THE muscular Mercedes-Benz Zetros has been put to work on South Australian farmland as a go-anywhere spreader.
Crossling Contractors, a family business based in Naracoorte in South Australia, has become the first operation in Australia to use the unique 4x4 bonneted rig to spread fertiliser, gypsum, lime and other soil improvers.
Other Zetros trucks sold in Australia have been used as mining trucks, fire trucks and as a maintenance vehicles for remote, and hard to get to, electricity lines.
Crossling Contractors, which now employs seven full-time staff and more at peak times, was established by Colin Crossling 40 years ago.
He still works for the business, but his sons John and Damien now run the show.
The team bought the new Zetros recently, encouraged by a very positive experience with a cab-over Axor, which shares some common parts with the Zetros.
"The Axor was the first four-wheel drive spreader we had. We had that for seven years, I drove it for the first five,” John Crossling said.
"Spreading is tough on the trucks given they are exposed to fertilisers, so they have a tough time. It was a good truck and ended up doing 8500 hours.”
After trying out a different brand, the Crossling family was tempted back to the Mercedes-Benz fold by Daimler Trucks Adelaide salesman Brian Phillips and the unique Zetros.
They are glad they did as the truck has not missed a beat.
"It's been a bloody good truck for us,” Damien Crossling said.
"It does everything you ask and the Allison automatic is absolutely brilliant.”
John Crossling adds that the driver comfort of the bonneted truck, that is running wide tractor tyres designed for slippery conditions, is excellent.
"Being a bonneted truck, it certainly is very comfortable,” he said.
"The long wheelbase certainly does help.”
John also said the spacious and well-laid out cabin is also a big plus.
"It has the same interior as the Axor, so that is good,” he said.
The Zetros was added to the Crossling Contractors fleet at one of its busiest times and has been worked hard ever since.
The Crossling team is a family business and John joined the operation 23 years ago, before Damien joined four years later.
"Damien and I took over the business about 17 years ago and now Dad works for us,” John said.
"We all get on really well, which is really good.
"We couldn't not run Crossling Contractors with just one of us, we have to work together.”
The Zetros is available as a 4x4 or 6x6 and runs a 7.2-litre six-cylinder with 330hp and 1300Nm of torque and is equipped with low range and front and rear locking differentials for serious off-road capability.