Feature, TOTM

Auto Scania ticks all boxes

OCTOBER TRUCK OF THE MONTH: Owner-driver Tim McCarthy followed his grandfather and father into trucking, with a couple of detours along the way. With a commitment to family and hard work, Tim’s choice of a Scania P320 has proven to be a godsend

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Tim McCarthy’s 2021 Scania P320 may not be the biggest truck out there, but it’s a perfect fit for the young owner-driver – and he sure as hell has managed to manoeuvre it into some pretty interesting locations, as I saw first-hand as he delivered a load of plastic water tanks.

First up, I should focus on the McCarthy family as well as their cool Scania which is the main subject of this article. If you have scoped out the photos already, you will notice the name on the truck is McCarthy Trucking. Not Tim McCarthy Trucking or even Tim Trucking. It is McCarthy Trucking and that’s because this one-truck operation is a full-on family venture.

Tim may be the man behind the wheel but behind him is his lovely wife Ebony and their daughter Addison. However, the success of this family operation spreads beyond the couple’s Bendigo home and all the way through the McCarthy bloodline. Tim has a family tree created entirely out of tyre tread and road maps.

“My grandfather used to run log trucks out of Leonards Hill in Victoria,” says Tim, pointing out the menagerie of makes his granddad went through during his career. From an old Louisville, a Road Boss, a couple of LTLs, a Sterling, and even an old Diamond Reo.

“Grandad used to cart logs and a couple of my uncles used to drive for him back in the day,” Tim explains. “My dad (Darren McCarthy) was a lot younger though and went off and did his own thing.” That own thing was about as far from bush bashing and logging as you can possibly get.

“Dad started out doing light freight in an old Isuzu,” Tim continues. “He used to run between Bendigo and Ballarat. He had an old Isuzu to start with and then bought a new one which he did up like a show truck.”

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Tim was indoctrinated into the transport industry from the day he was old enough to hold a sponge and could barely reach the top of the rims he was cleaning. When you start that young, with a grandfather and father so entrenched in the industry, it is no wonder he found his way to where he is now. It wasn’t exactly a straight route to the P320 he has his name on today.

Tim’s life was obviously very heavily influenced by his grandfather’s past and growing up under his father’s tutelage. Hence, it makes perfect sense that Tim is a qualified butcher, with the beginnings of a plumbing apprenticeship (that’s just a touch of sarcasm there). Of course, it doesn’t make sense.

“Dad told me I would have to get an apprenticeship when I left school,” says Tim, who goes on to explain that he already had a part-time job cleaning at the local butcher so as soon as he was allowed to leave school. He exploited that and turned it into a butcher’s ­apprenticeship.

“It was a job that allowed me to get out of school as soon as I could,” Tim says. He admits though that his heart was never really in it. He’d grown up around trucks, so trucks had always been his mainstay. Even the teachers knew that back in his early school years.

“I remember my primary school teacher telling mum and dad not to bother saving for my university, save for my first truck instead,” Tim laughs. “I used to just sit in class drawing trucks.”

However, by the time he finished his apprenticeship, Tim’s dad Darren had sold up his trucks and was taking a bit of a break. Tim himself wasn’t feeling the butcher role, it just wasn’t floating his boat. So he tried his hand at a plumber apprenticeship. With nothing to clean in the weekends either, Tim took those years of polishing experience and started a bit of a side hustle doing car detailing. A butcher, future plumber, and detailer – that was the summary of Tim in his early 20s. None of those of this really appealed to Tim, unlike the years of working with and helping out his dad, cleaning and servicing truck. That had left its mark on the young fella.

The McCarthy family, proud as punch of their P320 Scania

Contentment only came when Tim got his HR licence and finally found himself behind the wheel of a little puddle jumper delivering plaster. “I tried a few different things, but it wasn’t until I got into trucks that I really enjoyed my work life.

“I started working for a few companies around Bendigo, delivering plaster,” Tim recalls. “Then I delivered milk for a while.” It is worth taking note that Tim and Ebony started dating around the time Tim was driving his small milk truck.

Name’s sake

Now let’s move back to the stunning Scania. From delivering plaster, then milk, it didn’t take long for Tim to get himself into a position to put his name on the side of his own truck. That opportunity arose when he moved from milk to tanks. “I got a job for another company delivering water tanks,” he recalls. “It was a good job but there weren’t really enough hours. Then I got a shot with another company, doing the same kind of thing and, although it would mean me doing some trips away from home, I thought I would try.”

Tim took to the new job like rainwater takes to the tanks he delivers. His work ethic and ability to get the job done, often in very remote locations, saw new opportunities arise. Specifically, Tim was given the option to put his own truck on the road. An opportunity he credits to his dad and grandad.

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It was these two influential figures that shaped Tim’s approach to the industry and his attitude to work. “I saw my father retire at a young age; I was also around when my ­grandfather worked until he couldn’t even get out of the truck anymore. I have seen both sides. I look up to my father and what he has achieved and am planning for the same thing.”

The planning he is talking about is his desire to work his butt off, balancing quality family time while keeping his gear in pristine condition as well as ensuring he has a reputation as someone not afraid of a bit of hard work.

All that grounding culminated with the chance to place the McCarthy Trucking name on the side of a truck again. With that decision made, the next obstruction was to choose the perfect vehicle to put that name on.

