Wild styling is the most compelling feature of International Truck's new LoneStar heavy tractor, but the retrogressive V-shaped grille and smooth hood and fenders are also highly aerodynamic and will save owners 5 to 15 percent in fuel compared to traditional square-nosed trucks, the builder claimed during unveiling of the vehicle at the Chicago Auto Show in late February.
"This truck is unlike anything on the road today," says Daniel C. Ustian, chairman of Navistar International, parent of the truck builder. Its swept-back nose was inspired by streamlining on International D series trucks of the late 1930s, he explained, and the chrome-laden Class 8 tractor will grab attention for its owner, who is likely to also be its driver. Oval-shaped air cleaners and side skirting aid "management" of air to reduce drag, but add to the classic look.
LoneStar is based on the ProStar aero highway tractor introduced last year, so has exceptional comfort and quietness for drivers along with easy maintenance and high maneuverability.
A wheel cut of 50 degrees allows tight turns in confined quarters. This is possible because, although the steer axle appears to be set forward (a design that appeals to buyers who like classic trucks), it's actually set back somewhat from the leading edge of the bumper and frame, making room for the wheels to sharply cut left or right.
Executives emphasized that LoneStar is primarily a highway tractor, and most will probably be sold with sleeper boxes with unique interiors, including a wood floor and a couch that folds down into a bed. But the new model will also be offered as a daycab, which opens its potential as a vocational truck. Its 11-inch-high frame rails are stout enough to tote a dump box, and that's what's in several computer images created by designers at International's technical center in Fort Wayne, Ind., said an engineer involved in its planning.
The tractor displayed at the auto show had an International-designed air-ride front suspension, but the standard suspension will have parabolic leafs, either single or multi, which would work in dump-truck and other vocational service. Stronger front suspension and axle components up to 16,000 pounds in capacity could be easily added to the chassis without much affecting its tight wheel cut. And up to 22,000-pound front ends could be engineered in, though the wide wheels and tires used with them would have lesser cutting ability.
A dump trucker would probably want a vocational-type rear tandem suspension, whether mechanical or air, and the stout frame could accommodate this without much change. Such suspensions are commonly of 46,000-pound capacity. Western transfer dumps sometimes use tandems with less capacity, along with other highway type components, because their loads are split between truck and trailer. Many owner-driven dumpers tend to be stylish, and the LoneStar would indeed be an eye-catching rig.
LoneStars will be available with Caterpillar C15 and Cummins ISX engines and a variety of drive-train components. International dealers are now taking orders for LoneStars, and production at the company's Chatham, Ont., plant will begin in August.