Peterbilt doesn’t fall short when it comes to highly versatile cab over engine (COE) models such as the Peterbilt 352. However, what most people don’t know is that the model underwent numerous changes before arriving at the one you’ve come to love today. In this blog, we’ll discuss when the Peterbilt 352 came out and other information about the model’s history.

When Did the Peterbilt 352 Come Out? 

The Peterbilt 352 was released as a replacement for the Peterbilt 351 in 1959. The new Class 8 COE model sported a similar exterior to its predecessor except for a more spacious cabin, tilting cab, and upgraded quad lamps. Because of its modifications, the model received a strong following among truck drivers, citing that the unit updates gave them better access to the engine. Thus, making maintenance and repair work a lot easier and faster.


The 1980 Peterbilt 352. (Source: Overdrive Online)

Aside from this, the Model 352 became one of Peterbilt’s flagship products during its innovation phase in the 1960s. The model jumpstarted the company’s lightweight aluminum and 90° UniLite cab. It was also released in a Pacemaker version with double bunk sleepers and wider bases.

What Is the History of the Peterbilt 352?

The overall history of the Peterbilt 352 can be traced to three models: the Peterbilt 350, 351, and 352H. To understand how the company came up with the final version of the unit, let’s look at these models individually.

Peterbilt 350

The Model 350 was released in 1949, replacing the Model 334. It was considered a part of Peterbilt’s second-generation units. Before the release, Peterbilt was manufacturing semi trucks on a made-to-order basis. The 350 holds the distinction of being the first Class 8 model to be mass-produced by the company.


The 1950 Peterbilt 350. (Source: IOWA 80)

On its exterior, the 350 was made popular by its “Iron Nose” design. It had a tall and sleek grille that came with vertical shutters and cycle-style fenders, which are still used by Peterbilt COEs to date. While numerous truck drivers found it convenient, the company released a new “bubble-nose” design that had the cab above the front axle, producing a shorter hood compared to the “Iron Nose” design.

Despite receiving adequate support during its time, the 350 was ultimately upgraded to the 351 in 1954. 

Peterbilt 351

Released in post-war 1954, the Peterbilt 351 is considered to have the longest production history in the company. In fact, it was the first unit to be released with the current Peterbilt Red Oval logo. It was also considered the company’s flagship model in 1958 when Pacific Car & Foundry (PACCAR) took over Peterbilt. This started the Peterbilt and PACCAR models, which are still being manufactured today.


The 1959 Peterbilt 351. (Source: Overdrive Online)

Like the Peterbilt 350, the 351 had a notable exterior. It was dubbed as a “narrow nose conventional” with redesigned horizontal grille shutters. While this style was well-received by the market, the company also released a COE version that had a bigger and wider cab design to offer a more comfortable driving experience and better serviceability. Aside from this, Peterbilt also released Model 341 after the design of the 351, which was manufactured for more heavy-duty vocational tasks.

In 1959, the Peterbilt 351 was replaced by the Peterbilt 352 and 358. While the former remained in production until 1965, it was dethroned as the company’s flagship unit.

Peterbilt 352H

Like any company, Peterbilt went through numerous expansions. In 1975, a bulk of their manufacturing process was moved to Peterbilt Canada in Sainte-Therese, Quebec, Greater Montreal. This production facility focused on developing heavy-duty semi-trucks for off-road usage and more demanding vocational uses. 

The factory’s first innovation was to modernize the 352’s original design. The development produced 352 high-mounted cabs or the 35H units. These iterations could accommodate large, modified engines compared to the original design of the 352.


The Peterbilt 352H. (Source: Fotki)

While the 352H gained a significant following among business owners, it was ultimately replaced by the Model 362 in 1981. The new unit was considered the first completely new COE from Peterbilt, as its predecessors were mere upgrades from their older models.

When Did Peterbilt Stop Building the 352?

The Model 352H, the final iteration of the Model 352, was no longer manufactured by Peterbilt in 1981. It was then replaced by the Model 362 COE, which was produced at Peterbilt’s Madison facility in Denton, Texas.

As mentioned earlier, the Model 362 was the first all-new COE produced by Peterbilt. It was manufactured with a more spacious and aerodynamic cab for better ergonomics and functionality in the interior. It also came with several axle configurations, such as set-back front, twin-steer, and all-wheel drive axles.

What Are the Specifications of the Peterbilt 352?

The Peterbilt 352 became the longest-running unit in production due to its notable engine, interior, and exterior. To understand why the model became the flagship unit of Peterbilt for decades, let’s look at its features.


The Cummins NHC-250 was the 352’s standard engine in 1970. In 1973, it was modified into the NTC-350. Aside from these variants, numerous engine configurations were also brought to the market. This included the use of the following engines: 

  • Caterpillar 3406 and 1693;
  • Cummins NTC 290, NTC350, VT903, and NTA 400; and
  • Detroit 8v71N, 8v71T, 6v92T, 8v92N, 8v92T, and 12v71N. 

The 6v92 and 8v71 Detroit units of the 352 were considered the rarest, as they were only made available on 54” BBC short-day cab units. The 63” 8v71 and VT903 engines also came with dual exhausts. On the other hand, the 8v71 in the 86″ cab had a single exhaust — the same goes with the 63” Cummins or Caterpillar units. Due to updated noise regulations in 1976, the 8v71 units were required to have dual exhaust.

Aside from numerous engine and exhaust options, the Peterbilt 352 also came with numerous displacement, horsepower, and torque outputs. This made it one of the most versatile units on the market at the time.  


The interior of the Peterbilt 352H. (Source: Pinterest)


The Peterbilt 352 underwent numerous configurations to provide better riding comfort for drivers. The Pacemaker unit had a wider cab, which created a spacious cabin. It sported an ergonomic driver’s seat with easy access to driving gauges and controls. 

Aside from this, the sleeper cabs also had double bunk beds with various amenities. Most importantly, it had an exceptional HVAC unit that created an optimal driving temperature in the cabin. 


The lightweight aluminum used on the Peterbilt 352 gave the unit excellent corrosion resistance. For this reason, it became a popular hauling semi truck throughout the snowbelt states, including the Upper Midwest and Canada.

The popularity of the model’s durability didn’t end when it was discontinued. In 2019, Halvor Lines celebrated their 50th anniversary by unveiling their rescued and restored 1974 Peterbilt 352 with accompanying trailers for hauling freight on flatbeds, dry vans, and reefers.

Maximize the High-Performing Capacity of Peterbilt 352

The 352 has been regarded as Peterbilt’s longest-running production unit throughout its history. Its legacy for the overall American trucking community is unquestionable. So, if you’re lucky enough to get a unit of your own today, it’s best to maximize and maintain its high-performing capacity with premium aftermarket semi truck parts

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