From its beginnings in 1954 to becoming part of the Toll group of companies in 1998, the bright yellow trucks and trailers of IPEC (Interstate Parcel Express Company) were a familiar sight on Australia’s roads.
Along the way many truck brands featured in the IPEC fleet, and with tight deadlines to meet, high-powered and reliable trucks were a necessity.
Among the trucks IPEC used on the various express routes across the country was the bonneted V8 Scania 143 – better known to many as a Scania ‘Gumboot’, and today Jeff Cozens has a Scania truck and trailer outfit which stands out as a reminder of the heady days of IPEC’s express freight services in the 1980s.
Having recently driven the truck and trailer from Melbourne to Albury as part of the 2021 Crawlin’ the Hume event, Cozens had the Scania on display at the Albury Racecourse and shared some detail of his IPEC tribute truck.
“It’s not an original IPEC truck, this is a 1984 model and was probably a bit early for them as it’s a ‘142’ and not a ‘143’ but it is the same spec as the ones they had – it has a 430 horsepower V8 and a 15-speed Roadranger and goes really well, of course back in 1984 this was a big truck,” he explained.
Running a mechanical workshop in Campbellfield in the northern suburbs of Melbourne, Cozens acquired the Scania off a customer a number of years ago, and thought the truck would be put to good use as an IPEC tribute.
“It would have to be one of the first bonneted 142 Scanias around – a customer owned it who was a plumber and had bought a Mack, he got me to pull the tipper body off the Scania and told me to keep the truck,” Cozens explained.
“I converted it back to a prime mover and just used it for five years or so pushing trailers around the yard. I came across the ex-IPEC trailer so I thought I would paint the truck yellow to put it up as to how they were as you don’t see them around anymore.”
Of the prime mover itself, Cozens doesn’t have the full picture of its history but believes it was an interstate prime mover before having the tipper body fitted, and the original white paint colour was swapped out for the bright yellow and black detailing, which was a standout feature of the IPEC fleet.
“We got the yellow as close as we could get, over the years there were a so many different IPEC trucks, there was no exact ‘IPEC yellow’, back in the day people would see a yellow truck and know it was an IPEC unit.”
The trailer behind the Scania is the real deal, first hitting the road as part of IPEC fleet in 1986, before Cozens found it for sale in central Victoria and other than keeping it up to scratch mechanically has no plans to overhaul the original paintwork and signwriting.
“The trailer looks like it was found out in a paddock and that’s the way its going to stay,” he said with a smile. “I had to scrub all the black paint off where they had painted over the Toll/LPEC logos, so that took some doing, I just use it mainly as a storage trailer for parts and every now and then I get it out and take it up the highway for trips like this.”
Cozens runs his own business, JC Diesel Service, and reckons he is ‘a diesel mechanic who drives trucks for fun’.
Starting out with Kenworth in 1980, he moved across to Freestone’s Transport in 1986 before setting up his own operation in 1991. Along the way in addition to the Scania he has a restored Kenworth, another one undergoing an overhaul and a D-Series Ford also waiting its turn.
Cozens is a member of the American Truck Historical Society and runs the Scania on club registration. The run up the Highway 31 was the first trip for the truck and trailer outfit and Cozens reckoned the V8 had no dramas making its way up the old sections of the old Hume.
He has a trip to Alice Springs for the annual Road Transport Hall of Fame in his sights as its next major outing, but in the meantime he was heading back to work to help pay for the next project, he said with a laugh.
But for the time being, Cozens’s truck and trailer outfit serves as a reminder of a vehicle that was a familiar sight, and one that could handle the challenges of express freight and do it well.
“They had plenty of horsepower, they rode better than a Kenworth and they could go quick….back in that era of the 1980’s we were always chasing them in Freestone’s Kenworths.
“They would have to get from Melbourne to Sydney in eight hours on the old road – and do it every night.”