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Tangerine dream Mack machine

MARCH TRUCK OF THE MONTH: One quick test drive in an Outlaw Mack was enough to convince John Dufty that a stunning, spruced-up Super-Liner would not only fulfill its on-road and off-road duties but look like a million bucks as well

Welcome to my very first trucking short story. This is a bit of a challenge for me as my natural proclivity leans more towards the countless waffling. Yet for this feature story I am attempting to keep it very short and sweet. Instead of my endless rambling, I am letting the words of Fred R. Barnard’s famous advertising quote, ‘A picture paints a thousand words’ take over the spirit of this story.

Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t like I don’t have anything to say because I do. I mean just look at the truck that drew me to this story. It is arguably one of the coolest limited-edition Macks around.

Then you have the family trucking company that runs this stunning Outlaw Mack – the Dufty family. It’s a family steeped in trucking history and a family that epitomises old-school values and humility. They are a small-town, authentic Australian family. They work for their community, their family, and for the fun of it. They shy away from attention and avoid journalists like me. Unfortunately, the small family company has just put one of the coolest Mack Super-Liners on the road and for ‘bulldog’ aficionados like me, well I just can’t be denied.

John lowers the ramps on the very versatile drop deck trailer, this time to make loading another road train of hay just a little easier

The deal I made with John Dufty, the man who steers both the new Mack Outlaw and the family transport company, is that I would focus more on the truck than the company.

“We don’t normally do this kind of thing, but I’m doing it more for John Saint and the guys at JT Fossey,” John states. “We’re not much for attention, we just like to plod along and get the job done.”

In the spirit of that agreement let me shine a very short light on how we got to this stunning truck.

John Dufty grew up around trucks, tractors, and all things country. His passion for trucking started way back when he could hardly reach the pedals. Now, with the support and encouragement of his parents and the help of his wife Jo, he runs the company started by his dad many years before.

RELATED ARTICLE: Creative Inspiration behind Mack Outlaw series

The family transport company is based in the small country village of Bellata, NSW. At the last census, this tiny town was home to less than 300 people and has been through every cliché Australian season over the years. I’m not talking winter, summer, autumn and spring, I’m talking dry, drier, drought and flood. Through all of that John’s parents, David and Kerrie, have stayed local, raising two kids and working however and wherever they needed to.

Farm life

In rural NSW, farming is just part of the DNA, as is trucking, and at the age of only 18, John’s dad David bought an old Commer and began carting cotton around the local area.

With Mack’s MP10 685hp engine, even a road train of hay won’t slow down John’s big rig

David worked several seasons with the Commer but, as he and Kerrie began their family, they chose to sell the truck and get back into farming. David spent about 10 years doing farm work as the kids were growing up, but trucking was always just sitting in the periphery for the Dufty family.

It made a return in the early ’90s, about the same time John was at an age where he moved from a typical annoying child into a highly motivated and supportive youngster that could change tyres after school and have them ready for Dad as he came through town.

It was then that David and Kerrie formed Bellata Grainmoover and Contract Harvesting, the company that would eventually be working the stunning Mack Outlaw. It began with an old ACCO they purchased from David’s uncle. The purchase also included a flattop trailer and side delivery bins. The Duftys added some pumping gear and an Alcan tipper and began their story.

In a rare photo opportunity, John Dufty takes a work break from piloting his stunning Outlaw Mack Super-Liner

It wasn’t long before the workload necessitated an upgrade, the old ACCO making way for an R688 Mack, and then a White Road Boss.

“Dad bought the Road Boss in 1996, I think,” John explains. “That made him actually; that really put him on the grid.”

The old Road Boss, which is still in the shed by the way, used to tow a road train on cotton and a single on grain. Over the years there have been several other trucks in the company fleet, including the likes of a couple of G88 Volvos and even a classic N12.

The Road Boss served the family well for almost a decade, but like all truck operators there is always dreams of a new truck, and eventually the workload started catching up with the old White and it was time to look at an upgrade. With no more Road Boss’s around, the next obvious choice was to steer towards the Western Star badge.

“We bought a ’98 Western Star Heritage; it was a big truck,” John recalls. “It was 10 years old but we ran it for another five years. Then we sold that to make way for a brand new 4800 Western Star.”

The new 4800 was John’s truck, so when the company added another second-hand 4800 a little later John moved onto that one. When it was time to replace that Star with a new truck, there were plenty of discussions before the family landed on the current masterpiece you see on these pages before you.

To start with, the success the Duftys had had with the Western Star product meant that it was the first port of call when John went looking for a new truck.

“We love the Western Stars, they’ve been a good truck for us.” Unfortunately, timing was not on the Dufty side back in 2022 when they were looking to upgrade. Western Star was phasing out its old models and the new X model was on its way in. That meant there wasn’t a truck to suit the Dufty specs … well, there wasn’t one that didn’t come with a long waiting list. John took that opportunity to look at his dream truck.

“I’ve always loved the look of the Kenworth 659s,” John says. “I wasn’t interested at all in a 9-0, but always loved the 659s.” That’s where John directed his attention, only to find out the wait time for one of those was about as long as waiting on a Telstra help line.

The 685hp is more than enough for the big farm truck. It does get used though with John predominantly pulling double road trains the Mack uses all those horses

Around that time, John Saint over at JT Fossey Trucks in Tamworth had Mack Outlaw #4 sitting in the depot and he invited John over for a test drive.

