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Swedish breed all the way

Since first being sold in Australia in the early 1970s, the Scania name has become a popular and well-regarded product on Australia’s highways with the famous Griffin emblem adorning Scanias in all manner of applications.

Keeping older Scanias on the road and mustering a collection of the Swedish product along the way is John Zannikos, who along with running his ZED Scania wrecking and parts business, had several Scanias taking part in the Crawlin’ the Hume convoy earlier this year.

James and John Zannikos in Albury at the completion of the run up the Hume.

Sporting the bright green colours of former transport operators Fluid Freight, Zannikos’ 1978 LKT 111 had literally been out of sight for over three decades before making its trip up the Hume. “It’s all original. It’s a fuel haul spec. An owner-driver had it pulling tankers and he got ill and it was just parked up. It had been in a shed and hadn’t been started for 34 years. We picked it up, changed the oils and she fired up and its out in the sunshine again. It’s only done 260,000 original kilometres, so it still drives like a new truck,” explained Zannikos.

Also from the 1970s era and catching a ride up the Hume on a float was one of the earlier incarnations of a bonneted Scania truck initially sold out of Diesel Motors in Adelaide. It was put to work on livestock haulage duties in outback South Australia for a large portion of its 44-year lifespan. “It’s an LB 111 from Port Augusta, it was used back in the day on a road train and like the LKT it’s a one owner vehicle. It had done a diff and got parked up. It just sat there,” said Zannikos.

“The engine is a six-cylinder putting out around 290 horsepower, and at some stage the turbo and the injectors have been serviced, and it runs a ten-speed gearbox.”

The 1986 ‘Gumboot’ does all the haulage for the ZED Wrecking operation.

For the era it is from, the LB sports a few features that would have set it apart from trucks of the same timeframe. “It’s a good spec for its day. The fact it had the heavy backend, the bunks and even the air-conditioner is a very early-type one. To have air-con back in those days, it would have almost been a Rolls Royce in comparison,” Zannikos explained.

“It’s a bit rare because it has the sleeper cab. It is ex-factory but pretty rare in Australia. Even though it looks small, it has twin bunks, one on the bottom and a fold-up one on top. I guess it was something special back in the day.”

The LB111 was parked at a scrap metal dealer in Wedderburn in rural Victoria when it first caught his eye. When the owner realised Zannikos was a Scania enthusiast, the deal was done, with its rarity a factor in Zannikos making the purchase.

“The LB111 was a pretty rare unit in its own right. I wasn’t a big fan of these to be honest – this got my attention because it’s a bogie drive and with the extra cab it’s a bit different. When I did my apprenticeship, I worked on heaps of them, but they were day cabs or single drives. I thought they were a bit of an ugly duckling but this one’s a bit different. There wasn’t many of these around at all. There were a few in Tasmania but they were a pretty rare sight overall,” he said.

From a life in outback South Australia to a ride up the Hume, this LB111 is a rare example.

Completing the trio of Scanias and pulling the LB111 on a float up the Hume was Zannikos’ 1986 model 142 ‘Gumboot’ which has been painted up in the ZED Wrecking colours, with the truck having a few paint schemes over the years after originally being a Scania show unit.

“The Gumboot we use for the business, we bought it about eight years ago. I did work on this truck originally around 26-27 years ago. It was a show truck for Scania at the time and then pulled gas tankers for Chemtrans. It came up for sale in the Northern Territory and we went and had a look at it and it was looking alright,” he said.

Powered by a V8, the output is around 420 horsepower and more than enough to handle the job of collecting trucks for the ZED wrecking business.

The family has been Scania-oriented since the early days with Zannikos both working on them and building up a transport business before turning to the current focus on wrecking and parts supply. “That’s what we know. My dad Jimmy initially had Scanias back in the mid-70s and I was a mechanic first on Scanias, did my time there and moved into driving first with my dad and then my own. We had a heap of truck and dogs, all Scania, but we have now given up the transport side of them in favour of wrecking them and parts,” Zannikos said.

With the two older Scanias in particular, Zannikos is determined to keep his trucks as authentic and original as possible, rather than overhaul the old paint and bodywork for new colours and chrome.

Whilst the old yellow LB111 is currently not running, Zannikos reckons it will soon be a goer with a bit of work. He’s keen to keep the truck with its well-weathered appearance.

“We just want to get it running and take it to a few shows ‘as is’. It’s a bit of a classic in its own right, if you start painting and shining it up, it takes away its character. The name on the door is still there and the scrollwork is still there so we will leave it as it is for the time being,” he said.

It is a similar sentiment for the green cabover. “The LKT141 is just a time warp. People see it and ask, ‘Have you painted it in these colours?’ but that’s how it is – unrestored. When I came across it, I couldn’t move quick enough. I’m not a fan of green but you wouldn’t go changing this, it’s history on wheels. That is the whole thing about trucks here, you can restore them to look nice but if you leave them the way they are, then it’s showing their history and it brings people in: ‘I worked for this mob’ or ‘I remember this truck’. Just tidy them up and they bring a lot more attention.”

Zannikos undertook the run up the Hume with his son James from the ZED wrecking base at Melton on the outskirts of Melbourne, with the event keenly anticipated after being cancelled in 2020. With more events coming back online again post-Covid, there is a fair chance Zannikos will be flying the Scania flag at another show or get-together soon, with more trucks from his collection.

“This year’s Convoy was really good with a lot more trucks and trailers that really looked the part. I have got a few others we can put on the back and it’s a good advertisement for the business, so we try to go to every show we can,” he said.

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