Old Bulldog still has plenty of bark left to offer

old mack

“I remember as a kid sitting on the side of the road and hearing one of these V8s coming and thinking: ‘That’s the way to go’,” recalled Tom Nicholson.

“A lot of people go for the Series 2s as they were a bigger truck but I had a soft spot for the Series 1s and I always wanted one.”

The dream became a reality for Nicholson a few years back with his purchase of a 1983 Series 1 Mack Super-Liner, which has been beautifully restored and has been earning its keep as part of his family earthmoving business in regional Victoria.

Part of a strong Mack contingent at the ATHS American Iron Show at Echuca in September, Nicholson’s Super-Liner had seen over four decades in the Queensland sunshine for several owners before he purchased it in 2019 and undertook a major overhaul and restoration.

“I bought it out of a place called Tara in Queensland from a fella called Brian Renkie. He had had it since 1985 but sold it to Duncan’s Dozer Hire in Claremont in 2000,” he explained.

“He bought it back off them a few years later and put it in the shed – he had too many other projects on the go so it was put up for sale. I went up and had look at it, did a bit of wrangling and bought it home.”

A proud Tom Nicholson and son Luke at Echuca with the Mack Super-Liner.

With the aim of both restoring the truck and keeping the original heritage of it intact, the Mack was sent across to Peter Clapton of Sherwood Restorations in Castlemaine where it received a rebuild and makeover as Nicholson detailed.

“I put it in the shed and said, ‘Lets roll!’ They threw everything at it and didn’t stop, it went in in September and was back on the road by March. They split the rails from the cab backwards. With all the bush work it had done, the amount of dust we got out of it was unbelievable.”

The Super-Liner received some close attention with the red and white Nicholson colours applied which were fairly similar to the trucks original paint scheme.

Originally built as a heavy-duty truck with a 440 Horsepower V8, 12-speed gearbox and a 115-tonne rating, the Mack had stood the test of time.

“All it had ever done was livestock and heavy haulage. You would have thought it would have been knocked around over the years, but it was in pretty good nick really. We did the motor and gearbox but left the diffs, and put a new interior in it as well,” he said.

As well as being a project truck, the Super-Liner has also been on duty in recent times, working out of the Nicholson Earthmoving depot at Sunday Creek just north of Melbourne.

Hooked up to a tri-axle float, Nicholson has been giving the E9-V8 a solid workout hauling his three graders and Cat D7 bulldozer between job sites.

“I have my main float truck, a 1999 Mack Trident being overhauled currently, so this has been working 3-4 days a week since November last year.

“We do lot of city work, running from Sunday Creek in and out of Melbourne, and we have a farm at Cobram, so we also cart a bit of stock. It gets well used.

“I love throwing the dozer on it; the more weight on it the better it goes. The pulling range is unreal. You get to 1300-1400 revs, and she just holds. It’s fairly low geared so it’s at full noise doing 100k’s, it will drop back to 80 but it will hold and pull like a train.”

It would be fair to say that the Mack brand is well entrenched in the Nicholson operation with a 1979 Super-Liner and an R-Model also part of the fleet.

Nicholson has some plans afoot to give the ’79 model Super-Liner the full restoration treatment in the near future.

“I have just pulled it off the road so that might be the next project. It will be a pure ‘show’ truck. It has a bit of history behind it as it was the sixth Super-Liner built and the first with a Mack engine in it.

“The other early ones had Cats and so forth in them and this one is fitted with a six-cylinder unit as they weren’t initially bringing them out with the V8s in them, so it’s a bit of a rare truck.

“Originally it went to the Northern Territory. It was Bob Dodd’s truck which was painted in the Buntine colours as he was a subbie to them at the time.”

The Nicholson Super-Liner was well received at Echuca and was also a hit at the Alexandra Truck Show earlier this year, taking out a couple of categories including the trophy for Best Mack, and no doubt the ’79 Super-Liner when restored will make a good stablemate for its younger brother at shows in the future.

In the meantime, the ’83 model will still turn a wheel for its owner and turn a few heads as it makes it way down the road.

“It’s great to restore them to the era of the truck, but you have to be able to use them – when we get the Trident back on the road this will go into semi-retirement again, but I will still be using it – everyone loves it when she rolls coal.”

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