Looking back through the archives of road transport in Australia and in particular the myriad of makes and models of trucks that have graced our roads, the International DCO-F does not come as readily to mind as other trucks such as a Mack Super-Liner or Kenworth SAR.
The only known DCO-F still on the road in Australia along with its owner, did the hard yards on the Nullarbor between Sydney and Perth when the road was not much more than a dirt track.
Don McGlinchie has twice owned the 1965-model DCO, in the first instance purchasing the Emeryville, California-built truck with which he ran across ‘The Paddock’, and other destinations between 1969 and 1974. He once again bought the truck around 10 years ago and spent four years overhauling and rebuilding it into an immaculate example of the model, which he had on display recently at the Gundagai Tractor Pull and Swap Meet.
“The DCO-F was the predecessor to the Transtar, there is no documented history of them in Australia but as near as I can find out the first series had a 280 Cummins which was de-rated from a 335. It’s a D-series, the CO is for cabover, and the F denotes a bogie drive,” McGlinchie explained.
Having been running a B-Model Mack east-west, McGlinchie bought the DCO from Phil Murray, another Sydney-based operator. With the fitment of a 15-speed Roadranger and the International rear end swapped out for a 44,000lb Rockwell setup, the International soon proved its worth, and with the sleeper cab somewhat of a rarity at the time, the comfort levels were also an upgrade on the Mack.
“I had no troubles with it, with the 44s under it, it could do anything. She hauled some big loads and it never saw a weighbridge in New South Wales,” McGlinchie said with a smile.
“Of course, there was still 600 miles of dirt roads – when I started running out there in 1959 the dirt started at the Kimba turnoff and finished at Norseman – it was rugged, but the truck stood up to it. I had slept across the seats for 10 years, so it was a step up in comfort. It did 90 per cent of its time running Sydney to Perth, carrying general and then copper tube and loading timber back out of the south-west.”
McGlinchie sold the truck in the mid 1970’s in favour of a Detroit-powered Atkinson, with the DCO a familiar sight around Sydney for a number of years working as a salvage unit for Retriever Towing.
Buying the truck back, McGlinchie started his restoration project, which has resulted in the truck today finished with a white roof, blue cab and gold trims.
“It still had the tow-truck body on it, but the chassis was cracked in a couple of places, I bought an old Kenworth and flogged all the good stuff out of it and put it back in this. With the 350 Big Cam Cummins, it runs along nicely, you can sit on 100k and she’s only doing 1300 revs. It also now has air suspension so that’s made it a lot more sociable too,” he said.
In between owning the DCO, McGlinchie spent a number of years carting steel between Sydney and Newcastle before finishing his full-time driving delivering BP fuel for a sub-contractor. In more recent times he worked shifting the Stihl Timbersports woodchopping carnival around the country before the various Covid shutdowns saw him call time on his driving duties.
For older readers he is best known for his 14-year stint as test driver and technical contributor for the much-missed Truck and Bus magazine.
“I would have done that job for nothing – at one time International built us a Big Cam powered Atkinson for a road test between Sydney and Perth, it was nice that they trusted you enough to build a truck for you to do a test,” he said.
For now, McGlinchie wheels the DCO out for events such as the Gundagai event and Haulin’ the Hume, where the truck’s rarity makes it somewhat of a talking point.
“I know where there are three others being restored but they are long term projects. They built 33,800 of them which would have been the best-selling International in the USA until the Transtar came out. But you just can’t seem to find much history of them here in Australia which is a real shame.”