Retro Truck Show 2016

Still the best show in the U.K. 

Oh do I have to say anymore?? Much like another excellent show this is run by Truck enthusiasts for truck enthusiasts, I don’t think there is a better way to run a show. It’s so so not about the money it is just all about the trucks and truck people. I made a point this year of making sure I got the whole of Saturday and Saturday night at the show before a very early dash from Gaydon to Snetterton at 5am Sunday morning. 

When you arrive at Gaydon you could be mistaken for thinking it’s not a very big show, the venue seems quite small compared to others. Once you have walked down you instantly realise that much the same as Lopik in Holland, this show is all about the quality. There is quality every where you look. On the Saturday there are still lots of trucks arriving and there is never quite as many trucks as there is in the main show day of Sunday but none the less it’s still the best show to be at on either day. One thing you notice is that your actually glad it’s a relatively small show as you meet so many familiar faces that you have more chats and conversations than the WI’s annual conference. 

What I love is that everyone at the show is there because they love trucks, some will tell you til their blue in the face that they aren’t, but they are still there looking at and talking trucks. I met plenty of friends and old faces and not to mention new ones. One particular ex Ralph Davies driver springs to mind (not you NLG!), that I am resisting the temptation to call and text every 5 minutes as I know one conversation is not going to be any where near enough to share his stories.  The thing I struggle to get across to Mrs Blog is how friendly and open truck drivers can be, we all can lead a lonely existence as a driver and when you meet other like minded folk (not those who park and draw the curtains) it’s nice to have a good chat and a drink to share new or old tales of the road. DANGER: This could be getting a little romantic. What this gathering has achieved is a group of people who through a single connection, pretty well know everyone there and the more the merrier as far as I’m concerned. 

As I am a mere whipper snapper, it makes me think that Gaydon is much like one of those well known, golden era truckstops where everyone stops as there will always be another Brit there. It’s a hard thing to imagine these days but the main stay of drivers I know would stop if they saw you pulled over on the side of the road and I think it is one of the positives of Facebook. At least now those who are made of old school stuff can see who else is in the same place through the power of the internet and I have often seen that friends I have on Facebook are meeting up at the few Truckstops or parks that are still open, which must be the modern take on camaraderie. Not quite the same as the 70’s and 80’s but as close as it’s going to get. To this end Lee Herbert has managed to create an event which for me at least gives me what I think is a slight step back in time to the golden era I missed out on. 

The trucks on show are a real mix of everything that made the trucks of today what they are. The general premises is that all entrants must have been built before 2001, with a few exceptions. I love to see the F series Volvo’s, the 2 and 3 series Scania’s as well as the slowly increasing number of Mercedes SK’s, this is what I spent my child hood dreaming of and spotting on the road. I am certain that the amount of retro trucks is growing at a fair pace each year and there are always new trucks on the scene. The fact the trucks are coming from further and further afield is both testiment to the show itself and the fact that more owners are wanting to show off their pride and joy among like minded fans of commercial vehicles. I have to agree with the shows stance on not giving trophies, as it would just be impossible to choose any winners. Every truck has a story and tale to be told whether it’s the trucks history or the work it’s taken to get these old road heros back turning a wheel. If you could see the photos of when Nobby Caister found his F88 and how long it has taken to restore it to its former glory, well, the man deserves a medal!!

A few beers Saturday night unfolded plenty of tales and I wish every driver could tell his tale but there just isn’t enough time and I have no idea how to record everything, but if your a young driver you need to sit and listen to some of the 50+ year old drivers as most could tell you a good yarn worth hearing and passing on, like trucking folk law! I woke at 5am Sunday in the cab of a Scania 141 top bunk, still wondering how they were ever double manned, and I wandered towards the gate just looking at all the sleeping trucks and a I had a crazy thought, how many miles/KM’s have all those truck covered between them??! Answers below please. I turned the corner to the gate only to be greeted by Eoin McGinnity and his beloved ex Astran 143. Eoin was on his first leg of the aid run to Belarus and I have to say it couldn’t be a better end to 24 hours at Gaydon. The thump, thump, thump of a warm 3 series V8 is a sound I’ll never tire of hearing. 

Last year Truckblog readers voted the Retro show as their favourite of 2015 and I can’t see the result being any different this year. For me the best show in the U.K. By far (bar one!) and I am already planning to try and spend the whole weekend at 2017’s and I can only suggest that you do the same. You will not be disappointed. 

Scania S Series wins IToY 2017

Scania’s brand new S series wins the International Truck of The Year 2017 award at the IAA in Hannover. 

