Power Surge

In Top Truck, June 20229 MinutesBy Alison VerranJuly 25, 2022

“Next level… a whole different league,” is an apt description of this imposing V8 Scania 770S by 40-year driving veteran Bruce “Roadie” Clotworthy.

Brett Marsh Transport’s 16.4- litre Scania 770S stands out from the crowd. While strikingly handsome on the outside, it’s real appeal is inside the cab and at the head of the powertrain.

One of two in the Marsh fleet, with a third arriving shortly, Roadie’s 770S runs at 60-tonnes maximum weight, with a Fruehauf seven-axle skeletal 40/20 B-train in the supporting role. We were lucky enough to join Roadie on a trip to Manaia, Taranaki.

With a cinematic view of New Zealand’s countryside through the sizeable windscreen, Roadie quickly pointed out the first-class features of this impressive piece of gear.

In the big S-series Scania cab, you sit towering above the tarmac. With an air- suspended cab and seats for driver and passenger, as well as air suspension on each axle, the Scania 770S is as smooth and quiet as riding in a premium car. Driver and passenger each enjoy super comfy leather seats with armrests. Add climate-control and Roadie reckons it has everything he needs.

“I’ve had plenty of new gear in my career, but I know what I’ve got now! It’s so quiet and so smooth… And no rattles! There is no need to adjust the radio volume as you go; you can have the volume set the same for the whole journey.”

This quietness, along with the spectacular horsepower, was the inspiration for the name, ‘Roger, The Quiet Achiever’. A tribute to Roadie’s father, the late Roger Clotworthy, the name equally fits the truck and the trucking legend. Roadie says: “My Dad liked his Scanias. Back in the 1970s, he repowered five Internationals with Scania engines. He would have loved this one.”

Roadie is impressed with the Scania 14-speed Opticruise transmission. “I never thought you could drive a truck without a gear lever, a clutch and at least 22 gauges. Now I have no clutch, no gear lever and only two gauges… and I love it! The auto is great, but I still use the manual shift mode at times. It’s more suitable for our roads. With the high diff ratio, this thing sits on 1200 revs at 90kph.”

Our journey back to Tauranga was plain sailing. Pulling out from the first intersection at Manaia, weighing 59 tonnes, ‘Roger’ quickly reached 50kph with seemingly no effort at all. With 770hp, describing this truck’s performance as ‘sprightly’ is probably putting it mildly. The day’s challenge would be Mt Messenger, but the 770S climbed it like a fitness freak.

Roadie comments: “With this power, I have to button off around corners up here.” Equally, the Scania’s five- stage retarder worked its magic on the downhill. “No need to touch the brakes at all.”

Where do we start on the capacious cab interior? Boarding step lights lead you to an interior where Roadie’s 6’4” frame has no obstacles. Full head height, room to walk around thanks to the flat floor design, spacious permanent bed with a TV at your feet. A choice of LED lighting options adds a bit of ambience, and there is storage galore. The large overhead lockers house even more comforts of home – a microwave and coffee machine. There’s more storage under the bed, along with a pull-out fridge, which is more sizeable than you would expect. Add to that a night- time aircon/heater that runs for 12 hours, and this Scania becomes a home away from home.

Forty years in the seat and the 770S is the best truck Bruce “Roadie” Clotworthy has driven.

He drove American gear for some time, but Roadie loves the design of the Scania mirrors. “See the big gaps between the mirrors and the cab? That reduces my blind spots and gives me a much better range of vision. It’s also great that the windscreen demister clears the side windows, it all helps with visibility.”

He is impressed with the Scania’s ‘after dark’ features. “I love the little touches – such as in reverse gear, the dash lights dim, reducing reflections in the side windows at night.”

He demonstrates: “Check out these headlights on full beam. Look at the trees all lit up. This full beam is great.”

The grab handles on the inside of the cab are also liked by Roadie. “It makes cleaning the outside of the cab a lot easier. Also, on a wet day, you’re not grabbing dirty handles when you climb in.

“Having two locker boxes on the cab exterior is handy. The small one is great for gloves and things, leaving the larger one for bigger items.”

Walking around the Fruehauf trailer, it’s obvious it’s well set up for the job and features a full set of JOST components; turntables, landing legs and seven axles. With the rear of the quad set being self-steer, it helps the 23-metre-long unit negotiate the tight corners around New Zealand, particularly through the twisting bends on Mt Messenger. A WABCO EBS-E braking system on both trailers assists this combination in staying in line. With the WABCO Smartboard in communication with Roadie’s dash, there’s no need for him to exit the cab to check his axle loadings.

In Manaia, containers on, containers off.

Roadie and Brett Marsh have always been Kenworth fans (and always will be). However, both men have now fallen in love with the Scania 770S. Brett is a Scania convert, now running 14 Scanias in his fleet. “I started buying Scanias to get my repairs and maintenance under control. Scania’s cloud- based Scan Plan system is great. I pay about 12c for each kilometre travelled every month, and that covers everything – all maintenance and servicing, the lot. I don’t have to worry about a thing. It also gives me everything I need to know about each truck and how it’s performing. It’s just so far advanced,” says Brett.

“Purchasing the 770S was a no-brainer. There’s just no substitute for horsepower. It’s effortless and keeps up in the flow of traffic. The fuel consumption is great. It’s getting over 2km/litre.

“I’m amazed at what it can do. When I took it for a drive, it even came up on the screen that there was a 30kph corner coming up. It’s got all the latest safety features.” Brett is referring to the steering wheel and side curtain airbags, electronic-stabiliser programme (ESP), advanced emergency braking (AEB), lane-departure warning (LDW) and adaptive cruise control (ACC).

“It’s just so f**king smart!”