Building up to 40

In March 2024, Mini Big Rigs5 MinutesBy Carl KirkbeckApril 18, 2024

As we start the 12-month countdown to the 40th-anniversary celebrations of New Zealand Trucking magazine, we got to thinking: what better way to celebrate than to build a 1/25th scale replica of the very first truck to feature on the cover?

Torquing Bulldog, an R-model Mack bulk tipper combination belonging to then executive director of New Zealand Trucking magazine Trevor Woolston, was the cover truck of the March 1985 magazine. The first-ever cover image captured it all, a typical bulk tipper unit of the day on a rural back road deep in the Waikato, penned in by a herd shift of dairy heifers. How much more Kiwi road transport can you get than that? It was when looking at this classic image that the lightbulb moment occurred. This is the perfect candidate for our next big build, an iconic truck with real meaning to the magazine.

We will use the AMT ERTL Mack R-model tractor-unit kit as our starting point. It is based on an early American R685ST, so it comes with its fair share of challenges. Many areas of the model will need addressing to align it with New Zealand specification.

March 1985, the start of it all: Torquing Bulldog on the cover of New Zealand Trucking’s first issue.

First, we will need to slightly lengthen the tractor unit into a 6×4 rigid, enabling it to accept the tipper body. Next is the obvious conversion to right-hand drive. From here, we need to completely scratch-build the three-axle, spaced-tandem pull trailer and the bathtub tipping bodies.

This is most definitely a step up from the out-of-the-box build we performed when creating the Ken Kirk/Pilkington Glass Mercedes-Benz.

Auslowe from Cowes, Victoria, will also play a part in the correct representation of this build. The list of aftermarket parts it manufactures is comprehensive. For example, the correct grille and grille surround, headlights, wheels and even sunvisor are all items the Auslowe team despatches to nearly every corner of the globe. Using these parts will most definitely speed up the build process and also add a level of serious realism.

Our starting point, the AMT ERTL Mack R685ST: similar but not the same – a lot of work ahead to achieve a good representation.

There will also be a little collaboration along the way. We have roped in our good mate and model-truck-building maestro, Marty Crooks, for his expert advice, and we might even see if we can enlist his help with the construction of the alloy bath-tub bins.

They say many hands make light work, so at this time, as we kick off the build, we would like to enlist the help of you, our readers. If you have any photos of Torquing Bulldog in your collection, then we would love to see them. They will definitely assist with getting the build as correct as possible. If you are happy to share your images, please email them to carl@, and we will be sure to credit you for your support.

This is going to be an interesting and exciting build as we begin the run-up to the 40th anniversary of New Zealand Trucking magazine, and we look forward to sharing it with you here.

Watch this space!

A good photo of Torquing Bulldog at a truck show. This will assist us when it comes to adding signage and other details, such as aerials and cab lights.
Another detail photo, this time with the Transport & General Transport Trailers bins elevated. If you have images of Torquing Bulldog you would like to share, please get in touch. They will be greatly appreciated.