CARSMART: 1966 Austin 338N

WHEN you picture a fire truck these days you may think of Scania or Isuzu’s large, robust vehicles, but Matt Smaling’s 1966 Austin 338N is vastly different in comparison.

The little red engine was used to fight fires in the small Victorian community of Talbot, just north of Ballarat, and was even on stand by during the 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires.

The truck eventually was eventually decommissioned and auctioned where it had all of its fire fighting equipment removed and a tray put on the back of the vehicle.

It was then purchased in 2007 by Mr Smaling who started restoration work.

Body work and painting was completed to restore the truck to its former glory, in addition to redoing the wooden tray.

With only 13,000 miles on the odometer and it’s original fire truck registration sticker intact, it is quite the unique vehicle, especially in the Limestone Coast.

Mr Smaling’s son, Jaiden, said it was not something you see every day.

“I think it’s really cool and I don’t know of many around our area,” he said.

“The history is really unique and different to other as well as it was all ready to go during Ash Wednesday.”

Although currently only 15, Jaiden remembers his dad purchasing the vehicle and the many hours he spent working on it.

“It’s really special to our family and I always loved helping my dad out with it when I was young,” he said.

“My dad loves vintage cars and he has a few others he’s worked on but this one is one of the favourites.

“We’re currently working on restoring another vehicle so it’s pretty cool to do these things with my dad.”

The vehicle now resides on the family’s farm and is used for cutting hay in addition to the occasional relaxing drive.

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