Warren Caves catches up with the T950 Legend of Lawrence Transport
When Kenworth Australia decided on releasing the limited-edition T950 Legend, essentially making old new again, I suspect that even their own management team was taken aback a little by the demand. All 75 units sold out within 48 hours of release announcement, in fact they were oversubscribed. A real plus for the sales team for certain.
Originally released in 1992 and running through to 2007, the 950 was a solid performer, equally at home pulling triple road trains as it was on East Coast highway duties.
The nostalgic appeal must have been substantial to generate the kind of excitement caused by the announcement of the T950 Legend. Perhaps it was the lure of a limited edition, creating a sort-after classic in the future, or the chance to grab a truck of “Legendary” heritage amalgamated with all the modern advancements in technology to create that perfect partnership of old and new.
Previous limited-edition models, such as the T909 Director, were dressed up versions of their original stablemate, with extras and bolt-on bling. Not so with the T950 Legend.
A genuine stand-alone Limited Edition was designed, created and built at the Bayswater manufacturing facility. With its High, setback modular cabin with no engine intrusion into the firewall, the 950 is a unique beast with old-school credibility, modern-day compliance, and safety, appealing to obviously a large spectrum of purchasers and more than a few disappointed bidders.
From a cabin interior styling perspective the Legend gets a flat dash panel with white background gauges, air-operated windows, custom wood-grained gearstick knob and retro badging on the doors and gearstick boot surround, plus custom seating. This is all embellished by the studded red vinyl trim providing styling accents dating back decades.
Externally, the stainless-steel infill panels below the air cleaners give away the limited-edition status, as does the Cummins Diesel, black on gold insignia recreated for this release. Laser cut identification of the model is also carried over into the Mr Bullbar side wings, adding a nice blended touch. There also must have been a few cans of Cummins beige spray paint left on the shelves from the eighties, which was used to paint the usually red ISX engine. Retro external steel door handles are also included.
Our featured truck is owned and operated by Lawrence Transport and has the title of #72 out of the 75 sold. Lawrence Transport was started by John Lawrence 38 years ago and is still very much a family oriented business, still operated by John and his two sons, Kel and Blake. Currently operating 18 prime movers and 70 trailers, the company utilises up to ten subbies, as needed, out of its Ingleburn NSW depot.
“We are a family business and pride ourselves on old fashioned personalised service,” said John. “We have customers that have been with us for 35 years. We do quite a bit of wharf work in containers as well as generalised work in curtainsided trailers.
A lot of the work we specialise in is dangerous goods, and we operate all over NSW as well as interstate as demand dictates”.
The Lawrence men have always been loyal to the Kenworth brand; however, John said that this is the first Kenworth he has had that is Cummins powered, being an ISXe5 @ 615 horsepower. With the absence of Caterpillar power as an option, John admits to having a little trouble getting used to its mannerisms. But, being only eight months in service and with 45,000 km on the clock, it still has time to get on his good side and prove it can match it with the Caterpillar engines he has previously been accustomed to. Interestingly, John said, “It (the Cummins) seems to work best at 64 tonnes, more so than when it’s running lighter”.
An 18-speed Eaton manual transmission and 4.1 Rockwell differentials round out the driveline.
Purchased in late 2015, the Legend was ordered in the company maroon paint as a base, with the final painting to the company scheme, and then given to Max Smash Repairs in Smithfield.
Blake Lawrence explained that, “We feel very privileged to have been lucky enough to be a part of this limited-edition model, particularly with such demand”.
A good deal of customisation was also carried out on #72 before it was put into service as Johns Truck. Blake explained that it went to Klos Custom Trucks for the bulk of this work.
“On the outside, we wanted to keep with the old 950 feel, so we changed the original roof bullet lights for some more period-styled lights and swapped the round bonnet blinkers for square ones. Stainless steel rock guards around the headlights, stainless steel elephant ears on the front of the air cleaners with LEDs and a stainless steel mid-drop sun visor were also installed”.
John is the first to admit that, “I’m not that keen on polishing, which is why we went with stainless steel wherever possible. It costs a bit more initially, but is worth it in the long run”.
The fuel tanks have been stainless wrapped, cleverly incorporating the wrapping around the AdBlue tank, making it look as one. Stainless wrapping was also used on the alloy wheels, ensuring a long-lasting durable shine, without the polishing. Stainless steel was used on the battery box covers and guards, which utilise low mount brackets hidden from view. Seven-inch exhaust pipes reach skyward.
The inside of the cabin didn’t miss out either, with Custom Air in Melbourne fitting a diesel-powered heating and cooling unit with dual-zone control. Other luxuries include an upright Waeco fridge, TV and DVD player, and, wait for it, a fully-automatic espresso machine, for those mornings when you just can’t get going without your morning heart starter. All power is distributed by the 2000-watt pure sine-wave inverter.
Occasionally a two-up run is needed, or John’s wife or grandkids might go for a run, so a double-bunk is also featured in the cab.
The legacy of the T950 has well and truly been revived, albeit in limited numbers, much to the chagrin of some. The T950 Legend will no doubt be a sought-after acquisition for years to come by way of its limited availability, so, if you missed out on this one, perhaps you got in quick on the recently released T900 Legend. If not, you’ll just have to be content crying over your beer in the pub, and dreaming of what might have been.