They made Macks great in ‘88
‘Kingsford Smith’ was one of 16 Mack Super-Liner II limited edition trucks released to mark Australia’s bicentenary in 1988.
Each was named after a famous Australian.
They featured cruise control, colour televisions and refrigerators. These features were considered state-of-the-art luxuries back in 1988.
Named after the famous Australian aviator, the Kingsford Smith was built for Jim Ristovichis of Kyabram. Jim tells Deals on Wheels he owned it for eight weeks but gave it back to Mack because they didn’t want him to paint it in his fleet colours.
The second owner was Grant Haynes of Deniliquin. His driver Peter Clark says the Kingsford Smith only had 1200km on the clock when he first drove it from Deniliquin to Sydney.
Photos in Peter’s family album capture a time when the Kingsford Smith was barely recognisable. The aluminium wheels in Peter’s photographs are original – it was the only Bicentennial Mack not fitted with spider wheels. But the colour scheme was altered and the name ‘Kingsford Smith’ was painted over.
Peter explains the back fuel tanks were removed so the truck could legally carry more milk through Marulan, but this affected the ride. “It made it a lot rougher. It bounced in the rear end more than it did with the four tanks.”
He is happy the truck is now owned by Mack collector Tony Champion of Rockhampton, Queensland. Tony bought it from well-known Mack enthusiast Jon Kelly. One of the previous owners replaced the aluminium wheels with spider wheels which are still on the truck today.
“It looks brand new,” Tony says. “It’s in excellent condition.”
Peter’s trucking career began in the mid-1950s when he spent about six months carting livestock and grain in an old petrol motor Commer for John Wilson of Tullakool, NSW.
In 1956 he began driving a Bedford for Landinis of Wakool. He carted cattle and sheep as far as Melbourne. “Then we’d come home and take the stock crates off, and wash the floor, put a load of wool on and take that to the wool stores in Melbourne.”
Later he moved to Darlington Point near Griffith to cart timber to Melbourne for Fitzpatricks. In about 1964 the Clarks moved to Wakool and
Peter again carted stock for Landinis.
In the early years of their marriage, Mary enjoyed travelling with Peter in the Deutz and Commer. Their daughter Tracy travelled with them in a bassinet.
Mary remembers the excitement of hearing the Deutz approaching their Wakool home. Their dog Patty was always the first to hear it. Then little Tracy would recognise the sound and say ‘Here’s Daddy in his Deutz, Mum’.
Peter was working on a farm at Caldwell,
NSW, when their second daughter, Jodie, was born. They returned to Deniliquin when Peter found work with Lumbars. Peter carted grain to Melbourne and returned to Deniliquin with general freight.
In 1975 Peter started working with Ricegrowers. For 22 years he carted rice to Deniliquin from Finley, Jerilderie, Moulamein, Coleambally, and Eulo in a robust bulk tanker custom made by Epex.
He took on a second job in the late 1980s. After carting rice all week he spent the weekend in Grant Haynes’ famous Bicentennial Mack SuperLiner, pulling a milk tanker from Deniliquin to Sydney.
Ricegrowers made Peter redundant in about 1997 and he spent the last years of his career carting fuel for Lumbars in a Western Star.
Throughout his long career, Peter maintained an excellent driving record and is proud he never attracted any demerit points. “I used to wear my mirrors out,” he says, explaining his decades of safe driving.
Peter retired 15 years ago and now enjoys making wrought iron seats and travelling to truck shows. The Deniliquin Truck Show is one of his favourites.
When Deals on Wheels visited Peter last month he was celebrating news that his nomination for induction to the National Road Transport Hall of Fame at Alice Springs had been successful. He was nominated by his friend Ian Holschier.
Peter’s health prevented him travelling to Alice Springs for the induction. He doesn’t blame his back pain on the years he spent shovelling gravel on and off trucks, lumping bags of wheat or cutting posts with an axe. He believes the pain is because of the “40 odd years” he sat in the driver’s seat with a wallet in his back pocket.
Looking back, Peter says he enjoyed every moment of his trucking career.
“I loved it. There wasn’t a day I didn’t want to go to work.”
1. The Bicentennial Mack Super-Liner II ‘Kingsford Smith’. Peter Clark used it to pull a milk tanker from Deniliquin to Sydney when it was owned by Grant Haynes
2. The Kingsford Smith has been restored and is now owned by Tony Champion of Rockhampton. Photo by Bernie Champion
3. The Kingsford Smith was originally built for Jim Ristovichis who kept it for only eight weeks.
Jim kept the name plate and recently gave it to the truck’s new owner, Tony Champion, who has attached it to the truck. (Ristovichis is misspelt on the plate.) Photo by Bernie Champion
4. Peter drove this Commer for Landinis of Wakool in the late 1950s
5. A load of timber on Fitzpatrick’s International R190 in the early 1960s 6. Peter’s last job was carting fuel in this Western Star for Lumbars
7. Peter spent 22 years pulling this bulk tanker for Ricegrowers Co-operative Mills. The tanker was custom made by Epex