Louisville low­down

Whit­tling away as North Amer­ica’s premier truck event, the 2018 Mid-Amer­ica Truck­ing Show in Louisville, Ken­tucky, was just a dull shadow of for­mer glo­ries. Even so, there was still enough glitz ’n glam­our to keep the good ol’ boys en­ter­tained, in­clud­ing

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Mid-Amer­ica Truck­ing Show round-up

THERE WAS A TIME not so many years ago when the Mid-Amer­ica Truck­ing Show (MATS) was a world-class event, show­cas­ing all that was hot and hap­pen­ing in the North Amer­i­can truck busi­ness. Just as you’d head to Han­nover in Ger­many to see the lat­est trends and tech­nol­ogy in Europe, or to the Tokyo Mo­tor Show to see Ja­pan’s best and bright­est, his­tor­i­cally you’d head to Mid-Amer­ica in Louisville, Ken­tucky, to catch up on Amer­ica’s newest load haulin’ hard­ware. Not any­more! Call me bi­ased, but judg­ing by what was on show in Louisville this year, I’d now rate our own bi­en­nial Bris­bane Truck Show as far more in­for­ma­tive and pro­fes­sional than its US coun­ter­part.

Nowa­days, MATS has strong com­pe­ti­tion from ri­val events, and with ever-watch­ful eyes on the cor­po­rate wal­let, Amer­ica’s truck, trailer and com­po­nent brands are no longer au­to­matic starters when it comes to sign­ing up for a truck show, any­where. It ap­pears to be a case of each event mea­sured on its mer­its of ap­peal­ing to ded­i­cated mar­kets.

Among the big brands, only Mack and Pac­car’s Peter­bilt and Ken­worth trav­elled to Mid-Amer­ica this year, largely

cap­tur­ing the new truck side of the event to them­selves. As it turned out, that was a par­tic­u­larly good thing for Mack, in­tent on let­ting ev­ery­one know its new An­them with a stand-up cab and sleeper is aimed squarely at bring­ing the bull­dog back to some promi­nence in the North Amer­i­can line­haul busi­ness.

For a hand­ful of Aus­tralian visi­tors, it also meant we could for the first time get up close and per­sonal with a re­ju­ve­nated bull­dog even­tu­ally headed for our part of the world (see the Mack An­them fea­ture on page 88).

Ab­sent friends

Other than Mack and Pac­car, Louisville was slim pick­ings in­deed for new trucks from the big boys of the busi­ness.

No Freight­liner, or its cor­po­rate cousins Detroit and West­ern Star. No In­ter­na­tional, other than a very lonely Lon­es­tar, cour­tesy of the lo­cal Louisville dealer.

No Volvo, high­light­ing the fact that in the US, Mack and Volvo def­i­nitely go their sep­a­rate ways.

No Ja­pa­nese truck brands de­spite an ever-in­creas­ing pres­ence in the US.

And of course, no Cat.

As for new tech­nol­ogy, only the Shell ‘Star­ship’ truck and trailer con­cept went some way to­wards show­cas­ing the ef­fi­ciency mer­its of ad­vanced aero­dy­namic de­sign.

“The only elec­tric ve­hi­cle

he saw was a bat­tery­driven go-kart.”

Top right & un­der­neath: When Henry had heav­ies. A 1974 Ford WT9000 leads a line-up of clas­sic cab-overs, in­clud­ing a Freight­liner FLB. Mid-Amer­ica this year was as much about old bangers as it was about the new breed; It wouldn’t be Mid-Amer­ica with­out mas­sive sleep­ers on a huge wheel­base. In this case, a West­ern Star 5700 on a 322inch wheel­base sport­ing a 144 inch ARI Legacy ‘mo­bile home’ as well as a rel­a­tively stan­dard 34 inch ‘walk-thru’ Strato­sphere sleeper

This page mid­dle L to R: Dash­ing Dodge. 1975 Dodge Big Horn. Ap­par­ently, only 261 were ever made be­tween 1973 and 1975, with this unit pow­ered by a 350 Small Cam Cum­mins run­ning through a 13-speed shifter into Rock­well rears. Vi­sion through that nar­row wind­screen over that huge ex­panse of hood must’ve been some­thing of a chal­lenge; Driv­ing the mes­sage. With US de­mand for trucks and trans­port on the boil, the pres­sure is on to at­tract good driv­ers and owner-driv­ers. Mid-Amer­ica had plenty of out­fits and agents pro­mot­ing solid re­turns for owner-op­er­a­tors and driv­ers alike

Right: Cool com­bi­na­tion with a full-body slid­ing cover but you’d have to worry about ground clear­ance on the trailer, wouldn’t ya?

