WA his­tory ON DIS­PLAY

The His­toric Com­mer­cial Ve­hi­cle Club of WA held its first ever dis­play day in Fre­man­tle re­cently. And, as Matt Wood found out, there were plenty of old bangers on dis­play for the pub­lic to have a gan­der at

Deals on Wheels - - Truck Shows -

West­ern Aus­tralia’s fickle spring weather was ini­tially rea­son­ably kind as the old load lug­gers rolled into the Bun­nings car park. Some were high­way heroes of yes­ter­year, oth­ers more hum­ble haulers. But, there was plenty of old iron on show.

Forty-five trucks, big and small, rolled up.

Some on trail­ers, oth­ers roared into town with Jake brakes blar­ing. Model Ts and Chevs from the 1920s were on hand as well as the usual smat­ter­ing of clas­sic Amer­i­can iron from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s.


Des Cur­tis had an eye-catch­ing 1952 Fargo Kew on dis­play. The UK-built Fargo uses a side-valve six-cylin­der to make about 35hp and will take a pay­load of 2.5 tonne.

Des opted to paint the old-timer in West­ern Aus­tralian Forestry Dept colours as these trucks saw ser­vice with Forestry. How­ever, this one was ac­tu­ally found on a farm.

“There was a bit of rust in it when I got it,” Des says. “I made some things for it like the front bumper.”

The Fargo’s en­gine is bolted di­rectly to the chas­sis which means there are no en­gine mounts. It has a top speed of about 45 miles per hour, ac­cord­ing to Des.


With­out a doubt, the most eye-catch­ing trucks on dis­play were the 1963 Peter­bilt 351A and the W Model Ken­worth owned by Daniel Ri­dolfo.

Back in 1963, Daniel’s fa­ther Vince made the bold move of buy­ing a big Peter­bilt for the grow­ing Ri­dolfo fleet. This truck was ac­tu­ally the first Lau­rie O’Neil-im­ported Peter­bilt sold into WA. Un­der the bon­net is an NH250 Cum­mins.

The old Spicer 4+4 set up was re­placed with a 13-speed Road­ranger. Vince Ri­dolfo passed away many years ago, but Daniel tracked the Peter­bilt down in Queens­land be­fore bring­ing it home and restor­ing it.

Af­ter more than 10 years of hard yakka, the re­sult is ex­cep­tional.

The W Model was the last truck that Vince pur­chased be­fore his death and is beau­ti­fully pre­sented. Daniel and his brother con­tin­ued to run the Ri­dolfo busi­ness be­fore sell­ing the com­pany to Qube in 2013.


The sight of a But­ter­box Acco may bring back less-than-happy mem­o­ries for some driv­ers. But Kevin Lock­yer’s 1970 2050 Acco is a nice-look­ing old jig­ger all the same.

Un­der the cab is a Cum­mins V504 and a fivespeed ’box. Of course, there’s the oblig­a­tory two-speed diff out back. This truck is the re­sult of a two-year restora­tion.

“It was a piece of shit when I bought it out of a wreck­ing yard,” Des says.

It took the pur­chase of five wrecked Ac­cos to make this one. Next on the list for Des is to find an old bo­gie trailer to stick be­hind it.


I’ve got a soft spot for the old AB in­ter­na­tional pick-ups and D-se­ries Dodges, so Ryan Devenish’s AB120 In­ter 4x4 def­i­nitely caught my eye.

Un­der the bon­net is the old Aussie-made 240-cu­bic-inch Gold Di­a­mond 6, which is bolted to a four-speed gear box. The In­ter has a sin­gle­speed trans­fer case.

Ryan bought the truck from a mate in Kal­go­or­lie but it was orig­i­nally from Vic­to­ria. It would’ve been a long drive as the AB only sits on about 80km/h on the open road. This truck is just a starter for Ryan as his next pro­ject is a Detroit­pow­ered KM Bed­ford.


You’ve gotta love a truck that still has rab­bit traps hang­ing off the head­board. Mor­ris Danks’s very … er … orig­i­nal 1925 Chevro­let 4 made quite an en­trance to the show af­ter it was un­loaded off the trailer. It looks like it shouldn’t be run­ning at all!

Mor­ris dragged it off a farm 15 years ago and only had to change the spark plug, leads and fan belt to get it to fire. It may not be show­room, but it had plenty of char­ac­ter.


Lind­say Hill’s 1938 Chev was a very neat­look­ing jig­ger that was hid­ing a cou­ple of ma­jor im­prove­ments un­der­neath. The truck is now pow­ered by a GM Blue Flame 6 and is backed by a Gear Ven­dors four-speed with an elec­tric over­drive to help it eat up the high­way miles.

“It cruises well,” Lind­say says with a twin­kle in his eye. “You’ve gotta keep an eye on it.”

Never one to shy away from a chal­lenge, Lind­say vir­tu­ally scratch built the en­tire truck from a box of parts. If any­one doubted Lind­say’s work­man­ship, they only needed to check out the Huck­ster-bod­ied 1923 T-Model Ford he had sit­ting on the tray of the Chev. Lind­say han­dled the en­tire coach­work him­self and the re­sult up close is pretty amaz­ing.

“It was orig­i­nally a bucket of bits from three farm grave­yards,” Lind­say says.

A Huck­ster body like this one was an early Amer­i­can style of par­cel freight body used in the big cities like New York, where the freight was shel­tered but still easy to get at for load­ing and un­load­ing. Lind­say also has a 1923 Den­nis fire en­gine but it doesn’t get to see a lot of miles.

“The wife won’t come out in it be­cause it doesn’t have a wind­screen,” he says with a grin.


An­other truck to make a noisy en­trance was the 1952 FG Foden, be­long­ing to Jim Piercy. The old 150hp 6LX Gar­diner had a rough and gruff note to it as Jim slot­ted it into its park­ing spot. It’s safe to say the turn­ing cir­cle was never a strong point on any of these Pom­mie lor­ries.

This one wasn’t bought as a pro­ject, though. Jim ac­tu­ally bought it to work back in 1967. For over 20 years it hauled grain dust from the Free­man­tle wharf to Jim’s cat­tle farm – it orig­i­nally had a big bin on its back.

The lit­tle Gard­ner would’ve kept Jim’s hands busy on the 4+2 gear­boxes.

“She’s got heaps of torque, though,” Jim says. “And she’s al­ways been re­li­able.”

As the day grew a lit­tle gloomy and rain started sweep­ing in from the In­dian Ocean, it was time to go. But for a first out­ing, the WA HCVC showed off some of the best oldies that the West has to of­fer. We look for­ward to the next one!


1. A 1952 Fargo Kew in Forestry dept colours. You don’t see many of these around!

2. The first Peter­bilt sold into WA back in 1963. This was Vince Ri­dolfo’s first big truck and it was tracked down and re­stored by his son Daniel af­ter his death. 3. Kevin Lock­yer and his

gleam­ing But­ter Box Acco. 3


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