This red R200's new lease on life
ALONG with other iconic truck models of the 1960s, such as the early W-Model Kenworths and B-Model Macks, the R-Series International is remembered as one of the kings of the road as transport boomed in Australia.
A number of R-Model Inters have survived the ravages of a harsh working life and can be found restored and on display at truck shows and rallies around the country.
One such example is the 1964 R-200 which is owned by Riverina transport operator Phil McIntosh who had his GM-powered example on display at the Lockhart Truck Show in early March.
Today Phil runs eight Kenworths out of Wagga, but it was an International R-200 in which he learnt to drive when his father John operated trucks, so it was fitting that he restore one as a project.
Phil said they bought it in Broadford at an auction and returned the truck to the Riverina to be restored.
"It was originally one of Bill Alpen's, from Griffith,” he said.
"When we got it the owners had cut and extended the chassis and put a water cart on it. I got another single drive chassis so we put an original chassis back under it.”
The Inter also received an engine and driveline transplant as the project came together.
"I had a 4-71 GM which I had bought in Melbourne and Doug Sutherland in Wagga fitted it up with a 13-Speed Roadranger. There was no rust in it so we sent it off to Adelong for panel-beating and respraying,” he said.
The GM generates a respectable 180 horsepower which handles the job of putting a 34-foot bogie trailer to shows and events fairly comfortably.
"If you can get her up there she can sit on 100 kilometres, she barks pretty well,” he said with a smile.
The trailer was purchased to smooth out the ride, given the rudimentary suspensions trucks of the era possessed.
"We were driving it around bobtail and it was that rough and it was knocking it about too much. We bought the trailer virtually to hold it on the ground - it rides a lot better with the trailer on,” he said.
Phil purchased the truck eight years ago and the rebuild took three years to get it to its current state, with the red paint scheme a mainstay of both his father's trucks and the current-day McIntosh fleet.
"They were the colours dad had, his trucks were red with a white band, our trucks today are also red so we kept the colours as close as we could,” he said.
The International/GM combination was also a popular choice for operators in the 1960s as the R-200 followed on from the R-190 midway through the decade.
"The R-190 was a big thing in its day and they started putting GM's in them which boosted them along fairly well and the 200 was the next evolution of the 190,”
This included John McIntosh, who built his fleet up to around nine trucks, all with the IH logo out the front.
"Dad had Inters with 4-71 GM's in them and as a kid I was bought up around them. I learnt to drive in one and I thought I would love to do one up.”
The McIntosh fleet today is all Kenworth - two SARs, two T909s, three Aerodynes and a C509, all of which pull B-doubles between Wagga, Leeton and Canberra, with the trucks of today a long way removed from those from five decades ago.
On club registration, the R-200 stays in the shed for the most part, but has ventured to Alice Springs for the Reunion in 2015, with a return trip scheduled for next year.
The truck also gets a run each year for the Wagga Convoy for Kids, along with shows around the area such as the Lockhart event.
The truck was getting a steady crowd of admirers with Phil happy to talk to people about his 55-year-old project truck, the model with which he has had a long-standing connection.
"You've got to have a hobby, you have to have something to do... everyone has their own particular thing and mine is old Inters.”