Built to Order: Western Star offers do-it-yourself custom job

HENDERSON, Colo. — With a bit of help from an expert truck customiser, Western Star is developing a show truck that you’ll be able to park in your driveway.

The folks at Outlaw Custom in Henderson, Colo. got a call recently about doing a customizing job on a big truck. The caller wasn’t asking about reworking an older truck, though, this call was about an upgrade. The caller was Western Star. The factory, that is — in Portland. Western Star wants Outlaw Custom to “add a few touches” to a fresh-off-the-production-line 2008-model 4900 EX. And they want it ready for the Mid-America Trucking Show at the end of March.

A tall order?

“An interesting order,” quips Alex Gobel, manager of product design and product development at Outlaw Customs. “We’re really pumped about this project. We’ve never done a Western Star before and we see this as a heck of an opportunity.”

A few touches would be a bit of an understatement, obviously. Outlaw Customs and Western Star will be going all out to make this truck spectacular. When it’s finished, the truck will be a template of sorts for a line of accessories that will be available to Western Star customers at the dealer level.

The trim and accessories the team comes up with will be sold as themed packages, with several variations of each available.

“Everything we’re building for this project, whether it’s a visor or a deck plate or fenders, everything will have a two or three option series,” says Gobel. “Light bars with different cut-outs in them, for example, so different customers can have their own styles — something other than what the other aftermarket providers are offering.”

T.J. Reed, product manager for Western Star Trucks, says the trim packages will fit easily onto any stock truck on any dealer lot in the country, requiring no major modifications.

“It will be very customer friendly,” Reed says. “No need for frame drilling. We’ll use existing bolt holes, and as many of the existing mounting points as we can so customers can go anywhere, buy the parts, and install them on their own.”

Road Legal:

Gobel says everything on the truck is going to be DOT legal. There will be lots of new stainless stuff, new lighting, and all of it will be able to run up and down the road.

“There’ll be no warranty issues either. Everything we do is going [to] meet OE specs and qualifications,” he says. “Even the exhaust system will be DPF compliant.”

Because of the constraints imposed by the predetermined placement of the DPF and the back pressure requirements in the exhaust system, there are limits on what can be done to the exhaust system. Straight pipes are out, for example, but Outlaw Custom has designed a set of 5-in. stacks with 8-in. heat shields. “It’ll look like an 8-in. stack, but the 5-in. pipe will keep it in compliance with the DPF requirements,” Gobel promises.

“The existing exhaust system passes between the cab and the frame. We were thinking of dropping the DPF so the piping would pass under the frame, but in order to do that, we’d have to change a bunch of other stuff. That would have posed problems for the customer, so we’re not doing that.”

Key to all this is customer accommodation. Reed stresses that a customer could install everything on the truck in a driveway on a Saturday afternoon.

So what’s it going to look like? You’ll have to wait ’till the Mid-America Trucking Show in March for the final unveiling. We’ll have an update on the design and construction of Western Star’s show truck in the March issue.

Stay tuned.

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