Swedefest 2017

What a show it was this year!!! On site were 240 Scania and Volvo trucks from all over the UK. That’s an amazing turnout, well done to all who organised and also those who took part. Having been involved in the show a little bit for a number of years it amazes me how the show has evolved and Michelle and Rob (and team!) deserve all the credit for getting the show to where it is. The thought that people would be coming from far and wide across the UK in Swedish trucks of all ages, to take part in a fairly exclusive small truck show is just awesome. Every model line from both manufacturers were on show, all bar a 0 series Scania I think. 240 trucks is far more than last year and walking round the show there were still some gaps so still room for more next year?! The thrill of the show for me is organiser Robs biggest head ache I’m sure. The parking. Walking along past the various model sections is just genius. I love walking past all the new V4 Volvo’s or even all the 2 Series Scania’s. I don’t know why but for me it just works, perhaps it’s my inner OCD coming out! It also helps in judging. A difficult job trust me,by no means is this show a Truckfest event or not do we ever want it to be but still, judging this year was the hardest it’s ever been and please don’t think I mean this in any other sense. It was a tough, tough choice this year and I was totally and utterly split down the middle with my category. So much so I’m going to share my judging sheet with you. I sponsor and judge the Best 3 Series Scania in the show. As a judge at Swedefest we have always been asked to judge our category based on our judgement of the best for the category title. This doesn’t have to mean the newest, the oldest, the most expensive, the cleanest or even the one with the least amount of rust or the most amount of accessories on, just the best in our opinion to suit the category. The show has never been pretentious enough to always go with the cleanest and most money spent on and testament to this was best in show a few years ago. The one and only Coopers Scania 112. It is a truck that everyone just loves for one reason and another. For me because it used to fly past my primary school and it was the stuff boys dreams were made of. The rust just added to the been there done it (at speed) feel of the truck with its similarly aged bull bar and stone guard. Hopefully when you judge in this way it breeds an air of friendliness into everything. Yes we look at those that are spotless and those that are brand new but if your fussed by a little road dirt still on a truck then perhaps a larger national brand of truck shows is more your cup of tea. Swedefest is the same as the Retroshow. It’s a unique, niche show that is for truck enthusiasts and to some extent the trophy winning is a little added bonus. It has been discussed many times about abolishing trophies altogether, again like the Retro Show. But for me I think a little trophy is a sign of appreciation for a well deserved winner. As you will see on my judging sheet, I narrowed the entries down to seven trucks that all have a star on the right. This was after an initial walk around looking at each entry and also photographing each entry. Then I usually narrow the short list down again to the final few, which I’ve put  four squares next to. Then I walk around again and just stand back and look at each of the final four trucks. What am I looking for? Exactly as asked, the best 3 series in my opinion. For me this year it was a nightmare. I love a 143 and am saving for my own. Those who know me know I love a custom truck as I used to own an airbrushed 10 tonner with metallic paint, alloy wheels and lots of lights. Then again I love and can totally appreciate a truck that is as original as it came out of the factory. This is what the decision came down too and I was torn. 100% original or 100% custom. As soon as I walked passed it, the CS Ellis 113 360 Streamline caught my eye as it took me straight back to 1995. Its as I remember seeing Streamlines when I was a teenager and this is when I fell in love with 3 series Streamlines. Also as a worthless piece of info a 113 360 Topline Streamline was the first truck I ever had a night out in at the age of 15. The other truck is The Ken Thomas 143 500 owned by John Thomas. I don’t need to say much, it’s stunning and totally a custom truck. The paint is amazing, the interiour is incredible and the metalwork is like a work art. So there’s the choice. What do you pick? For me this year 100% original won. It was clean, original and best of all is a straight out the box 3 series. This said I can honestly say I was so torn I have suggested next year I give a winner and a runner up but I know this idea won’t float with the organisers. Perhaps not a bad thing as then I’d have to award two trophies and not just one! As I’m sure you’ll agree, all in all a difficult decision to make and I’m sure it will split you all, in fact I know it will split you all. So my winner was CS Ellis and Ken Thomas 2nd but by a knats knacker, a cats whisker it’s even a fleas foot. I sincerely hope next years choice is slightly easier but please don’t go thinking original is my preference over custom. It isn’t. For me it’s the truck that fits the bill. As for the rest of the show, it was great. I am really beginning to like the “new” V4 Volvo’s and I think I have finally accepted the new Next Gen Scania if it’s painted correctly. I just hope next years show has as many or more trucks and I also hope we are still giving trophies to appreciative participants. Remember folks this is Swedefest not Truckfest. Well done Michelle and Rob, please put me down to sponsor Best 3 Series again if that’s ok. Bring on 2018!

