Feature, TOTM

Big and beefy Kenworth Legend

APRIL TRUCK OF THE MONTH: A working stock truck with the looks of a fully polished and immaculate show truck? Meet the Einsiedel family’s 2023 Kenworth W900SAR Legend, an acknowledgement to Kenworth’s history of Australian trucking


I have confirmed the answer, everybody! Feel free to thank me with praises, accolades, and/or Jack Daniels, for I reiterate, I have confirmed the answer. We all know the question, it’s the same one all these fancy acronym-based agencies are trying to come up with solutions to, working out how to ensure the future of our industry is skilled, experienced, and ready to carry the mantle. Well, I have confirmed the answer. It is all courtesy of Ian Einsiedel and his son Hayden, and it is as simple as we have all suspected.

The passenger seat. That’s the answer. It is the simple passenger seat. If we want our industry to flourish, if we want to breed calm, conscientious, and courteous truckies of the future, look at the passenger seat. If we want a generation of truckies with that down-to-earth, handle-the-pressure, do-the-hard yards kind of attitude, then look at the passenger seat. If we want passion, productivity, and pride in the job, then look at the passenger seat.

All this was confirmed when I spent a day in the Victorian town of Sale with the truck mad, cattle-carting father-and-son team of Ian and Hayden Einsiedel.

Hayden has been in the passenger seat since before he could even lace up his steel cap work booties and now, at 25 years old he has been given the keys to the Einsiedel fleet’s latest and greatest flagship – a 2023 Kenworth W900SAR Legend.

There is no nepotism here. Hayden has earned the keys to this ­exceptional truck after a two-decade-long apprenticeship. A lot of that apprenticeship has been undertaken from the passenger seat of numerous Einsiedel trucks, with a fair bit also spent in the driver’s seat while in the company’s yard. No matter which way you look at it, young Hayden has earned his stripes and proven to all that the brightest future for our industry starts in the passenger seat.

Legend series

With this particular story, when I chose to crank up the car and head south to the Victorian town of Sale, I wasn’t expecting to be answering the transport industry’s tough questions. I was just chasing some photos of a very cool truck. It all came about after passing the stunning Einsiedel Legend a couple of weeks earlier. It had been laden with ‘deconstructed’ Big Macs and was headed in the opposite direction while I was out trucking.

For those living under a rock and unaware of the Kenworth Legend series, let me give you a brief summary. In 2015 Kenworth Australia decided to reproduce a Legend version of their iconic T950 truck. There were only 75 made to spread among the 75,000 people that wanted one. They sold all 75 in under 48 hours; it was a huge hit. In 2017 Kenworth decided to release their second Legend series, this time based on the T900. Lessons were learned from the 950 Legend and instead of a limited number, Kenworth went with a limited day of sales. The marketing strategy worked. June 26 saw 267 Legend 900s sold. Roll on 2021 and Kenworth upped the ante again. Their new Legend was going to be based on the first Kenworth, designed, engineered, and built in Australia for Australian conditions – the W900SAR.

Once again, I am sure every truck nut on pub quiz night will tell you the SAR stands for Short-bonneted Australian Right-hand Drive, but I’m repeating it anyway.

The inside of the Einsiedel’s SAR is as immaculate as the exterior

Back in 1975 when these trucks came out, they were a bit of a mash-up between the W900AR and the S2 models. With the slopping bonnet and raised cab they were an immediate hit. They also featured for the first time the use of under-cab batteries and toolboxes.

Forty-six years later, Kenworth announced their next Legend would be a homage to the original SAR and they would use the same marketing strategy as the previous 900 Legends. Well, the allure of the old SAR had not diminished and all sorts of records were broken, as well as plenty of phone lines, when an excess of 700 Legend SAR were sold on July 8. In fact, almost two years after they were announced the trucks are still coming down the production line.

That’s your brief summary – now back to my point. With hundreds of the SAR Legends already on the road I am sure you have all seen several that just knock your socks off. Passing the Einseidel Legend with a B-double of walking steaks on board was the moment my socks were not just knocked off, they were torn off, thrown down the road, picked up by a gust of effluent-infused air and disappeared from site. I just had to chase it down.

