Resto re­tiree: Char­lie Borg’s re­tire­ment restora­tion projects

A keen devo­tee of buy­ing and restor­ing decades-old trucks, Char­lie Borg has an ex­cess of projects to keep him oc­cu­pied well into his re­tire­ment years. Greg Bush writes

Deals on Wheels - - Contents -

Char­lie Borg doesn’t feel the need in ad­ver­tis­ing his one-man busi­ness. Op­er­at­ing un­der the slo­gan of ‘if you can draw it, I can build it’, he re­lies on word of mouth to bring in clients in need of truck body and trailer cus­tomi­sa­tion and re­pairs.

At any rate, his loyal base of reg­u­lar cus­tomers keeps him oc­cu­pied to the point where his other ma­jor in­ter­est – buy­ing and restor­ing clas­sic trucks – is forced to take a back seat, for the time be­ing any­way.

Ev­i­dence of Char­lie’s truck col­lect­ing hobby is only a few paces in­side the gates of his prop­erty in Syd­ney’s western out­skirts. It’s like walk­ing into a pri­vate road trans­port mu­seum; some ve­hi­cles are scat­tered around the grounds while the cream of his clas­sics are parked in­side a huge shed.

All up he counts 12 trucks among his col­lec­tion – three White Road Bosses, two White Road Com­man­ders, a dis­man­tled White 4000, two Ken­worth S2s, a Ken­worth SAR, a W model, an Austin and a White 3000.

Not a ‘truckie’ in the reg­u­lar sense, Char­lie pre­vi­ously had lit­tle affin­ity with trucks. That in­ter­est even­tu­ally sur­faced via the fam­ily poul­try farm at St Johns Park in western Syd­ney although, as he says, his fa­ther Ed­die Borg “didn’t like them at first ei­ther”.

“My dad had his first truck in 1975, an ex-Clutha Com­mer with a Perkins en­gine and a sin­gle-axle alu­minium tip­ping trailer,” Char­lie says. “He used

If it was petrol it would have stayed there.

“It dis­ap­peared and I thought ‘some­one’s bought it, good luck to them’,” he re­calls.

“A few months later it came back and it’s $25,000. I thought, ‘get­ting bet­ter’ but I still didn’t have the money.

“The same thing, it dis­ap­peared, and six months later it came back and it’s $20,000. And I thought, ‘that’s more my style’.”

He got on the phone to Ed­die, who en­thu­si­as­ti­cally replied, ‘Are you gonna buy it? Wait for me!’

“I reckon the wheels on his 4WD didn’t hit the tar from the farm to here, he was that ex­cited about go­ing to have a look at it,” Char­lie says.

He later dis­cov­ered a piece of the truck’s his­tory through an old copy of the now de­funct Truck &

Bus mag­a­zine.

“It had a Perkins six-cylin­der put in it when I bought it, be­cause af­ter the gov­ern­ment sold it, it went to Ade­laide to a farmer there.

“The ra­di­a­tor is very close to the ground and the story I was told is he hit a stump, broke the ra­di­a­tor and cooked the en­gine. And he fit­ted a Perkins in it,” he ex­plains.

“When I bought it you could drive it, but it had a cou­ple of gears miss­ing in the gear­box, which I didn’t know at the time.

“Ap­par­ently I’m the fifth owner of it.”

EVENT CIR­CUIT

Early on, Char­lie had planned to re­store the White 3000 and take it to Al­ice Springs for the Road Trans­port Re­union in 2010, but heavy work com­mit­ments took prece­dence, although he found time to fit a V6 53 Detroit and a 13-speed Road­ranger.

How­ever, he’s still man­aged to take in a few events in re­cent years, no­tably en­ter­ing Lizzy the Road Com­man­der in Crawlin’ the Hume and Haulin’ The Hume, and driv­ing the White to Wau­chope for the Yesteryear Truck & Ma­chin­ery Show and even as far as Al­ice Springs. Lizzy is also reg­u­larly given the task of cart­ing Char­lie’s old Mini racer on the back of a float.

Mil­dred has also made the trip to Al­ice, al­beit on a trailer, but has at­tended shows at Dubbo and Goul­burn un­der its own steam.

As well as the trucks wait­ing for fur­ther re­fur­bish­ment, Char­lie has his grand­fa­ther’s 1959 Fair­lane in one of the sheds. The Ford hasn’t been driven since April 1970 and has only 21,000 miles on the clock.

“A lot of blokes want to buy it but as long as I’m around, I’m hav­ing it,” he re­marks.

Char­lie plans to slow down from mid-2019 on­wards, wind­ing his busi­ness back as he en­ters semi-re­tire­ment, en­abling more time for his own projects and the op­por­tu­nity to at­tend as many events as he likes with his re­stored ve­hi­cles.

“I’ve in­her­ited some land and I’m build­ing some houses on there and I’ll live off the rent,” Char­lie ex­plains. “I’m 54 this year and I know it’s not that old, but I don’t have a wife or kids, it’s just me, so I think I can live on a cou­ple of grand a week.”

Char­lie Borg and one of his Ken­worth S2s, which was orig­i­nally a Golden Fleece fuel tanker

‘Mil­dred’ the 1956 Austin, tucked away in Char­lie’s shed, pre­vi­ously hauled beer

Above: ‘Mil­dred’ with Char­lie’s Mini racer on the back

Above: The White 3000 in an ear­lier life, on its way to work for Vic­to­ria’s Weights and Mea­sures Of­fice, fea­tured in an old Truck & Bus mag­a­zine ar­ti­cle

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