Character building


The sight of a Kenworth Legend 950 running down the highway almost always turns heads, but this Duggan Livestock and Bulk Haulage limited edition release also has an interesting history. Warren Aitken talks to driver Donald ‘Duck’ Bashforth about the truck named ‘Speechless’

 

The Legend 950 is unlike any other...

 

With each story I get to write I’m learning that in order to make it more interesting, it’s vital to have a good truck, a good cause or a good character.

On a recent drive-around North Queensland taking photos I was lucky enough to snap a shot of an awesome limited edition Kenworth 950 Legend. On closer investigation I found that instead of getting one of the three factors needed for a story, I could nail all three in one go. So here is a tale about a Legend, a ‘Mouse’ and a ‘Duck’.

Let’s start with the Legend first, which is not a label I’m making up. The fact is that the word ‘Legend’ is in the truck’s title.

The T950 Legend was a limited-edition release by Kenworth to honour one of their best selling and most popular trucks from the 1990s and early 2000s. However, Kenworth discontinued production of the T950 in 2007.

Just under a decade later the Kenworth team chose to release a limited edition run of just 75 of 950 Legends. With sales that would make even Taylor Swift envious, all were sold before you could finish reading the sales brochure.

Kenworth rolled out everything that had made the original big bonneted beast so popular, adding the latest generation power plant and safety features. You couldn’t have a 950 without the raised cab and paddock-sized bonnet which now covers a Euro 5 Cummins ISX. Retro Cummins and Kenworth badging adorned the outside of each rig while the custom interior matched nicely with the original flat dash, made possible by the lack of motor intrusion in the cab, one of the original selling points of the big T950s.

Donald ‘Duck’ Bashforth is the Legend 950’s regular driver. He’s been with Duggan Livestock and Bulk Haulage for more than 10 years

 

One of those lucky enough to get his name on board for a 950 Legend was John Duggan who, along with his wife Karen, runs Duggan Livestock and Bulk Haulage in the central Queensland town of Emerald. John has always been a Kenworth fan with the majority of his fleet sporting the KW badge. What’s also noticeable is that among his trucks is the third last T950 to come off the production line back in 2007.

While being a diehard Kenworth fan was a motivating factor in John’s desire for one of the Legends, another reason was John and Karen’s daughter Maddy, and raising awareness of the condition she has. This leads me to the ‘Good Cause’ angle of this story.

Maddy, also known to many as ‘Mouse’, has autism. Autism is a developmental disorder that causes issues with communication as well as motor skills, social issues and forming relationships with people. Being a spectrum disorder it affects everyone differently with no two people having all the same symptoms.


Kenworth Legend 900 FIRST Test Drive. Watch here!


One of Maddy’s symptoms is that she is non-verbal. While it is a tough situation, the Duggans have had a lot of support and, as such, John wanted to build a truck that would help get people talking and raise awareness of autism.

From the Kenworth factory the 950 Legend went to Toowoomba where Icepack Services were let loose. They blinged-up the outside and fitted all the creature comforts to the interior, including an upright Engel fridge, TV, microwave, jug and inverter.

With the truck ‘tricked out’, it was sent down to the team Cyclone Airbrush and Graphics who then worked their magic. Scroll work front to back, a huge Legend sign on the back wall and the name ‘Speechless’ was hand drawn on. The standout though was the identical images drawn on both sides of the sleeper. The artwork representing the Kenworth brand, Mouse and also the Autism Awareness ribbon. Maddy’s love of water was also incorporated in Barry’s artwork.

The end result was exactly what John and Karen were hoping for, it gets people talking. Though it is a working truck it has been seen at many charity events and was the Star of the 2017 Lowood truck show when they were raising money for Autism Australia.

The artwork on the Kenworth 950 Legend was especially designed to raise awareness of autism

 

No haircut required

Now for the ‘good character’ part of the story – the man who can be seen piloting this Kenworth Legend.

Donald ‘Duck’ Bashforth has been in the transport game almost since they started putting air in tyres. He hasn’t had a haircut since then either. While some may joke about it, Donald laughs off the remarks, usually returning with a comeback that’s a reminder you are playing with an old school truckie: "Respect your elders!"

Donald has been with Duggan for over a decade now and there isn’t a lot he hasn’t seen or done. His role now is based out of Charters Towers carting product for and to a lot of long-time Duggan customers.

Donald’s regular run has him loading various aggregates or feed down to Belyando Crossing, Emerald and stations around the area. Often he reloads with stone from the gem fields to take down to the Darling Downs before popping into New South Wales to pick up a return load of feed, grain or salt to head back up to Charters Towers.

It was with a little reluctance that Donald accepted the keys to the Duggan’s pride and joy, even though he started with John in an original T950. Such was his desire to keep a driving a T909, he commenting to John at the time, "you bought it, you be happy with your poxy 950!".

Obviously that wasn’t in John’s plans so after what was certainly a few quick exchanges, Donald relented and returned to calling a Legend home.

As ‘Speechless’ approaches three years old and almost half a million kilometres, Donald is damn sure he’s not handing the keys back, admitting "I’ve never driven a truck that rides so well."

He recalls having to pick up one of Duggan’s T659 drivers in Rockhampton and bring him back. The T659 driver asked if the road workers fixed a particular bump after he’d been bracing himself ready for a wild ride "Nup," was Donald’s simple answer, adding that the six rods would always hit it wrong, whereas the Legend rides just like a car.

The big 950 triple heads of for another week on the road

 

Spot on

While the truck is usually away for five to six days at a time, Donald ensures it is always looking immaculate. So much so that even the boss is afraid to drive it for fear of scratching it.

It isn’t just Donald’s built in work ethic that drives his desire to keep the truck clean, he also admits he likes the message and awareness the truck gets out there. With three trailers swinging off the back, the truck is a standout anyway but with its colourful artwork it garners the attention of more than just your everyday truck fan.

So as ‘Speechless’ keeps racking up the miles, it also accomplishes its secondary goal and that’s raising awareness of an issue effecting tens of millions of people around the world. And it gets everyone smiling when they see making its way along the highway.

The final line in this story must be given to the truck itself, which carries the AUTISM anagram on its side – ‘Always Unique Totally Interesting Sometimes Mysterious’.

A special message for Maddy ‘Mouse’ Duggan, from parents John and Karen, and Maddy’s brother Jack

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