AS anyone who has completed a major truck restoration will tell you, there are always a few unexpected surprises along the way.
Luckily for the Lara-based father-and-son duo of David and Andrew Derham, their biggest headache with their latest project is working out where to store all the trophies.
After just one public appearance with their show-stopping 1989 500 V8 Mack Value-Liner it’s quickly becoming obvious to the Derhams that they’re going to need a bigger cabinet.
With the ink on the registration paperwork and other finishing touches to the Mack less than a day old, the Derhams arrived in Koroit unsure of what to expect against a stellar line-up duelling for one of the best prize pools on the show calendar.
When the $40,000 of cash and prizes were dished out, the Derhams were the toast of the large crowd that turned out to support the first show held since 2020 due to a Covid enforced hiatus.
The Mack Value-Liner, which just five years ago was rusting away on a WA waste-yard, won the Best American and Best Restored Vintage categories before confirming what everyone already knew – this truck was a clear-cut choice for Rig of Show.
The major honour alone consisted of $1000 cash and $3500 worth of sponsors’ products, but for good measure the Derhams also walked away with the runner-up prize in the Best Restored Vintage category with their 1984 Kenworth K100, the winner of the Koroit Rig of Show in 2019, which shares the same livery.
Although proud of how the Mack presented, Andrew said it was still a pleasant surprise to be the recipient of such an impressive prize haul.
“It was the same sort of thing with our Kenworth Cabover in 2019; we just did it up because we wanted to do it up and they look cool,” he said.
“It sort of goes back to the good old trucks of the 80s and you just don’t realise how many people appreciate it until you get it out in the open arena.”
Andrew, 48, credits good mate Steve Thomas, who he’s known since primary school days, for spotting a then dilapidated Value-Liner in an online sale catalogue about five years earlier and buying it sight unseen.
“He found it in Western Australia, and it was knackered, rooted, stuffed. If you looked at it, you would have taken it down to the scrap yard except that Steven could see the potential in a good old V8.
“He talked to us about it and we said, ‘Yeah, if you’re happy to do it up and all the rest of it, we’ll buy it off you now and then we’ll just keep paying you to finish it’.
“It was 15 or 20 grand to buy it, but you probably don’t want to know what money’s been put into it now. I haven’t sat down to work it all out, but it’s had hundreds of thousands put into it.”
Andrew says the resto itself went on for a good 2-3 years, on and off.
“It’s been built from the chassis rails up,” he said.
“The only thing that’s still original in it is the motor and the guy that sold it to Thommo said that it had been done up recently.
“When we pulled it all apart it still had Never Seez on the bolts so you could tell that things had been out recently.
“The rest of it is all new, new gearbox [18 speed Roadranger], new diffs, new everything else. I keep telling everyone it’s a brand new 1989 model.”
To be able to save such a classic was one of the most satisfying parts of the whole process for Andrew, who, like Steve Thomas, could also see its potential.
Resurrecting an Australian classic from the golden era for Mack was also one of the two reasons the new owners opted for the name Stayin Alive, explained Andrew.
“One, we’ve rescued it, so it hasn’t gone to the scrap heap, and two, the old man kept saying to Thommo, ‘Am I still going to be alive when this thing is finished?’”
The rego V8Dero is also of personal significance, added Andrew.
“The old man was called Dero for a long time by his mates – always in a positive way – and I saw it was available, so I grabbed it.”
With yet more restorations in the pipeline, Andrew is proud to play his small part in preserving the heritage of the Australian transport industry.
He’s grown up hearing the stories of the road from his old man, and is rapt to do his bit to help David, now 74, keep those memories alive.
“The old man has been in it for over 50 years, so it’s more of an appreciation for him that he likes that sort of stuff and is happy to spend the money in getting them and getting them done up and enjoying them.”
As for the next public appearance for Stayin Alive, Andrew said that was likely to be in the Camp Quality Convoy in Geelong on February 19.
After that the Derhams, who run a mixed fleet of more than 40 trucks delivering quarry products all over regional Victoria and South Australia are spoilt for choice in terms of shows. But the only other confirmed engagement at deadline for this issue was an outing alongside the K100 up to Sydney for Haulin’ the Hume on March 25.
“I got it registered the day before the [Koroit] truck show and I wanted to get it to one before the old man put a trailer on it,” said Andrew with a laugh.
“We’ve got a semi we can chuck on the back of it. Our other main work is tipper work so when the weather’s right and the day’s right and there’s not too much pressure on, me and the old man will go and do some loads with it, just for a bit of fun.
“You might as well enjoy it.”
For a full list of Koroit prize winners, click here.