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.
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