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
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.
PETERBILT FAMILY HISTORY
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.
BIG RED BOX
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.
RYAN’S INTER 4X4
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.
SUM OF ITS PARTS
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