Monday, May 18, 2009

Big Rig Chronicles: The Western Star

While researching the history of the Western Star, it was clear that this truck was designed first and foremost with the driver in mind. Although I’m sure that they mean it was designed for the driver of the actual truck, the Western Star is quite the eye candy for the ones of us who share the road with the Western Star. Unfortunately I don’t see nearly enough Western Stars on the road, at least not in my part of the country, but boy do they ever stand out when they do roll down the highway. Huge & majestic, usually equipped with a massive sleeper cab, this is the type of truck that’ll run you off the road, not because the truck can’t stay between the lines but because it’s so eye catching, a poor truck-smitten commuter may forget what they are doing and veer off the road.

The Western Star is quite young compared to the other trucks I’ve written about so far. It was born in 1967 in Cleveland, Ohio, although the production of the truck mainly took place in Canada. It was founded on the belief that the most valuable asset in trucking is the truck driver, which is probably why the sleeper cabs on these trucks stand out so much. While developing and manufacturing trucks for all sorts of fields, such as mining, logging and military usage, they never lost sight of who the truck ought to accommodate the most: The trucker.

During the 1980s, the Western Star trucks continued to grow and demand their share of the market as the Western Star gained reputation as a durable and reliable truck. They started advancing the cabs by increasing head room and improving the visibility for the driver.

Although young, Western Stars have been busy playing catch-up, which is evident by the timeline I’m about to list in this article. Rather than trying to incorporate these dates into a story, I found it easier and more organized to line them up, something which usually isn’t my style because I like to write articles, but there’s always an exception somewhere and this is it.


Anyway, here is a list of the major developments of the Western Star:

1986: Supertilt hood was introduced, one of the earliest versions of the sloped hood for trucks
1987: Cornerstone chassis was introduced, this platform reduced cost as well as weight and complexity.
1990: 6900XD entered production
1992: Significant contracts were won with the Canadian military, PT Freeport mining in Indonesia and for highway maintenance trucks in British Columbia. (Military Western Star displayed below)
1996: Western Star introduced and launched the Constellation cab & sleeper, a large-sized and comfortable cab of welded steel.
1998: the Star Light Sleeper was introduced, featuring a major weight-reduction solution for Western Star and the industry as a whole by their design and also by cradling a polypropylene honeycomb core between two aluminum sheets.
2002: Western Star moved to Portland Oregon and they also introduced the LowMax package, which came with a lot of options for customized stainless steel accessories. (LowMax pictured below...) 2003: The 82 and the 68 Stratosphere sleeper cabs were introduced. The 82 inch was a walk-through sleeper with roof-mounted air horns and marker lights…the only one of its kind. The 68-inch cab was longer and designed for Canadian customers where they require a shorter wheelbase than in the US.
Also in 2003, the 6900XD became available with Twin-Steer. (I’ve never seen this and had to look it up…. Doesn’t it look wicked!)
2006: The Stratosphere sleeper line becomes the broadest line of walk-through sleepers in the industry. The largest cab in the industry if a Stratosphere 82 inch Ultra-High.

Below is a Western Star sporting a Stratosphere sleeper cab.


So the driver’s comfort seems to always have been a major factor whenever Western Star introduced new lines and technologies for their trucks, which makes it a natural development that their sleeper cabs are some of the best in the industry. (Although I wouldn’t be one to judge this as my experience with sleeper cabs is limited… :) ) The driver’s comfort seems to be an underlying theme to most of the changes that have taken place since the Western Star’s beginning in 1967.




Although most of the manufacturing of the Western Star took place in Canada, it has now all been moved over to American plants and the Western Star is an all-American truck.
Although the Kenworth is my favorite truck, there's no denying that when a Western Star comes rolling down the freeway, it certainly outshines the rest of the trucks. It's comfy, it's powerful and it's looks are stellar.... what is not to like? :)
(Really...since I don't see too many Western Stars on the road, it leads me to believe that the price may be high.... I guess I ought to do a blog post about big rigs and pricing to get a better overview.... frankly, I have no idea how much a truck costs.... :))

I want to point out that every single one of these photos were borrowed from www.westernstar.com .... obviously they have the best photos of their own trucks, but also, during my brief time as a big rig photographer in training, I have yet to get a photo op with a Western Star.... )

4 comments:

Marie Reed said...

It is pure eye candy! Attention poor truck-smitten commuter: Glue those peepers to the road!

Laila said...

lol... yes ma'am!

digger derrick trucks said...

Looks very majestic on the road.these are dependable vehicles that help business and in fact the world function in a smooth fashion.

Gerald Wilson said...

My father have lots of trucks on his business and he also using this for moving heavy equipment to lots of place. My favorite Western Star truck is the 49000 heavy haul because it can really carry lots of tons.

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