Sterling effort saves special truck from crusher.

A historically-important Sterling truck has been donated to Bill Richardson Transport World to become part of its commercial vehicle collection.

Sterling, the sister brand to Freightliner owned by the Daimler group, was retired in 2010 and the models it offered have been since been replaced by trucks from the Freightliner stable in Australia.

The donated LT9500 was built in 2008 as an engineering development unit for the right-hand-drive Sterling program to meet the ADR80/02 emission standard and endured an exhaustive durability and reliability test program on Daimler Trucks proving grounds in North America.

The unit, fitted with the 450hp MBE4000 engine, was driven for hundreds of hours over rough road surfaces in extreme weather to ensure the upgraded LT9500 was tough enough for Australian and New Zealand conditions.

At the end of the development program, the LT9500 was shipped to Australia, where it was used by Daimler Trucks to train technicians and apprentices until it was recently retired.

The company was not sure what to do with the vehicle given it could not be sold, but didn’t want to send the vehicle to the crusher for recycling given its historical significance.

Thankfully, the Director of Bill Richardson Transport World in Invercargill, New Zealand, Jocelyn O’Donnell, expressed an interest in adding the Sterling LT9500 to its remarkable collection that numbers more than 250 trucks and 50 cars.

Mrs O’Donnell’s father, the late Bill Richardson, established a vast transport group, HWR, in New Zealand as well as building up a transport collection. Several of the group’s companies purchased Sterling trucks in the final decade of the brand and the last of 91 units was delivered in December 2010.

The donated LT9500, which is fully functional, will undergo a freshen-up before going on display at Transport World that features trucks, cars and associated memorabilia spread over 15,000 square metres of space.

Mrs O’Donnell says everyone involved in Transport World is thrilled the LT9500 will soon be on display.

“It will be a great addition to the collection and it is nice to see that these vehicles will be preserved into the future,” she says.

Freightliner Australia engineering, product planning and technical service senior manager, Rodney West, is excited the special Sterling is going to such a good home.

“Bill Richardson Transport World is an incredible display, with some absolutely wonderful trucks,” Mr West says.

“We are very happy that our Sterling evaluation vehicle is now part of the collection,” he says.

Freightliner New Zealand senior manager, Pieter Theron, says Bill Richardson Transport World plays an important role in the region.

“Transport World is committed to preserving the heritage of trucking in New Zealand and to inspire the younger generation to see transportation as an exciting career opportunity,” he says.

“It is a great initiative and we are happy to contribute with the donation of this special Sterling truck,” Mr Theron says.

Bill Richardson Transport World had previously been open to the public, but only by appointment, which limited the amount of people who could enjoy it.

Following the addition of a huge new art-deco hall fully equipped with everything from a café and children’s play area to conference rooms, Transport World opened to the public full time in November 2015.

The reaction has been extraordinary, with more than 28,000 people visiting in the first six months.

Star models at Transport World include the extremely rare 1940 Dodge Airflow Texaco tanker, seven pre Model T Fords and the world’s only known surviving 1914 Stewart one-tonne truck.

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