Sure the colours and the lines just worked, but the fact the truck was shining like a fully polished show truck just blew me away. Who has a stock truck like that?

The answer is the Einsiedel family. Although the Einsiedal name isn’t the easiest to pronounce, it is a name that is synonymous with cattle and carting cattle. Particularly down in Victoria where you will find the Einsiedel name on the side of some stunning stock trucks.

While Hayden is the young man in the luxurious driver’s seat, he has learned all his skills from his truckie father Ian who himself has grown up surrounded by cattle and crates.

“I’ve been around cattle all my life,” Ian explains. “I lived with my cousins from about 16 until I was 24 and they used to have a boning room and kill cattle. They also ran trucks.”

The Legend SAR definitely catches the eye as it cruises along the road

That cousin was Don Einsiedel, and the company was D.N. & E. A Einsiedel.

“Don was like a father figure to me in my teens and, in fact, the lines on the Legend are a tribute to his original scheme,” Ian says. “He used to have the same thing, but his trucks were green and white.”

Ian spent a fair bit of time working with and for his cousin. Cutting his teeth on old F-models, Cruiseliners, Valueliners and the legendary Super-Liners. While his weekends and evenings were spent working for his uncle, his days were spent working at G&K O’Conner Abattoirs in Pakenham.

“Yeah, I started working at the Pakenham abattoirs and then once I was ticketed I could legally cart into the abattoirs. Now it’s Hayden carting in there. They are a third-generation company, and we are a third-generation company,” Ian says.

“I’ve found in the cattle industry it is very much a relationship-based industry, very personal. More so than other parts of transport.”

Mixed brands

Ian has been mastering the art of cattle cartage for over four decades. In the earlier years a lot of his experience was gained while working for his cousin Don. Then, in 1999 when young Hayden came crashing into the world, Ian made the move to put his own truck and crate setup on the road.

His time driving for his cousin may have been more Mack motivated, but when it came to putting his first truck on the road he began with a stunning Kenworth T604. For Ian, it wasn’t about brand loyalty, it was about getting the job done right and doing it well. Hence why, since the purchase of that first T604, Ian has seen an assorted array of trucks pass beneath his feet.

“We’ve had them all,” Ian tells me. “Back in the day it was anything with a Cat in it – Kenworths, Sterlings, Macks with Cats, right up to the Cat trucks themselves – and they were good trucks too.”

Einsiedel’s SAR Legend up front of the historic La Trobe swing bridge

Now however the fleet is back to either the new generation bulldog brand or the Aussie icon that is the Kenworth bug.

“The older guys prefer the Macks, but the younger ones want the Kenworths,” Ian laughs.

Talking of younger ones, let’s focus on Hayden.

“I remember my first interstate trip was in the Sterling, I don’t remember how old I was but I just loved it,” Hayden recalls, with his dad laughingly adding in, “I only brought one CD with me and we listened to it all the way up and all the way down.”

Ian is pretty sure by the age of two Hayden had already claimed the passenger seat as his sovereign right and any chance he could he was traveling with dad.

“Hayden has been driving since way before he was licensed. Only around the yard, any chance he could he was moving trucks. He’d wash them and drive them around,” Ian adds.

Working was what did it for Hayden. “I was never really into school, I liked to work,” he says. That wasn’t only helping his father, however. Hayden also had an afterschool job at the local auto-electricians. Hell, he kind of needed school just for some downtime. But as soon as he could, he waved goodbye to his teachers and headed into the big wide world.

“When I left school, I couldn’t get my licence so I went and did a mechanics apprenticeship,” Hayden says. “I did that but as soon as I had my HR I went driving. I started in the DAF body truck we had and I loved it.”

Even waiting to load, the Legend looks ‘legendary’

Considering the experience and skills he had been developing since the age of two, Hayden still loved the responsibility that came with getting out on his own in the little DAF. He did his time, but once he got his HC he jumped into one of the company’s Western Stars.

