor by RoadWorks; 6-inch cab and sleeper panels; chopper-style headlights by United Pacific; and a 22-inch Texas-style bumper by Valley Chrome.

To get the truck finished in time, Tommy Fitzgerald Jr. and the Fitzgerald Glider Kits team had to enlist the help of his brother, Robert Fitzgerald, and the Fitzgerald Collision and Repair crew.

Robert said his brother got him excited about the prospect of doing the project before springing the tight timeframe on him.

“The hardest part of a build like this is having time to plan ahead and get all the parts together, but we didn’t have that this time,” Robert said. “Tommy and Brian had most of the parts together before they got us involved, though.”

“Fast N’ Loud” star Richard Rawlings (center), who owns Gas Monkey Garage, took delivery of the custom Pete 389 in January. With him are Tommy Fitzgerald Jr., left, and Robert Fitzgerald outside Gas Monkey Garage in Dallas.

Tommy said a build like this normally would take 30 days. The team met the seven-day deadline, thanks to having plenty of experienced staff members, his brother’s “collision shop with all of the overhead cranes and other equipment designed for pulling hoods and cabs off,” and outside contractors who came in to help.

Because of the fast turnaround, the truck couldn’t be sent to another shop to have the cab painted. The crew from Davis Brothers Designs of Owensville, Indiana, came to FCR’s shop in Livingston, Tennessee, to do the stripe work.

Graphic designers SignSmith of Crossville, Tennessee, came in and removed the old wrap from the racing trailer to get it ready for the new wrap.

Shown is the Peterbilt 389 before the Fitzgerald crews began the customization project.

Nashville’s Almost Chrome then came in and polished the trailer, wheels, grille, step boxes, fuel tanks and other parts in preparation for reassembly.

When Fitzgerald delivered the rig, Rawlings was impressed with the speedy, high-quality work.

“They told me they’d get it done, and they did,” he said. “It just really pulled off the whole Gas Monkey style.”

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