This veteran truckie has covered his share of miles in a lifetime on the road, but no truck is giving him more of a thrill than this beautifully restored classic car-carrier.
“It’s something that may have ended up at the wreckers, or somewhere like that, but there’s too much history there,” said Peter Caldow, as he stood beside his International S-Line car-carrier which was part of the extensive display of trucks at the recent Lockhart Truck Show.
Caldow was right in regard to the history of the truck which was built as a car-carrying unit and spent its working life in a few different guises hauling ‘little wheelers’ around Australia.
The single-drive S-Line rolled out of the International Harvester facility in Dandenong in late 1987, fitted with double-chassis rails, a 400 horsepower Cummins Big Cam and 13 speed Roadranger diff and was built with car-carrying in mind.
With a frame and low-line sleeper cab fitted the International was painted in the orange and white TNT fleet colours and put to work out of Adelaide.
“At some stage, the cab frame was altered, and they put a bigger sleeper on it than the 28 inch one. After TNT owned it, SMB Car Transport had it for a while before going to a couple of subbies who operated it over the years for the likes of Patricks,” explained Caldow.
“I have got photos of it in its original TNT livery, there is a bit of orange coming through the layers of paint. I have known it all my car-carrying life and I worked for the fella who owned it when I bought it, it was back in Adelaide running across to Melbourne.”
Caldow made his move and purchased the International five years ago and had knowledge of the truck from the driver’s seat having operated it between Sydney and Melbourne for one of the truck’s previous owners.
With the Big Cam having had an engine rebuild some years ago all the S-Line needed was a water pump out of the Cummins branch in Adelaide and a full tank of fuel and Caldow was on the road back to Goulburn.
“The owner in Adelaide didn’t know what he wanted to do with it, and I knew what I wanted to do with it, so I put it in the hands of my wife Michelle – she is a good negotiator and here we are.
“I haven’t really touched it, I have tried to maintain it in the condition it was when it was last on the highway, it’s showing its age so there’s a bit of work to be done to it,” he said.
Helping Caldow’s aim to keep the truck authentic is an original 7-car trailer back in Goulburn which he is restoring back to life.
“It’s a pretty rare thing to get an original single-axle trailer these days and I have an old Holden WB 1 tonner also that I can bring along to these sorts of shows, so I have got a bit of a plan,” he said with a smile.
Given the fact the truck was owned by a few different operators over its life he is trying to decide how the truck will be painted as he overhauls it.
“I have been looking at maybe doing it with a wrap maybe in TNT colours again.
“That’s obviously part of its history but as it is now, is how I drove it, and I will have to work out what to do with the trailer also.”
Car-carrying has been the bulk of the freight carried in Caldow’s time on the highway which has seen him cover a fair proportion of Australia, including running two-up with his wife.
“Michelle and I did 18 months together, she went off and got her licence and we drive two-up from Adelaide to Perth, Brisbane and up to Darwin and back down to Adelaide via Alice Springs. She is now driving a Kenworth agi in Goulburn,” he said.
Caldow’s most recent driving stint was on general freight behind the wheel of a Mercedes 2658 for Greenfreight, which when compared to the 34-year-old International is poles apart.
“The ‘Benz is an amazing truck, just the technology in them is unreal, and to get back in this old thing and start swinging an old 13-speed around again there’s a bit of a difference.”
Both Caldow and Michelle are heavily involved with the Goulburn Convoy for Kids which is one of the highlights on the calendar, and the trip to Lockhart had been preceded by a visit to the historic show at Gundagai the week before, and Caldow is looking at pointing the International towards Alice Springs for the Road Transport Hall of Fame reunion later in the year.
Given that he has reconnected with the International and it is still in its authentic work dress and not been modified or re-deployed to haul another type of freight it makes it all the more unique in Caldow’s view.
“I get a bit of a thrill driving this, I love getting it out of a weekend and going for a bit of a drive and I can’t wait to get the trailer finished.
“You look around these types of historic shows and there’s a lot of Macks and Kenworths that have been restored – you don’t see a lot of trucks like this here – it’s a little bit different and that’s what attracted me also.”