White truck legacy on display

By David Chapman

RAY Grima is a White truck fanatic.

He has been collecting them for years and is fascinated by their history.

‘‘It goes back to the 1880s when the White company was building sewing machines,’’ Ray said.

Thomas White founded the White Sewing Machine Company but it was his sons who brought the family business into the world of transport.

‘‘It was a company that started out building sewing machines and roller skates in America,’’ Ray said.

‘‘White had four sons and numerous daughters but it was his sons who built steam cars at the turn of the century (1900).’’

The White Motor Company stopped producing cars after World War I and instead turned its focus to trucks.

It proved a masterstroke as the White truck quickly became a popular brand in the Untied States.

Ray said the appeal of the White truck was easy enough to understand.

‘‘They were built tough, strong, it has good looks and you can spec a truck out the way you want it,’’ he said.

‘‘In 1983 White filed for bankruptcy because they focused too much on machining and tooling and the cost of materials became too high.

‘‘It was all due to the economics of the times and they were forced to close shop.’’

However, although White no longer manufactures trucks any more, it was far from being the death knell for the White brand that some might have thought.

‘‘White trucks still have a good following,’’ Ray said.

‘‘Those old Whites are still making money for people some 40 years on.

‘‘That’s why they are so collectable.’’

The popularity of the White will be on display for all to see this weekend at the Kyabram White Truck Muster and the Vintage Engine and Machinery Rally.

More than 100 trucks — from the vintage to the modern beasts — are expected to be on display and as one of the event’s organisers, Ray is excited.

‘‘We’ll have one or two Whites from about 1925 right through to the latest Western Stars of today,’’ he said.

While the event’s title targets the White models, Ray said the weekend was open to all different brands of trucks.

The White Truck Muster is being held in conjunction with the Vintage Engine and Machinery Rally.

Event secretary Barb Thomson said organisers were expecting extra engine exhibitors this year.

‘‘There is a national engine rally in South Australia a week after our event which a lot of the exhibitors are heading to,’’ she said.

‘‘So a lot of the exhibitors are coming through Kyabram and stopping here on the way over to South Aussie which is good for us.

‘‘We’ll also have a lot of people here that haven’t been to this event before.’’

Exhibitors from around Australia will be in Kyabram this weekend, as well as some from overseas.

‘‘We have someone who has flown out from Germany just for this event.

‘‘They were here two years ago so they do get quite keen on it.’’

Barb said it was interesting to see the stationary engines chugging away and the vintage, veteran and classic tractors, cars and motorbikes all lined up at the rally.

“A great deal of attention is given to the ‘what am I’ table, with some amusing suggestions given,” she said.

‘‘It is always interesting to listen to the exhibitors explain the workings of their, at times rare, displays.’’

The White Truck Muster and the Vintage Engine and Machinery Rally will be on show at Kyabram Showgrounds tomorrow (10am-5pm) and Sunday (10am-3pm).

Entry is $5 for adults and children under 16 are free.

There will be on-site catering and the Girgarre CFA will be running a barbecue at the event.