Peter­bilts are be­ing con­verted here, re­ports James Stan­ford

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Big Wheels -

THERE are trucks that draw at­ten­tion — and then there is this pur­ple, white and green Peter­bilt.

This spot­light-steal­ing ma­chine is a pro­mo­tional tool for Truck­works, an Ade­laide truck mod­i­fi­ca­tion busi­ness that is im­port­ing a few Peter­bilts for Aus­tralian cus­tomers.

The com­pany hopes some truck driv­ers will see the demo truck, fall in love and or­der one.

Af­ter see­ing the im­mac­u­lately pre­pared truck in all its stain­lesssteel and air­brushed glory, I reckon there’s a fair chance that will hap­pen.

Peter­bilt is owned by PAC­CAR, an Amer­i­can com­pany that also owns Ken­worth.

Ken­worth has a fac­tory in Aus­tralia and its trucks have a le­gendary sta­tus here, so PAC­CAR doesn’t see the point in im­port­ing Peter­bilts to Aus­tralia and con­vert­ing them to right-hand drive.

Amer­i­can Truck­works, a spin-off of the Truck­works op­er­a­tion that is into heavy-ve­hi­cle re­cov­ery and truck mod­i­fi­ca­tions, has de­cided there is a gap in the mar­ket and turned its hand to im­port­ing Peter­bilt trucks and con­vert­ing them.

It has noth­ing to do with PAC­CAR or Ken­worth Aus­tralia.

Amer­i­can Truck­works is near the end of the Aus­tralian De­sign Rule process, which has taken about a year and eaten up a fair amount of cash, and is ex­pect­ing fi­nal clear­ance within the next few weeks.

It has just landed 11 Peter­bilts, has an­other four com­ing from the US and is about to start the con­ver­sion process.

The man be­hind the plan is Truck­works man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Lyndon Reynolds, who has al­ways loved Peter­bilt trucks.

‘‘A Peter­bilt is like the Roll­sRoyce of Amer­i­can trucks. It’s the iconic Amer­i­can truck,’’ he says.

‘‘If you see any Amer­i­can movie with a truck in it, it is likely to be a Peter­bilt.’’

Reynolds al­ready has de­posits for half the trucks that are in tran­sit and ex­pects a steady flow of or­ders as word gets around.

He reck­ons the Peter­bilts will ap- peal to pas­sion­ate and suc­cess­ful truck­ers.

‘‘The mar­ket we are aim­ing for is more the owner-driver, the guy who has gone through the hard times, has done well and wants to spoil him­self,’’ Reynolds says.

‘‘The anal­ogy would be the kind of guy who has had a mid-life cri­sis and wants to go and buy a Har­leyDavid­son. You can call a Peter­bilt a mid-life truck­ing cri­sis.’’

Truck­works is pre­par­ing a 200-tonne haul­ing spe­cial Peter­bilt, but he doesn’t think that all of them will be worked hard.

‘‘This is a niche truck, we are not aim­ing it at fleets. We have got some cus­tomers who have fleets, but want to use this as the hero, the show pony of the fleet. They wouldn’t nec­es­sar­ily work it ev­ery day, but it would be there to show off,’’ he says.

Reynolds says most Peter­bilts on sale in the US aren’t tough enough for Aus­tralian con­di­tions, but he found one that is.

It is a spec­i­fi­ca­tion used for trucks that run up and down a long and harsh dirt road in Canada to an Al­coa fa­cil­ity.

‘‘It has a steel fire­wall, a steel floor not alu­minium, the spec is beefier. It has a big­ger ra­di­a­tior,’’ Reynolds says.

‘‘It can work as a road train and han­dle ex­treme ser­vice. I didn’t want to have a truck that would just go up and down the high­way.’’

Reynolds is happy with the con­ver­sion process and the show truck cabin cer­tainly does give a good im­pres­sion.

‘‘Our con­ver­sion is prob­a­bly bet­ter, in terms of touch and feel, than when it comes out of the fac­tory,’’ Reynolds says.

‘‘We put in a lot more sound cladding, our dash­board is not plas­tic, it is fi­bre­glass and very thick, we had the vinyl shrink-wrapped on there. We made our dash in two pieces so you can two-tone it.’’

So what about when some­thing goes wrong? Af­ter­mar­ket sup­port is crit­i­cal, but Reynolds says there is a 12 month war­ranty. Spare parts? ‘‘We are go­ing to have a com­plete cab and bon­net in stock in case any­one rolls a truck over.’’

The trucks on the way fea­ture CAT en­gines and the just in­tro­duced Cum­mins ISX.

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