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A Transforming Fleet

As Andrew Van Winkel, manager/supervisor of A+ Towing of Eugene, Oregon, was working on the expansion phase of adding heavy duty wreckers to the company’s fleet several years ago, he suggested naming their new units after characters from the Transformers which is an ongoing sci-fi action series of movies that took off post 2000’s, built on the Hasbro Transformers franchise of the 1980s.

“We did all kinds of planning,” Van Winkel said, “And as we were discussing things we could do, I said, ‘Why don’t we do something with Transformers.” So then we looked up all the different characters from the Transformers and that is what we landed on.” Currently they have two units named after the main protagonist and antagonist characters from the series, Optimus Prime and Megatron. One of those units is a heavy-duty blue and red flamed themed unit called Optimus Nine (Optimus prime takes the form of a large red and blue truck when not in his android form). It’s a 2015 Western Star 4900sb Century 9055 with SP-850 XP side puller (50 ton).

“We acquired it from Jamie Davis from the show Highway Thru Hell. That used to be his truck,” he said. “We’ve had it for 3 years now.”

Van Winkel, who said the company buys a lot of its trucks from ZIPS, said that “Trent Russler called us and let us know that he had it.”

The unit is wrapped in customized, classic flames in two color tones, red and blue. Van Winkel said, “If we go to sell it, we want to be able to take off the wrap. They will get replaced due to emission compliance standards.” The first set of flames extends from the front end of the unit, towards the center of the hood, where the blue flames flicker across a red background. Then along the cab, red flames dance on a blue background. Finally, at the back end of the unit, red flames fold into blue. A key highlight of the graphics include the enlarged company name, “A+ Towing”, along the Western Star’s side doors, and the wrecker body, where the A+ name is done in mega sized letters.

“We are actually two companies, owned by Kelly Reed,” said Van Winkel. “A+ and Webfoot.”

Adding to the Transformer imagery, on each of the trucks is found the symbol of the Decepticons (who follow the evil Megatron in his quest to wage war across the galaxy) and the symbol of the Autobots (Optimus Prime’s race of robots hiding on earth from Megatron). These two symbols are easily recognized by anyone who has even heard of the series. Van Winkel noted that “Optimus 9 is a fully, functional recovery truck. It has every bell and whistle that you can think of to do recoveries other than being a rotator.”

Now Five Heavies strong, next up for this transforming company is a 25 ton heavy on order from ZIPS that is built just like Optimus 9.

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