Peterbilts are being converted here, reports James Stanford
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.