An old-school rig runs strong

October 25, 2010  | by: Lucinda Coulter

Mike Long hauls high-tech machinery coast-to-coast in his 1979 IH Transtar 4070B. The 32-year-old cabover has no air conditioning, no power steering and no air-ride seats for the coast-to-coast flatbed trailer Long pulls. “I’m hardcore old days,” says the 40-year-old owner-operator, who is leased to Landstar Ranger. He says he’s proud of his rig: He and its two previous owners have put 3.5 million miles on it.

“It’s in good shape,” he says of the antique. “I get a lot of comments on it.” 

Long, who still lives near his childhood home in Marion, Ind., says his life, and that of his family’s, has trucking at its core. At age 5, he said he started riding with his father on regional beer hauls to Milwaukee, Wis., and back to Marion in a 1969 R Model Mack that had no sleeper.

“I thought it was the neatest thing on earth. I went with my dad in the summers. Since it had no sleeper, we carried a piece of plywood and put it between the seats to make a bed,” Long recalls.

In about 1983, Long’s father started letting him practice on a 1980 R Model Mack on regional hauls through Ohio and Michigan.

“I helped drive when I was 14 or 15. Late at night when nobody was around, my dad let me back it in the docks when we got to pick up and delivery. Everything really went pretty smooth. We lived on a country road, and I practiced in the driveway. I took a couple of months,” he says.

Long bought the Transtar soon after his 1977 Mack blew its engine in 2005. He needed a quick replacement and started fixing it up.

“I just prefer to have the old stuff,” Long says. “I like the style, the way things were back in the 1970s.”

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