Brian William Johnson was born in May 1945 in Cunnamulla, Queensland, but the family moved to Brisbane where he did his schooling. Brian was not interested in becoming a baker like his father and managed to find himself an apprenticeship in Coach & Motor Body Building at F. Humphreys Engineering, qualifying in 1966.
Brian relocated to Adelaide, South Australia in 1969 and worked at Fruehauf Trailers for the next few years, modifying, extending and building semi-trailers and dollies. In 1976 he decided to rent a shed at the Levels (a transport freight yard) and start his own business, BJ Trailer Repairs. One day someone asked for his opinion on a second-hand sleeper cab to which he replied, “I can build you a new one for the same price”, and he did just that. Eventually, building sleeper cabs became his main source of income so he changed his business name to ‘BJ Sleeper Cabs’.
In 1983 Brian decided he needed a career change and began making plastic tube outdoor furniture but this change was short lived! In 1985 an old acquaintance asked Brian to build him a sleeper cab so Brian returned to what he knew best and established the business ‘Superior Sleeper Cabs’.
For the next twenty years Brian employed many people including welders, motor trimmers, fibreglassers and painters. His business built hundreds of sleeper cabs ranging in size from 24 inches to 60 inch wide bunks. Brian also designed an aero dynamic hi-rise roof sleeper cab. The interior of the sleeper cabs were custom built with wardrobes, shelves, fridge slides under the bunk and some had interiors with studded trims closely matching the colour of the truck. ‘Superior Sleeper Cabs’ fitted cabs on air bag suspension to all makes of trucks.
By 2003 sleeper cabs were a standard feature on most new trucks and Brian’s business slowed down. However, regulations for fatigue management were being introduced in the industry and operators were looking to install air conditioners in their older trucks. Brian then started to fit Viesa brand air conditioners to sleeper cabs which kept him going for the next couple of years.
At the beginning of 2005 Brian decided it was time to retire. He still enjoys talking about the good times and interesting characters he met throughout his working life. Inducted in 2021