Vale Ken Archer

By: Steve Brooks

Ken Archer, an owner-driver of the old school, passed away on October 8.

Vale Ken Archer
Ken Archer: June 9, 1928 - October 8, 2018


There are few men who loved a chat more than Kenneth Athol Archer, and even fewer who had more to talk about when it came to trucks, road transport and the life of an owner-driver.

A Mack man to the core, Ken passed away recently at the grand age of 90 and while his last years were in a Sydney suburban nursing home, he was still pointing his beloved bulldog down the road well past his 80th birthday.

Like so many of his vintage, the early days weren’t particularly flash. In fact, his first truck was a four-tonne Austin for travelling around Sydney plying his trade as a washing machine mechanic. Later came a stint as a brewery truck owner-driver but by the mid-1950s he’d found his true calling, hauling general freight with a petrol-powered Commer between Sydney and Brisbane for Antill Ranger.

However, the call of the open road was probably never louder or more satisfying for Ken Archer than the late 1960s as he became a regular east-west runner for Mayne Nickless, sharing the hardships of the early Nullarbor with lifelong mates like Don McGlinchie, Barry Sky, Brian Barrett, Merv Rich and step-brother Les Curtis.

His passion for Mack was profound, with Don McGlinchie recalling Ken’s time with a bogie-drive Mack F-series cab-over powered by a 300hp twin-turbo V8. A big banger in its day, the engine was one of only a few in the country and while durability wasn’t a particularly strong point, Ken’s passion for the bulldog could not be swayed.

As Don put it, "Over the years, Ken probably sold more Macks than any Mack salesman ever did."

Those who knew him best smile at the memory of a man often referred to as ‘the road foreman’ and well known for having the last say.

He was, above all, a true icon of an era now long gone.

Ken is survived by his wife Laurel, son Laurie and three grandsons.

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