Old School Trucks: Summerland Express—Part 1

By: Dean Middleton, Photography by: Dean Middleton, Video by: Dean Middleton

1 6 A Classic F-Model Mack named Mack-Gyver, which, when purchased by Summerlands, had plenty of kilometres on the clock but nevertheless looked stunning in Summerlands Livery 1 6
2 7 The very cool TM Bedford in Earth Movers colours 2 7
3 7 The same truck after receiving the Summerland treatment and looking superb 3 7
4 7 Several Summerland trucks wore Pacifica Shipping colours in the ’90s and early 2000s. Pictured is an MC Mack, which is still in the fleet. 4 7
5 6 The legendary MC Mack now looking sensational in Summerlands own livery. This picture was taken in 2019 and the truck is still owned by Summerlands. 5 6
6 6 ‘Superman’ was one of the first MANs put on the road by Summerlands in Pacifica colours 6 6
7 6 The same truck several years later in the lime green fleet colours 7 6
8 6 This Ford Louisville LTS9000 was purchased second-hand and became the precursor to many Sterlings 8 6
9 6 Another pre-loved truck was this International S3200 9 6
10 6 This T602 Kenworth was only in the fleet for a short time and was never liveried in Summerlands colours 10 6
11 6 Volvos were popular in the fleet in the late ’90s and early 2000s. This FH model remains in the working fleet to this day. 11 6
12 6 Another second-hand purchase was this F12 Volvo looking smart in the Central Otago sun not long after receiving the Summerland colour scheme 12 6
13 6 An 8x4 FM12 Volvo truck and trailer 13 6
14 6 This six-wheeler Volvo was a not-so-common FM9 rated at only 340hp 14 6
15 6 The livery changed slightly with the bottom of the cabs painted Summerlands green as opposed to the previous white. Aero Kits remained white for a time. 15 6
16 6 A day cab FH12 16 6
17 6 One of two near-identical Western Star 5864s purchased second-hand out of the same fleet. This one was named ‘Super Star’. 17 6
18 6 The twin, which was named ‘Central Star’ 18 6
19 6 A fleet line-up at a Christchurch Truck Show back in 2008 19 6

A look back at the Cromwell-based Summerland Express fleet

Central Otago is a well sought-after destination with lakes, mountains, and tourist holiday destinations throughout. One thing Central Otago also has is one of the most extreme climates in the country.

In the summertime, the region records high temperatures, and in the winter, temperatures can plummet into double figures with a minus in front of them. Coupled with this, the region is surrounded by large mountain ranges, which means decent climbs in and out for even the sturdiest transport operator, not to mention the adverse road conditions, particularly during winter.

One such operator that understands the conditions in Central Otago as good as anyone is Summerland Express Freight. Cromwell-based Summerland Express Freight was born after Ross Smilie Millard bought a small existing trucking business back in 1992.

The fleet was varied in the beginning and with various makes and models, called upon to wear the new bright lime green livery. A few standouts in my opinion were an FR Mack named ‘Mack-Gyver’, an MC Mack originally in Pacifica colours, and a superb TM Bedford called ‘The Flying Nun’, which, with its Detroit engine, could be heard well before it could be seen.

The Summerland fleet grew throughout the ’90s into the 2000s, and the Volvo brand became a common brand with plenty of pre-loved purchases along the way. A couple of near-identical Western Stars were purchased out of Brenics Transport and looked sensational re-liveried in the bright lime green.

Further significant growth in the 2000s meant Summerlands could provide South Island-wide linehaul and metro services, working for some of the country’s largest companies such as Foodstuffs South Island and Winstone Wallboards.

MANs and Ivecos became popular in the fleet, but the dominant brand settled on was Sterling, with plenty of these wide-hooded trucks joining the fleet. Next month we take a look at examples of these three brands in Summerland Express Livery.

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