For those of you unaware of the Mack Outlaw range, allow me to give you a brief overview. Actually, seeing as this is the part of the story John wanted me to focus on, how about I make it a little less brief?

John Saint, the dealer principal at JT Fossey Trucks, is the man responsible for the Outlaw Macks. Prior to the COVID years, John had this vision of a custom series of Mack’s elite Super-Liners. The idea was to take the company’s flagship prime mover and send it to the next level, with a customised interior, custom exterior features and top-of-the-line custom paint work. The best in the business were called in to take an already stunning truck and make it legendary.

It started with the removal of the factory 58-inch bunk which got sent away to have the interior fully Outlaw personalised. All the mod cons were added to the living quarters – fridge/freezer, microwave, inverter … even a TV and DVD player. Custom shelving was fitted around all these added extras.

Not having a stick beside him was one of the things John Dufty was unsure of, but in the end, he has fallen in love with the Mack Auto box

While all this was going on, the seats had been removed and sent to Hunter Valley Seats where they were retrofitted with custom stitching that encompassed the Outlaw badging as well as being colour matched to each truck. John had decided, while he wanted the Outlaw trucks to all be of the same style, he also wanted each one to be iconic on its own. This was done by using the same colour pattern over every Outlaw but changing the primary colour for each one.

Brisbane’s Bel-Air paints were responsible for the amazing finish. The first Outlaw has red as its theme colour, #2 had black, blue and then green for #3 and #4 respectively, and then, as you see on John’s truck, orange was the theme for #5.

I must admit I’ve seen a glimpse of Outlaw #6 and I won’t spoil it. Suffice to say, it is very ‘uplifting’.

While all the Outlaw Macks take the same cool lines and design, it’s only the colours that change

King Bars also played an integral role in the truck’s design, with an outlaw-only FUPS bar for the series. Bling HQ in Brisbane created amazing Outlaw custom stainless features, adding not just the amazing lights and stainless but also laser cut Outlaw branding.

The other big player involved in the presentation of the Outlaw series was Showman Signs, where ‘Showie’ gets to share his skills and talents, adding lines and scrolls to each Outlaw. All the work is done by hand with the same theme running through every Outlaw Mack. It’s only the colours that change. This keeps all the trucks tied together yet maintains their standalone identities as well. Now that we have you up to date on the heritage of the Outlaw Macks, and how they are all colour-coded duplicates, let us discuss how and why Outlaw #5 is so different.

Outlaw attraction

Now where did we leave John? That’s right, he was visualising a 659 as he popped over to see John Saint and test drive Outlaw #4. “The truck was already sold but John took me for a test drive, and I must admit I really like it,” John says. (Writing a story with two Johns as the main protagonists is getting a little confusing, so I’ll start adding surname initials to help everyone keep track).

“I loved the way it drove, I love how it felt. I wasn’t too sure about the idea of the auto to start with but it was really good.” John Dufty was hooked, and John Saint was keen to get him signed up for Outlaw #5.

“The only problem was John was wanting all the Outlaws to be the same and we couldn’t go with a high roof,” John Dufty explains. “We do a lot of work around Augers and the low roof is much better for us.

“We also didn’t want a bull bar, so those were two big things. In the end though, John decided to spec out Outlaw #5 for us with the low roof and no bull bar”.

As big as the change was for John Saint and his Outlaw series, it was a bigger change for the small three-truck Dufty fleet. For a company that defines the idiom, ‘flying under the radar’, they were investing in a very big, very visual truck. That decision was motivated not just by the company’s needs, but also by John Dufty’s love of the job.

“I’ve always loved trucks, and I love doing what I do. Sometimes I wish I didn’t. In the end though it is just a truck, it’s a workhorse, not a showpiece.”

Probably the least used part of the truck, the spacious sleeper, But if John needs to be away there is the room and comfort to do it

That workhorse mentality was another driving force behind the decision to get the Mack.

“We’ve had Macks before and Dad still prefers to get behind the wheel of an old Super-Liner over any of the new stuff. But we needed something that can do everything, from highway stuff to being out in the paddocks working hard.”

As John admits, they don’t really clock up the kays, but they do clock up the hours and so far the Outlaw has been doing exactly what has been asked of it.

“It is the flashiest truck we’ve ever bought,” John says, “but I’m really enjoying it. I love the view from it, once I got used to the visor, and I love the placement of the air intakes.

“Mum’s still not sold on the orange, but it has grown on me.”

With loyal customers and friendly family sservice, the road ahead for John and his Outlaw Mack is looking pretty good

In summation, I have failed to keep this as a ‘short story’ much the same as John and the Dufty family have failed to remain under the radar with such a stunning truck. The Duftys have been through as many good times as they have bad but continue to remain humble and modest.

Their motivating passion for the job cannot be described, it’s in their blood. Their loyal customers and great employees become part of the family. What is also extremely evident though is that even with all the eye-popping, jaw-dropping presence this Mack brings, it has not changed the down-to-earth demeanour of the family behind it.

I look forward to catching up with John in another 10 years when he is still happily plodding along, looking after all the same customers, and with an Outlaw Mack that still draws attention.

For more on John Dufty’s Outlaw Mack, see the March 2024 print edition of OwnerDriver magazine.

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