“I’d driven a few of the company trucks, the Hinos were good but were quite light and struggled when the wind got up. I liked the Mercedes, but they didn’t have a lot of room. So, in the end I looked at either a Volvo or a Scania,” Tim explains. “The standard ­accessories in the Scania beat the Volvo, like the airbag suspension.

“For comfort and for the places we go into – some are really bad – but the Scania suspension can be raised 160mm. That was a big selling point. Also in that size, it’s the only one I know with an inbuilt fridge. Then there’s all the safety features included.”

Those standard safety features Tim refers to include all those annoying beepy things like lane departure warning and advanced emergency braking, as well as adaptive cruise control and the electronic stabiliser program.

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Tim was also impressed by all the storage space in the low version of the P cab. “I had looked at the mid-rise version, but once again because of some of the places we have to get to, that extra height would be a bit of a pain. Plus, the low-rise cab looks better when we have such a low tray on these trucks.”

Power-wise, Tim had looked at the next model up, the 360hp engine, but listened to the guys at Scania who were adamant the 320 would be enough. “They were right,” Tim says. “We don’t have a great weight on and I already have to back off now when it gets windy and that.”

The Scania 9.3 litre engine produces nearly 1200lb-ft of torque at around 1200rpm. That’s more than enough to get Tim over any mountain range without dropping a gear. Which leads to another new issue for Tim – the auto boxes.


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“I’d only ever really driven manuals. I spent some time in one of the company trucks which had an auto. It was so slow and awful. I wasn’t sold on the idea at the start,” Tim confesses. “Now though, after having the Scania, if I was offered the choice of manual or auto, I would take the auto hands down. It’s like driving a car, it really is that good. It also has a creeper gear for reverse.”

Delivery date

With that choice made, the next issue was waiting time. From start to finish the project took all of nine months. Scania has produced P-cab variants like Tim’s before, they are designed for use in areas that require a long wheelbase and low-profile tyre setup. However, they are a specific truck and Tim had to wait for one to arrive in the country before he could start getting it built to his specs.

“Because I had been doing the tanks for a while, I knew a few of the little things I wanted to change about mine, little things like the flag poles. A lot of blokes just have them hanging off the headboard, then they flap around and rub all the paint off, which I’m a bit particular about,” Tim says.

“There were other things like extra-long toolboxes. I wanted those in front of the drives. Some trucks have them behind, then they end up hitting the trailer.”

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Tim had made note of what would work, what wouldn’t and, most importantly, what would look good. The job then was to work out who could do what he needed. For that he turned to the creative team at Complete Truck Bodies in Dandenong.

“Complete Truck Bodies were fantastic,” Tim says. “There are a lot of places that do the trays for these kinds of trucks but are very much ‘this is what we build’. But Complete Truck Bodies worked with me to build a one-off kind of thing.

“We got it a bit lower, almost sitting on the chassis rails. We also added an extra fuel tank and did some changes just for the look as well.” These include the matching toolboxes and the modified bull bar.

Another small touch that needs to be noted is the cool looking quarter guards. While they were Tim’s idea and design, they were also a massive surprise to him. “Mum and dad actually did that for me. I had looked into them when I was speccing up the truck, but really couldn’t afford them,” he admits.

“It is our first truck, me and Ebony had our first baby coming and we’d already committed a lot to this and had to draw the line. Then I found out mum and dad had rung Complete Truck Bodies and said, ‘we’ll pay for those, just do it’. I was really surprised.”

Coming from someone that can admire the McCarthy Trucking Scania without having to pay for it, I am thankful to Tim’s mum and dad because the guards really set this truck off.

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Another name that has to be mentioned is Heath Saunders from Saunders Sign & Graphics from Boort, Victoria, a name that’s no stranger to any truck enthusiast. Saunders’ work is literally plastered over some of the coolest trucks on our roads and he was the first person Tim chased down once he had signed up to his Scania.

“I wanted something nice and subtle, not in your face. And when you look at Heath’s work it’s as good as what’s going around,” Tim explains of his choice to contact Saunders Sign and Graphics. “Heath designed our logo using the purple idea. Dad’s old 900 was purple, our favourite colour is purple, so he used that. He then made sure the lines were very understated and followed the body work. It’s top work.”

After a nine month wait, and thousands of kilometres in a company truck, Tim finally got the keys to his first truck. All the comfort, all the coolness, and all the practicality rolled into one.

“The truck is great. I do about 180,000 kilometres a year and go into some pretty tough spots and it’s perfect. The comfort is second to none; I can do 1000km a day and feel fine.”

He can often spend a few days away at a time and finds the little Scania perfect for sleeping in, while admitting he’s had only limited experience with big trucks and big bunks and doesn’t know much difference.

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With the work Tim does, running empty half the time, when it is loaded it’s light but extremely susceptible to the weather. So the truck choice and setup is extremely important and he believes he has built the perfect truck for the role. Compared to some of the lighter Japanese trucks he has driven he finds the Scania holds the road better, plus he isn’t fighting the steering wheel all day, especially when loaded with big tanks.

Another factor is fuel economy, important for a young family and their one-truck operation, so the Scania was hard to beat on fuel consumption. Then there is the comfort, which we have already touched on, although I think Tim sums that up best.

“Let’s be honest, the roads are not getting any better and some of the places we deliver to can be way off the beaten track. The Scania just handles it so well.”

All in all, buying your first truck can often be an overwhelming task, but Tim has done a spot-on job, getting a rig that ticks all the boxes while looking extremely sharp while working. It’s a credit to Tim and the entire McCarthy family.

Photography: Warren Aitken

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