MAIN TEST – Birthday venue

In Tests7 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineJuly 27, 2018

Riordan & West No 6 has the 75th anniversary spec cab with all the extra bits and pieces to make it that little bit special. The extras list includes commemorative badging, additional sound-proofing, 75th anniversary dash lining, embroidered headrest, and new door panelling upholstery with extra pockets. It certainly gives the inside a lift, no question.

The first thing we noticed was the effect of the extra sound-deadening. It doesn‘t take much to alter a mood and the anniversary Argosy is a pleasant place to be. Rob and I chatted happily across the cavernous cab with the sound meter bobbing around the 70dB mark unless it was working hard, or the AMT was dishing out downshifts on the run up to a set of lights or traffic jam, like a croupier dealing cards. The Argosy interior has changed little over the years and it‘s a bit of a case of ‘if it ain‘t broke don‘t fix it‘. Ironically, in the early models, cracking around the dash and other cab panels was a problem but an in-house bracing programme by Trucks and Trailers brought that under control.

Photo: The familiar Freightliner dash. Simple, clear, easy to use. Some of the switches areabitofa reach.

Photo: The sleeper‘s all you could want. The flat floor and high roof mean there‘s plenty of moveabout room.

Photo: The driver‘s throne with the 75th birthday decorations.

The cab‘s a safe one too, meeting European ECER-29 crash test standards. It‘s very US in feel obviously, with a big low set wrapped dash affording excellent visibility. It was well ahead of its time in that regard when new, but such a step away from the FLB. It‘s a gauge and switch-based set-up with cool things like Freightliner‘s quirky wiper switch. It‘s a reach from the driver‘s seat to get to some switch gear but intermittent movement isn‘t necessarily a bad thing. The only areas it‘s arguably showing its age is the lack of a contemporary ‘IMAX‘ digital communications/navigation interface, and no smarts on the steering wheel, not that either are an issue in our books. A decent phone holder and ear piece with voice activation sorts out coms and we‘re not the hugest groupie of smart-wheels housing endless functions in a twisty, windy country – we love the vinyl, woodgrain and chrome spoke wheel. The only people who believe your hands should be glued at a quarter past nine – or whatever – while you stare out the windscreen vigilantly for hours, with no reason to move to operate anything, ever, are those who talk the talk, but have never walked the walk. Having said all that, some sort of steering columnbased wand to activate the cruise and maybe the engine brake would have been be a boon – not that that‘s going to happen now. While we‘re on the steering column, the indicator is on the left and SmartShift paddle on the right. The SmartShift paddle is a trooper in the world of ‘how many different ways are there to change gears in an AMT box‘. As we said, it‘s a huge space with plenty of room for even the biggies to stand up in. The floor‘s flat and if you ever needed an indication of the connection between company and machine, the beautiful mat with Riordan & West and Freightliner logos embroidered into it says it all. The bed is big; Rob is not, so that‘s great for him. The sleeper is well furnished with lockers to accompany the storage above the windscreen. There‘s no pull-out drawer or fridge under the bunk, but the cavity is there to do something if you wanted. There are also big storage lockers outside.

Photo: Access is classic rear of the wheel. Bags in then you. By the time you get to the steering wheel on the way in, you‘re bearing all your weight on the step plate, so the wheel doesn‘t become a pseudo jungle-gym.

Finish-wise it‘s not an Actros or Arocs StreamSpace, but then not much is to be fair. Buttoned and stitched vinyl, woodgrain finish, and gauges with bezels – plenty of Uncle Sam – we love it (maybe a wee bit too much plastic – picky, picky). Keeping on the Uncle Sam theme, Rob‘s young and sprightly so he didn‘t get the swing-out steps, it‘s an old school rear of the wheel ladder, grab handle, and ‘shuffle‘ entry. Even so, it‘s impossible not to have three points of contact getting in and out so the clipboard tickers must surely be happy. Yeah, right! We are, so is Rob, and he pretty much lives in it. There‘s no question the ride in US trucks has benefited from their European connection. Once upon a time the only person overjoyed at the prospect of us riding to Wellington and back in a US cabover with a solid mount passenger seat was our chiropractor. Not so now. The Argosy cab rides on air and its fixed mount passenger seat affords a more than acceptable passage with no aches or pains at all. The driver gets the fully suspended throne so his journey is sublime. Handling-wise it‘s a US truck: firm, direct, communicative, but with yesteryear‘s harsh edge removed. Very DAF XF105 actually we‘d have to say. It‘s not a cab that‘s free of squeaks and the odd noise, but no Freightliner ever has been. Freightliner steering is light and direct, certainly not Kenworth, that‘s ‘meaty‘ and direct, more … 3070 for those with a memory that far back. There‘s nothing negative in that, it‘s just a comparison.

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