Transport World 147

Meet Tex: the patriarch of the Bill Richardson Transport World collection

  • 21 August 2019

He’s one of the rarest trucks in the world, and the jewel in our crown.

The pride and joy of Bill Richardson himself, our bright-red 1940 Dodge Airflow Texaco tanker (known lovingly as "Tex") is our signature vehicle and sits pride of place in the Bill Richardson Transport World collection.

The Texaco tanker is thought to be the only working tanker of its kind in the world, and the one of just three that have been restored.

The journey to bring Tex all the way from America’s Midwest to New Zealand’s southern-most city was an arduous one. But Bill Richardson was determined to bring him to Invercargill: ever since he was a boy, Bill had dreamed of one day owning a Dodge Airflow from 1940 – the same year he was born.

After a long journey by sea, the tanker arrived in the port town of Bluff in 1992 a mere shell of its former self.  It took a whole four years of dedicated and single-minded restoration work to reclaim the tanker to its original glory. Bill even visited a restored Dodge Airflow over in the States and took some measurements, so that his own restoration project would be spot on.

(Actually, he wanted his one to be even better.)

The engine was restored by Bill’s great friend Les Kennedy (one of the sheds here at Bill Richardson Transport World is named after him) while John Bevin worked on the body.

We think the hard work and elbow grease was well worth it.

Tex is stunning.

 

Get to know Tex…

  • Tex has had such a massive impact on the development of our company – so much so that his divine design inspired the Art Deco façade of our purpose-built museum here in Invercargill, as well as all of Transport World’s logos and branding.
  • Tex is one of just 303 Dodge Airflow trucks ever built: he’s part of a batch of 75 tankers built for Texaco between 1939 and 1940.
  • After being built this tanker went to a contracting company and was used as a water cart before going to the wreckers. When Bill bought Tex, his rear end was actually caved in from a bulldozer push-starting it every morning while the tanker was used as a water cart!
  • Bill Richardson bought Tex from American Louis Wright, a tanker truck operator from Chicago. Louis Wright had intended to restore Tex but hadn’t by the time it came to sell him.
  • Bill bought Tex in January 1992. His restoration was finished in December 1996.
  • Legend goes that Tex’s restoration was so well done, that Texaco came calling all the way from America – and offered Bill a blank check. But there was no way Bill was interested in selling the truck he’d dreamed of for all those years – and to this day, Tex calls little old Invercargill home!

Leave a comment