Old School Trucks: Johnson Brothers Transport

By: Dean Middleton, Photography by: Dean Middleton

16 There was a livery change in the early 2000s as seen on this near new FH Volvo freight truck 16
9 2 Three Ford Louisvilles were added to the fleet in 1995; this one was pictured in Christchurch prior to going on the road 9 2
18 The Livestock Division was sold to Murchison Transport 18
15 The MAN brand also featured in the Johnson Logging fleet 15
19 This Freightliner Argosy was purchased new and was commissioned on cement tanker duties 19
13 A 2632 Mercedes-Benz. The livery was based on the JBT fleet colours, however, they were reversed out with yellow being the prominent colour. 13
8 2 One of the sisters Louisvilles parked in the Westport depot 8 2
5 Three JBT Kenworths lined up just south of Westport in the early ’90s looking at home with the West Coast bush in the background 5
2 Another classic Kenworth with revised stripes photographed soon after 2
1 The first JBT truck I photographed with my 35mm camera back in the early ’80s was this classic Kenworth and A-train combination pictured in Christchurch 1

Deals on Wheels checks out Johnson Brothers Transport's impressive fleet

For many decades, it was difficult to think of the West Coast town of Westport without considering one of the town’s key transport providers, Johnson Brothers Transport (JBT).

The red yellow and white trucks were synonymous in the area as they transported general freight, logs, bulk commodities, and livestock throughout the West Coast and to other South Island regions.

The first JBT trucks I photographed were in Christchurch back in the early ’80s after their classic Kenworth freight trucks had rolled into town after crossing the arduous Southern Alps via the Lewis Pass. The iconic Kenworths featured in the fleet for many years with Volvo gaining dominance as the Kenworths were semi-retired. Three Ford Louisvilles were added to the fleet in the mid-’90s and Nissan Diesels were also a major influence at the time.

In the late ’80s, a separate logging division was established in the Nelson region under the banner Johnson Logging. This fleet had various makes and models in the armoury and initially, most were second-hand Mercedes Benz trucks, with a brand-new 3535 model added in late 1989. MANs were also acquired before the division was eventually wound up. In recent times, there have been changes of colour schemes and ownership.

Today, the fleet is concentrated in the bulk rural sector with Freightliners and UDs being the dominant brands sporting a striking deep red and gold livery. 


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