Third-gen truckie shares heartwarming story behind K100E restoration

With his family ties to trucking going back three generations, Kyle Nichol always had a passion for rigs. 

His lovingly restored 1990 Kenworth K100E cabover took out the top prize at the Deniliquin Truck Show last October, as well as Best 26-39 Years.

But the award-winning truck isn’t just a beauty to look at – it also has a heartwarming story behind it.

Nichol said: “My grandparents started our family fertiliser business, Nichol Trading, back in the 1970s.

“The Kenworth K100E was the first new truck we ever bought, in 1990.

“We had it a few years, but then my grandparents sold it because they needed the money to expand their business and buy a new premises in Rochester.

“It was sort of a ‘now or never’ thing because in the ‘90s interest was really high, and having that brand-new truck wasn’t that beneficial to them.”

A young Nichol with the Kenworth, back in the ‘90s. Image: Kyle Nichol

The years went by, but the Nichol family never really forgot about the truck – and Kyle decided he was going to make it his mission to find it.

“In 2017, after a long time trying to track it down, we finally found it in Sydney,” he says.

“I called the fella that owned it, told him our story and asked if we could buy it off him.

“He was pretty surprised, and he said it wasn’t for sale because he was fairly attached to it.

“His young bloke had just got excited about trucks and he didn’t want to sell.

“It took about 12 months of annoying him to convince him to part with it!”

At Maroopna Mobile Engineering, getting new rails and the Airglide 460 fitted. Image: Kyle Nichol

In the end, Nichol managed to strike a deal with the owner.

“He said that if we could find him a truck that his young bloke could get into, he would part with this one.

“I ended up finding a flat roof one for him and so we were able to drive to Sydney and get our old Kenworth.”

Nichol and his brother Brook managed to keep the purchase of the sentimental truck a secret from their dad until that Christmas, when they surprised him with a tiny gift box.

“We had picked up the truck in November and we hid it in a shed until Christmas,” he remembers.

“The keys had a Sunrise key tag on them when we had the truck in the 90s, and the key tag was still there.

“When my dad opened the box and saw the key tag, he knew straight away. It was a pretty good moment!”

What’s left of the donor truck after the resto. Image: Kyle Nichol

After the big reveal, Nichol spent six years restoring the truck. An experienced mechanic, he did a lot of the initial work in-house.

“We said ‘Oh, we’ll just tidy it up.’

“Then you pull something apart and it’s wrecked and you’ve got to completely fix it.

“So it went from a tidy up to a full resto.”

Nichol ended up driving from Victoria to Condamine, Queensland to pick up a “donor truck”.

“It had all the matching fuel tanks and the same cab and the same interior.

“Just all the little bits and pieces that are difficult to source through Kenworth, like door clips and dash panels.”

The cab stripped back to bare metal. Image: Kyle Nichol.

He also sent it to Mooroopna Mobile Engineering in Shepparton, who did the back end of the truck.

“The chassis was rusted through, so he replaced the rails.

“We put Airglide 460 under it because it had Hendrickson Walking Beam in it that was completely worn out, and we decided not to put Walking Beam in it again.

“That’s probably the only thing that’s not original.”

After that, the truck spent two years with Danny Schifferle at Schifferle Custom Truck Painting in Swan Hill.

“Again, everything he pulled apart was a wreck.

“Even to the point where he got his friend to re-fiberglass the roof.

“They tidied up the interior, sandblasted inside the cab, repainted everything in the cab.

“They brought the cab back to bare aluminium and re-riveted a lot of it, where the windscreens come loose in those old trucks, and re-did the floor.

“It was a monumental task but he and the boys did an amazing job.”

Finally, the Klos Brothers did the mud guards and wrapped the fuel tanks.

“We wrapped the fuel tanks because there were still a few imperfections in them, even though we sourced some pretty reasonable tanks. We just wanted to cover them up.”

All straightened out and ready for paint. Image: Kyle Nichol.

The truck was finally finished late this year, and Nichol says he’d rather not know how much he spent on it.

“We made a deal that we were never going to work it out,” he said.

“It costs so much to do a restoration that it’s probably cheaper to buy a new one.

“We were really just going to a tidy up, but dad had a few health concerns and got all sentimental about it and that’s part of the reason why it turned into a full resto.”

Nichol said the truck now lives in his dad’s shed, and gets off very lightly compared to the work it used to do back in the ‘90s.

“The biggest job it does now is probably when dad takes his grandkids to get an ice-cream in town on a Sunday. But he’s really happy to have it back.”

This story originally appeared in Issue 501 of Deals on Wheels, as well as on the Trade Truck website here

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