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Immaculate F89 For Sale

I’ve been emailed with this immaculate 1976 Volvo F89 rigid. Yes it’s just been washed but even so it looks in good condition. The owner is still working it out in Korinthos, Greece but is looking to sell her on. I am told she is all original but you Volvo fans will tell me different. She has a drawbar coupling, which would prompt me to put her back to a drawbar with two tilt bodies to give her the real 1970’s look. 

Just imagine the trip to driver her home. Ship back from Greece and up through Italia over the Alpes and your back. While your down there you might find a trailer, in fact I haven’t asked my new Greek friend if he has a trailer to go with it. I’m loving the exhaust pipe, twin wheel rear lift and best of all the polished beer keg water container! Now get ready, you might be thinking great truck what about the price?? Well between you me and the gatepost I reckon you get it all the way back to the UK for less than £20k. The truck itself is for sale at €12,000……yes you read it right; €12,000. That’s got to be a good price and it has to head back to the UK or Northern Europe surely?! If anyone is serious and wants contact details I can happily buy you in touch. If you just want photos I have a few more I can send you.  Any takers?? 

Special Edition Trucks

What do you want in a special edition?

If you wanted one thing in a special Edition truck what would it be? Stereo system? Metallic Paint? Alloy Wheels? Top of the range engine or a choice so company bosses can still buy the most fuel efficient? Leather seats? Have a think and comment below. If someone has already answered then perhaps suggest something else. In my book of the trucks on the European market I think Volvo seem to have it about right. It seems that the Special Editions those from Gothenburg offer have minimal options to chose from. I think this is right, right? Why have a special edition if there is a load of options to choose from? Surely then it becomes a fairly normal production truck? Take the Canadian Edition Peterbilt I blogged recently, the options list on that is virtually none existent as it comes with all the bells and whistles and a special paint job. Where as looking back at the Scania Centurion, it was 100 hundred trucks that in the main started out as big power, newest cab but supposedly became a choice of which ever cab and which ever engine. Surely then your just buying a truck with a set of special badges? This little blog does have a purpose so all feedback and comments will be read and taken into account. 

For me it’s a couple of engine options as I don’t think it’s fair just to go billy big power. I think the physical truck itself needs to be all singing all dancing otherwise it’s not special. And finally any options such as paint need to be a minimal number, perhaps two or three choices maximum. I think the specification has to be set and the choices very limited. Now it’s over to you, the drivers and the owners are those who need to respond as your the ones who’ll spend the time and money on such a beast. Please get commenting!! 

WSi ACH Model 

One of the best retro companies in the UK for me, Aston Clinton Haulage or ACH are sadly consigned to the great truckstop in the sky. I have a close affiliation to ACH and because of that I started and still run the ACH Facebook page, seemingly with the blessing and backing of ex drivers and also owners. The idea of an ACH model truck isn’t a new one but it is one that is getting a lot closer to reality. With the expertise and persistence of Steve Bowden, the owner of Anglo Dutch Model Trucks Ltd, Steve now has permission from the Fowler family and is ready to start finalising the model. This is crunch time. The most likely model will be a 1/50 scale WSI and the most likely combination is a Volvo F12 Globetrotter with a rear bogie lift, hooked up to a blue tilt trailer, much the same as the photo above.  The main problem for Steve Bowden is knowing how many to make and also how much to sell for. They will be produced in a limited one off production run and will end up (hopefully) around the £130 mark. Steve is looking for guidance from you all to see if it’s all plausible. The truck is very likely to be a Volvo as I said, so please comment and say “yes please” if your keen and would like to get your hands on one. All feedback is likely to end up in the production of this model, so please have your say and make this model happen! 

