Classic style, late-model engine, king-size bedroom

October 2019

Bryan "Boss Man" Martin


What more could a driver ask for? This gorgeous 1982 W900A extended hood belongs to longtime customer and friend John Neal.

The OOIDA senior member hails from Illinois, and typically drags a Utility reefer trailer throughout central and southern United States, but when we caught up with him recently he was dragging this ol’ rough, beat-up, worn-out flatbed. LOL.

You don’t see a huge amount of long-hooded older Kenworths in action these days, so when this one crosses your path, it definitely commands attention. John has updated the drivetrain to a C15 electronic 550 hp CAT, an 18-speed overdrive transmission and air-ride suspension, set at 312-inch wheelbase for a smooth ride.

Boss Man
Sharp paint work on a vintage Kenworth W900A with a retro “big bunk”… yeah baby!

He bought the truck back in ’08, and it was in pretty fair shape but, with the help of several great folks, John has pretty much completely been through the entire rig from drivetrain to paint to accessorizing to freshening up the interior. The truck was already set up with the 100-inch Indiana Custom Trucks sleeper, but the motor was tired and the paint was in tough shape.

He ordered a hood for this W900A from us, here at 4 State Trucks, then employed the help of Barry’s Collision Center and Foustz’ Signs to do a total repaint. He rounded up a pile of chrome and accessories, such as an 18-inch Texas-style bumper with the ol’ school fat bar underneath, 15-inch Vortox breathers, stainless battery box covers and fuel tank wraps, a set of chrome flat top straight stacks, nine cab lights, dolled up the generator covers, cleaned up the frame bolts in the chassis, painted a set of rear fenders to match, and spruced up the complete interior of the cab and sleeper, too.

When asked what he likes the most about his Kenworth, Neal said, “My favorite thing is the fact that the truck’s transformation was due to all the hard work that both my son, Jason, and Geri, my wife, helped me with. They never backed off and worked just as hard as I did. Literally, I could not have done this without them. Other than that, I think it would have to be that I like the looks of the old body style but really enjoy the torque and horsepower of the late-model CAT engine.”

John wanted to recognize Dennis and Jennifer at Yocum Trucking for putting up with him for all these years, and enjoys working with them.

When asked what advice he would offer a newbie entering the owner-operator occupation, he quickly suggested, “Try to get a rig that you enjoy driving, put your heart and soul into it, be proud of it, take care of it, and most likely it will take care of you. Next, you will have a great advantage if you can learn to maintain and do a good bit of the work on it yourself. Every hour you can spend working on it will save you $100-125 per hour at the dealership.”

In my opinion, the extended hood W900A is as classic and timeless as a ’57 Chevy. Always a pleasure to look at one, but when an owner’s appreciation of his own truck is as clear and evident as John Neal’s is, it tends to make you respect and enjoy it even more. LL


TA Firestone