In July 1959 a tragic event took place in the Riverina NSW Australia on the Olympic Way between Henty and Yerong Creek, an event that has haunted my father-in-law ‘Desmond Gibbs or Des’ ever since.
In an instant he lost his father Wilfred Gibbs 42, older brother Anthony Gibbs 21 and his cousin Billy Aylett. Overnight they were transporting a load of cattle in their 1956 Ford F600 Prime Mover that lost control, verred off the road and burst into flames after plowing into a tree, with the petrol tank just behind the passenger seat the three men didn’t stand a chance, ironically all the cattle survived.
Des was 10 and only days away from his 11th birthday and he remembers that this trip was meant to be the rigs final job before it was to be sold and traded-in for a new truck the following day. Sadly this was not to be. In those days the Olympic Way wasn’t a busy road let alone in the middle of the night, and it wasn’t surfaced either which made it all the more dangerous. It was going to be a while before anyone would be witness to this event.
The first people at the scene of the accident recall seeing lots of cattle wandering along the road and they thought it odd, only to find further up the smouldering ashes of a truck on the side of the road, with no survivors.
Almost 50 years later and Des still remembers this night like it was only yesterday, and for some time he has had the urge and the dream to restore a 1956 Ford F600 to the exact spec as his fathers. All in time for the 50th anniversary of the accident. Which he did. Except one detail, the petrol tank now sits on the side of the truck rather than behind the passengers seat!
Des will say he spent around $30,000 restoring this truck, ask his wife Lyn (the book-keeper) and she will bump it up to $50,000 or $60,000 not including man hours. It is safe to say that he spent a lot on it. Including the help of friends like John who worked on the engine and electronics. I personally helped Des find a couple of old shells for parts and installed the exhaust pipes.
And here it is, in all its glory with the original signwriting on the doors painted by Des himself who is a signwriter.