CC Outtake: Peterbilt 281 – Can It Tow?

Worried about your delicate CUV’s ability to tow a little sixteen foot one-axle trailer? Time to step up and get a rig that will safely haul that thing, or a truckload of them. Like this classic Peterbilt 281, the very embodiment of the “West Coast” truck during its long reign starting in 1954.

When I first saw one in Baltimore as a kid, my jaw dropped. I had no idea these existed, since they almost never found their way east of the Rockies. On my first hitchhike out west, they were everywhere; reminders of an era when trucks were built regionally. Imagine that? Most often, they had a big Cummins diesel six under the hood, and a big plume of black exhaust trailing from the stack as it worked a giant load of old-growth redwood logs up a grade. I ran into this one at a campground two weeks ago, hooked up to a dinky little trailer. That left me with mixed feelings.