Dodge city

Owner Driver - - Owner/Driver -

IT WAS a rushed trip back from Bris­bane for Michael Kennedy to at­tend the Syd­ney Clas­sic and An­tique Truck Show, its date co­in­cid­ing with the last day of the Bris­bane Truck Show.

Michael owns and op­er­ates Kennedy Ex­press out of Aus­tral in Syd­ney’s south-west. He has a pas­sion for old trucks and keenly showed off his 1976 Dodge 500.

He’s owned the truck for about eight years, and ad­mits to mak­ing min­i­mal changes since.

“The cab was al­ready painted but I painted the tray, the chas­sis, the wheels, made the gates and tarps and just fit­ted it up,” Michael says. “And I put the twin ex­haust on. Prob­a­bly 10 grand [is] what I’ve spent, so it’s not too much.”

It’s no­tice­able that the name R.J. Wil­lett is writ­ten on the lower side of the Dodge’s tray.

“This truck is a tribute to a men­tor of mine, Billy Wil­lett,” he ex­plains. “He’s still alive, but the truck’s got the tanks and the ac­tual tow­bar that he used to tow the car­a­vans for Vis­counts in the ’70s to Bris­bane.

“I used to ride with him reg­u­larly and that was my en­try into the truck in­dus­try and that was when I de­cided I wanted to be an overnighter – and here we are.”

The old Dodge was hooked up to a car­a­van at Pen­rith, rais­ing the ques­tion of whether he could keep pace with long-dis­tance trucks or be a hin­drance on the high­ways.

“I don’t muck around,” he laughs. “Not much gets past me.”

Michael has a “fair few old trucks” tucked away, but only four with tow­bars. “So I gen­er­ally take one of those to th­ese truck shows, tow­ing the van.

“One of the other tow trucks that I use is a V8 Ul­tra-Liner out of the ’80s that’s geared to about 140.

“I’ve got a Ken­worth with a 92 in it that’s got a tray top. I can put a car on the back of it if we’re go­ing some­where like Alice Springs.” The Dodge recog­nises men­tor Billy Wil­lett, who in­tro­duced Michael to the truck­ing in­dus­try in the early ’70s

Michael says al­though the Dodge is a re­li­able truck, there’s an is­sue if he leaves it parked up for around six months.

“It’s got the old Dodge clacky lifters on it,” he says. “They might take an hour or two, but they end up fill­ing them­selves up. All of th­ese Dodges used to do that.

“I’ve got a few more Dodges at home that I’m go­ing to work on, turn­ing them into overnighters.

“I’ve got a 7 Se­ries with a 361 in it with step tanks, a rigid … I’m look­ing for a lit­tle pan that I’m go­ing to put on that.

“I’ve got an eight-wheeler Grey Ghost, one of the Grey Ghosts that came out with a triple 5 in it, and I’ve got another TNT rigid that’s got a 903 in it. I’m try­ing to limit my­self to the ex­press trucks of the day, from the ’70s on­ward.”

He says the Syd­ney Clas­sic and An­tique Truck Show high­lights the value of the old truck move­ment.

“Some of the restora­tions now are as good as any­thing you’ll find in a car show,” Michael says.

But they’ve bumped the price up,” he laughs. “You can’t buy a Dodge for two grand any­more.”

Michael Kennedy show­ing off his 1976 Dodge at Pen­rith

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