Scania’s new truck generation honoured – The S series elected “International Truck of the Year 2017”
Scania has once again won the prestigious “International Truck of the Year” award. The jury’s motivation emphasised the new truck generation’s driver comfort, safety aspects and its positive impact on haulers’ overall economy, among other factors.
“The award is the leading recognition in the industry that all our engineers and in practice the entire Scania organisation have done an excellent job,” says Henrik Henriksson, Scania’s President and CEO. “Our goal is to always meet our customers’ expectations and needs and the jury’s motivation is a clear confirmation that we have also followed the right approach with the new truck generation.”
The jury, which is today composed of 25 leading European trade press journalists and chaired by the Italian automotive journalist Gianenrico Griffini, wrote the following in its motivation:
“With its new range, Scania has delivered a truck that represents a real “state-of-the- art” offering in the heavy duty segment, capable of satisfying not only today’s but also tomorrow’s transport needs.”
The IToY jury also highlighted Scania’s tailored service offering, which is based on the fact that more than 200,000 connected Scania vehicles are out on the roads.
The award is for the S series − the new sleeper cab with a flat floor that is mainly intended for long-haulage trucks and that Scania has just introduced within the framework of its new truck generation.
“The S cab, with its flat floor, offers a truly car-like driving experience,” says Griffini.
Besides offering exceptional comfort and unrivalled space, the S cabs can also be fitted out with dual side curtain airbags, a safety feature, which Scania is the first in the truck world to be able to offer.
“The new truck generation, which will be honoured was developed by our 3,500 engineers in Södertälje together with other Scania employees and in close dialogue with our customers,” says Henriksson. “The award shows that Sweden is still a leading industrial nation and that we can compete in the world markets.”

Scania’s investment in the model range is the largest ever in the company’s 125-year history. In total, SEK 20 billion has been invested in the development of new products and services, including in the adjustment of production.

Brian Harris Transport

This is a book review of possibly the most well know family firm in the UK. Brian Harris Transport is a name that every haulage enthusiast in the UK should know. I knew the name before I started driving and in the few years I had on the road before BHT ceased trading in 2001, it was always a top spot to see one of the famous red and green trucks on the road. For any of you outside the UK, read this book and you will learn the true meaning and spirit of what UK haulage was all about.  As with everything in transport stories get exaggerated and the truth can get lost over a pint in a truckstop or two. This book is the be all and end all about Brian Harris Transport and also Harris & Miners. 

The book is written by an ex BHT driver and the man who spent 20 years sign writing the Devonshire fleet. The story starts from day 1 way back in 1946 when Harris & Miners was founded right through to the closure of BHT in 2001 and what a read. Sometimes I worry that books like this are going to be a few too many reg and chassis numbers and not enough readable info and tales from the road. There is no need to worry. The book is full of fact and truth about all the trucks, drivers and family involved in the Harris story. Anyone planning to write a book should, sorry has to read this and use it as a template. I read and read and read, loads of interesting details and the true story from a man who was close to the Harris dynasty for more than 20 years. No bull, no may be or possibly, no speculation the whole book is just the truth of how it was.

This is the third edition of the book and as you can imagine, it is the most complete. Thanks to Old Pond we are able to once enjoy John Corahs story.  Due to editions one and two completely selling out the third edition, this edition was launched. John Corah has updated the story to include the sad closure of BHT in 2001 and also the very sad death of the big man himself in 2012. How many small hauliers do you know would get 600 people from all walks of the UK Haulage and transport scene attending their funeral?? That in a way sums up what a well respected and larger than life character Brian Harris was. This edition also includes details of the auction of the fleet, an updated fleet list and which vehicles are still around today. Ex BHT vehicles command good money even now when they come up for sale and there are now a number on the vintage truck rally and show scene, still wearing the traditional red and green livery. 

Not only is the book full of amazing anecdotes and information but the photos……oh the photos! From start to finish there are B&W and colour photos of virtually every truck ever operated. Again John Corah has led the way with detail attached to every photo, the book is a masterpiece in every way. 

If you don’t know about Brian Harris and you consider yourself a keen UK transport enthusiast, then this is a must read. If your not then read it anyway it will caption your inquisitive nature and you’ll fall for the warmth and camaraderie of BHT that the author seems to ooze from every page. When you finish you’ll feel like you’ve been sat in Brian’s office or that you have been to the Rugglestone Inn, the book is a true gem of a read. I guarantee on some level you will become a fan of the Harris family and the trucks that earned the name and respect of the whole UK haulage industry. This is a proper book written by a proper author about a proper British haulage company. Get it bought before it sells out!! 

Buy your copy now by clicking HERE – the best money you’ll spend on a transport book ever!

Monaco to Austria by Nick Ireland

We flew into Nice airport to be met with the news that the office had forgotten about an Italian holiday the next day, and subsequent driving ban, so could we go straight to the hotel to have 9hrs off, ready to depart that evening? The only other alternative was to wait around all day the next day, do a night shift, and then another night shift. This way we would drive overnight to a hotel in Verona, have the rest of the day off and overnight, then leave as planned originally the next morning for Austria, we chose the easier option! The ban was due to come in at 8am the next morning, so we would only have a couple of hours spare.

