Retro Scandi

In May 2023, Top Truck7 MinutesBy Alison VerranJune 24, 2023

Traditional stripes and scrolls contrast with striking artwork – combining red, gold, black and silver to create a stunning sight. A Tauranga father and son have combined Swedish design with a touch of US. The result will have you stopping to stare.

Intergenerational duo Robin and Todd Hodges own Tauranga-based trucking partnership H&H. With Todd behind the wheel, farmer Robin keeps an eye on things from home. Todd’s career started in farming, with tractors being his passion.

“I was driving tractors on the farm and did a bit of contracting. During my farming years, I spent two seasons of approximately eight weeks each, driving tractors during the grain harvest in Western Australia. I loved it. I enjoyed driving tractors, so when it was time for a career change, it was a natural progression to move onto trucks.”

Todd and Robin started their trucking partnership with their Hino 700 truck and trailer unit five years ago. Robin comments: “That truck served us well and has never given us any problems.” They sub-contract to five different companies, carting mainly stock foods from ships at the Mt Maunganui port to bulk storage and customer mills.

When it came time to upgrade the Hino, Todd wanted a “bigger unit with a better payload”, saying the Scania was chosen for practicality, driver comfort and price. “What you get for the price was definitely a reason to choose Scania.” That decision saw the arrival of a flat-roof sleeper-cab Scania R650. With its 16.4-litre DC16 V8 paired to the 14-speed Opticruise gearbox, the unit is permitted for 53 tonne and has a 34.5 tonne payload.

Todd loves everything the Scania has to offer. “It’s a truck I look forward to driving. The vision is brilliant; you can see everything going on around you. It has the big horsepower, but it’s still quiet in the cab. I can do 12 hours and get out still feeling good. Scania’s front airbag suspension certainly adds to my comfort. My choice of truck was influenced by a good work mate with a same spec Scania. It was definitely a good decision.”

The sleeper cab provides space to spread out, with a comfy 800mm bed and pull-out fridge with enough capacity to hold food and drink for a few days on the road.

Todd is enjoying the Scania’s five-stage retarder. “It pulls the truck up so smooth I hardly ever have to touch my brakes. Even driving around the wharf and driving onto the weighbridge, I use the retarder all the time, which saves a lot of brake wear.”

Another great feature, according to Todd, is the load-transfer switch, designed to improve the turning circle in tight spaces and enhance traction. He reckons it’s handy when unloading in the bulk stores. “It shares the weight more evenly over the drive axles when turning and reduces tyre wear and puts less pressure on everything – a real bonus.”

Wiri-based Transfleet Trailers fitted a 5.3m alloy bin on the truck chassis and built the five-axle, 7.6m trailer to Todd’s specifications, with automatic Razor tarps and auto grain locks.

“I’ve downloaded the Razor app on my phone so I can control my tarps straight from my phone, or I can use the remote control. Having it all automatic is great for the wharf work, unloading over the intakes at the mills and into the bulk stores. No more jumping in and out of the truck!” says Todd.

The trailer rides on Hendrickson airbag axles, complete with disc brakes. Add to that a set of Wabco built-in scales and this unit has everything Todd needs. “Not having to outlay more money for load-sensing scales was a bonus,” he says.

Todd chose to bling up his bins with some custom taillights. The clear round lenses add a touch of American influence to the rear of both truck and trailer, a handsome sight complemented by extra marker lights along the side. Todd’s great buffing skills keep the sparkle on the Alcoa aluminium polished wheels.

Keen to make their new Scania as eye-catching as possible, Todd engaged Cliff Mannington from Truck Signs in Mt Maunganui to work his magic.

“I wanted to make this truck a little bit different. I decided to have some pictures painted on from somewhere I’ve been. I visited Las Vegas about seven years ago, and it was such a cool place I decided on that, with neighbouring Route 66 as part of the theme. I’ve always liked classic cars, so I had them incorporated into the artwork as well,” Todd explains.

“Cliff’s work is awesome. I’m really happy with the job he has done. The way he blended the silver, black and gold, along with the red, has worked out well. I’ve always liked the ‘old school’ scrolls and stripes, and they just finish off the whole look.”

With Todd’s choice of added running lights, this unit is a remarkable sight, both day and night.