Inducted into the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame at ReUnion 2009.
Neil James Lafranchi was born 9th June, 1942. His father, David Patrick Lafranchi established a livestock cartage business in 1927 and Neil began driving in 1954. He took over from his father after his death in 1968 and he continues to work fulltime in the transport business.
The first truck he drove was a 1957 Ford F600, owned by his father. Neil carted livestock up to 700kms from his home-base at Blampied in Victoria. His pay was twenty pounds per week.
Neil always wanted to own a Mercedes Benz as he felt if he owned something so grand he had finally made his mark in life. He purchased his first two 1418 Benz in 1969. These were reliable and cost-effective to run and suited the work he was doing. He used to mount two 44 gallon drums to the vehicle to give him the extra fuel capacity for travelling greater distances. Neil remembers three school children asking him for a ride home. Once he discovered they were running away from home he called into a shop in the next town and asked the shop assistant to ring the police.
Today he has a Volvo and is based in Blampied, Victoria. The conditions are as nature provides and lead him to any destination that livestock needs to be transported. He has worked very long hours away from home in all weather conditions. Neil fondly remembers when it took two days to deliver livestock by rail that now would take only two hours with the vast improvement in trucks and road conditions. Neil believes that road transport has become over regulated, especially regarding driving hours. In the 50s and 60s the life of an engine was about 100,000 to 150,000 klms. Today's engines are expected to run for at least 1,000,000 klms. Neil is still operating the family business and storing memories of the past as he continues into his next decade.