Incredible Kenworth a hulking hero

By: Warren Aitken, Photography by: Warren Aitken

Ryan Demasi's stunning ‘Incredible Hulk' T904 is a worthy Valvoline Truck of the Month for October.

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October's Owner//Driver Valvoline Truck of the Month title heads to Western Australia for Ryan Demasi's "marvellous" Kenworth T904, a true show-stopper.

Ryan, of Bandana Earthmoving, is about as true blue as they come. His success was built on the back of an arrogant bank manager and Ryan’s determination to prove him wrong.

"If someone says you can’t do something, well then you kinda just have to do it, don’t you?" Ryan says.

As a young bloke, Ryan grew up working with his old man Tony Demasi. His dad was a partner in Home Green Turf Farm, a roll-out lawn business. But having a bit of a spin in a mate’s bobcat, Ryan found himself hooked. At just 18 he sat down with his dad and his dad’s business partner and told them he wanted to buy himself a bobcat. He had even hunted around and found an old Ford LNT tipper and bobcat combo for sale at $30,000.

He went down to the bank and asked for a loan. The bank manager knew Ryan’s dad and his business. He also knew how much money Ryan was bringing in, so laughingly he warned Ryan against the move.

But Ryan pushed for the loan, eventually getting a snide "alright, I’ll give it to you, only because I think it’ll be funny when I repossess it" remark.

The T904 is not only a show truck, it's a regular worker.

After 14 weeks he marched into the bank manager’s office with $33,000 in cash and told him to clear the loan. That was the last time Ryan ever dealt with that bank and it was the beginning of what would eventually become Bandana Earthmoving.

That first bobcat was soon replaced with a brand new air conditioned version, fully kitted out with stereo, tinted windows and chrome rims. You could see that Ryan placed huge importance on company appearance, even back then.

The Ford LNT was joined in the company by an LTL and custom-built pig trailer, all of which were looked after with more love and attention than most people give their kids.

With a bigger truck came bigger jobs. Ryan’s nonstop work ethic saw him taking on work with his bobcat, work which would have been completed more effectively with a front-end loader. So that’s what Ryan did, purchasing a Caterpillar 926 and moving up another level.

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From there Ryan just kept growing, putting more and more equipment on the road as his reputation for great work grew. His first ‘big jigger’ was a second hand Ford AeroMax that he picked up out of Sydney. Ryan cut the bunk down himself and turned it into a truck and dog tipper, painted up in stunning ‘Tiger Mica’ with gold flames.

By the time the global financial crisis hit Ryan was running a fleet of around seven trucks, which included a magnificent Mercedes eight-wheeler and a few Ford Sterlings. With the downturn in work Ryan had to sell off a lot of equipment, eventually returning to just a two-truck operation.

Working eight days a week, 26 hours a day, Ryan worked his way through the GFC and came out the other side. Things had changed as a result of the crisis though. The major change was truck manufacturers.

Ryan had had a great run out of his Sterlings. "They were great trucks, cheap and made money," he says, but he also says getting parts was a real … well let’s say it wasn’t easy. So when it came time for Ryan to build a new marque tipper, he found himself purchasing a second-hand Western Star.

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The new/old truck was parked-up in Ryan’s workshop and totally rebuilt. When it was all stripped down and ready to paint, Ryan noted Holden had just come out with the new ‘Hothouse Green’ colour. It struck a chord with him and, in collaboration with his painter, they created their own colour similar to Holden’s, calling it ‘Bandana Green’.

It was the first official Bandana Earthmoving Western Star, but certainly was not to be the last.

As the company rebirth gained momentum, more Stars were added, and more of the rebuild work was getting done in-house, including the painting.

A fleet of stunning green Western Stars grace the Bandana Earthmoving fleet, so how come there’s a Kenworth? "To be honest, all bullshit aside, I say to everyone, to be the biggest wanker you’ve gotta have a Kenworth 904. And I’m going to be the biggest wanker, so I bought it," Ryan explains.

It may not be the most politically correct way of saying it, but Ryan’s right. There is just something about the big bonnet of the Kenworth that just adds a few more ounces of testosterone to any bloke.

"People love my Western Star," Ryan admitted. "I love it, but it’s just not the same."

Ryan may have spent a fistful of dollars but the results prove that it was well worth it.

So Ryan found this 2006 T904, with 800,000km on it, and when it hit Ryan’s price range he snapped it up. What you see now is not what was in its intended future. Black chassis, polished rims, Bandana Green paint job and whack some side tippers behind it. That was the go. Until Ryan got it home and started the tear down. Ironically, his plans went from a rather plain ‘Bruce Banner’ truck into the ‘Incredible Hulk’ it is now.

The engine was removed and given a full Hollywood-style makeover; it’s no longer the quiet Cummins workhorse. New piston linings, rings, pumps … everything got slapped on. A huge Cat turbo on a Cummins engine, new program and it was pumping out around 900hp (671kW).

Cosmetically, the whole engine got a fresh lick of custom paint. Every pipe got chromed and every single visible bolt is standing in unison with the others. If you could get fashion awards for engines, this thing would be unbeatable.

Now let us tackle the outside. It really is hard to put into words just how precise and on point this Hulk is, but I’ll try. Ryan’s main goal was to have a very clean look. His interpretation of that involved countersinking every possible bolt they could. You heard me, go back and look at the chassis images, not a single bolt. Same with the Hogebuilt guards, all the bolts and brackets have been hidden as much as possible.

Ryan wanted to wrap the tanks, but no straps and step box up the front instead of fuel tanks (for those guessing, yes Ryan spent a fair bit of time watching Trick My Truck on Fox). The step boxes were not an easy option either, there were seven different step box designs before the final choice was made and mounted, the added issue being the step box had to line up perfectly with the shape of the tanks.

The bumper and the grill were all made in Ryan’s workshop, flush deck plating and the Kenworth emblem where the airlines connect were all custom build. I’m sure the keen-eyed observer has noted that the truck does not have factory fitted mirrors.

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All the Kenworth bracketry was removed, and custom built mirrors were fitted.

Next step was the artwork. While most of the fleet is purely Bandana Green, Ryan had personalised his Western Star with an amazing snake on the bonnet, so he wanted to add another level to the 904 with more airbrushing.

He decided that a green-on-green image would also be cool on the Kenworth. The Hulk was a perfect concept considering the muscle involved in the truck. Ryan dealt with the boys from Advanced Airbrushing, floating the idea of the Hulk on the front and $100 notes out the back. The design team soon tied the two concepts together and came up with Hulk bursting from the bonnet with a fistful of dollars and money streaming out the back.

Ryan Demasi (right) travelled across to the 2019 Alexandra Truck Ute and Rod Show to claim the rig of the show award with the T904. Here he accepts the trophy from Graeme Sharp of Royan Truck and Trailer Repairs. Photo by David McKenzie

Ryan says he has actually lost at a truck show because his truck was too clean. It turns out the four hours he spent underneath the chassis cleaning every drop of grease off was actually a hindrance. But he turned that around at last year’s Alexandra Truck, Ute and Rod Show in Victoria.

The fact is, the big T904 is a working truck. While it may not clock up the huge kilometres of the interstaters, it’s often seen around the Perth area, float behind it, delivering both Ryan’s and customers’ equipment to various challenging locations.

It earns its keep, but like the rest of Ryan’s fleet and his business in general, attention to detail is paramount. Looking good and performing well is what has enabled Ryan and Bandana Earthmoving to weather many storms and not only survive but flourish.

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Read the full story on Ryan Demasi and his Kenworth ‘Incredible Hulk’ T904 in Owner//Driver’s October edition.

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