Impressive 2000 Sterling uses adapted Peterbilt chrome

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Dustin Ross' 2000 Sterling AT9255
Dustin Ross has put an immense amount of custom work into his 2000 Sterling AT9255, which he bought from his father, Doug, when he started driving around 2011.
Photos courtesy of Dustin Ross

Since we posted about Dustin Ross’ heavily-customized 2000 Sterling AT9522 last month, which he shared to Overdrive’s Reader Rigs gallery, we received a number of requests to show more of the unique rig.

I got in touch with Ross to hear more about his history in the business and more about the custom work he put into the truck, as well as to get some more pictures of the impressive build.

Ross, now 33, grew up around trucking, riding with his dad, Doug, behind the hood of a Peterbilt 379 in the 1990s. “He used to run coast-to-coast doing produce,” Ross said. “At a young age, that got me into it. I always wanted to be a driver.”

After high school, however, Ross went to college to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering and run track and field. When he turned 21, though, he knew he didn’t want to work an office job and wear a suit and tie, so he got his Class A CDL and got behind the wheel of a truck.

He drove team with his dad for a year in his Doug James Associates fleet, and he got the green light from the insurance company (the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association) to go out on his own and drive solo.

Originally based in Central New York, Ross was hauling furniture for Bay Minette, Alabama-based Standard Furniture up to New Jersey and New York City. “It worked out OK,” Ross said, but the lack of home time wore on him and spurred him to relocate closer to where the work was.

In 2017, he moved to Robertsdale, Alabama, just off I-10 southeast of Mobile. “I’m close to Bay Minette and Pensacola, Mobile for truck parts,” he said. “It’s 30 minutes in any direction.” His father had moved to Gulf Shores, Alabama, just south of Robertsdale, in 2014, so he wasn’t far from family when he moved south.

Work from Standard Furniture slowed down during COVID, so Ross and his father have transitioned to hauling mostly prefabricated concrete poles.

Dustin Ross' 2000 Sterling pulling a 105-foot concrete poleDustin Ross' "Stella" is shown here hauling a 105-foot concrete pole.

“I had been [hauling furniture] since 2011 or ’12,” Ross said, “and my father had been since 2006. I always thought I’d retire doing it. We’d do, some weeks 15 stops but on average 30-35 stops. It was good, honest work and something I thoroughly enjoyed.”

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That dried up in September of 2020, and Ross's company, now named D.J. Ross Trucking, hauled mostly spot market freight until he got into the concrete poles business full-time in January of this year.

[Related: Owner-op's totally custom 2000 Sterling]

How the custom Sterling came to be

Dustin Ross' 2000 Sterling before customizationThis is how "Stella" looked before Ross started replacing factory parts with custom pieces.

As for the 2000 Sterling he drives, nicknamed “Stella,” Ross bought it off his father when he went solo around 2011/2012. His father bought it in 2006 when it had around 500,000 miles on the odometer.

“When I had my one year in, and we were driving team in this truck, he wanted a cabover,” Ross said. “I didn’t think he’d sell me this truck or want to give it up. Motor-wise, he kept up on it, it had a healthy motor. But he wanted a cabover, running New York City” delivering to Rent-A-Center locations. The Sterling was “a dinosaur to maneuver up there,” Ross joked.

When Ross bought the truck from his father, it was still mostly stock. “The fuel tanks and rims were polished, but that’s about it,” he said.

He started on the custom work in 2014 and has been working on it ever since. He said the first big thing he did was to replace the dash. He took out the old plastic dash and added a fiberglass dash and color-matched it to the truck. Then, “slowly over the years I keep picking and choosing to keep customizing it to make it work,” he added.

Custom dash in Dustin Ross' 2000 SterlingThe new dash Ross added to the truck.

Interior of Dustin Ross' 2000 SterlingHe also added a hardwood floor and overhead panel inside the truck.

Ross said finding custom parts for a Sterling was a near-impossible task, so he had to get creative with a lot of it.

His tank straps were made for a Kenworth, but he cut them down and changed the brackets to adapt them to the Sterling. And a lot of the chrome on the rig was originally made for Peterbilts.

“That’s kind of what throws a lot of people for a loop,” he said. “It looks like stuff off a Pete, but there is a lot of thinking and research and development that goes into it.”

As highlighted in the prior post about Ross’ rig, the truck features:

  • A 20-inch stainless steel bumper from Valley Chrome
  • A grille surround that Ross made with aluminum flat-stock and hexagonal steel mesh
  • Vocational-style headlights instead of the traditional aero headlights
  • Front fenders from a newer-model 9522
  • 12 Ga. Customs Peterbilt toolboxes under the doors
  • Custom 150-gallon tanks
  • 5-inch pipes mounted along the fuel tanks
  • Talladega Fiberglass full fenders

Ross said his favorite feature on the rig is the 20-inch visor he built with his brother-in-law.

Click here to see more photos of reader uploads or to submit your own. 

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