After developing my Peterbilt Fire Truck, the idea of bringing a heavy American tow truck as a kit was a project that I really liked. Looking for a cracker tow truck, we found a picture of this wrecker, or tow truck as they call it over there, in a 1991 Trucker Magazine calendar. Owner was Stepp’s Towing Service in Tampa, Florida.
We agreed it was the idea of the year and had to be realised. At that time, Revell already had a Peterbilt 359 semitrailer tractor in its range and the 379 Pete von Stepps was technically not that far removed from it. It was just small details that made the difference. So I contacted the towing company in Tampa and asked if management, then Todd Stepp, would be okay with us making a 1/25th scale model kit of their four-axle tow truck. Miller-Industries in Oolthewah, TN would not provide Revell with drawings to develop the model.
In April 1991, after Todd Stepp was enthusiastic about our project, I left for Tampa in the USA. It was also my first flight to America and I was super excited and delighted. I had everything with me, camera, lots of film, pencils, paper, tape measure and folding rule. I was in the USA for eight days and needed 5 days to photograph and measure the entire tow truck. I took hundreds of photos and made as many drawings and sketches. Since I still had two days left, I drove to Emergency One in Ocala and also visited Disney World in Orlando. Then it was back to Germany, to the Revell office. I then made all the drawings that the toolmaker needed to build the molds on the drawing board. At the same time, I also built a first model of the Peterbilt Wrecker for the 1992 Toy Fair in Nuremberg. It was a hand sample or prototype and showed what the upcoming kit model will look like, photo above. In August 1992 the first molded parts came out of the machine and I started testing them, i.e. I built a first model to check if everything fits.
Of course there were some corrections to be made, because no kit fits 100 percent immediately. In October 1992 the kit, that is everything to do with the plastic parts, was ready. There are over 400 components in the huge box. Anyone who has ever built this model knows what I’m talking about. What followed was the production of the decals and assembly instructions. By the end of 1996, the Peterbilt Wrecker had been produced and sold more than 40,000 times and has been reissued on and off for years to come.
More original photos from the Peterbilt wrecker in the archive
- First row, Figure 1, Peterbilt 379 with bodywork by Miller-Industries of Oolthewah, Tennessee
- First row, picture 2, the body is of the Challenger 8808 type
- First row, Figure 3, production of all drawings for tooling and prototype production
- First row, Figure 4, parts layout, this is used to determine the number of new components, chassis and body
- Second row, Figure 1, parts layout, crane assembly
- Second row, image 2, construction of the model for the 1992 toy fair in Nuremberg