The Wingman

In May 2024, Million Mile Club3 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineJune 28, 2024

The first inductee into the Bridgestone Million Mile Club this month is smoking hot – literally! Now owned and operated by The Big Smoke BBQ Company of Mt Maunganui, it is used to haul the company’s equipment to catering jobs. Originally new to Balle Brothers, the 1993 K100E Kenworth runs a 3406e Caterpillar with 18-speed Roadranger transmission.

When the truck was built new, it was smack dab in the middle of a creative era where all manner of configurations were explored to find perfect axle loading. Fair to say that at times some bizarre combinations graced our highways; the K100E with set-back axles really was one of those questionable designs. However, according to all who drove this variant of the cabover Kenworth, the verdict was always the same – it rode and handled extremely well. At some stage in its life the truck received a makeover, and at this time, the axles were pushed forward to the standard location.

New to Balle Brothers, the K100E featured set-back front axles. Photo: Ed Mansell.

Ex-truck driver turned BBQ guru Mike Jeffries comes clean on how he got to own the Wingman. “Yeah, I suppose you could say it was my midlife crisis,” he says with a laugh. “But seriously, it really is exactly what we need for the business; the amount of gear we take to a venue now for some of these larger events is huge. So, yes, the deck space gets well used, and we tow the big BBQs behind it.”

The truck was in great condition when Mike purchased it. “It is a credit to the drivers before me that the interior was in great shape; it had been well looked after,” he explains. “We did a lot of work to it to make it what we needed. Tri-Dek Engineering built the new deck for it, Fleet Image in Hamilton gave it a fresh paint job, and Marty’s High Performance Signs gave it the look. Everyone’s done a great job, it has come up real good. We’re very happy with it. We have some plans and ideas for future additions; a possibility is a mobile home kind of body on it, like an oversized limo so we can do things like craft brewery tours, cruise ship tours and brides’ hens nights … that 1980s porno look, deep-buttoned vinyl, easy clean,” Mike says with a laugh.

Keep us posted, mate, we can’t wait to see it.

A stint with Dolan’s Transport of Ashburton helped the Wingman towards its million miles. Photo: Ed Mansell.