Flam­ing Ford

A 1954 cab and F- Se­ries be­come a mo­bile home-of­fice

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Working Wheels - JAMES STAN­FORD james.stan­ford@news.com.au

SOME of the ugli­est ve­hi­cles around to­day are mo­torhomes.

These strange mu­tants not only slow traf­fic but they also as­sault your eye­balls with their com­pro­mised de­signs.

Tony Kuchel’s mo­torhome is dif­fer­ent.

Firstly, it’s cool and sec­ondly, it can giddy up when it needs thanks to a great big mod­ern diesel V8 hid­ing un­der that slop­ing bon­net.

The 61-year-old heads up the Kuchel Con­trac­tors trans­port com­pany in the Barossa Val­ley, along with wife Anne.

It has a fleet of Western Star trucks that are used for a range of jobs from cart­ing reg­u­lar cargo, grain, fire­wood, gravel and haul­ing away rub­ble from de­mo­li­tion sites.

They are all gleam­ing ma­chines with sim­ple but eye-catch­ing paint jobs and just enough chrome to stand­out with­out show­ing off.

The Kuchel com­pany doesn’t just move things around though, it also has a work­shop that can do com­plete truck restora­tions, in­clud­ing elec­tri­cal, me­chan­i­cal, body­work and even the paint.

This ex­plains why its Western Star rigs look so good. Its lat­est 4900 Western Star won a tro­phy at the re­cent Mel­bourne In­ter­na­tional Truck and Trailer Show for its re­mark­able paint job, thanks to its bril­liant red and blue de­tails with metal flakes that sparkle in the sun.

The Ford mo­torhome also took home a gong for best truck that is 10 years or older. You could ar­gue the ma­chine is much older than that given the cab is from a 1954 Ford truck. That’s prob­a­bly a bit of a stretch though, be­cause the old body sits on a very new chas­sis and is pro­pelled around by an equally new en­gine.

Kuchel built the cus­tom mo­torhome a few years back. He was con­stantly trav­el­ling around Aus­tralia on busi­ness and wanted a ve­hi­cle that could be used for both work­ing and sleep­ing.

A reg­u­lar mo­torhome would do the trick, how­ever Tony wanted some­thing spe­cial that would do the job as well as demon­strat­ing the kind of cus­tom truck work of which Kuchel is ca­pa­ble.

That’s when he started search­ing for the 1954 Ford. He loved the shapely de­sign and was pre­pared to look far and wide given how rare the trucks have be­come. He found one in the US, in ex­cel­lent con­di­tion.

“It used to be a lines­man truck, putting up phone lines in north­ern Cal­i­for­nia,” Kuchel­says.

At the same time, he bought a late model right­hand drive F-Se­ries pick-up that Ford im­ported to Aus­tralia from 2001, to serve as the ba­sis for the job. Kuche­land his crew built the truck up on the FSeries chas­sis, so the mo­torhome runs the sus­pen­sion and brakes from the newer truck.

The en­gine comes from the F-Se­ries donor truck. It’s a 7.3-litre turbo diesel V8 with 175kW and 678Nm of torque. At that stage Ford didn’t de­velop its own big diesel en­gines and this one was sourced from Nav­is­tar truck brand, In­ter­na­tional.

“It cer­tainly can get up and go,” Kuchel says.

He says that thanks to the anti-lock­brakes, the power steer­ing and the perky en­gine, driv­ing this retro ma­chine is easy.

“It re­ally is just like driv­ing a brand new F350,” he says.

Kuchel fit­ted out the back of the truck with an area that can be used for sleep­ing at night and as a mo­bile of­fice dur­ing the day.

There is a bed and bath­room, a large TV and some com­fort­able chairs. This way, he and Anne travel com­fort­ably.

“It so much bet­ter than stay­ing at ho­tels,” he says. “This way we can just pull up any­where we want to stop.”

He fin­ished the job with an out­stand­ing flam­ing paint job and a pig-with-wings bon­net or­na­ment.

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