History Won’t be Repeating!

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Often we get told that not to meet your hero’s as they can turn out not to be the people you hope they are. Recently I got to meet a man who I consider to be one of my trucking hero’s if you like. As I regularly do on the blog I harp back to the golden days of transport which I’m sure most of you will agree was the 20 years spanning the 1970’s through to the 1990’s, but unfortunately for me and many of you this was when I was growing up and not old enough to get behind the wheel (legally!). Reading magazines and spotting when on family journeys across the UK was all I had to survive on. When I think back there were really to many fleets to name that I would look out for but at the top of my list were ACH and the black trucks of Ralph Davies. The men behind both of these iconic fleets are what I consider to be my trucking hero’s, luckily for me I recently met up with one David Fowler. Mr Davies is still on the list!

I run the ACH page on Facebook as back in the 1970’s actually before I was born, my own father worked at ACH for a few years.I blame the County Cream trucks in part for what has become some what of an obsession over the last 37 years, but i have to say a very enjoyable one. I look back and talk about the golden years of UK international transport as I firmly feel that those days are gone and sadly won’t be back. What better place to discuss and relish in what was, than on the www with you lot. Luckily the ACH page on Facebook has grown and grown and I am very happy to say that is followed very much by plenty of fans, ex drivers, employees and also Mr Fowler. Due to the wonders of technology it meant we could make contact and have a few email conversations and finally a meeting. David said he had a huge photo collection which of course I wanted to see, so far i have been allowed to borrow the first box of photos for scanning which I can tell you is awesome! At some point I hope to share more with you but that is dependant on David and of course how things pan out as i have a few ideas.

I think it is vital that photos and documents from the golden days are now scanned and kept in digital form. So often at the moment I hear of people throwing away photo collections and the like and it saddens me to think about it. Photos are an integral part of the UK transport history that we younger ones should be taking on from those who are older and even passed on to the big truck stop in the sky. At my place of work, a whole cupboard of photos from the 80’s through to the 2000’s were skipped as they needed the space for filing and all that remains is one 3 album photo box. I’m gutted to say that this was long before I joined the company, so there was never a chance of me giving the collection a safe home. This makes me wonder what is happening to all the other collections there must be. I have heard of a few up for sale, a few which are constantly being sold off on eBay and I also hear of many, many that get binned. These photos are priceless and tell the stories that the sadly ageing driver pool from the golden years won’t be able to tell and pass on for much longer. If you know of any trucking elders, I urge you to talk to them and ask if they have a collection anywhere that they want to pass on to you. If you don’t ask you don’t get and all that old jazz. I asked Mr Fowler if he would lend his photos to me so I can scan them into the computer, luckily for me he agreed, so for now at least part of the history of the well-know County Cream, red and black trucks that ran far and wide across the UK, Europe and beyond (yes….beyond!) has been saved for hopefully all to enjoy eventually.

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The photo at the top is Copyright to Mr Fowler and just sums ACH up for me. The photo above was in a small batch my Dad had from his days at ACH in the early 70’s although I have found similar in David’s box. Now the second part of my transport historian quest is the paperwork and items that were used on a day-to-day basis. I have never seen a telex machine in person and never seen a telex note. I found a couple in David’s box of treats, so they too have been scanned as momento of a forgotten era! Along with the telex I found a copy of a GV60 application. For those of you that know what a GV60 is, you probably have seen a hundred of them but for me it was a first. The GV60 was/is the form you had to submit to the Department of Transport to enable your trailer to be given authorisation that you could carry goods under Customs Seal. A couple of photo’s of the brand new trailer along with a description of the build, security measure and of course registered keepers details had to be completed. If the DoT was happy then the trailer could then be used as it was intended. These days I wonder how many trailers are GV60 approved? Probably not many due to the low numbers of you still doing international haulage.

