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
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 &
“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.”
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