My truck rocks
With a rig like this you’ve got to expect loads of attention
POLICE pulled Laurie Read over the first time he took out his reborn 1966 Loadstar.
“They checked that I had a truck licence, but then said they just wanted to check out the truck,” Read says.
When you drive a truck like this, you have to be prepared for attention.
The one-off International will be one of the favourites for the Show and Shine event at the Melbourne International Truck, Trailer and Equipment Show on April 5.
Read runs a fleet of Volvo FM rigs in his road operation, Belly Dumpers Australia, using special trailers to drop gravel and other material quickly and evenly for road building.
The 57-year-old favours modern Volvos for his work but classic Internationals are what get him going at the end of the day.
“Back when Dad was around, we always had Internationals,” Read says.
This is the fourth International Read has had restored, with much of the work done by his company’s mechanic, fellow International tragic Andrew Henry.
Read says the truck started its working life carting materials for the runways of Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport, which opened in 1970.
It had been brought into Australia in kit form and assembled at the International factory in Dandenong, which built Inters until 2010 and now produces Ivecos.
The original truck was a 12‒tonne rated tandem drive with a small 345 petrol V8 that not only struggled to move the rig at a reasonable rate but also guzzled fuel with a vengeance.
The body was rusted and the truck was generally stuffed. Read says: “I went and drove it around a paddock and thought the project wasn’t going to happen, it was that bad.”
Henry was confident he could work his magic, so Read rescued the truck and brought it home.
To turn the Loadstar into a one-off ute, the decision was made to shorten the chassis and remove one of the driving axles.
It is now rated as an eight‒tonner.
Read started looking around for a tray option and found one from a 1994 Dodge Ram pick‒up. “It was perfect,” Read says. “It had all the right curves to go with the cab and it went together really well.”
Read just couldn’t bring himself to put the original underwhelming engine back in his beautifully restored truck. He went looking for something special and settled on the iconic two-stroke GM Detroit Diesel 653 supercharged V8. These make plenty of power, but are also known for their fantastic and unique engine note.
Read opted for an Allison automatic to make life a little bit easier.
Having taken a 2000 Volvo FM off the road for parts a few years back, Read decided to use some of the parts for the International build.
A Swedish differential did the trick as did the Volvo front axle. Big Volvo brakes were used front and rear to give the truck much improved stopping power.
Henry fitted airbags on top of the existing springs, something that has created a smooth ride.
“It drives so well,” Read says. “You can just sit back, relax and do 500km without a problem.”
When it came to the cabin, Read wanted to retain the look and feel of the original truck. He had it reupholstered with replica materials, using grey seat fabric and door linings.
There was no such restraint shown when it came to the exterior. Read chose one of the brightest oranges known to man, you might recall it from the original Ford Focus XR5.
Read is thrilled with the truck and says the key to a good restoration is using the best parts you can.
That might explain the mural on the tailgate that reads: Blown Budget.
International aspirations: Linda and Laurie Read with their much modified truck, BIGZZZ Pictures: Australian Custom Trucks