While the International nameplate is no longer a player in the new truck market, enthusiasts like Scotty Wilson are keeping the Eagle badge flying high.
“I always wanted a bit of a project to take on and the Eagle was always a good-looking truck, and they are getting a bit rare now,” he said of his 2005 International Eagle which had just rolled into the Rocklea Showgrounds for the annual Heritage Truck Association show in May.
With its striking paint scheme and chrome highlights, the Eagle has been a mainstay of Wilson’s trucking activities for the last 13 years and is put to work every day across Brisbane.
With his previous truck, a 2001 Freightliner Century Class having been written off in a rollover, Wilson bought the International in 2010 with the aim of making it into something special before hitting the road with it.
“We bought this one off Esanda from a yard in Penrith in 2010 for $70,000 – back then they were still pulling $160,000 for a second-hand one.
“It was a re-possession job, it had been hauling cattle down around Kingston in South Australia and was plain white in colour, so we stripped her down and painted her up. We went with a bit of a Harley theme, and she came up a treat.”
At the time, the Eagle was in a sorry state with a crumpled bulbar, and missing mudguards, with Wilson entrusting the team at B & K Lines and Signs in Darra to undertake the work to overhaul the truck from the chassis rails up.
“It previously only had one exhaust stack on it, and we put the Texas bar on it – B &K painted it and polished her up put all the bells and whistles on it and we put it to work,” he said.
With a good dose of ‘bling’ including stainless guards, and windscreen visor and some Harley-Davidson badging, the combination of colours and the design across the bonnet, cab and sleeper really set the truck off.
“I had a bit of a design in mind, just wanted to do something that wasn’t ‘square’ with flat lines and so on. The colours are a mix of gold from a Toyota Camry, the burgundy is from a Peugeot and it’s just regular black, but it works well and stands out,” Wilson explained.
At the time he bought the International, Wilson was hauling scrap steel from Brisbane to Wollongong and his current role is that of a subbie for Namour Transport where he runs a single tautliner carting pallets mostly on a night-shift basis. Under the bonnet is a Cummins Signature rated at 580hp, which is more than adequate for the job.
Wilson first took on the role of an owner-driver in 1996 with the purchase of an ex-Boylan Western Star, with his first experience behind the wheel of a truck coming a number of years earlier in the Australian Army.
“I joined the army at 16.5, did the Kapooka thing and got posted to the Army School of Transport. I was driving semis before my 18th birthday.
“I was the youngest semi-driver in the Australian Army up to that point, probably still am. I initially got posted to a Mack squadron so did 12 months there, and then did my ‘274’ semi-trailer course driving Diamond Reos. I visited every state of Australia except Tasmania in the first six months carting APC’s, ammunition and so on. I worked out in the first 365 days in the army I was on the road for 300 of them with exercises and all sorts of things.”
The army connection is still strong with Wilson having earlier in 2023 purchased an International S-Line which had been in the fleet at his old squadron at Puckapunyal. He also has a T409 Kenworth which is used as a back-up to the Eagle, along with another project truck in the works, a 4700 Transtar.
“The S-Line will stay ‘army’, we will tidy it up and will just give it a bit of chrome, if you go too far it will look like a truck that has been made into an army truck. The Transtar we are working on will be painted up in black and gold so hopefully it won’t require much polishing!” Wilson said with a grin.
While the International nameplate is no longer a player in the new truck market in Australia, Wilson is one of many who hold the brand in high esteem, and it would appear that he will not be parting with his Eagle anytime soon.
“I reckon Internationals are the most under-rated truck, they are bloody brilliant and made a lot of people a lot of money back in the day, they are just well built honest old trucks. They stopped making the Eagle in 2011 they are a bit of a collector’s item now so I will be hanging on to this. I’ll be buried in this thing.”