PowerTorque’s European Correspondent, Will Shiers, met with TV’s Supertruckers in the UK when he visited the family-run heavy haulier Kings Heavy Haulage, located in Avonmouth, just outside of Bristol in the south west of England.
Kings runs a 29-strong fleet of 13-litre Volvo FHs, and swears by the smaller 13 litre engine. In addition to being more fuel efficient than its 16 litre sibling, Steve claims that it’s more reliable too.
“So much development has gone into that engine, and I don’t think we have ever worn one out, says Steve. “In fact, it’s been over 20 years since we last replaced a crankshaft. I do fully understand the psychology behind buying FH16s, as some people just want the biggest truck, but I don’t know how they can afford the fuel.”
Kings moved to an all-Volvo fleet in the late 1990s, the last truck not to sport an iron mark on its grille being a 1997 Iveco.
If the Kings Heavy Haulage trucks look familiar to you, that’s probably because you’ve seen them on Discovery Channel’s Supertruckers. The show certainly aired in Australia, because Richard’s daughter Sarah King, administration director, was suddenly inundated with requests for memorabilia from Down Under. “We even had some Australians asking if they could come and visit the depot,” she says.
“They [Discovery Channel] had done a series on Eddie Stobart [the UK’s most famous haulier], but wanted to divert into something more unusual – heavy haulage,” explains Steve. “When we were approached, I told them ‘I’m not interested in stories about drivers getting in trouble with their wives for being late home from work’. The TV production company agreed, and said they were more interested in the geeky side of heavy haulage. And they were true to their word.”
The show was an immediate success, and for two seasons (2015-2016) the public tuned-in to watch Sully, Sergeant Major et al, doing their daily jobs. By the end of the second series, Steve was getting concerned that the TV show was getting bigger than the firm, which led him to pull the plug.
Looking back, he acknowledges that the venture was a big gamble, but one that paid off. While it didn’t bring in any additional work (which isn’t surprising considering that your average viewer will never need the services of a heavy haulage operator), it did help to raise awareness of the industry.
“Five years later people are still talking about it, so we must have done something right,” he says.