A fitting retirement for 'Ole Number One'

“Ole Number One,” a 1983 Ford CL 9000 cabover tractor operated by LTL carrier Con-way Freight will have a permanent home in the Iowa 80 Trucking Museum. Con-way donated the classic vehicle, which was the company’s first tractor to go into service with the Con-way name in the Midwest. It officially retired from service in 1992 with over 500,000 mi. on it.

group-photo.JPGThe vehicle, which bore the name Con-way Central Express (CCX), was fully restored in 1992 and on display at the company’s Ann Arbor headquarters until those offices moved in 2009. One of its original drivers, Dick Heyob, attended the formal gifting ceremony. Heyob still drives for Con-way Freight today.

The Con-way regional carriers were startups, with Con-way Central Express opening for business in June 1983. Ole Number One was the first in the original fleet of 50 trucks and 150 trailers that began service in the company’s initial network of 11 service centers in nine Midwestern states.

(In the photo: Gary Frantz, of Con-way, Dick Heyob, Con-way driver & original driver of the truck; Dave Miller, former President of Con-way Central and Dave Meier, Iowa 80 Trucking Museum curator, pose with Ole Number One.)

“Back in 1983, on the heels of deregulation of the trucking industry, no one knew how this idea to launch a new trucking company — one that would focus exclusively on next-day freight service — would turn out,” said David L. Miller, who started with Con-way Central Express as an operations supervisor in Cincinnati in 1983, rising through the ranks to become president of the former CCX and COO of Con-way Freight before retiring last year. “We’ve learned that it has become one of those rare success stories in trucking — a startup that stayed true to its roots and grew into an industry leader.”

“We will display this truck with pride,” said Dave Meier, museum curator. “We are truly honored that Con-way Freight chose to donate its truck to the Iowa 80 Trucking Museum. It speaks volumes to their commitment to preserving trucking history.”

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“During our search we discovered that no other place in the United States was doing the remarkable work of the Iowa 80 Trucking Museum to keep so many great reminders of our industry’s past alive,” Miller said. “We are very proud to add Ole Number One to their collection.”

And now the history that that Ford CL 9000 helped write will forever be preserved for trucking enthusiasts to enjoy for many years to come.

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