I don’t know much about trucks. Never have. In my orbit, they’re good for shifting tractors and machinery around.
More generally, while trains are pretty awesome we don’t all live and work next to a railway siding, so it’s trucks that get it done.
Don’t get me wrong, they’re also big diesel brutes that run high horsepower, blow smoke and generally make things happen through pure strength.
I’m naturally very partial to that, so don’t confuse ignorance with a lack of respect. Even if those guys with the specialist chrome wheel nut polishers do make me chuckle.
So imagine my surprise to now find myself owning a (very unpolished) truck.
Look, it’s not a dirt bike, so I haven’t rolled over on all the rural primary school ‘this is better than that’ arguments, but it’s a bit different, and as an outsider, it was a somewhat reluctant purchase.
As part of my effort to replace my local friendly disappearing earthmoving contractor, I spent a total of about an hour trawling the dungeons of Facebook and Gumtree to find something that would carry the dirt from my backhoe bucket to my shed site. As cheaply as possible.
Somewhat dangerously, I ended up with only one suitable-looking candidate for inspection the next day, and thus found myself inspecting an old Isuzu SBR tipper.
It had been languishing on Facebook for over a month, and in the photos appeared to have been languishing under some trees for even longer. But in person, things turned pretty quickly.
The vendor was one of the increasingly rare types that is willing to be helpful and honest in exchange for accepting your money, and pointed out straight up where the exhaust was missing a section and the radiator had a cracked hose.
The cab was rusted out to the point that it’ll never be re-registered, but it also had every fixture intact, a NSW street directory from the first owner, and more tools and non-critical spares than my very stationary workshop.
Sensing that this was a definite fit for my collection of Grunt paraphernalia, I bought it on the spot, and haven’t been disappointed.
With the leaky radiator it drinks more water than fuel, brake fluid is a definite consumable, and takes a while to wake up in the morning.
But it’ll haul its weight in clay fill, and the brakes will put you through the windscreen if you need to stop in a hurry.
Cosmetically, it hasn’t improved; I might’ve smashed the tail lights rocking it out of a slippery situation or two, and had to give it a shunt with the backhoe more than once as well.
On the other hand, it ‘keeps on trucking’, as we truckies say. The dropside tray and standard towball (not very truck like, I know) mean it’s perfect for carting hay as well as fill, and the short term onward sale is looking further away.
After all, it cost less than most farm trailers, and unlike any tractor I can afford, is also (minutely more) passenger friendly.
Old mate told me that the SBR was ‘the truck that made Isuzu in Australia’, and whilst that felt like taking it a bit far at the time, funnily enough it seems to be the case.
At a time where other machines have been falling to bits, it’s been nice to have something that’s up to some heavy lifting.
I haven’t quite priced up a wheel nut polisher yet, but I have to say old farm trucks have earned a newfound fondness. Just don’t tell those kids from school.
• John Droppert has no mechanical qualifications whatsoever, but has been passionate about tractors since before he could talk and has operated many different makes and models in a variety of roles for both profit and fun.