Car Show Classics: 2013 HCVC Show – The Really Rare Big Rigs

There are a few more trucks that I can show you while I am still working on a post about International-Harvester Australia’s trucks, which will also serve to cover the last of the trucks from the 2013 HCVC show.  This will be a good one, because there are a lot of trucks that are not seen very often any more in Australia and most likely anywhere, such as the 1965 Foden S21 above which has an interesting story.  You might regard these as British hold-outs in the Australian transport industry’s overwhelming move to American heavy trucks.  Read on…

The owner of this Foden bought it from a truck wrecker in 1982 and repaired it and put it back on the road carting for a vegetable processor before moving to a quarry in 1988 – previous history is not known.  Even back then there wouldn’t have been many trucks on the road with a cab that looked like this, let alone when it was retired at the end of 2007 when it was believed to be the only full-time working Foden in Australia.  The truck has a Gardner 6LX150 engine (638 ci or 10.45 L) rated for 150 hp @ 1700 rpm, a Road Ranger gearbox and bogie drive (8×4).

Here is another heavy British 8×4 truck – the wonderfully-named Leyland Octopus.  From memory the boards in front of the truck had details of various trucks for sale and not information about this one, but it looks like a 1960s model (you never know with British trucks!) and should have a Leyland 511 ci diesel.

I was going to say that American readers will be thinking what’s so unusual about a Peterbilt, but being a cabover things may be different?  At a guess this truck is from the 1970s rather than 80s, but either way I don’t think Peterbilt has been that popular in Australia when Kenworth and Mack had local factories – examples of which are on either side of the Pete above (K125 cabover and 1990s Valueliner).

This is a 1949 Fargo Kew truck, produced by the British outpost based on the bank of the Thames River at Kew in the west side of London.  The nickname for this truck in the UK was the “parrot nose” and they were also sold as a DeSoto or Dodge.  Since it doesn’t have the Perkins four rings logo I am guessing that it will have a 230 ci Chrysler flathead.  The cab was outsourced to Briggs Motor Bodies and also used by Ford Thames and Leyland trucks.  Kew Dodges were featured in Sean Connery’s 1956 film debut in “Hell Drivers” about truck drivers working at a quarry.

If you are thinking “these are pretty mainstream trucks”, how about these Mazdas; a 1956 T600 and a 1954 T2000.  The T2000 is apparently rated to carry 2 ton – but not very quickly I expect!

The model numbers represent engine sizes, and the T600 has a v-twin engine.  The information sheet had the sentence “found in Japan by stupid Merv who couldn’t resist”.  There’s a man who doesn’t take himself too seriously!

This DeSoto truck looks more like an American truck rather than one of the British ones that might have superceded the Fargo above.  I expect it has a 230 ci flathead six.  The cab on this would be the same as Chrysler were supplying to International for the AR series.

This 1937 Diamond T is an example of how trucks have changed – the front axle looks very narrow for what looks like a fairly heavy truck.  I wonder if the wheels were set to line up with the inner rear wheels?

This is a Federal truck, and I don’t know much about them other than they were made in Detroit, and went out of business in 1959.  It was a pretty new restoration for the show I understand.

I’ll put this Kenworth SAR, one of the Short-bonnet Australian Right-hand-drive model that started in 1975 in response to length restrictions while being able to accommodate large engines up to the Detroit 8V92TTA.

After a visit from Kenworth chief engineer John Holmstrom in the early 1960s, Kenworth imports and subsequent locally-produced trucks were designed to be strong and tough enough for whatever they might encounter, including being able to pull the full rated GCM in 50°C heat (122°F).  In the photo above I am guessing the bridge is not up to carrying a heavy truck, hence the detour through the creek bed.

This Scammell Contractor was built out of a surplus army order in 1978.  It has a 350 hp Cummins engine, 15 speed Road Ranger main gearbox plus a 4 speed Spicer secondary box and Scammell diffs with a 9.64:1 ratio – I’m sure low-low is very low!  According to the info board it still gets occasionally pressed into use.

This 1961 Commer CDY is powered by the legendary opposed-piston TS3 “Knocker” engine.  This truck survived a typical working life to be restored because it was an inland truck all its life, so the poor to non-existant rust-proofing typical of the era didn’t leave it a pile of brown flakes.

Here is the 199 ci Commer knocker engine with six horizontally opposed pistons that used large rocker arms to drive a crankshaft underneath the three combustion chambers.  You can see where the exhaust manifold connects to the ports in the cylinder wall on top of the engine, and where the axis of the crankshaft is, in front of the gearbox.  This engine made 105 hp @ 2,400 rpm and 270 lb-ft torque @ 1,200 rpm.  This was competitive against conventional diesel engines of its time, but its main advantage was in better fuel consumption.  There was a later version about 10% larger and Commer was working on a 4 cylinder (8 piston) version when Chrysler took over and stopped the project.

(ED: since some of you might not be familiar with opposed piston engines, here’s a video of the type used in the Commer, which used rocker arms and rods to drive one crankshaft.

And here’s the type with two crankshafts, which was more common. There were some other variants of these two basic types. The main advantage is improved efficiency due to lower thermal losses, as there is no cylinder head to absorb a significant amount of heat. A greater percentage of the combustion expansion is directed to moving pistons. But there is of course more mechanical complexity and weight, as well as friction.)


This 1981 Toyota is a new one for me, and surely one of the last to wear the Toyota badge before truck building was left to its Hino subsidiary.  Perhaps this will be a challenge for CC readers, but I’m sure someone will know about it!

Here is another Mercedes Benz 1418, with a fantastic bull bar made to fit its curved front end.

This truck is a custom build, based on an International KB11 chassis and cab (or might it be a later type?) with a Leyland Beaver hood and powered by a Detroit Diesel.  It is set up for heavy haulage recovery work, and is definitely Not Mucking Around.  Just look at the reinforcing plates for the hood hold-downs for starters.

This custom International is registered as a 1975 model, but has an older cab and no doubt a million other custom features.  Certainly a lot more distinctive than the run-of-the-mill 1970s Kenworth, its owner ran it from 1981 until retiring in 2005.

This is a 1975 Dodge D3F 400, which is the Australian built version of the Dodge 100 “Commando” truck from the UK.  It was developed by Commer, after Rootes were taken over by Chrysler, and eventually came to market in 1974 as a Dodge after the old Rootes brands were phased out.  This truck has a Perkins 6:354 diesel (note the Perkins badge on the front), while other engines were the 245 ‘Hemi’ 6-cyl, 318 V8 and a turbo Perkins for the model range of 400, 500, 550, 600 and 650.  The 600 had a GVM of 11.3 tonne or 25,000 lb.  Interestingly they were sold alongside Dodge Fuso’s – which would be a re-badged Mitsubishi – and can’t have survived past the sale of Chrysler Australia to Mitsubishi in 1980.

I’m still working on the story of International trucks in Australia, but can do a post on buses if there is interest?


Further reading:

Car Show Classic: 2013 Historic Commercial Vehicle Club Annual Show Part One

Car Show Classic: 2013 Historic Commercial Vehicle Club Show – Fire Engines

Car Show Classic: 2013 Historic Commercial Vehicle Club Show – Utes And Vans

Car Show Classics: 2013 HCVC Show – More Variety

Car Show Classics: 2013 HCVC Show – Military Vehicles

Car Show Classics: 2013 HCVC Show – Creative Cargoes