High on the Hog

November 1, 2010


International’s Harley-Davidson edition LoneStar blends two-wheeler styling with comfortable, high-efficiency tractor

International’s LoneStar demands lots of attention with its bold shape and unusual retro grille, but the Harley-Davidson Special Edition is likely to get even more.

“Producing the Harley-Davidson Special Edition was the job of a lifetime,” says Special Edition Program Manager Brad Holloway. The Harley co-designers “had a very high sense of detail, yet did not want you to be overwhelmed with a truck that screamed Harley-Davidson at you.” That subtlety is evident, for example, in the decision to put 13 seams in the cushion in the sleeper, intended to reflect the 13 letters in International.

Many features were patterned after custom trucks, Holloway says, including the hooded gauge bezels on the dashboard. He describes such touches as “hot rod stuff in a production vehicle.” In spite of the focus on appearance, the design also had to meet stringent International ergonomic standards. Thus the handsome, hollow chrome shift lever is bent to a critical angle for easier shifting.

Mark Wolford, program manager for the LoneStar, says the truck was conceived with three design goals: “Be original, design the truck so you would own the road, and create a truck that would make you money.”
This meant producing a truck that was designed like no other and did not look like any other. It meant it had to ride and handle extraordinarily well, a design task that requires not only exotic features like air suspension on all three axles but ideal compromises between ride smoothness and stability in corners. It meant that its aerodynamics had to contribute to top fuel economy.

At its introduction, says Wolford, the drag coefficient was every bit as good as its best competitor’s and only a few percent less efficient than International’s highly aerodynamic ProStar. He says aero drag is 10 to 15 percent  lower than competitive trucks with a traditional look.

LoneStar Harley-Davidson owner Chris Hawker hauls sand in a Trail King bulk trailer supporting gas-drilling efforts in Pennsylvania. The tractor has a power take-off on it that drives a pump to load and unload the trailer. Hawker drives mostly on back roads that are often unpaved and steep. “Still, the truck is holding up really well,” he says. It’s  powered by a 525-hp  Cummins ISX with a 13-speed transmission and 3.58:1 rears.

“At truck stops, everybody looks at the truck as they walk by in the parking lot. They say, ‘That is one bad truck!’ ” He loves the room in the cab, the design of the cabinets in the sleeper, and the “great ride and low noise level.” The truck is “very quiet, even with the engine brake engaged,” he says, the result of design features like extra noise insulation and even rubber mounts for the cabinets in the sleeper.

Hawker also enjoys the full gauge trim package, leather-wrapped wood wheel, leather-covered shift knob with his name and the serial number on top, and the leather seats and sofa bed.