Mafia Secrets
Lots of thought and work delivered a real ‘Ace in the Hole’

By Bryan 'Boss Man' Martin, contributing writer

This striking Kenworth is owned by Kyle “KC” Cousins, with Fleenor Brothers Enterprises out of Carthage, Mo., and, wow, does this truck make a statement or what?

After more than a year in the shop, this W900L made its debut in 2016 and won awards at many truck shows throughout the summer, plus Best of Show – Bobtail at the Guilty By Association event held at Chrome Shop Mafia in September.

The OOIDA member has always been a fan of Kenworths, especially when they sport the old Movin’ On/Apache paint job.

After seeing this truck being offered for sale, he acquired the truck back in 2012 from MHC Kenworth. At first, his intention was to quickly run it through the shop and simply do some minor upgrades on the interior. But the truck got parked on the sidelines as they became covered up with other time-sensitive shop work.

The dispatchers began to have a running joke about it. “Well, if we have a truck go down, we’ve always got the black W900L as an ‘ace in the hole’ if we need to put it to work.” The joke tracked since Kyle is a big George Strait fan, and “Ace in the Hole” is among his favorite Strait tunes. So the truck gained its permanent name.

Since the truck had good specs like a 525 horsepower Cummins ISX engine, an 18-speed transmission, and relatively low miles (plus he had always wanted a big long stretched-out show truck), KC decided to go ahead and amp up his plans for the transformation in a big way.

First things first, the frame was lengthened from a respectable 290-inch wheelbase to a whopping 308 inches. Next the entire truck, including the chassis, was refinished and repainted. MHC Kenworth of Joplin sprayed the black paint and the clearcoat after the CSM paint crew did the custom marbleized red stripe. The 4 State Trucks-CSM fab shop did full frame rail sleeves, and a full-length custom deck plate to hide the frame bolts and dang near provide room enough for a dance floor ahead of the fifth wheel.

Many cool accessories were added as you can see. Things like the retro crooked KW emblem on the front of the hood; slammed sun visor; the 7-inch bull hauler stacks; American Eagle front bumper (which looks great on any W900L); dual T-bar rear bumpers; the fiberglass double-hump rear fenders; painted fuel tanks; the intimidating number of roof lights. All of that – along with the cab and sleeper light package – bring the whole truck together to look like a hot rod rig with plenty of class and a ton of wow factor with a cocky, but cool, attitude.

Fleenor Brothers was purchased in 1986 by Kyle’s parents, Darcy and Janice. They have expanded the fleet, which primarily hauls explosives and hazmat classified material, from one tractor-trailer to nearly 50 trucks and a wide variety of types of trailers today.

Kyle sends out a special thanks to wife Sara and son Kolton for the weekends spent at truck shows and for the many, many nights he wasn’t home for dinner. He also has a lot of gratitude for his mom and dad for everything, as well as MHC Kenworth, Maple Leaf Truck Service and the 4 State Trucks shop crew. Lastly, he sends a big ol’ “thank you, boys” to Larry Lawhead and Jason Mickey (MHC) for keeping it real, and all the brainstorming, idea forming and dreaming they helped with during the build.

When I write these stories, I generally ask the truck owners what advice they might give a fella who is just starting out in trucking? Kyle’s suggestion: “Don’t jump in too fast and follow stories that seem too good to be true, as they nearly always lead to fool’s gold. Spend some time talking with guys who have been in the industry for decades, and you will usually learn more in four hours than in four years of trying it your way, on your own.”

Sounds like great advice to me, for any of us, regardless of your industry. LL