Op­po­site mid­dle: Lone­some Lon­es­tar: What­ever the fu­ture for In­ter­na­tional, its flag­ship model will al­ways be a great retro de­sign

Op­po­site bot­tom L to R: Flash­backs to when cab-overs were com­mon in the US. A 1979 Ken­worth K100 Aero­dyne and cor­po­rate part­ner, a 1985 Peter­bilt 362. Per­son­ally, I think Amer­i­can truck op­er­a­tors would be blown away to see what Ken­worth’s Aus­tralian de­sign­ers have achieved with the K200; Light ’n lively: Cum­mins X12 and Ea­ton’s new 12-speed En­durant au­to­mated shifter make a po­tent, su­per-light pow­er­train. Imag­ine how good would this be in, say, a Ja­pa­nese heavy

What’s more, and de­spite the fact that most ma­jor US truck brands are now dig­ging deep into ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies such as au­ton­o­mous trucks, the only in­di­ca­tion of au­ton­o­mous be­hav­iour at Mid-Amer­ica ap­peared to be the pub­lic rush to any­thing la­belled ‘free’.

Un­for­tu­nately, and per­haps un­sur­pris­ingly, there was ab­so­lutely noth­ing from Tesla about elec­tric trucks, and like­wise zilch from Cum­mins about its sim­i­larly fast-paced push into elec­tric propul­sion.

I didn’t see it, but an Aus­tralian prod­uct man­ager wan­der­ing around MATS told me the only elec­tric ve­hi­cle he saw was a bat­tery-driven go-kart tucked away on the small non­de­script stand of a re­search out­fit.

By com­par­i­son, the Tokyo Mo­tor Show late last year was awash with elec­tric tech­nol­ogy, led by Daim­ler’s Fuso with the

“Just a col­lec­tion of

pho­tos, for Pete’s sake!”

launch of its ded­i­cated elec­tric brand, E-Fuso, and a highly ad­vanced pro­to­type model called Vi­sion One.

Still, truckin’ in Amer­ica isn’t all about new-fan­gled gad­gets and giz­mos. Never has been, and while MATS lacked plenty in big brand pre­sen­ta­tion, it at least had enough of the new and the novel, the old and the bold, the long and the lav­ish, to sat­isfy lovers of clas­sic Yank trucks and keep the good ol’ guys ‘n’ gals mildly en­ter­tained.

Any­way, here’s a pic­to­rial sum­mary of Mid-Amer­ica 2018, a show with a touch of ev­ery­thing but on the other hand, not much of any­thing.

“Still, truckin’ in Amer­ica isn’t all about new-fan­gled gad­gets and giz­mos.”

Top left: Clas­sic Ken­worth from 1938. A photo just for the sake of it

Be­low left: While some Aus­tralian com­men­ta­tors seem to think air bag front sus­pen­sions are some­thing new and largely the pre­serve of con­ti­nen­tal brands, the fact is they’ve been avail­able in one form or another in the US for many decades. For its part,...

Above: Stun­ning! If there was a truck of the show of any age, my vote would’ve def­i­nitely gone to this spec­tac­u­larly pre­served 1956 Au­to­car DC-75 model with an orig­i­nal fac­tory sleeper. Back then, big iron didn’t come any big­ger

Top L to R: Old and new. Freight­liner wasn’t com­pletely ab­sent from Mid-Amer­ica and we found th­ese two well apart on sep­a­rate stands. The old banger is an ’88 FLC and, go­ing way back to Freight­liner’s for­ma­tive days in the Aus­tralian mar­ket, this model...

Star­ship en­ter­prise: Shell has part­nered with the Air­flow Truck Com­pany to de­velop what it calls “a hyper-aero­dy­namic, su­per fuel-ef­fi­cient Class 8 con­cept truck, bring­ing to­gether the best of to­day’s ex­ist­ing and cus­tom tech­nolo­gies”. With a car­bon...

Top: Ken­worth col­lec­tion: Lookin’ good but it’s a fair bet US build qual­ity wouldn’t do in our part of the world

Op­po­site page: Mack An­them: It rep­re­sents a new era for the bull­dog where the ul­ti­mate goal is to re­build Mack’s pres­ence in North Amer­i­can line­haul. The big news is a stand-up cab and 70-inch sleeper, and yep, the cab is headed our way but only after...

Left & be­low: Peter­bilt’s pride-of­place went to a 579 model with the new Ul­tra-Loft 80-inch sleeper. The real star, how­ever, was the 567 model, the one-mil­lionth Peter­bilt ever built and given away to the per­son judged the brand’s great­est fan. How...

Far left: Pac­car Pow­er­train: Ken­worth and Peter­bilt were push­ing the all-Pac­car bar­row but it’s a mar­ket­ing mi­rage. The en­gine is Pac­car’s MX but, make no mis­take, the au­to­mated trans­mis­sion comes from Ea­ton and the drive tandem from Mer­i­tor

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