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There will be plenty more to come from ACH I hope, some of the photos are just awesome but there is plenty of scanning to be done first. Please, everyone who is a trucking romantic like me and I know some of you are otherwise you wouldn’t have got this far through the blog, talk to the old drivers of these heady days, ask them the questions and ask about the evidence. Lots of drivers were too busy driving all day to take photos but those that did have captured a time and a place I can only day-dream about. Yes it was hard work, but who minds that if you’re enjoying it, what I would do to go back to a brand new F series Volvo and have to tip and load Rome and back with nothing but running money, paper tachographs and strong flask of coffee! Oh the romance of the road…….

The Great Late 1980’s Debate

So it’s Sunday night the week before Christmas 1988, you get to the yard in Aylesbury Sunday afternoon with a tip and load in Italy to finish the year. But the big question is this, your given the choice of truck you want to take. Your usual truck is in for MOT and there are keys for an 11 month old Volvo F12 Globetrotter or an 18 month old Scania 142. Both are 6 wheelers and both have loaded straight tri-axle tilts ready to go. Chop chop you need to get a wriggle on to make the boat this evening. Which set of keys do you pick up??

Please keep it clean and comment below with which one and why. 

Swedefest 2016

And now for something a little different….. You have all heard of Gathering of The Griffin, but did you all know that this year it became Swedefest this year?? Unfortunately due to circumstances beyond the organisers control this year, GOTG had to move premises and therefore had to incur extra costs, meaning the show desperately needed more entrants. What to do? Whether you like either or, everyone likes a Swedish truck of one marque or another, so why not  put them altogether at one show…..great idea. So there it was, Swedefest 2016 was born. 

As discussed on here many times over last few months or couple of years, small truck shows are becoming far more enjoyable and far more accepted than the big shows of old. Is it that the shows are organised by truck people for truck people? Yep. Rob Bilman and Michelle Lines are very much truck people. I could stop the write up now as the show is down to them and that’s what makes it personal and 110% enjoyable. I’ve been a participant, a sponsor, a judge and a man with his son looking at trucks at this show and its right at the top of the list when it comes to trucks shows as they are now becoming. With the additional of Volvo’s this year I think it’s rounded the show to a wider audience. Walking around the show ground was once again a pleasure, the new venue was destined to be a truck show ground at some point. The organisers had split the area down the middle and parked Volvo facing Scania. It was awesome. 

Firstly the Volvo’s. I’m not a big Volvo boffin so I’m not to confident in my knowledge of the different versions but there were plenty on show. It was lovely to see so many variations to be honest as I’d never realised there were so many. There were a few which stood out for me and they are below. The white FH reminds me of one I fell in love with on the world super boat tour in the mid 1990’s! This truck is the perfect example of less is more. The blue F12 was a real cracker. Sums up 1980’s trucking for me and it turned out to be one of the biggest winners at the show, rightly so. Last but not least Mark Farrows gem of an FH. In Volvo pro-mo green, there is a long story to this truck and I hope to tell it to you one day, but I need Mr Farrow to put pen to paper for that to happen. 


As for the Scania trucks on show, well it never ceases to amaze me the quality of trucks that Scania owners put out is pretty remarkable. My favourite Scania’s are definately the 3 series but you have to appreciate that Scania do have a fairly unique following compared to all the other manufacturers. 

I happily sponsor the Best 3 Series class at the show and I was warned by both Rob and Michelle that this year would be the toughest year yet, they weren’t wrong. This year I did have my 6 year old son helping me to make the decision and I have to say his simplistic view on judging will be carried through to next year. As hard as the judging was, we ended up deciding that Marten Hazeleger’s Chickliner Streamline was a very worthy winner. Gently customised with the addition of the Dutch effect made it a little too irresistible. I know he won’t believe me but Mr Payne and his delightful green and gold Centurion couldn’t have been in a closer 2nd place this year. 3rd place would have been last years winner, Darran Heath. 

All in all this is a small show with BiG trucks and the mixing of the two Swedish marques did work for me. I know the effort that goes into this show every year is incredible but I’m sure you’ll all agree that it is much appreciated by us lot and I’d like to say to Rob, Michelle and the team that the show is a true success. I hope next year that we can once again break the number of trucks booked in and that turn up. Get the date in your diary for next as this is a unique show that you really can’t afford to miss.