Features

This old White goes alright

After spending two years restoring this classic White, Goulburn truckie Tony Kent has hit the highways again to share a story of a special era.

“Well, it’s far from good, but she looks good from afar!” smiled a modest Tony Kent as his 1975 White 4000 White with its matching Freighter spread-axle trailer sparkled in the autumn sunshine.

However, many would beg to differ that it looks good from any angle as evidenced by the number of people stopping by to check out the truck and trailer outfit at the recent Lockhart Truck Show.

The truck and driver had made their way down the Hume and across to Lockhart, and like a lot of trucks from the 1970s’ era, the White had had an interesting life before being overhauled and restored to its current condition.

“Originally it was based in Traralgon in the Latrobe Valley pulling a float and was painted yellow. It was on sold to a Brambles subbie, again as a float unit and was repainted in Brambles’ red,” explained Kent.

“It was in a rollover and the cab was replaced and repainted blue – it ended up in Crookwell in New South Wales as a rigid tipper for a number of years which is where I bought it from and spent a couple of years restoring it.”

The iron componentry under the short bonnet of the White providing the motive power is classic 1970s with a Detroit Diesel 8V-71 married up to a 15-speed overdrive Roadranger and a Hendrickson rear end.

Whilst the power output of around 318 horsepower might seem modest by today’s standards, the old White can still get along at a good speed.

“When I first got her going, she would only do about 90k’s flat out, so I changed the diffs and made it driveable. It goes pretty well with the trailer. The Hendrickson doesn’t have much give in it. She’s a bit like a bucking bull without it,” said Kent with a grin.

Having purchased the White, Kent set about taking the truck back down to the chassis rails and building the truck back up, taking on the workload in his backyard shed in Goulburn.

“I have had it three years and just had it back on the road for twelve months, I pulled everything off it and stripped the cab right back to the shell – with the cab being replaced in the mid-1980s after its rollover there was no rust in it fortunately and the interior was still in good nick.

“There was plenty of late nights with it. I would be playing around in the shed and think ‘It must be getting late’ and all the lights would be out in the house, quite often I would be out there until midnight or 1am working on it,” he said.

The White 4000 shines in its rich ‘SubaruWRX’ blue paint in Lockhart. Photos: David Vile

Initially unable to decide on which shade of ‘Ford blue’ he wanted to paint the truck in, Kent eventually went for a striking ‘Subaru WRX’ blue which really makes the truck stand out, and has left the truck and trailer in that state without further paint touches.

“It’s always a bit of a hot topic with people you talk to as to whether it should be lined and scrolled but does it need it?” he reasoned.

The White was also accessorised somewhat with a bit of stainless but not to detract from keeping with the originality of the look of trucks from the era.

“It only had one air cleaner and exhaust, so I put an extra one each on them to bling it up a bit, I put another set of tanks on it, but I left the spiders on it to keep it a bit old-school” he said.

Sitting proudly on the front of the bonnet is a mustang emblem which pays tribute to the heritage of the White product line of the 1950s and 1960s.

“I went into Highway Spares in Chipping Norton to get some other bits and pieces and saw it sitting there and thought ‘I have to have that’” he said.

Completing the outfit is a 1978 Freighter 8-foot spread trailer which was acquired 600 metres from Kent’s home, and it too has had a full refurbishment and repaint to match the truck, but he made a few concessions to modernise it as he went along including installing LED lights.

“A few of my mates wanted me to put the old-style lights on it but I thought I’m past changing globes, many a wet night you would have to change all the globes on the trailer.” 

The trailer was sold without its wooden two-deck stock crate and Kent is toying with the idea of getting it and also pairing it up to the truck.

“I am thinking of getting it and putting it on, there will be a bit of work in replacing the timber but there’s not a lot of old stock crates from that era that have been restored so I think the project would be worth it.”

The project was a personal goal for Kent having first hit the road many years ago in a similarly spec’d truck, so he was on the lookout for one the same.

“When I first got my licence a White 4000 with a Detroit 8-71 was the first truck I drove so I had a soft spot for them; it was exactly the same spec and it was also a rigid tipper like this was when I bought it.”

Kent works in the office of Divall’s Earthworks in Goulburn which runs a large fleet of Kenworths.

“The boys there love the sound of it as much as anything,” he said with a smile.

The trip to Lockhart was at the start of a busy month for Kent and the White, having taken in the Gundagai get-together the week before. After that there was the Canberra Convoy for Kids and the Crawlin’ the Hume runs later in March.

“She goes alright, it doesn’t like the big hills, but she gets along down the other side pretty well.

“The GMs aren’t known for torque; they are a revving motor. I reckon [on the highway runs] you will hear me well before you see me coming!”

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