Leigh Rankin with his restored White.
Leigh Rankin with his restored White. David Vile

This 70s era Road Boss is perfect for Leigh

WITH the unveiling of the first Western Star trucks in Australia at the 1983 Brisbane Truck Show as a replacement for the White Road Boss and Road Commander, the "White" nameplate, which had graced the national highways for a number of years, was consigned to the history books.

With the conventional Road Boss and cab-over Road Commander, both popular vehicles during the late 1970s and early 1980s, a number have survived through their working life, and been overhauled and restored as show pieces for the popular and growing historic vehicle movement.

One such example is the 1978 Road Boss owned by Leigh Rankin, with both truck and owner making the journey from their home town of Katunga in northern Victoria to Urana for the 2018 Vintage Rally in late October.

Leigh is the third owner of the truck, with the White going to work initially in South Australia for one of the country's larger fleets.

"K&S bought five of these in one lot with the same specification in Mount Gambier - it was mainly used for heavy haulage and oversized work and a bit of logging also," Leigh said.

"From there a farmer from Nhill had it for his harvest work and so on - it got a bit tired for him, he didn't want it off the road during harvest time so we saw an ad for it, thought we would go for a drive down to Nhill and bought it."

With a Cummins NTC 290 motor and 15 speed Road Ranger driveline, the White was in fairly sound order when Leigh purchased it in 2014 and brought it back to Katunga for an overhaul.


THE BOSS IS BACK: The White has been finished in the Rankin Transport colours.
THE BOSS IS BACK: The White has been finished in the Rankin Transport colours. David Vile

"It had no rust or anything like that in it and it blew bugger all smoke when we fired her up," he said.

"We thought it was worth doing up so we paid five and a half grand and brought it home.

"I have always liked Western Stars and Whites, the old Road Boss in particular - I like the shape of the '70s era trucks, so when it popped up I grabbed it."

As a 'fleet' truck, the vehicle is of a fairly rudimentary specification, with Leigh finding out a bit about the truck's previous working activity by accident when restoring it.

"We found out it had been a heavy haulage truck when we stripped it down - all the oversize permits and paperwork had been shoved down behind the dash," he said.

"It's a very basic truck - K&S didn't over spec their trucks so its basic inside the cab, and only one air horn and exhaust stack and so on - it's a 'poverty pack' basically."

With restoration complete and the truck put on club registration, the White took its place among the stable of trucks at the Rankin Trans depot, which consists of a number of Western Stars, a Kenworth and an Iveco, with the linehaul trucks carting hydroponic tomatoes from Katunga to the markets in Melbourne and Sydney, along with hay and machinery cartage.

As an historic truck, the White has been displayed by Leigh at a number of shows and rallies around the country, and in a busy weekend had been on show on the way through to the Urana event.

"Yesterday we gave her a run at the Numurkah Food Bowl Festival - we were going to give her a wash to come up here so we put the fridge van on the back and ran it in the street parade through town," he said.

Leigh also has a restored International ACCO 3070, which like the White clocked up 40 years of age in 2018.

He is looking forward to doing more shows with both trucks, with the bi-annual White Truck Muster coming up in March this year a highlight.

"We'll get her out again for Kyabram... she's been a good old banger and taking it out gives us something to do of a weekend!"

Big Rigs

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