FOR the diehards who went to the Melbourne Truck and Trailer Show and still thirsted for more, The American Truck Historical Society staged its third annual historical truck show at Lancefield, Victoria, on Sunday, March 18.
For interstate visitors, Lancefield is most convenient as it's only half an hour from the airport.
Indeed, the editor of one of New Zealand's truck publications deviated past the show before swimming back across The Ditch and was impressed by the variety of wares on display. Owners were more than willing to talk about their trucks and a life in trucking. They don't regard the vehicles as trucks - rather as loved family members. Visitors were treated to Mack, Kenworth, Peterbilt, International Harvester, Leader - the list goes on.
Syd Green owns a rusted-out old Monkey-Faced Blitz that he acquired in 1963 for a hundred quid. In 1973, he replaced her Ford V8 power with a heart/lung transplant in the form of a Bedford motor, radiator and gearbox and she hasn't skipped a beat since. He put a crane on her and spraypainted the mudguards grey, with red bodywork and silver crane. "She looked beautiful then," said Syd.
Over the years, the paint has gone and the springs poke through the seat covers (Syd's term is 'luxury interior'.) The old girl still works today in a timber yard. This truck embodies the spirit of Australian trucking and the men and women involved in the industry.
Geoff Brown bought his '75 White two years ago. At that time it was still pulling logs out of the bush at Grafton. "I'm putting it together, then I'll pull it apart and paint it. No sense in scratching it, while I'm finding bits. Got the sleeper from Grey's On-line for $100!"
Geoff's mate Tim Tyler has a '78 K124. With a 400 Cummins, 15 overdrive and 44,000 Rockwells, he said "She rides as rough as...".
Named 'Miss Ollie' after his wife, Tim announced he'd bought the rig just the day before. "Had to keep her happy, although I think she'd have preferred flowers."
Two weeks ago, Sean Denny picked up a '77 cab over, 692 Kenworth for just $5000, to go with his Inter, also bought for $5k. "It doesn't have to be an expensive exercise", said Sean. "You just do them up as you can. They even threw in the CD and UHF."
Robbie Green is out to four Peterbilts, with a '66 cab over the latest addition. "I won't be keeping it, though," said Rob. "Came across a young fella whose dad drove one exactly the same. His dad's burnt out in a prang, so I'll move this on to him. I know he'll do a great job in restoring it."
Visitors to this show walked away with a vastly improved knowledge of trucks and trucking history and increased respect for the folk who drove them around Australian roads in years gone by.
A trucking journalist once described an historical truck show he'd seen as: 'Trucks that looked as though they'd come from Elmer Fudd's backyard.'
I've gotta say there's no place I'd rather be.
Living history - it's not just all about the boot polish!