by Rolf Lockwood
be looking in exactly the opposite direction and still find your eyes mysteriously
drawn to Silvo Ostronics bright yellow Peterbilt. Its that striking.
That much a head turner.
The other astonishing side of his spectacular truck is that the total investment
so far including purchase price is just $18,000. Silvo, who lives
just west of Toronto in Brampton, Ont., bought the 1984 Peterbilt 359 for a
mere seven grand last year and then set about doing a rather extreme makeover.
Hes done almost all the work himself, with the exceptions of the paint
and the frame stretching.
We first saw the rig at the Fergus Truck Show this past July, which was the
Petes first show outing, and it stood out like a brightly lit diner on
a foggy night. He says its still a work in progress, though it already
In fact its just the most recent of a string of 359 makeovers hes
done, six to be precise, and hes sold every one of them for more than
he had into it. He has no intention of selling this one, though hes already
had offers. Nor does he have any intention of buying a new truck, ever. He did
it once, but that was enough, and for the kind of work he does, theres
I just couldnt justify it, he says. I can run this
truck for another four or five years, payment-free. And nothing ever seems to
go wrong with it.
Silvo hauls Suzuki engines in rail containers from the CP yard near Brampton
to the CAMI plant in Cambridge, Ont. Its a short haul of a little over
100 miles round-trip. A self-professed happy-go-lucky kind of guy, he does that
precisely so that he can drive stretched 359s.
He started working life as a mechanic out of high school and worked in a Corvette
shop for a few years before trucking snared him in 1984. First it was Volume
Tank Lines (where he ran with highwaySTAR editor Jim Park, incidentally), then
TNT, and ...then I got the long-wheelbase bug and went on with Sextant
Lines. Hes been hauling cans for a few years now.
His first stretch was a 298-in. 1985 Pete 359, then a 300-in. 86, followed
by an 87, etc. My passion is the 359 because they have that Corvette
dash, he explains. Not surprisingly, he has also owned a bunch of Vettes,
11 in all, the last of them retired after his first child came along a few years
present 84 Pete, he got lucky. When he bought it he asked the previous
owner for any bills and receipts he might still have, and soon discovered that
the Cat 400 under the hood had been rebuilt just 200,000 km earlier. He then
found an Eaton Fuller 13-double-over for less than $800, and when he took it
apart, he realized that it had just been rebuilt too. He wasted no time transforming
the rest of the truck.
I stretched it right away, Silvo says, before anything else was
done to it, taking it from its previous 222-in. wheelbase all the way out to
300 in. That work, as with all his other 359s, was done by Bestway Trailer Repair
in Brampton, though he was part of the stretching crew.
And then he lucked out yet again when the auto plant he hauls to shut down
for four weeks last year. He took the Pete to his brother-in-laws nearby
farm and got busy.
When the sun came up at 5:45 in the morning I was there, and at the end
of the day Id be hoping for another 15 minutes of light, Silvo says.
That was seven days a week for all of those four weeks.
My wife has a lot of patience, he says with quiet understatement.
Silvo chopped the cab, clipping six in. from the roof and the sleeper, all
of that done with a simple Makita grinder. Then he built the hood, extending
it by 23 in. The brilliant yellow paint was done by Quality Collision in Brampton.
The interior, which is just as striking as the sleek exterior, shows some serious
imagination and a great sense of style. Theres no cheesy fake wood to
be seen, the metal dash painted in the same yellow as the outside, the upholstery
black. The chrome highlights you see in the door panels are his own creations,
using simple metal automotive trim strips that he carefully formed into the
shapes he wanted. The result is stunning.
All of this work is funded out of general revenue, meaning that
when theres a bit of dough in the bank, Silvos back at it. Given
his complete lack of truck payments, hes got some room to maneuver on
that front. But hes under no illusions about the trucks role. Its
not a show truck and it never will be.
Its a working truck, he says. Its got to make
Be nice if we could all go to work and make a buck in a rig as nice as this