After what sleep we could muster we were taken by mini bus to the ‘dustbowl’ parking area just outside of Monaco. It was a very different sight to when we were here a week previously, there were only half a dozen trucks other than ours parked here, and all from sub contractors, all of the team trucks had left, it turned out they left the previous day having known about the Italian ban! After our walk around checks in the disappearing light we set off and wound our way back up the hill towards the motorway. Traffic was light and in no time we were through the border at Ventimiglia and into Italy. Our route took us along the E80 past Sanremo and onto Genoa where we turned north onto the A7 and then eventually east again towards Piacenza. Stopping near Stradella the four of us who ended up running together calculated we had more than enough time for a coffee for an energy boost! At Brescia we turned east again and exited at Verona where our hotel was just off the autostrada. We arrived at 06:30, and not only had we beaten the ban deadline, at that time of the morning the hotel car park was empty and we managed to squeeze all of the trucks into it. I stayed up for breakfast, then grabbed a few hours sleep. When I woke it was roasting hot and I found several of the drivers cleaning their cabs out and having a general tidy up, so it seemed as good a time as any to join them as I had a few essential jobs I wanted to catch up on. One of them was to take the plastic protective sheeting off the lower bunk as anything placed on it slid around. I replaced it with a fitted sheet which meant when we were double manning the bed would be comfortable to rest on. I had wanted to visit the historic town centre in the evening, but as soon as we finished cleaning the cabs out the heavens opened and it stayed that way for several hours. Instead we went out as a large group to a local cafe and had a lovely meal together.

The next morning after breakfast we set off again, skirting Venice turning north past Udine and heading for the Austrian border. As we neared the border the scenery became spectacular, and we were surrounded by beautiful mountain views. At the border near Villach we stopped to buy the road tax box as the new Volvo’s needed them fitting. Our boss had given us strict instructions as to where to fit the boxes in the windscreen, so they sat parallel to the French/Spanish box already fitted, image is indeed everything in F1 ! After a coffee we headed off again, and being the heaviest trucks on the team myself and the other floor truck were soon left by the others. Last year on this run we had missed a turning off the motorway to cut across country to Spielburg, and there was no way I was missing it this year. I wasn’t sure whether anyone else would take this road as technically the first kilometre or so of the road had a 7.5t weight limit on it, we really shouldn’t have been using it, if stopped we were going to use the excuse that as we didn’t read German we didn’t understand the sign! After a few kilometres of smooth winding mountainous roads we were halted by a traffic queue. Up ahead near some blue lights we could see another Mclaren truck with a pop-up trailer, this was our colleague Sean. After a phone call to him we were informed it was an accident involving a car and a truck, and after around 10 minutes we started moving towards the scene. As I reached the accident which by now had been cleared off the road a policeman stepped out in front of me and stopped me. Uh oh!! Was I going to be in trouble for going through the weight limit? Thankfully no, he wanted to retrieve one of his road signs he’d placed at the edge of the road, and we were then waved through. This area is heavily involved in the timber industry, and the road was lined with countless wood yards, and timber trucks were everywhere. As we neared the town of Spielburg we picked up signs for the ‘Red Bull Ring’ and just before the circuit we took a hard right turn into a field which was where we had arranged to leave our trucks for the 3 week period before the race. We parked them up, ably assisted by one of the Mclaren drivers who insisted on us parking in a perfectly straight line! Once we were all parked up we got in some taxis and headed off to the hotel. Another drive was over.

Simple Swede

Another Truckstar Festival corker in the shape of Swedish registered Volvo. The new Volvo has long been a love it or hate truck for me. Out of all the new trucks on the road that need the plastics painting to make them look better I have to say the Volvo needs the extra paint more than most in my opinion. An FH with painted grill can look awesome and one of the best examples from Assen is this. Keeping with this years top truck fashion tip “Less is More” this big Swede was in my top 3 from this years Truckstar Festival. 

Taking a closer look the truck is painted from roof deflected down to the tyres in just two colours, a deep red and black. Painting the front end to disguise the plastics and also painting different parts in either colour really makes this truck stand out. I think I also like the debaged look. Everyone has different thoughts on the Volvo badge placement and whether you should stick to the old look or embrace the new badge position, so remove all badges and it solves the debate! Also it really keeps to “Less is More”. The other this that makes this one of the best I saw was the tag axle or as we are Dutch, the rear bogie lift! These Volvo’s are just perfect with the rear lift and I have to say one of my other favourite FH’s at the show was also tag axle. On the flip side there was a very similarly painted FH to this one but it was a midlift and for me it was no where near as attractive. 

Not sure what the interiour was like as the doors were shut when I took the photo above probably because of the rain that you can see falling. The Scandinavian style lights down each side and the orange ones on the front end we’re all set off by a proper police type light bar on the roof. Flashing in red and blue in the dark made the truck a real understated show stopper and it was interesting that it didn’t seem to get so much attention as some of the others parked in the show truck area. Cracking truck with Swedish style and perfection. Subtle, simple and stunning.