CULTURED TRUCK: This Kenworth W900L is now being showcased in France, where it’s creating a lot of interest.
LIGHT SHOW: The truck is decked out with more than 320 lights.
LEAMINGTON, Ont. – Ron Saris can’t help but sound melancholy when he talks about his former Kenworth W900L truck, which he recently sold to a persistent dealer from France.
He was displaying the purple truck and stainless steel trailer last November in Las Vegas, with no intention of selling. That was before he was approached by three visitors who had been taking great interest in his modified rig.
“They were from France, and they were taking pictures and wanted to look at it,” he says. “They couldn’t speak very good English, but it turns out the one guy owned a (truck importing) company in France, and he wanted to buy it.”
Despite much reluctance from Saris, a deal was eventually struck with Yvan Gaillard of American Trucks which is located at Issoire, near Clermont-Ferrand (which is near Lyon).The truck was shipped across the Atlantic, at a cost of $17,000. It arrived at Le Havre Port a few months ago. It is now part of the inventory of a small, family import company which sells used American vehicles of the larger variety, such as Kenworth trucks, Hummers and GMC vehicles. Despite the diverse collection that is displayed on the lot, the company has developed a reputation for featuring the Kenworth brand.
“In 2002 we imported the first T2000 in France, and this year we have sold many used Kenworths – more than a hundred, and mostly T2000s which was brand new in France,” says the owner’s wife, Christel Gaillard via e-mail, who adds the flamboyant truck is causing quite a stir.
“Currently, everybody talks about this truck in France, which is really a revolution, as it is a very special truck.”
Before he sold the truck, Saris won a bounty of awards for the purple Kenworth, including recognition for the 320 lights displayed on it. Even more significant, Saris earned a prominent tribute at a show that ultimately chose his vehicle as one of 12 feature trucks that were selected for the 2005 Shell Rotella SuperRigs calendar.
“You can (easily) win in the show classes of that show, but getting on the calendar, that’s pretty much the hardest thing to do. That’s a real tough thing to accomplish,” says Saris with pride, who subsequently describes his truck in loving detail: “There’s a long wheelbase. It had the big exhaust on it – all the lights; stainless trailer (2003 Great Dane XLT). Everything was painted to match, I could go on and on,” he says. “The interior was completely redone. It was a gray leather and diamond pattern interior, with all kinds of mirror finish stainless (steel). All the closet doors were done in a mirror finish. The engine was painted white and it was all chrome.”
The truck also had: dual CB radios; a 48-inch chrome shifter, a self-installed sunroof; a chrome steering wheel column; a chrome and leather steering wheel; and plenty of other chrome that made it a fixture on the North American Show’n’Shine tour. Under the hood is a 14-litre Series 60 Detroit.
The rig formerly made regular runs to Florida, Texas, Arizona and California. But it won’t be hauling in France, since that country’s road length regulations prohibit any vehicle over 16.5 metres. According to Gaillard, the Kenworth’s length is 23.50 metres (with trailer).
The France-based used truck dealership may consider selling the Kenworth eventually, and Gaillard expects it will likely go to a foreign buyer from Spain, Belgium or England – countries where vehicle lengths are less restrictive. However, for the time being the French company appreciates the truck’s promotional value.
“Currently, we don’t want to sell it, as it is a very nice ‘business card,'” she says.
Meanwhile, back in Windsor, Saris has purchased another Kenworth, which he plans to transform for show purposes. However, he finds that his thoughts often drift back to that former rig.
“I can’t not think about it,” he admits. “Since I’m onto another project, it’s not as bad,” he adds with little conviction.
Saris is looking forward to receiving a photo of the purple show truck in front of the Eiffel Tower, which he has been assured will be sent to him via the Gaillard’s. He has also been invited to France to witness the notoriety of the truck, which he plans to do next fall.