Historic Truck Brands
In the 1960s there was a distinct difference between trucks predominantly operating on the US/Canada West Coast and Mid-West from those operating in the East. ‘Western’ truck operators’ emphasis was on power and tare weight reduction.
For that reason, in 1967, the White Motor Company started its Western Star division as White Western Star with a new plant at Kelowna, British Columbia, sharing headquarters with White in Cleveland, Ohio.
White Western Star conventional trucks of that era typically used cabs from sister company, Autocar.
Western Star production was moved to Ogden, Utah, but it was not included in the 1980 sale of White to Volvo, instead being sold to Bow Valley Resources and Nova Corporation, each owning 50 percent.
Western Star sold a lightly altered version of the White High Cabover as the Western Star Cabover in the 1980s and early 1990s.
It produced a licensed version of the Iveco VM 90 for the Canadian Forces during the 1990s, called the LSVW. Western Star also produced trucks for the United States Military, rebadged ‘Freightliner’.
By 1991, the Western Star Truck parent company was in financial strife and the assets were purchased by the Western Star Australian subsidiary.
In 2000, Western Star was purchased by DaimlerChrysler, becoming part of the Freightliner Trucks division.
In 2002, Western Star production was moved to a plant in Portland, Oregon, for the production of 4700, 4800, 4900 and 6900 models. In May 2015, the Daimler Trucks North America plant in Cleveland, North Carolina, began to build 4700 and 4900 models, as well as assemble 5700XE models.
Western Star Down Under
Western Star Trucks Australia (WSTA) was formed in 1983 and secured the distribution rights for the Western Star product in Australia from Western Star Trucks Inc, based in Kelowna, BC Canada.
Some ex-White Motor Company staff, headed by former White Trucks Australia boss, Bob Shand, brought their production expertise to the company and tools and equipment were purchased at auction from the then defunct White.
The White Road Boss had been a very popular truck, providing a customer base for WSTA. The first Australian Western Star was built from CKD packs, in March of 1983, at the Wacol Qld facility.
WSTA sold 53 Western Stars in that first year, and more than 15,000 had reportedly been sold by the end of 2013.
Heritage models 4864 and 4964 were produced from 1983 to 1989, and were offered with customised packages: Cheyenne, Apache, Comanche, Chinook, Mohawk, Pawnee and Navajo.
In February 1990, the first ‘Cornerstone’ Heritage unit was introduced. Cornerstone was a project to reduce the cost and weight of the vehicles. This project introduced three new models: 4864S, a short-bonnet, set-back front axle prime mover for B-Double applications; 4964SS, a sloping, aerodynamic-long-bonnet truck, with 1270mm set-back front axle and 48-degree wheel cut; and 4864FX, a short-sloping-bonnet truck with enhanced visibility and a 840mm set-back front axle.
The pre-Cornerstone 4964 continued for heavy-duty operations.
By 1991 the bonneted truck range was selling well, but WSTA needed a Western Star replacement for the White Road Commander COE that could compete with Kenworth’s dominant K100.
The solution the company decided on was the Western Star 1064 Series, based on the DAF 95 platform, using its frame and cab. Detroit Diesel, Cumins and Caterpillar engines were offered, with Eaton Roadranger boxes and Rockwell diffs.
The specification was right, but the cost was too high and both DAF and Western Star had financial difficulties at the time. Interestingly, when better times returned in 1997, Western Star Australia had another crack at producing a COE, using the British ERF cab and frame as a base, but with a set-forward front axle.
By 1991, the Western Star Truck parent company was in financial strife and the assets were purchased by the owners of the Western Star Australian subsidiary, Terry Peabody and Bob Shand.
However, the buyout forced a rethink on local assembly and the first fully built up Western Star units arrived from Canada in 1992. In the following year the last locally-assembled Western Star rolled off the Wacol one and the new 3800e was released.
The Heritage 6964F was introduced in 1995, to replace the Heavy Duty 4900 model and the short-lived Western Star Commander 7564F COE – based on the ERF platform – was announced.
In 1998 the Constellation Series was introduced, with a complete new cab and sleeper package that offered increased interior space and enhanced comfort. First models the 4864FXC, 4964FXC and 4964EXC, extended-bonnet truck.
In 2002 the Constellation 5864SS and 5964SS were introduced: aerodynamic, short- and long-bonnet models with set-back front axles.
In 2003 the Constellation Series 6964FXC was introduced to replace the 4964EXC and the Constellation 4800FS Fleet Spec was introduced.
In 2005 Western Star introduced the 4864FXB model that complied with the recently introduced 26-metre B-Double legislation.