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Retired truckie keeps memories of the past alive

Bob Hall, 78, is playing his part to keep the memories of Kwikasair and its fleet of Kenworth K125 ‘Grey Ghosts’ alive.

Hall describes Kwikasair as a very professional outfit. Though the business eventually faded after to being bought out, the comradery that was formed among those associated with the company still continues today.

A reunion held around 10 years ago attracted roughly 120 people and though there were hopes to hold one again, Sydney’s Covid restrictions and lockdowns have put a spanner in the works.

So Hall decided to take a different approach and has begun selling commemorative polo shirts instead.

Kenworth introduced its first Australian made truck in 1971, in the form of a K125CR cabover, nicknamed the Grey Ghost.

A ‘Grey Ghost’ at Kwikasair’s Alexandria depot in Sydney.

Hall worked for Kwikasair from the mid 1960s through to the mid 1970s, when many of these ‘Grey Ghosts’ were coming into the Sydney based transport company’s fleet.

“I worked for Kwikasair at around the time Kenworth started to really make a name for itself in Australia. When they brought out the K125s, they were very fast trucks and had quite a reputation out on the highway,” Hall said.

“Our linehaul manager was very particular about truck presentation and driver presentation. Even back in the 60s, we were supposed to wear a tie when we were driving the trucks.

“Kwikasair also had a safety program called Sights on Safety, where, if you behaved yourself on the highway and had no complaints, at the end of the month, you were rewarded with points that had a dollar value, so you could save your points and get something like a fridge or tv. It was a way of rewarding people for their courteousness on the highway.”

After around a decade with Kwikasair, Hall moved into local work, driving concrete trucks around metropolitan Sydney for close to 30 years. Though he’s been retired since 1996, it’s hard to keep him off the road. “Old truck drivers never retire,” he said. “I now drive buses and coaches on a casual basis a few days a week.”

Reflecting on an important time in his driving career, Hall said, “A lot of older drivers are still around. Some we’ve lost, but their families are very interested in trying to keep the history of the trucks and the company alive.”

The polo shirts have been designed in a platinum grey to match the old ‘Grey Ghosts’, with the ‘K125’ and ‘Grey Ghost’ text in royal blue to match the colour of the fleet numbers and they feature the Kwikasair logo.

The polo shirt has been made in platinum grey to match the old ‘Grey Ghosts’.

“We were hoping to hold another reunion prior to Covid hitting, so what we’ve decided to do is have these polos made. We’re doing them at cost, so we’re not making any money out of it. There are quite a few drivers who are no longer with us who had sons who got involved in transport, and they have been very interested in what we’re doing too,” Hall added.

“All we’re trying to do is keep the history and the memory of what it was like in those days alive. Kwikasair was one of the first companies that started overnight express from Sydney to Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane. And it was the first that would do driver changeover services too,” he recalled.

“There were a lot of those K125s in the fleet and they kept new trucks coming all the time. The polos are a way to show among the trucking fraternity that you were associated in some way with Kwikasair and the K125.”

To order one of the commemorative polos, email vjhall@macarthurgardens.com.au with Grey Ghosts in the subject line.

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