Family shares a common love
THE Corstophans are a close-knit family bonded by a common love of trucks and trucking.
Dad, James, was a fruit merchant, delivering into Melbourne, Sydney and Newcastle markets.
His first truck was an International. One day he got beaten to Sydney by a Diamond T with a Perkins donk so Jim lashed out and bought a Diamond T - and went slower again.
In those days it took him about 19 hours to get to Sydney.
One night a Mercedes passed him and by the time he got to Marulan he was three-and-a-half hours behind.
Jim figured that equated to an extra three-and-a-half hours in bed, so he went and bought a cab-over '71 model 1924 Benz from Norton's in Newcastle. He sold the Diamond T that same night.
During this time young Steve wanted to follow in his dad's footsteps but Jim's response was immediate: "Don't be an arse! Get a trade".
So Steve became a diesel mechanic with The Gas & Fuel Corporation.
Four-and-a-half years there was followed by another four years doing Heatane gas tankers.
He finally convinced Jim to let him join the family business.
"I finally got to drive, which was what I wanted in the first place," he said.
Being headstrong men led to a few clashes and after a couple of years Steve went off to work for K&S Freighters. Meanwhile, Jim sold the business and came off the road. His next few years were spent working for Brambles in their armoured car division.
Four years later, in 1986, the call of the trucking world was too strong to ignore. Jim - possibly a mellowing dad, and Steve - older and wiser, joined forces along with Steve's brother, Brian and went into truck and engine repair.
Jim's early years with Inters and Diamond T's forged a lifelong love for these machines in particular, and truck restoration has taken an increasingly bigger chunk of the day-to-day operation.
The Diamond T 653GM pictured - Jim's third of the brand - took four-and-a-half years to complete.
Based at Lilydale, the business has rebuilt about 40 trucks to date with clients including Linfox and Courage Brewery.
Through Jim's contacts in the fruit and vegie industry, the Corstophans have worked on a lot of ex-army ACCOs.
These have Perkins dropped in, tippers added, and are well suited to the market garden industry. Doug Livermore, another fruit merchant has an appetite for Inters and the Corstophans have breathed life back into 1937 and '38 D15s, a D30, and D50, and are currently restoring a Loadstar for this Inter addict.
Doug is 84 and worried that he may not live to see the Loadstar completed.
"We'll see him right," laughs Steve.
"The business is going strong with plenty of demand for restored Inters. They are relatively cheap to buy and parts are plentiful.
"They are a great entry vehicle to the world of historic trucks for those on a limited budget.
"Mind you, some blokes do get carried away!"
J.F Corstophan, the International Truck Restoration Specialists, can be found at 17 Trade Pl, Lilydale, Victoria or on 03 9735 1911.