Dubbo truckie restores special rig to former glory

Reunited after 40 years apart, a proud Larry Briggs has hit the show circuit with his cherished 1968 International.

“It took a lot of work, but you have to do these things properly,” said Larry Briggs with the proof of all his efforts there for all to see in his immaculate 1968 International C-1800, which was shining in the sunshine at the Lockhart Truck Show in early March.

The Inter has been a major part of Briggs’ involvement in road transport, albeit with a gap of about 40 years, with the truck initially purchased to work in the family livestock business at Coonamble, with truck and driver reunited in 2017 when it received a full restoration.

Larry Briggs stands proudly with his restored International.

“We bought it over the phone, sight unseen in 1970 with 40,000 miles on the clock, and I drove it from 1970 to 1977 with three decks of sheep or two decks of cattle virtually non-stop and put 600,000 miles on it,” Briggs explained.

“It came back to me as a total bloody wreck 40 years later and three years later it is how you see it today.”

The International was initially owned by Marks Wool Buyers in Gilgandra, hauling wool to Melbourne and backloading tractors and machinery back to the local International Harvester agent, before ending up at a dealer’s yard in St Marys.

Briggs was happy to get rid of a troublesome Ford to upgrade to the International.

“We traded a D850 Ford in on it, a truck that should never have been built. It had done 90,000 miles and about 70,000 on the end of a tow chain! We built her up, took the 160 Cummins out and put a 180 in and it had a pusher axle on it, we beefed it up to do the job.”

And do the job the International did, with a lot of work on livestock to Brisbane and Sydney as well as carting into the local markets at Dubbo and Coonamble.

“It had a 36-footer on the back, and it would pull well wherever you pointed it, I had 46 big Hereford steers on one night going up Scenic Mountain on the way into Sydney and she didn’t miss a beat.

“I would also do three a week to Brisbane, go Sunday and get back Tuesday and go again, do a load to Dubbo then cart into the Coonamble fat markets and then head off to Brisbane again – and I loved every minute of it.”

With the Briggs family taking on a Shell fuel agency the family kept their other truck, a Ford 8000 whilst the International was moved on. 

A variety of Dodges, International ACCO’s and a Ford LNT 9000 all worked on fuel haulage as the fuel work increased.

“We ended up with depots in Coonamble, Walgett and Collarenebri, we covered a lot of territory as it was quite a big area,” he said.

With the years passing the International found a new home around Griffith hauling rice and general freight with the truck having a pretty hard life before once again coming back into Briggs’s possession where the rebuild began in earnest.

“We hooked in for a solid two and a half years, John Merino was with Royan’s in Dubbo, he was a big help preparing the cab and panels for me. It cost me a few dollars along the way, but I wanted everything 110 per cent on it.”

Briggs sourced a donor truck for parts including a replacement Cummins motor, with the old one having seized up.

The paintwork was also overhauled, with Briggs doing some research at truck shows for a brighter red hue than the original International factory red colour, repainting the cab and panels in ‘Ford Monza’ red before finishing it off with blue trims and scrollwork on the doors and panels. 

“I’m pleased I took the time to get this paint and the red really stands out,” he said.

Having found a 36-foot trailer on Facebook virtually down the road from his Dubbo home at Binnaway, Briggs also overhauled it to hook onto the back of the International to smooth the ride out and has plans to swap the bogie rear end for a 9ft-1in spread setup to replicate the original outfit.

“I also have a pusher axle to go back in, I have got it all ready to bolt back in, it will just be a matter of changing the mudguards a bit, that is all I have left to do, apart from hooking up the airhorns,” he said.

Briggs was making his first trip down to Lockhart from his Dubbo home, and since hitting the road once again the International has been on display at shows at Narromine, Bathurst and Orange, and despite its age still hums along the highway fairly well, with the trailer helping smooth the ride out.

“My wife won’t go with me bobtail,” he said with a smile. “It will go to 105 but I usually run it at 90-95, with the Eaton 10-speed it’s just a beautiful truck to drive.”

Having had such a long association with the truck it is clear that getting the old International back to as-new condition has been a labour of love for Briggs, with the truck sharing space at the shed at home with the Ford 8000 which has stayed in the family all along and a 1919 Model T Ford. But it is the Inter that holds many memories for Briggs and he should be proud of his handiwork.

“Over the years it was a truck I had never forgotten. She has got a big heart and used to mix it with the big trucks going to Brisbane – I would happily hop in and go anywhere in it again now.”

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