Small-scale Doolans trucks are a large-scale success

The phrase ‘From little things big things grow’ is an apt description when profiling the development of Doolans Heavy Haulage over the last three decades, growing from a one-truck, one-driver concern to an operation which today works Australia-wide.

However, the ‘big’ and ‘little’ in this phrase could be easily reversed, with the large-scale Doolan trucks having been a cornerstone of the Drake Collectables model truck range for over a decade.

Bruce Hay, left, from Drake Collectables and Warwick Doolan with the Drake Mack Super-Liner at Melton. Image: David Vile

Held at Melton on the outskirts of Melbourne in late 2023, the Die Cast Model Expo saw Bruce Hay from Drake Collectables unveil in 1:50 scale the current-spec Mack Super-Liner, with Doolans Heavy Haulage the first company-liveried unit released.

Also on hand was Warwick Doolan who gave a rundown on the growth of his company since its inception and of the ongoing association with Drake and its variety of collectable trucks.

“We started off with one truck around 33 years ago, in the middle of the ‘recession we had to have’, with an old White Road Commander I paid $23,000 for, and our business grew month by month,” Doolan explained.

“I put the growth down to giving a good service at a fair price. Mobile phones were just coming in then, I could write the orders down on my arm and my leg as I went along, and away we went. Now we have over 400 pieces of transport gear.”

The company runs predominantly Kenworths and Macks, along with a few Volvos and is active on both sides of the country with depots in Melbourne, Perth and Port Headland along with a subsidiary company, Tasmanian Heavy Haulage based in the Apple Isle. 

Keeping his finger on the pulse overseeing the company’s activities is a full-time mission still today for Warwick Doolan.

“We are as busy as ever currently with all the construction projects going on – people want to move their gear in bigger lumps.

“With the additions of our road trains and SPMT’s (Self-propelled Modular Transporters) over the last couple of years we have diversified a bit.

“We can swap our gear around from state to state so we have good utilisation of the gear. Port Hedland has been a growth area as everything runs out of Perth to Port Hedland, and we have been doing a lot of east-west running recently.”

The Doolan fleet works Australia wide and has over 100 pieces of Drake equipment in its fleet.

The relationship between Doolans Heavy Haulage and Brisbane-based Drake Trailers goes back 30 years, and today over 100 pieces of Drake-built trailing equipment in a range of configurations wear the Doolan colours.

“We started out with a tri-axle float, then a quad and so on up to around 1998 when we got our first platform trailer – the Drakes are well-built for the Australian conditions,” said Warwick.

Over the last 14 years Drake Collectables has become a popular manufacturer of a variety of die-cast model trucks and trailers which are keenly sought after by collectors around the world, with the initial release back in 2010 being a Kenworth T908 paired with a Drake 2×8 dolly and 4×8 float. Doolans was one of the first companies to feature as a Drake release and since the initial T908 and trailer combination, a number of Doolans trucks and trailers have also been released in 1:50 scale, from a Kenworth C509 ‘road train’ variant through to an F700 cabover Mack, to a 7×8 steerable float through to a box-loader container trailer which was released at the Brisbane Truck Show earlier in 2023.

With the Mack Super-Liner making its debut at the Diecast Model Expo in a number of colours, Bruce Hay had also managed to secure a limited number of Doolans’ Super-Liners for sale ahead of their general release, which were quickly snapped up by collectors on the day.

The Super-Liner presents well in the custom green and white Doolans colours, and Warwick Doolan was delighted with the latest Drake offering.

“We were there when they started doing the models – I have been asking Bruce for a Mack truck for five or six years and he has turned up with one today so that’s an early Christmas present!” he said with a smile.

The event also saw the release of an ‘expo’ Doolans Kenworth K200 cabover with a special black and green paint scheme in place of the regular white colour. Produced in a very limited number, the line up of customers to purchase the expo-only model was testament to the popularity both the Drake and Doolans models are with collectors, a fact not lost on Warwick Doolan.

“There are a lot of people out there that are collectors, and it just amazes me how dedicated some of them are. The collector market has grown massively since it started.”

This year will see some more new Drake releases onto the market, including a Doolans-liveried Taylor XH-360L container forklift, and in all likelihood, there will be other things for collectors of the Doolans’ range to look forward to in the future, with Warwick Doolan also looking forward to what Hay might come up with next.

“There’s plenty of scope for down the track, there’s multiple options for what he might do for the next model.

“We have plenty of ideas and Bruce always manages to pull something out of his hat.”

1 Comment

  1. Josie a very nice song to make your dad proud to be a truck driver .been one myself for 50 years and my mother before me too

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