The first truck to go into service for Con-way Central Express, a 1983 Ford CL9000 cabover, has a new home at the Iowa 80 Trucking Museum in Walcott, Iowa.
Above, the first driver of the CCX truck talks about the truck. Below, L to R, Gary Frantz, Con-way, Dick Heyob, Con-way driver and original driver of the truck; Dave Miller, former president of Con-way Central, and museum curator Dave Meier.
Con-way Central Express was a regional motor carrier start-up launched by what was then Consolidated Freightways Inc.
A commemorative ceremony was held at the Iowa 80 Trucking Museum to mark the donation of this completely restored piece of trucking history. The daycab COE features a Cummins Fleet 270 NH Series engines with 855 cubic inch displacement, producing 270 horsepower at 1,600 rpm, with a Spicer 1372-A 7-speed transmission.
The audience heard remarks from Dave Miller, former president of Con-way Central Express, as well as Dick Heyob, the original driver of the truck, affectionately referred to as "Ole Number One."
Miller remembers riding with Heyob in this truck, and especially noted that it was air-conditioned -- many of the daycabs at the time were not.
Heyob also remembered the air conditioning fondly, as well as the height of the cab which allowed plenty of room for his tall frame.
The truck had an idiosyncrasy, however, that "scared the snot out of me" the first time it happened, he recalled. During a severe rainstorm when the truck encountered water on the road, it would throw a huge sheet up water up over the cab. "The second or third time, I had a trainee with me, and we hit this humongous rainstorm. It was like someone had a fire hose coming at us. This guy was screaming. He thought we had run off the road into a lake!"
Miller and Heyob also talked about the different concept of CCX, which was founded shortly after deregulation in 1980. (Heyob also shared a couple of trucker nicknames for the company, including Concrete Cowboy Express and Corn Chip Express.)
Miller noted that the company promised "uncompromising service," at a time when the typical industry attitude was that of compromise. "At Con-way, on time was just an everyday occurrence," he said.
Heyob remembered the first time it really hit him that this was a different kind of company was when he delivered to a customer, looked at the bill of lading, saw it was ordered only the day before in Chicago, and here it was in Cincinnati overnight. We take that for granted nowadays, but back then it was unusual.
"We will display this truck with pride," says Dave Meier, museum curator. The truck will remain on display in the main exhibit hall of the Iowa 80 Trucking Museum.
Consolidated Freight, based in Washington State, at one time was the third biggest trucking company in the country. In the 1930s they started their own truck manufacturing operation, Freightliner, now part of Daimler.
In 1989, Consolidated Freightways purchased Emery Worldwide. In the late 1990s, the non-union, less-than-truckload part of the firm was split off to form CNF (later renamed Con-way), while the unionized truckload portion continued as Consolidated Freightways. CF filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Monday, September 2, 2002 (Labor Day) and ceased operations.