“It was a cool truck, I had a two-deck single trailer behind that,” Hayden says. “And then when I turned 21 I was straight in to get my MC licence.”

Two days after he got his MC Hayden was handed the keys to the company T900 Legend and, along with an extra trailer or two, he was away. He was in his element with big rigs and bigger cattle.

“I’ve always been a truck nut, but the satisfaction of the cattle is something else,” Hayden says. “You can have a filthy truck, but if you’re watching them cattle walk off after a trip it’s something else. They could be old crackers that don’t travel too well and you got them there. It’s a good feeling.”

It is that attitude and that broader appreciation for the job that makes Hayden great at what he does. It is also a testament to the positive training gained from the passenger seat. It is also what leads to a young fella getting handed the reins, and the build sheet to a truck like the new Legend SAR.

Bells and whistles

As mentioned before, there was already a Kenworth Legend in the fleet, one that Hayden had spent three years in. When the new Legend SARs were released at the 2021 Brisbane Truck Show the family company was quick to get their name down on one.

“We picked it up in March 2023,” Hayden says. “We decided we wanted to use our colours, the blue, but wanted to pay respects to Don’s old paint scheme with the same lines and stuff.”

The attention to detail spreads to the interior details as well, as per the fitted custom switches

The truck came out of the Kenworth Bayswater factory in the stunning blue and then went off to Darren Febey at JRT Truck Refinishers in Melbourne to get the stripes added. From there it headed to Bendigo where the team at Tranz Air & Electrics got to work fitting all the bells and whistles.

“We did all the running around with it; we want to meet the people who are doing the work,” Hayden says. “We already had a relationship with Steve and the Tranz Air crew. They did Icepack, bunk heater, stand-up fridge, under seat fridge, inverter … they did the lot. A very neat job.”

Next was to pop round and see the legendary Bob Conway. “Bob has signed and scrolled a lot of our trucks and we really wanted to get him to do this one,” Hayden continues. Bob also added the latest re-embodiment of the snorting bull figure found on the Einsiedel trucks.

“We’ve had the bull cartoon on our trucks for years and each one has a different saying. This time Bob has the ‘All Horns and Balls’ on it.”

Tranz Air did much of the bunk area, including the bunk heater and stand-up fridge

From there they took the truck down to A&J Industries in Craigieburn to get all the stainless done. The talented team down there did everything from the air cleaner covers, extra lights and bunk trims to the tank wraps and visor.

“We actually wanted the look to be very similar to the old Valueliner Dad drove. It had four tanks so this truck had two 450 tanks on one side, then one 450, a 300 and the AdBlue tank. They wrapped them to look like both sides are the same.

“With the stainless and electric bells and whistles added, the final step for the truck was to get a solid shiny Barup bull bar added, taking the staunch look to a whole new level.

They say good things take time and with the Einsiedel SAR it is more a case of great things taking time and effort, but it was all worth it in the end. The truck doesn’t just look like perfection personified, it performs as good as it looks.

“I love it,” Hayden says. “It is beautiful to drive, even bobtail. The cab and bunk are on airbag rails, it’s just not at all rough. We’re really happy with the fuel and it does not shy away from our Macks.”

All in all the truck lives up to the fleeting first impression I got of it. That fleeting glance that enticed me some 1700km from home just to get a photo was well worth it. Then to meet a young truckie who takes as much pride in the passengers he has on board as he does in his truck. That too was worth it.

Hayden has proven the power of the passenger seat when it comes to the future of trucking. However, I will still leave the last word to his dad.

“It’s funny, people see Hayden in the Legend and they’re saying, ‘You wouldn’t see that back in my day, a young fella in a new truck’. I was 18 or 19 when I got a brand-new Cruiseliner with a V8 in it and Hayden’s worked harder than me, harder than most. Hell, he’s done 20 years with me. Come do 20 years with me! That’s not easy.”

For more on the Einsiedel’s Kenworth W900SAR Legend, see OwnerDriver’s April 2024 print edition, or subscribe here.

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