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Handsome hauler

Today I stray from my normal path of classic cars and street rods. I feel a little variety is good for life and in this column we certainly have that.

The featured vehicle today is a modified 1985 Peterbilt truck. The Peterbilt is owned and built by native Nevada Countian Buzz Presser.

Presser is the type of character I just love – a unique, one-of-a-kind individual who definitely marches to his own drummer. There’s not a whole lot of doubt where you stand with Buzz, and that’s a rare characteristic in men today, but one that I greatly appreciate and admire.



The Peterbilt is a rolling statement of Presser’s creativity and ability to fabricate and modify. The hauler is powered by an 855-cubic-inch, 400-horse-power Cummins engine. The Cummins is equipped with a turbo-charger and of course, fuel injection. The engine is backed up by a 13-speed Roadranger transmission, which is able to stand the tremendous torque that the Cummins puts out. The engine has been painted, chromed and beautifully detailed, as well as any street rod.

The engine was built by Presser and took over a month to assemble, as he balanced each part as he put it back together. The front axle has a unique air ride system and power steering, both of which Presser designed and built himself.




The Peterbilt, which looks like a show truck, is actually worked every day. From its owner-applied Corvette yellow paint to the polished aluminum Alcoa wheels, to the chrome front bumper and the custom owner-built grill, the truck is a beauty. I personally love trucks, especially the exhaust sound and the feeling of power as you crawl into the huge cab. This truck did not disappoint me in either aspect.

As a lover of gauges, this dash was one of my favorites. There were 18 gauges, numerous switches and levers, and it was all I could do not to start the truck and begin flipping toggle switches to see what would happen. the interior is also equipped with an air ride seat, a personal refrigerator and a small desk. If it had a TV, I could sit here all night instead of in my La-Z-Boy.

Presser, who was born in the old miners’ hospital in Nevada City, has been a long-time fixture in the automotive scene in Nevada County. Although a very modest man, I was able to find out that he was a sprint car driver and CSRA champion in 1985. He also had a long and successful career as a motorcycle racer. Presser, like the rest of us car nuts, tends to hang onto things. He even has the

Model A coupe that he drove as a senior at Nevada Union High School.

Presser, much like me, has a weakness for all things old, especially pieces of equipment. He has collected old equipment from the mining industry, including the huge wheels that allowed movement of men and equipment up and down the shafts. He is a man who likes to take things abandoned or thought obsolete by others and repair and convert them into a useful piece of equipment. Note the picture of the lathe below. This particular lathe came out of a U.S. Navy battleship. He has retrofitted it so that he was able to build many of the parts on the Peterbilt. If you’ll look closely, you can tell how large the lathe is, because he has one of the 24-inch Alcoa rims chucked up that he is polishing.

Presser has extraordinary ability to fabricate and repair. If he had been born a century earlier, I’m sure he would have been a blacksmith and the person the community relied on to build and repair its machinery.

especially pieces of equipment. He has collected old equipment from the mining industry, including the huge wheels that allowed movement of men and equipment up and down the shafts. He is a man who likes to take things abandoned or thought obsolete by others and repair and convert them into a useful piece of equipment. Note the picture of the lathe below. This particular lathe came out of a U.S. Navy battleship. He has retrofitted it so that he was able to build many of the parts on the Peterbilt. If you’ll look closely, you can tell how large the lathe is, because he has one of the 24-inch Alcoa rims chucked up that he is polishing.

Presser has extraordinary ability to fabricate and repair. If he had been born a century earlier, I’m sure he would have been a blacksmith and the person the community relied on to build and repair its machinery.

Help! I need a part. I have managed to destroy the ring and pinion on my Willys station wagon. I’m having an extremely difficult time finding a replacement. If any of you has one, or know where I can get one, please contact me. It is the front axle, a Dana 25, with a 4.27:1 ratio (rather rare, so I am finding.) And yes, I’ve gone online and called everyone I can think of. But I know someone, in the back of their garage, has got one setting, because I have a perfectly good 4.10:1 setting in mine. I promise, if I find a new one, to be gentler and use less power in the future.

I’m in Vegas as you read this. The NASCAR season has started and I’m here for a test. Worry not-I’ll still have the column ready for you every week. Coming in the near future: a 1940 Ford drag car, 1953 Chevy convertible and a 1948 Anglia.

-Fast Jack


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