Tony and Tracey Lake’s Ken­worth SAR ‘Heart­breaker’

It’s a reg­u­lar around the show cir­cuit, but now with a match­ing tanker trailer bring­ing up the rear, Tony and Tracey Lake’s Ken­worth SAR ‘Heart­breaker’ is an even more im­pres­sive sight.

Deals on Wheels - - Con­tents - War­ren Aitken writes

We’ve all had that one time when we ended up in the car park beep­ing our keys be­cause we couldn’t re­mem­ber where the hell we parked the car, right? Well that’s not a prob­lem Tony and Tracey Lake have ever en­dured as their Ken­worth SAR will never blend into the back­ground.

On the odd chance it’s out of eye­sight, all you need is the man be­hind the wheel, Tony ‘Thommo’ Thomas, to start her up and what you can’t see you will hear! Be­lieve it or not, this stun­ning show rig was in­tended as a work­ing truck when it was put into the Princess Trans­port sta­ble. It had al­ready more than paid its dues since it first rolled off the fac­tory floor back in 1986.

The Ken­worth started its life way down in Tu­mut NSW and, in the 30-plus years since, has clocked up well over 3 mil­lion kilo­me­tres.

The clas­sic SAR re­mained mainly true to its orig­i­nal specs. The only ma­jor change be­fore the Lakes got hold of it was the re­place­ment of the orig­i­nal Sil­ver 406 engine with an 8V92 475 Detroit.

When Tony Lake found the old girl sev­eral years ago it was semi-re­tired, do­ing farm du­ties down in Shep­par­ton. Tony’s orig­i­nal plan was to bring it up to Bris­bane and put it to work for the fam­ily busi­ness, headed by Bob and Dot Reade (who have since re­tired), pulling re­frig­er­a­tor trail­ers for JAT Re­frig­er­ated Road Ser­vices.

How­ever, at that time, Tony al­ready had a show truck. Many will be fa­mil­iar with his 1989 Ford LTL 9000.

The sharp blue rig with amaz­ing art­work all around was a reg­u­lar at most truck shows. I’m pretty sure it still gets sighted work­ing around the Syd­ney area.

When the Ford was sold, the temp­ta­tion to pimp out the Ken­worth was over­whelm­ing. A re­place­ment LTL was pur­chased, al­low­ing the

SAR to be taken out back and torn down.

We had to change the su­per sin­gle spi­ders for 10-stud su­per sin­gles.


Now, although the truck has Tony and Tracey Lake Truck­ing em­bla­zoned on it, it’s an ap­pro­pri­ate time to men­tion that this is a full-on fam­ily show truck. Tony’s mum Dot has had a ma­jor in­flu­ence on the entire build. In fact, it’s her love of the orig­i­nal ‘blonde bomb­shell’ Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe that gave the truck its name ‘Heart­breaker’ as well as the amaz­ing art­work on the side.

The other no­table par­tic­i­pant in the cre­ation of this mas­ter­piece is Thommo. By day he drives the LTL for Princess Trans­port. By night and by early morn­ing, as well as week­ends, pub­lic hol­i­days, truck shows, char­ity events and just any time he’s not work­ing, you will find Thommo work­ing on Heart­breaker. Thommo is the only one who drives it.

“I never drive the thing,” Tony says. “Thommo takes it to all the shows and stuff.”

It was Tony and Thommo that put all the hard yards into the trans­for­ma­tion. The clas­sic rig was taken out to Tony’s shed where the ‘tear down’ be­gan. The truck was pulled com­pletely apart. The first ma­jor change was re­mov­ing the fac­tory high-rise sleeper and re­plac­ing it with the 50-inch low roof. The rig was sent off to a friend’s work­shop and re­painted in the stun­ning ‘prim­rose yel­low’ be­fore re­turn­ing to Tony’s shed for more ad­di­tions.


Many of Tony’s ideas and al­ter­ations came from sights he saw over sev­eral trips to the MidAmer­ica Truck­ing Show in Louisville, Ken­tucky. One of the most ob­vi­ous is the huge stain­less roof wing. Tony pur­chased that from Val­ley Chrome in Cal­i­for­nia. His time at its stand also re­sulted in the wicked-look­ing 22-inch front bumper.

Another idea stolen from the ever-creative Amer­i­can truck­ers is the ex­treme, tyre fit­ter­friendly guards. The idea was spawned over in the ’States, but Tony had them fab­ri­cated once he was back home.

When Heart­breaker first rolled out it was sport­ing the old clas­sic-style marker lights – a throw­back to the era from which the SAR grew. More re­cently, Tony and Thommo have un­der­taken a re­fit with smaller, more modern lights. Tony ad­mits with a laugh: “I thought I got

the lights that ac­tu­ally changed colour; turns out these ones are just or­ange.”

The art­work on the side came from a pic­ture

Dot found on­line. The task was handed to the boys at KipArt’s in Ip­swich who spent many hours up in Tony’s shed to pro­duce an ab­so­lutely stun­ning air­brushed copy.

Now, if you are go­ing to do a show truck there’s no sense pro­duc­ing a ‘choco­late bunny’ – awe­some on the out­side with noth­ing to show on the in­side – and Tony and Thommo have not rested there. The in­te­rior is as stun­ning as the ex­te­rior.

With the truck torn down, the dash was sent away to the team at Unique Skins in the north­ern Bris­bane sub­urb of Bren­dale.

