Peterbilt takes pride in producing versatile and productive conventional cab trucks. Surprisingly, one of the company’s most successful models, the Peterbilt 320, is actually designed specifically for waste management services. Despite this, the unit doesn’t fall short on numerous exciting features, and in this blog, we’ll go through the fascinating history of the Peterbilt 320 to understand its popularity among truck drivers.

History of the Peterbilt 320

The full development of the Peterbilt 320 can be traced back to four models: the CB300, 310, 320, and 520. Let’s go through these models one by one to understand how the 320 has evolved over time. 

1970 – Peterbilt CB300

Since its inception, Mack Trucks have been dominating the semi truck segment for waste management. In an unprecedented move, two major trucking companies in the USA, Kenworth and Peterbilt, decided to join forces to create a groundbreaking truck for refuse transport. This partnership paved the way for the CB300, a low cab COE.


Old Peterbilt CB300. (Source)

The model was manufactured in Peterbilt Canada, which was located in Sainte-Thérèse, Quebec. While the partnership between the two companies flourished, production of the CB300 was discontinued due to changing market demands. In 1978, the two companies ceased the manufacturing of their joint product, which was replaced by the Peterbilt Model 310.

1978 – Peterbilt 310

In 1978, Peterbilt introduced the 310, a new generation of the low cab COE model line, which was also explicitly manufactured for waste management. Despite having impressive features, both the CB300 and Peterbilt 310 fell short in terms of sales, mainly because of Mack Truck’s hold on the market. Even so, the two models paved the way for the development of the most popular waste management semi truck, the Peterbilt 320.


The Peterbilt 310. (Source)

Ten years later, the 310 was discontinued and redesigned as the 320. Unlike its predecessor, the model had overwhelming market demand, which changed the landscape of waste management in conventional cab trucks.

1987 – Peterbilt 320

In 1987, Peterbilt released its most popular refuse collection truck, the Class 8 conventional cab 320. When the model hit the market, numerous businesses and organizations started veering away from the trusty Mack Truck units. Due to the unique design of the Model 320, people eventually configured their units to be used for construction, tanker, and fire service applications. Thus, cementing its legacy inside and outside the waste management industry.


The popular refuse transportation semi truck, Peterbilt 320. (Source: Ritchie List)

Because of the model’s popularity, Peterbilt released redesigned versions of the 320, which sported an upgraded ProBilt interior. The update sought to provide better comfort and safety among truck operators, which is especially important considering the truck’s applications. However, despite its popularity and due to the developing market requirements, the model was ultimately discontinued in 2017 and was replaced by the 520.

2017 – Peterbilt 520

The Peterbilt 520 is now the most updated semi truck offering of the company for waste hauling. Released in 2017, the unit was offered with left-hand steer, right-hand steer, right-hand stand-up, and dual steer variants. It also had dual parking brake controls, which improved the overall convenience of the model. 


The Peterbilt 520. (Source: Lockhart Automotive)

The unit is also available in numerous diesel engines, such as the PACCAR MX-11, Cummins ISX12, PACCAR PX-9, and other compressed natural gas engine options, increasing profitability among business owners. Most importantly, the 520 came with an excellent HVAC system and an electric truck variant to ensure the comfort of drivers.

Features of the Peterbilt 320

According to Robert Woodall, Peterbilt’s Assistant General Manager for Sales and Marketing, the Model 320 has been a proven performer in many harsh operating environments for many years. Since 2000, the company has seen large market share gains for the 320. To understand its popularity both inside and outside the waste management market, let’s take a look at its features.


The 320 was made available in numerous engines, including the Cummins ISX12, Cummins Westport ISL G, Cummins Westport ISX12 G, PACCAR PX-9, and PACCAR MX-11. Aside from this, they were also mated with Fuller Manual and Allison automatic transmissions, combined with Bridgestone, Goodyear, and Michelin tires.

These options paved the way for the eventual expansion of the Model 320’s market. While it was specifically designed for refuse transportation, companies in the construction and hauling industries eventually realized the unit’s full potential.


The Peterbilt 320 sported a lowered dog house to provide better driving visibility. It also came with removable panels, further increasing the model’s flexibility. Inside the cabin, there are numerous side storage and concealed compartments that even come with coolers, making it a perfect option for all-day hauling.


The interior of the Peterbilt 320. (Source: Prince Motors)

As if these features were not enough, the cabin even came with LED and ambient lighting, making night driving safer and more comfortable for drivers.


The 320 came with a low cab forward design, specifically created to withstand harsh driving conditions and heavy-duty applications. The zinc-coated steel sub-frame supports an aluminum cab with lap seam construction for durability and corrosion protection, while the bulkhead style doors essentially turn the cabin waterproof. If you combine all these exterior features, it’s safe to say that the 320 has one of the most impressive longevity records among all Peterbilt trucks.

Final Thoughts

The Peterbilt 320 has a rich and fascinating history that spans several decades. From its early beginnings to its current status as a reliable and innovative vehicle, this truck has truly stood the test of time. 

If you own a semi truck, specifically a Kenworth semi truck, and are in need of high-quality parts, be sure to check out our selection here. We offer a wide range of premium aftermarket parts at competitive prices, and our staff is always ready to help you find the right semi truck parts to meet your specific needs.

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