W model's leading role

By: Warren Aitken

Although not a fleet owner in a true sense, truck enthusiast Rob Starcic was swept away when he first laid eyes on this stunning W925

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I’d like to consider myself a fairly charitable man, if I’m honest. I do as much charitable stuff as possible. Every day I listen to my wife tell me about her day and I pretend I’m interested. I eat as much steak as I can so that there’s less cows eating all the vegetarian’s food and I conserve as much water as I can at my place by watering the lawn with my neighbours hose.

I never expected any awards (being nominated would have been nice); I just do these things because that’s the kind of good bloke I am. Then I met Rob Starcic.

Yep, it was a pleasant sunny day in the Wollongong suburb of Unanderra when I went along with the best intentions of just photographing a really cool classic Kenworth. I sat down to interview the man behind it and came away feeling like I really should be doing a lot more than just recycling my old All Blacks shirts to sad Wallaby fans. I got a thorough schooling in charitable motivation. But let me explain.

Rob Starcic is a self-made man, but not in the transport industry. He is a definite trucking fan though and has been his entire life.

School holidays were spent in the passenger seat of his uncle’s 141 Scania which was on a local coal run. Rob vividly remembers rushing down to a pre-arranged bus stop and waiting patiently until he heard the old Scania coming along (you could always here those 141s before you saw them). Remember these were the days before cell phones, so there was no "be there in five minutes" kind of thing.

It was an early morning mathematical calculation to work out when the truck was due and a "be there by 8am and I’ll be by at some stage" kind of arrangement. No matter how it occurred, Rob got his trucking hit from the passenger seat.

Instead of going into trucking though, Rob ended up starting Coastal Windows and Doors. He spent years growing the business and taking it to the successful heights it has reached. Along the way his trucking time may have diminished but he never really lost the love of trucks.

Rob stands proudly with his home away from home. The truck, not the pub

Up front

Now we start moving into Rob’s charitable side. For it’s this side of him that brought a bit of reprieve from the hectic hours at Coastal Windows and Doors and allowed him to indulge in his trucking passion again.

For many years Rob had been putting his small company trucks in the highly successful i98FM Illawarra Convoy. However, in 2013 he started to step things up. The charitable donations the Convoy made to local groups seemed to spur on Rob’s local parochialism and he decided, rather than just donate money with the entry fees for his little company trucks, Rob would aim for the lead truck role.

The key thing about getting the lead truck position for the i98FM Illawarra Convoy is that you need to raise the most money. Oh, and you also need a truck and a licence to drive it. Did I mention Rob started in 2013 with none of those things?

His New Year’s resolution that year was to get his licence, which he did. He then set about raising funds to get the lead truck role, which he also did. The goal was to raise $20,000. Like everything Rob jumps into, goals are just a guideline. Before he knew it they’d hit $120,000 and he had the lead truck spot. So, he had the licence, he had the winning bid, now all he needed a truck – or at least rent one. And that’s exactly what he did.

Rob hired a new Kenworth K200, stickered it up and led the 2013 Illawarra Convoy.

This was the real beginning of Robs trucking and charity work and coincidentally the formation of the infamous ‘Team Dandaloo Boys’. Formed around a bar table in Dapto’s Dandaloo Hotel, the ‘Team Dandaloo Boys’ was the brainchild of Rob, the late Al Dougherty of Dougherty Transport and Paul Hadley of Illawarra Engineering Services. Together they spent many a schooner working out ways to raise more and more money each year. It was an extremely creative team.

In 2018 alone they again secured the lead truck position, this time with a winning bid of $340,000.

While the fundraising and community events were becoming a huge part of Rob’s life, it also reawakened his love of trucks.

Since getting his licence he began equipping himself with a truck or two of his own, starting with a magnificent White 9000. Rob admits he did have a few wee issues with the White though; blowing up the motor will do that. It was then that Rob met and began a great mateship with Manuel Aranega, manager of Illawarra Truck Repairs and Spares.

Manuel rebuilt the engine for Rob and he and the team at Illawarra Truck Services have assisted him with everything else he’s broken since. When your second truck is a classic Kenworth K125 then you know you are going to keep your mechanic busy.

Rob also had a small stint at running his own one truck business, employing a driver to keep his Western Star working. The venture didn’t last long and soon it was back to the White and the K125.

The original interior was still standing the test of time, though a little Pearlcraft addition never hurts

Show Time

Then Rob spotted the Adtrans show truck. The 1984 Kenworth W925 with the 64-inch sleeper won Rob over at first glance. The White and the cab-over were sold and the big yellow 925 took pride of place.

Rob has made quite a few changes to the Kenworth since he bought it. "It’s my toy; it’s the way I want it to look," he exclaims. It’s hard to argue with his taste.

He kept the trucks original colour as it resonated well with him. He wrapped the tanks, capped the ends and had new battery boxes and toolboxes made so both sides were identical. He used local boy Rick Jones to add just the right amount of scroll work to the big girl before sending it to Penrith where Wayne Harrison at Advanced Airbrush added the stunning mural on the back.

Rob’s parents had arrived in Australia many years ago, but he was born and raised the Australian way, which is why he chose the mural. You couldn’t get any more parochial without corks on your Akubra.

A&I Fabrication did an impressive job with all the stainless work

As far as the interior goes Rob says the nearly 40 year-old rig has stood the test of time well. He’s added a pearl craft steering wheel and recently installed a few creature comforts, including sleeper air and TV, but apart from that it’s all original Kenworth.

"I added the sleeper air so I can go away to shows and just sleep in the truck, it’s convenient," Rob admits. Convenient and handy when there’s usually more than a few beers on the go.

That was a little quip there, about the beers, but in actual fact, it kind of sums up Rob, ‘Team Dandaloo Boys’ and the whole drive behind the big beautiful W925.

Rob Starcic got involved in his activities in order to help others and spend time with like-minded mates. They love to take their trucks off to different shows, get involved in as many helpful causes as they can, have a few laughs and then have a few more.

"The trucking guys are a very welcoming family," Rob confesses. And that’s what he loves about it. The fact he can do all this, with a stunning shiny truck and still find a way to give back to those less well off, well I guess that’s ‘The Aussie Way’.

Hours spent on the internet and Rob came up with this fantastic mural to represent the ‘Aussie Way’

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