With the use of a fancy sci­en­tific pro­ce­dure (that you can bet I wouldn’t un­der­stand), the dash gets dipped into a so­lu­tion and out the other end comes an amaz­ing unique black and yel­low cus­tom dash.

The in­te­rior trim was com­pletely stripped and Rae-Line in Mel­bourne supplied all new black and yel­low fab­ric. The team at An­nvid Up­hol­stery in Ca­pal­aba re­uphol­stered the seats, en­sur­ing it all looks fac­tory fit­ted. The cus­tom gear­stick was another Mid-Amer­ica Truck­ing Show in­flu­ence, com­ing from the team at Trukguts in Mis­souri.

I’m sure Thommo only fit­ted the 7-inch straight pipes to make sure his neigh­bours could en­joy the melodic tones of the 8V92 Detroit as of­ten as he does, but for the times when the truck isn’t idling they made sure the sound sys­tem in­side was up­graded from the orig­i­nal cas­sette player (for those driv­ers un­sure what a cas­sette player is, Google it! Now I feel old).

Au­to­barn in Ca­pal­aba fit­ted a cus­tom sound sys­tem with sub­woofer, amps and a six- speaker sound sys­tem that will have Thommo’s Katy Perry CDs thump­ing. With the truck all pimped out it was kept ex­tremely busy in 2017. In fact, Thommo es­ti­mates they did more than 25 shows that year.


As 2018 was rolling around, the fam­ily de­cided the truck just needed some­thing else. Step up again, mum. Dot sug­gested the truck would look sweet with a tanker be­hind it. While Tony was lean­ing more to­wards a Pan­tech or even a flat top, mum found an ex-bi­tu­men tanker that was cur­rently do­ing the rounds as a wa­ter truck. So, tanker it was.

Thommo and Tony were cir­cu­lat­ing around a few dif­fer­ent ideas, from stain­less wrap­ping the tank to rip­ping out the mid­dle axle and go­ing for

It’s a tribute truck, it re­ally is.

the full Amer­i­can look. In the end the plan was to make it to the Pen­rith Work­ing Truck Show, so time re­straints dic­tated the op­tions.

Tony will be the first to ad­mit that it wasn’t the eas­i­est project. “First, we had to change the su­per-sin­gle spi­ders for 10-stud su­per sin­gles, which meant re­plac­ing all the hubs; it meant re­plac­ing the brake drums … it was bloody hard to find brake drums,” he says.

All his rec­ol­lec­tions of the work in­volved, though, are re­called with a small smile and light­hearted tone. The work him and Thommo have put in means they’d al­most be up­set if it were easy.

Another no­tice­able fea­ture of Tony’s work ethic is his de­sire to give young guys start­ing out a go. The trailer was sent along the Cun­ning­ham High­way to War­wick for paint­ing by Jake from J&K Au­to­mo­tive Re­fin­ish­ing; a young guy just start­ing out. Much like Chris from Sa­mu­rai Signs, also in War­wick, who was tasked with sign­writ­ing the trailer.

As is tra­di­tion, the trailer had to be just as lu­mi­nous as the truck at night. Ex­tra marker lights were added to the side as well as enough brake and turn­ing lights on the rear – you can see the truck stop­ping three days be­fore it’s parked!

Jason from Fuller Trans­port Re­pairs also had a ma­jor hand in over­haul­ing the trailer; the lit-up ‘FT’ cutout on the rear of the trailer is a small thank you re­ward­ing him for his work.

From front to back, the truck is de­signed to catch your eye. Spe­cial no­tice needs to be taken of some of the sub­tle touches.

Tony’s daugh­ter Tay­lor, who is al­ready eye­ing up the driver’s seat when her li­cence is due, shortly tells me: “It’s a tribute truck, it re­ally is.” She’s not just re­fer­ring to the Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe tribute. If you no­tice the ‘No. 14’ above the Ken­worth badge on the bon­net, it is both a tribute to the 14th truck for Princess Trans­port as well as Tony and Tracey’s wed­ding an­niver­sary.

There’s also a tribute to one of Tony’s old friends who passed away from cancer a cou­ple of years ago. That is on the rear-deck plat­ing.

Fi­nally, the num­ber plate of the truck EXR777 is the ac­tual li­cence plate num­ber from Tony’s grandad’s last ve­hi­cle. He was a very in­flu­en­tial per­son in Tony’s life and keep­ing that plate num­ber was very im­por­tant to the fam­ily.

If you haven’t seen Heart­breaker in per­son, I sug­gest you track down Thommo and have a good look. If you’re not sure if it’ll be at your lo­cal show, I’ll leave it to Tony’s daugh­ter Tay­lor to ad­vise you on the pos­si­bil­i­ties: “If there’s an ice cream truck there, Thommo will go!”

Far left: Tony and Tracey Lake’s Ken­worth SAR ‘Heart­breaker’

Above: Tony Lake with Heart­breaker’s reg­u­lar driver Tony ‘Thommo’ Thomas

1. Enough brake and turn­ing lights on the rear – you can see the truck stop­ping three days be­fore it’s parked!

2. The num­ber­plate is a re­minder of Tony’s grandad’s last ve­hi­cle

3. No head knocks in the well-padded 50-inch low roof sleeper

4. The No. 14 sig­ni­fies the 14th truck for the fam­ily-op­er­ated Princess Trans­port

5. Black and yel­low fab­ric along the dash, re­uphol­stered seats and a cus­tom gear­stick add to the im­pres­sive in­te­rior

6. The un­mis­tak­able art­work of­ten leaves show-go­ers ea­ger to pass the time with Mar­i­lyn

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