International Lonestar Blade truck review

By: Matt Wood


International Lonestar Blade review Matt Wood TradeTrucks International Lonestar Blade review Matt Wood TradeTrucks
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Matt Wood takes the pride of the Brisbane Truck Show for an Australian test drive

 

As someone who can be quite often found staring vacantly at pretty lights, it’s probably no surprise to anyone that I happen to quite like the look of International America’s flagship Lonestar.

Few trucks seem to polarise opinions than the International Lonestar; International’s hipster retro hotrod is either loved or despised in equal measure.

International likes to call the design ‘Advanced Classic’ – I prefer shiny and swoopy.

The in-your-face homage to the old International KB pickup with some aerodynamic inspiration added into the mix makes for a very lairy and very public visual statement.

And that’s just in stock form.

It could be said that the star of last year’s Brisbane Truck Show was the customised Lonestar ‘Blade’ taking pride of place on the Navistar Auspac stand.

All flames, chrome and brash attitude, the stretched bling machine also loudly claimed 1000 horsepower via custom badges on its flanks.

Okay, shiny AND oomph, now my attention was piqued.

International design

The truck itself was built by the Regional International Group, an International truck dealer network that covers Western New York and Pennsylvania.

The truck took centre stage at the 2008 Mid America Truck Show (MATS) where the Lonestar was unveiled to a rather stunned public.

It must’ve made an impact as the Lonestar was voted Truck of the Year by American Truck Dealers back in 2008.

In the case of Blade, the 13-litre, Maxxforce powered Lonestar was completely torn down in a cab-off custom rebuild.

The wheelbase was stretched to 7.7 metres before the battery boxes and fuel tanks were relocated.

The tanks themselves were painted before custom tank straps were installed.

To enhance the smooth aero look of the slinky Inter, fuel fillers were relocated in-board behind a flap and hidden from view.

The cab was bathed in a rather fetching silver colour before a combination of tribal and traditional blue flames were applied.

If you happen to stare at the flame job for long enough, which I sadly did, you’ll notice that the word ‘Navistar’ is hidden amongst the swirling paint.

Think of it as a Where’s Wally for the trucking tragics out there.

The radiator grille also got the blue flame treatment as well as the head of the Maxxforce 13 powerplant.

All gaseous emissions exited the mill via a couple of towering 8-inch sooters.

Plenty of bullet lights and LED’s were screwed to Blade as well a full 20 metres of blue LED strip lighting.

Just to ice the low profile Lonestar cake, a custom drop visor was installed as well as some bespoke build alloys.

Love it or hate it, Blade certainly commands attention where ever it goes.

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Getting behind the wheel

Following its appearance at Brisbane, Blade has been hidden away in storage.

I recently got wind of this and harassed the bejesus out of the team at Navistar Auspac to let me take it for a drive.

The conversation was pretty much the standard:

Can I drive it?

No

Can I drive it?

No!

Can I, can I can I can I can I!?

Oh bloody hell, all right then!!!

The only problem was that I couldn’t drive it on the road.

The American Lonestar is too wide for Aussie regs, it’s still a left hooker and it’s got those pointy wheel nut covers that the authorities worry will shred native wildlife on it.

But we did find a paddock big enough for me to take it for a spin and still make it into top ‘box in the 18-speed Roady.

It was hard for me to contain my enthusiasm as I drove in the gate and laid eyes on the silver and blue beast again.

The stretched chassis and custom adornment to make it a very striking vehicle to look at.

Even if it does look a little out of place in the Australian bush.

 

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Testing the Blade

I fired up the Maxxforce AEGR donk and let all the gauges and lights do their thing before depressing the clutch and grabbing a gear.

Even though the Maxxforce 13 AEGR turned out to be a less than reliable donk in the couple of years after its release, this one sounded pretty tough as it gargled at the sky through the big shiny chimneys behind the cab.

I will say that it does take a little time to adjust to swapping cogs will the right hand rather than the left.

But I soon adjusted and put the boot into the big Inter.

Given the lighter American chassis spec and extra-long wheel base it’s fair to say that there was plenty flex going on in that long smooth chassis.

I can neither confirm nor deny that the tail of said vehicle may have been swung out on a couple of occasions where there was a rush of blood to the head.

The badges on the side may proudly proclaim 1000hp, however, in reality, lurking underneath the flames is a bog-standard 500hp 13-litre.

So being a stocker there were no streaming contrails of diesel smoke etching the Queensland sky.

There’s also something to be said for a big yank sleeper.

The living room with a flip down bed arrangement of the Lonestar’s walk in high-rise apartment block is a cracker.

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Verdict

So I finally managed to tick at least one rather sad little item off the bucket list.

I got to take Blade for a spin.

Unfortunately there were no shop windows to look at myself in, and there wasn’t a road house audience to brag to.

But even if it was for the briefest of moments I got to be a super trucker on the highway of my own imagination    

 

Read the full review in an upcoming issue of Owner//Driver or ATN. Subscribe to Owner//Driver here, and ATN here

 

 

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