Mack Time – Sunny Warby’s B-Model Mack (Words by Warren Caves, images by Torque it Up)
It’s 1965 and the air is filled with enthusiasm and anticipation. A young 23-year-old Sunny Warby is about to purchase his new truck, but, unbeknown to him at the time, it will still be parked in his shed some 52 years later.
Prior to that purchase, Sunny had been working for United Dairies on various tasks from laboratory duties to driving.
A decision was made to buy his own truck and he soon began negotiations with Norm Lee at Frigmobile, and, as was the Norm (pun intended) in those days, a deal was done with a smile and a handshake and a promise of regular work.
To the outsider, Norm seemed to be a man very fond of Mack trucks and instructed Sunny to, “Go and buy a Mack.” Sunny thought it to be a wise business decision to go and compare alternative options and evaluate prices, so he looked at Mercedes, Foden, Internationals and Diamond Ts, which he then put forward to Norm, who promptly reiterated his earlier instructions, “Go and buy a Mack.” As it would turn out, a crafty Norm was getting a commission for any Mack sales he generated, so, naturally, Sunny purchased his first and only Mack.
Trucks Sales and Service was the Mack agent in Sydney at the time and was located at 200 O’Riordan Street in Alexandria. The sales person for the purchase of Sunny’s B-Model was Allan Starke. This must have been a pivotal event in Sunny’s life, forever etched in his memory, as these details just mentioned rolled off the tongue like it happened only yesterday.
A princely sum of 9250 pounds was the asking price for a shiny red 1965 B- Model Mack, complete with a 211 horsepower 711 thermodyne engine and an 18-speed Quadruplex twin-stick transmission. The final drive was spec’d up with a 64-mph differential, which saw the old Mack cruising at highway speed with 2100 rpm reading on the tachometer.
“The price was 9250 quid for the truck, but they gave me a discount of 250 quid because I had no trade-in.
“That gave a purchase price of 9000 quid, of which I needed to have a 3000 quid deposit, and was required to pay it off within three years. At 245 quid a month, you had to work hard,” explained Sunny.
“I also added a few luxuries, like a pair of West Coast mirrors, a sun visor and blinkers, which I think from memory cost another 59 pounds. The turntable was 280 pounds, and I was ready for work”.
After picking the truck up on the Saturday and emblazoning it with the Frigmobile logo, Sunny was all set to take on the transport world, or so he thought!
Upon arrival at the Frigmobile yard on Monday he introduced himself to Dennis Downer and said, “I’m here to start work, can I see Norm Lee?”– to which Dennis replied, “We sacked him this morning”.
With that gut wrenching statement, Sunny is quick to say, “I thought my world had fallen, there and then”.
Such is the way things were done back then that the company was good to their word and Dennis said, “Come back tonight, we’re sending you to Melbourne via Canberra”. That began a long working relationship for Sunny and his Mack with Frigmobile.
During his employment with Frigmobile Sunny was hauling the company’s own trailers, subsequently also layer hauling the trailers owned by Streets Ice Cream, after that company outsourced its transport operations to Frigmobile.
“I remember on occasions, the truck and a refrigerated trailer would be loaded onto a train for Perth and a fridge box would also be loaded on board. When the train stopped, and after period of time had passed, you would have to get off the train, run around to the fridge box, strangle the Lister (shut off the refrigeration engine) top up the oil and check the fuel and try to get back onto the carriage before the train moved off – more often than not you found yourself running like hell to get back on board, a funny sight on the Nullarbor,” recalls Sunny.
“The best jobs for Frigmobile were, Dubbo/Wagga and Kempsey runs of a single drop at a depot and return, for which I got paid $180”.
In 1967 Sunny bought his Freighter spread-axle bogie trailer to fill in the gaps when work with Frigmobile went a bit quiet, and over the years Sunny and his Mack have contracted to various companies like TNT, Westons Transport, Con Payne and more, doing both interstate and local work.
“It’s been a challenging life, but an enjoyable one for us, from 14 to 15-hour Sydney to Melbourne runs with multiple trucks on the old Gundagai bridge causing it to dance and sway, to sleeping across the seats, being your own mechanic and meeting some great people along the way,” reminisces Sunny.
After a lifetime on the job and some 1.5 million miles clocked up, a restoration was in order. This two-year process began in 2014, culminating with the finished truck and trailer you see here, just in time for her maiden outing to the Clarendon Rally/Kenworth Klassic show in 2016.
Sunny has always been good in relation to keeping up maintenance, so the mechanical aspect of the job was not a huge task, however, the years of toil and labour had definitely taken a toll. Sunny also wanted to paint the truck in its original colour as it had seen a few different colours of the spectrum over the years as dictated by company contracts.
Sunny would like to acknowledge the work and assistance in this project of Matt Stephenson and Mick Drew of MLS Truck Repairs in Riverstone, as well as David Chapman (Chappo) of Northwest Truck repairs, also in Riverstone, and Bruce Gunter. Sunny is extremely grateful for their assistance in bringing his “Old Girl” back to her former glory. He also apologises if he has forgotten to mention anyone. “So many good people have contributed,” said Sunny.
Sunny and his good friend, Stephen Brown, did the restoration work on the Freighter trailer themselves.
At 75 years young, Sunny still gets out behind the wheel for work, sometimes six days a week. As for the B-Model, well, she lives somewhat more of a quiet life these days, frequenting trucks shows and events like the Haulin the Hume run, without the burden of the payloads of years passed that were, perhaps, poorly calculated in favour of a good profit.
If you run into Sunny at an event or show, be sure to check out the Old Mack up close and say g’day, he’s a top bloke and quite fond of a chat.