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FEATURES

Living the dream

May 16, 2012
Most moving men dream of running their own company. But for Matt De-Machen, owner of Matthew James Removals in Erith, running the company is not what he craves: it’s driving the truck. So, after years of partially driving a desk, he’s now permanently back in the driving seat full time: and what a seat!

Matt left school at 11.  His dad had two Luton vans: he drove one, mum drove the other. Even then Matt was obsessed with trucks and would spend hours cleaning them on Sundays.  By age 14 Matt took a job washing up in a local restaurant.  He had one aim: to save enough for his own lorry.  After two years he saved enough but was still too young to drive – he counted down the days to when he could start his own company.


Since then Matthew James has been successful.  Even through the recession Matt’s insistence upon perfection has served it well.  But now that the company is established Matt has realised that it was not his own moving company he longed for – it was his own truck. The company was a means to an end.

So, now that he has the opportunity, Matt has decided to live the dream. He has built himself a home from home.  It’s more than just a truck, it’s possibly (probably) the world’s greatest removal lorry. Nobody would ever build a vehicle like this for someone else to drive.  This one is for Matt, and Matt alone.

At its heart it is a high spec Scania 480 ‘R’ series: 480hp, straight six, 12-speed automatic, including the fitting of a retarder to help on long mountain descents, with a five-box body and a four-box trailer.  Matt always buys Scanias for his continental vehicles because he believes them to be the best vehicle for the job. 

Fittings and bodywork

The bodywork was built to Matt’s own design. Custom-designed lockers run both sides along the whole length of the lorry and trailer.  These have been lifted to provide sufficient clearance for driving over rough roads and the ramps and false floors they house are accessible from both sides for easy access. Everything is doubled up to give both the lorry and the trailer the same level of equipment. 

Other fittings include: personal lockers both sides for the driver and porter; reversing cameras on the lorry and trailer with rear-facing reversing lights along the full length; running lights housed in custom-designed stainless steel bars; stainless steel hub covers; stainless straight-through exhausts for showing; 1000-litre fuel tanks; an array of spot lights that wouldn’t look out of place in Blackpool in October, and a chrome rear drop-down bar. All the exterior fittings are stainless steel supplied and fitted by Bailey Truck Parts.

Matt has also designed in two special features to make the vehicle even more practical as a working tool.  The trailer has its own power supply from an on-board battery, charged by the engine but capable of running all the trailer lights should the lorry be disconnected.  This allows the trailer to be dropped and worked separately even at night. The vehicle also has a sliding beam between the lorry and trailer to extend the gap from 750mm to 900mm if needed to give more clearance, and avoid the two colliding, on uneven on mountain roads.

 

Exterior paint job

Even those who do not appreciate the level of equipment on Matt’s vehicle cannot fail to be impressed by the paint job.  The paintwork was done by Bramhall’s Automotive and the impressive airbrushing is the work of Andy and Tom Scott from the Custom Paint House in Sheffield. 

The design reflects the pedigree of the truck and the work that it will do during its life with Matt.  The cab tells the story of Scania trucks since the birth of the company in 1891, through the launch of its first vehicle in 1902 up to the present day.  The lorry and trailer is decorated with landmarks it will pass on its regular journeys into Europe: Big Ben, Tower Bridge and the London Eye in London; the Eifel Tower and Millau Viaduct (the highest and one of the longest bridges in the world) in France; the Andorra ski resorts; Spanish town scenes including Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia in Barcelona; Puente Aquila bridge in Nerja; The Rock of Gibraltar; and various views of Portugal including an Algarve church, the Vasco da Gama bridge and the famous Clerigos Clock tower in Porto.

The front panel of the cab is reserved for the name Olivia Cassandra, Matt’s two-year-old daughter, with whom he’s besotted.          

And there’s a secret surprise.  Crawl under the back of the lorry and, either side, you’ll find pictures of two scantily-clad girls lying in wait.  The idea, Matt says, is to give him and his crew a grin when they go to unhook the trailer after a hard day.  Why not indeed!

Inside décor

Many will see the outside of the truck – it’s hard to miss.  Only the privileged few however, will ever see the interior. Equipment includes a fridge freezer (essential for summer trips to Spain), sat nav, microwave, coffee maker, DVD player, a sound system that wouldn’t sound out of place in the Albert Hall, and overnight AC for sleeping comfort no matter what the weather.  But that’s just the start.

Nothing is original.  The entire interior was stripped and refitted in cream and cocoa brown leather in a flat, modern style: the darker colour everywhere hands touch; the cream everywhere else to create light. Cushioned flooring adds a further touch of luxury to stockinged feet (no shoes allowed). Subdued lighting, in any of 16 colours with strobe and disco options, illuminate Scania logos, old and new, in the sides and floor.

Cream marble detailing adds a finishing touch, courtesy of Special Interior in The Netherlands.  Every item was painted and lacquered by hand.  The detailing even extends to the pneumatic hatch struts and the individual dashboard switches. 

For those who are wondering, the truck cost £140,000 and Matt spent almost as much again on the modifications. Few would enjoy this level of luxury at home, let alone in a working vehicle.

The Job

And working vehicle it is.  Despite its beauty the Scania has a job to do.  It will spend the next 10 years or so on the road from London through France, Spain, Portugal and anywhere else it’s needed.  Matt expects it to have 1,000,000 miles on the clock before it’s retired. Judging by the grin on his face, they will all be happy ones.

Bottom banner, above left; stainless steel hub covers and straight through exhausts; tail lights and more stainless steel, cream marbling detail throughout and subdued lighting for a quiet night in.  All supplied by Special Interior in The Netherlands. Far right; the entire interior was stripped and refitted in cream and cocoa brown leather in a flat, modern style.  Bottom left; one of Matt's ladies.

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