Classic Ford F Series trucks proved their enduring popularity, with numerous quality examples on display.

Thousands of truck and commercial vehicle enthusiasts flocked to Melbourne’s Sandown Park Racecourse recently for the 30th Annual Display Day hosted by the Historic Commercial Vehicle Club of Australia (HCVCA), proving the growing appeal of Australia’s commercial vehicle heritage.

This is just one section of the huge display area, which featured a great variety of classic commercials.

All owners of historic commercial vehicles were invited to display at the event, resulting in a rich and colourful exhibit comprising several hundred quality examples including original and restored utes, pickups and delivery vans, full-size trucks from all eras including prime movers, trays and tippers, buses, fire engines, military vehicles, recovery vehicles, tractors and plenty of collectables and memorabilia.

Above and below: A prime example of the high quality of classic truck restoration and show presentation these days was this superb 1950s International tray top, complete with a full payload of period-look handmade timber barrels.

Truck Jungle spent an interesting day wandering through the lines of classic commercials on display, many with their owners stationed nearby and happy to share the detailed histories of their much loved vehicles with anyone that was interested.

Apart from an engine overhaul, this May 1961-build XK Falcon ute was all original after 92,000 miles (147,000 kms) and 50 years of service! Parked next to it is a rare Austin A40 panel van owned by Truck Jungle's features editor Joe Kenwright.

Nostalgia is a powerful emotion and it seems that, just like classic cars, everyone has a fond memory of a classic truck from years gone by. Perhaps it was the Holden-bodied Bedford tray driven by the local suburban green grocer to the city markets and back each day. Or the rusty, unregistered Holden, Falcon or Valiant ute you learned to drive in on your uncle’s farm. Or the F Series tow truck with the bright red paint, polished chrome, flashing lights, dual rear wheels and hot sounding V8 owned by the local panel beaters.

International (left) and Dodge have a long history of component sharing in Australia, resulting in trucks similar in appearance yet with solid customer loyalties on both sides of the brand divide.

Every truck has an interesting story to tell, particularly when you realise how many of these classic commercials are unique to Australia. For example, to meet local content requirements, big name US brands like International and Dodge shared bodies, chassis and other components for many years across a wide range of Australian-built trucks both large and small. And there were numerous examples of these on show from different eras.

Interesting contrast in early 1950s thinking between the classic stepside box US Chevrolet pickup (left) and the Australian Ford ute of the same era known affectionately as the 'single spinner'.

GM-H and Ford Australia have both been heavily involved in production of commercial vehicles unique to Australia over many decades and these were also well represented on the day, including Holden-bodied Bedfords and Chevrolets, several early model Falcon utes, F Series trucks and Ford’s classic ‘single spinner’ and Mainline utes. Not one HQ-WB Holden One Tonner in sight, though, which was a real surprise.

Ford's Mainline utes of the 1950s, like this superb 1954 example, have always been popular amongst classic Ford truck enthusiasts. Not hard to see why, when they have such strong DNA links with the Customline sedans.

There was plenty more to delight fans of British commercials, with light duty deliveries like Ford Anglia/Prefect utes, Morris and Austin vans from the 1940s and 50s, as well as the Austin 1800 ‘land crab’ ute of the late 1960s based on BMC’s front wheel drive Austin 1800 sedan.

Light duty British Ford utes like this '48 Anglia were very popular with post-war small business owners.

Intriguing Austin 1800 ute was another unique Australian development of the late 1960s.

The classic military hardware display was a delight for fans of WWII iron, including numerous Jeeps, a three-quarter ton Dodge WC52 weapons carrier and superb Chevrolet Blitz all looking like they had come straight from the battlefield.

WWII 3/4 ton Dodge WC series trucks, like this WC52, were available in numerous configurations and served with distinction in numerous theatres of war. It was one of the greatest trucks produced for the Allied forces.

Many of these vehicles have a proud post-war civilian heritage in Australia, too. After being decommissioned and sold, they were put to work in a variety of important roles from hard working farm vehicles to frontline duties with volunteer bushfire brigades.

Anothe fine exhibit was this WWII Chevrolet Blitz SWB in full military dress.

Classic prime movers were also thick on the ground at Sandown, with some original and beautifully restored examples of heavy duty F Series Fords, B Series Macks, Kenworths and even a recently imported LHD Peterbilt cab-chassis.

Now that's one tough looking truck! Classic Ford F-Series prime movers like this beautifully presented 1969 F750 can make great club vehicles for enthusiasts with a love of old tracks and a desire to drive something different.

Truck Jungle has noticed an interesting trend emerging here, where classic prime movers restored to factory standards are in some cases taking the place of classic cars as preferred highway cruisers and ‘Sunday drivers’ for enthusiasts.

Hot dog! We never get tired of looking at classic B model Macks, particularly examples as immaculate as this one.

Given their honest, hard-working heritage, individuality and imposing size and power, these trucks attract plenty of interest and admiration wherever they go. And, given their Herculean strength, reliability and relative affordability, respond well to restoration and club use.

Wooden floored tray-backs were thick on the ground representing a variety of eras, including this fabulous 1940s Dodge.

Events like the annual HCVCA Display Day prove that Australia’s commercial vehicle heritage movement is every bit as passionate and healthy as its car-based counterpart.

Another example of International/Dodge body sharing in Australia was this 1950s International ute, which used the same body as the Dodge Fargo utility but with distinctive International front sheetmetal.

The sheer number of vehicles that have contributed to this unique industry and the building of our post-war nation is staggering.

And their effectiveness in their various roles – and their amazing longevity – is a testament to the world-class quality and ingenuity of Australian designers and manufacturers. TJ

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