Inducted into the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame at ReUnion 2002.
John Baker was born in Ulverstone, Tasmania in 1929 and spent his early years working as a carpenter and professional bike rider. His first venture into trucking was in 1951 when he bought a 1948 KR8 International which he put on the Melbourne to Sydney run. He carted FJ Holden bodies from Adelaide to Sydney, Ford Customline bodies from Geelong to Sydney and Morris Minors back to Melbourne.
Frustrated at the labour intensive operation of car-carrying, John decided to build a better trailer. It was a drop-deck bogie on three inch single-line vacuum brakes. The trailer had a false floor which carried 10 - 12 tons of lead ingots in the floor plus six cars on the frame. In 1959 he decided he needed to go hydraulic.
Cutting the goose-neck off a wrecked car carrier, John put in a drawbar instead, with a turntable behind the diff and under the chassis creating the first tag-a-long trailer. John was able to take the car frame over the cab and right out to the front bumper. This meant he was able to carry three Vanguards on the bottom deck and four Triumph Heralds on the top. John's tag-a-longs were the first purpose built car carriers in this country to carry seven cars instead of six.
The hydraulics were made up of disposal gear left over from WW11 on a counter lever style lift. It was a bit crude but worked well. Soon after, John worked out a way to angle four falcons on the top deck. This was the first time in Australia that a car carrier angled vehicles to increase payload and save space. It is a concept that is well used in today's modern car carrying industry. John Baker was to continue his innovative ideas with car carrying including his UFO (Under Floor Operated or, as he told inquisitive truckie's - U Find Out) truck which was really a Leyland Leopard bus chassis with a 54 inch cabin built in front of the trailer.