Nine lives

As someone with no dog in this fight except for journalistic endeavor, what fascinates me the most about the big Caterpillar-Navistar deal, word of which broke this morning, is that among other weightier things, it means the death of one Cat come 2010-- the heavy-duty on-highway Caterpillar truck engine in North America-- and the birth of another-- the Caterpillar severe-service truck.

That's right! A Cat truck--how cool is that? Well, pretty cool to yours truly anyhow, who entered this business shortly after the Brockway Husky was put to sleep and shortly before the fabled, hand-built Marmon of Garland, TX, fame went to the great truckstop in the sky. And I am sure among my elders still scribbling about trucks there are a few who can rattle off many more names of other dearly departed truck marques.

Yes, it is good to hear that another truck nameplate will be soon be around for us to track in FleetOwner's annual July New Models issue. .. coming soon to mailboxes everywhere and here online!

I will pause here to salute Cat for all it has done for American truckers as a purveyor of on-highway truck engines.

It has indeed been a good long run for the truck engine guys in Peoria and they have every reason to be proud of their accomplishments as they helped move the state of the art in diesel trucking forward.

I'll close by recalling one of the first big events I covered as a trucking journalist-- the trend-settting "Cat Economy Challenge" of 1981.

That nationwide MPG competition lasted for months and engaged both fleets and owner-operators in a huge contest for prizes and bragging rights. I'm sure it helped sell tons of truck engines.

Click below to enjoy a tribute to one of Cat's legendary driver-trainers-- Phil Hook- whom I first met at the Challenge:

But the Challenge also helped sell an entire industry on how much fuel, and thus money, can be saved just by learning how to drive a truck in a manner that made finely engineered engines perform to their maximum ability.


So here's to you, Cat: a tip of my very oldest, circa 1981 "gimme cap," which kinda looks like this one.