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