CLIFFORD Brick and Tile has given the new generation Mercedes-Benz truck a thumbs-up after one year in the job.
The Ballarat-based family business has a fleet of 40 trucks and all but two of them are either Mercedes-Benz or Freightliner units.
Its fleet mainly services Melbourne, regional Victoria and southern New South Wales but there are also five trucks in Adelaide and one in Sydney.
The Clifford Brick and Tile trucks can be spotted from a long way back as they a beautifully presented with smart paint schemes featuring scrolls and other designs that are hand painted by veteran Ballarat signwriter Mason Stevenson, who has worked on all their trucks since the mid-1970s.
Run by brothers Neil, Peter and John, the Clifford business has long been using Mercedes-Benz and Freightliner trucks.
They find the mixture of cab-over and bonneted models, as well as the choice between automated manuals, or (in the in the case of Freightliner) straight-up manuals, has allowed them to pick the best truck for the various applications.
For example, a Mercedes-Benz would be favoured for runs to Melbourne in the traffic, delivering to tight city sites, whereas a Freightliner with manual box might be preferred by drivers heading up to Albury or Junee in NSW.
"A lot of it comes down to where they are working but we take driver preference into account as well," Peter Clifford said.
Given the varied applications of the business, Clifford Brick and Tile was one of the 35 customers who were asked to evaluate the new generation Mercedes-Benz truck before it was introduced in Australia.
The brothers were impressed with the test truck and ordered a sparkling white 2651 from long-term partner Daimler Trucks Somerton.
It was one of the first new generation Mercedes-Benz trucks to be delivered after the launch late last year.
The 2651 runs at around 46 tonnes with bricks and/or tiles and is loaded 70 per cent of the time, travelling around Melbourne and back up to Ballarat.
It uses a low loader trailer, which is fitted with a forklift at the rear that is used to load and unload the product.
"We don't bother checking the fuel economy on it any more because it is clearly the best on fuel in our fleet and is very consistent," Peter said.
"With the conditions it operates in, the weights that we run, the trailers we use and the forklift on the back, which is terrible for aerodynamics, the fuel consumption is excellent."
The regular driver of the new Mercedes-Benz, Ray Mollenkamp, is thrilled with the truck.
"Ray loves it, he loves everything about it." Peter said. "And so does anyone else who gets in it."
The drivers really appreciate the weight gauges in the truck, which they find accurately weigh the truck and the trailer and also give axle weights.
Both Neil and Peter still do a few shifts driving and can also attest to the quality of the new Mercedes-Benz.
"It's nice and quiet," Neil said.
"I took it up to Stawell to pick up a load of bricks to come back the other day and it was very good to drive, nice and quiet.
"It has a good radio in it so you can listen to the races and you can hear it nice and clear, which is good."
The 2651 runs the all-new 13-litre in-line six-cylinder that generates 510hp.
Like all new generation Mercedes-Benz prime movers, it is linked to a fully automated manual transmission with a new crawler gear function.
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