TOP TRUCK – Rock Dog is Top Dog!

In Top Truck11 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineNovember 9, 2017

Christchurch turned on a magnificent spring day for the presentation of the Top Truck 2016 – 17. The winning Mack Trident ‘Rock Dog‘ owned by Road Metals Co Ltd took out the monthly prize in the July 2017 Top Truck competition, and was a resounding winner in the final public vote for the overall annual award.

Paul Campbell, sales manager for Power Retreads presents Kane Scott with the 2016 – 17 Top Truck plaque, with Dan Francis and Rock Dog looking on.

This year the prize pool also grew further with the company receiving a set of VIPAL retread tyres courtesy of the competition‘s main sponsor Power Retreads, the Top Truck annual prize plaque and a custom portrait of the winning truck by Rochelle Thomas.

Power Retreads is the major sponsor of both the
monthly Top Truck competition and the Top Truck of
the Year competition. The winner receives a full set of
Vipal premium retread drive tyres.

At the presentation from Road Metals Co Ltd were managing director Murray Francis, operations manager Dan Francis, driver at the time of the monthly prize and now transport manager Kane Scott, and of course the Bull Dog of the moment himself, Rock Dog. Also there were Power Retreads sales manager Paul Campbell, New Zealand Trucking magazine editor Dave McCoid, and winning contributor Craig McCauley, who submitted the July photo and story.

New Zealand Trucking magazine editor Dave McCoid presents Kane with the portrait painted by Rochelle Thomas.

“This is great news for us, we are very proud of our fleet and our operators,” said Murray.

This latest award for the company is by no means its first. Road Metals is well known the length and breadth of the country for its history of turning out immaculate trucks. From the famous ‘Daddy Cool‘ (see below) back in the late 70s, the company trucks have featured in numerous publications and won many awards at shows they‘ve attended. New Zealand Trucking asked Murray Francis where the desire to make the trucks show pieces originated.

“It has always been there, but the bar was lifted with Daddy Cool‘s original driver Peter McDowell. He was next level to anyone around at the time. He kept the truck absolutely immaculate, constantly polishing and painting the rims, even hand pin-striping the paint line on the bottom dump semi it towed. If you look in the poster you can see the lines and pin stripes he painted on the sides of the gooseneck. Sometimes it was too much and he probably should have been with his family. Taking over Daddy Cool myself, I certainly had a high standard to maintain. a standard I have insisted on to this day. Eighty percent of our gear, crushing plants, front-end loaders, and diggers are hidden away in quarries and in river beds, away from the public eye, they‘re still immaculate but not seen by the public. So I want the trucks that are seen to be of a very high standard. When Dan Francis came along he was ultra fastidious and now with the likes of Kane the tradition continues. The guys are super fussy about the fleet and will let anyone know straight away if their truck‘s not up to standard.”

Operations manager and Murray‘s son, Dan, said that trucks are brought now ex-factory with the extras on and it‘s just a matter of the drivers adhering to tradition, and the standard that demands.

Driver of the truck at the time Rock Dog won the monthly prize was Kane Scott. Since then Kane has moved into transport operations based at the Yaldhurst quarry site. Current driver on the ‘Rock Dog‘ is Craig Little, whose task it now is to keep the truck gleaming.

Congratulations to Murray, Dan, Kane and the team on yet another shining example.

The legendary ‘Daddy Cool‘

The poster of Daddy Cool that went ‘viral‘ in the 70s. It made the North Otago Road Metals Co Ltd brand a name well known in households throughout the country.

Taken gravelling the Cascade Creek to Hollyford road. Rain or snow, nothing stopped Murray and Daddy Cool.

‘Daddy Cool‘ was the R600 Mack owned by North Otago Road Metals Co Ltd that suddenly appeared on posters in book shops and stationers all over New Zealand in the late 70s.

Truck-mad Kiwi kids were starved of any local truck memorabilia and the famous photo taken by Oamaru photographer Kevin Keppel was hoovered up as quick as it appeared in the poster racks. Back in the day it was Daddy Cool that made North Otago Road Metals a known brand in houses all over the country, and certainly helped Mack reach the status it had by the 80s.

Murray Francis recalls the famous truck and the publicity around it.

“It was given this name by the original driver Peter McDowell because of its Intercooled engine. Peter got this truck brand new in 1977 and certainly went all-out on the paint job and the bits and pieces he attached. The name ‘Daddy Cool‘ was painted in gold leaf paint.

“The photo was taken just out of Oamaru and it was the first truck poster that ever went on sale in the shops. And it wasn‘t only the poster; handkerchiefs with the same photo were also for sale in the shops. Peter drove the truck for about a year and then I drove it for another two and a half years after him. A lot of children had this poster on their walls of their bedrooms and I certainly took a lot of them for a ride in the truck.

Sometimes I had three children sitting on the single passenger seat. A lot of times when working on the Haast Highway, or the Te Anau to Milford road, there would be parents taking photos of the truck when spreading, or turning around on the road. Their boy was generally in the car, and I would offer to take him (or them) for a ride, with the parents picking them up down the road. Sometimes the Dad also came for a ride, with the Mum driving the car to the pick-up zone.”

Something special

The painting, above, and the original, below. A special commission to commemorate the event.

“It was an absolute pleasure painting the Mack for Road Metals. I was honoured to be given this opportunity and very proud New Zealand Trucking magazine thought so highly of my work,” says artist Rochelle Thomas. Rochelle says she personally voted for the truck and was so excited to hear it had won.

“I haven‘t painted many Mack trucks and the loader gave it that little something extra – an action shot! I‘d love the opportunity to paint more like it – the more machinery and the bigger the better!”

Rochelle is a self-taught artist and says her skills grow with every painting she completes.

“I enjoy every aspect of my job; well it‘s not just a job to me, it‘s a passion! It‘s such a rewarding thing to do, making people smile every single day.”

All Rochelle‘s paintings are done in acrylic on block canvas, and painted from photographs.

“There was a bit of pressure to get this one completed at short notice but I tend to work best under pressure! Currently there‘s approximately an eight to 10-week wait time on orders and I try do at least two a week.”

Since giving up her day job last year and starting work as a self-employed automotive artist, Rochelle says her business has grown very quickly.

“I was so scared of giving up my regular income and the Monday to Friday 8 to 5 job security, but I can confidently say it was the best decision I ever made. I‘ve now got an extensive portfolio made up of trucks from here in New Zealand and also in Australia.”