Mafia Secrets: Advice from the Boss Man – November 2019

Classier with time

November 2019

Bryan Martin


With trucking, there can be unfortunate circumstances where a good-lookin’ truck gets “munched” or backed into, which was the case with Eric Dias of Perryville, Mo., and his Peterbilt 379.

Eric makes a habit of not staying at truck stops very often due to the likelihood and the stories of trucks backing into other trucks and “Nobody saw a thing.” He does, however, stop to fuel and use the showers, so there wasn’t anything out of the ordinary when he finished fueling back in June and parked his truck in the back 10 acres of the truck stop with no other trucks around him. Safe choice, eh?

Upon coming back out to his truck, someone had tried to blindside back in next to him, and as it goes – the damage was done. He finished that run, went home and began the restoration project, and that is the story of how an already classy truck got classier with time.

Eric Dias had a love for big trucks at an early age. He was born in March 1987 in Riverside, Calif., and was exposed to trucks early. His grandmother and aunts worked at Little Sisters Truck Wash, where he was able to sit in the seats of some pretty cool trucks. Eric had the chance to learn how to take motors apart and put everything back together as his dad owned an auto mechanic shop.

Eric started trucking full time after 10 years of serving our country.

While in the Navy, he was an equipment operator, which included trucking across the country in unmarked military trucks. These unmarked military trucks looked just like civilian commercial motor vehicles, like the Western Star Lowmax he had the opportunity to drive.

So how about this truck? It is a 2006 Peterbilt 379 with a C15 CAT, 13-speed transmission, 3:36 gear ratio and a factory 285-inch wheelbase. With a closer inspection, you’ll see the different custom pieces which makes this truck unique all the while maintaining that classy look including an RLK visor, United Pacific cab lights, true Peterbilt 359 headlights from a 1984 model, Double J Blinker bars, custom grille insert, Valley Chrome stainless battery boxes, a 22-inch tapered Valley Chrome bumper, 12 gauge air ride kit, stainless breather panels, window vent shades, 359 fender steps, Hogebuilt 34-inch quarter fenders and 7-inch Lincoln Chrome stacks.

The truck also sports 4-inch stainless cab sleeper panels with 359 cowls, and upon completion of the restore Eric added 16 United Pacific watermelon glo-lights.

Inspired by Eric’s love of Mercury sleepers and trying to match his reefer trailer doors he hauled at that time, he and his friend, Ron Miles of RMJR out of Wisconsin, came up with the idea of a custom quilted stainless deckplate and sleeper panel. A very cool touch.

This 379 pulls a 2020 Reitnouer Big Bubba flatbed trailer. With the help of close friend, James from Stegall’s Truck Shop LLC, the two came up with the idea to add quilted stainless to the trailer bringing some unity to the truck and trailer.

Leaving no wasted space, they added filler panels for the front axle, custom load lumber racks, and boxed off the landing gear. Quick connects were hidden by aluminum panels with lights, California connections installed under the trailer, Peterbilt mud flaps across the back of the trailer, installed a load gauge inside one of the toolboxes and installed four 34-inch Hogebuilt quarter fenders.

Folks, there is something very unique about Eric’s mods that most would not even notice.

He converted the 13-speed transmission and reworked it to full function as an 18-speed transmission.

The challenge was to have a full-time air supply to go to the front and the back of the transmission, which was a success. It not only has the look of an 18 speed with the two push/pull plunger valves but has the gear ‘splits’ as well.

The name of his company is Last Dollar Trucking. Dias mainly runs the Midwest and eastern United States delivering RubberMaid products and/or lumber products. He tries to target hauling to smaller businesses where he has less potential for long waits and delayed unload times.

Eric’s truck was back on the road by the end of July and was completed in time to be unveiled at the 2019 Laid Back on I-55 Truck Show in Perryville, Mo., where he earned the People’s Choice award. He takes a lot of pride in his truck. You will rarely see him riding around in a dirty truck unless Mother Nature is having a bad day.

His ideas for his truck were inspired by older generations of trucks and crazy ideas between friends. He also has an abundance of knowledge to pass on to new owner-operators.

“Based on my real-world experience, always hold back three months of operating and living expenses in an emergency fund in the event of an unexpected hardship,” he said. “Make sure you have a good accountant and get your business in an LLC or corporation for liability protection. The more maintenance and mechanic-ing you can learn to do on your truck yourself will save thousands of dollars a year.”

I think Mr. Dias “knocked it outta the park,” but keep your eye out for this gorgeous 379 on the road as we are quite sure it won’t disappoint your expectations. LL