Danny McMahon – the Tamworth trucker

During the work week Danny McMahon is out carting coal in his new Trident truck and dog. In his spare time, he is restoring a 1980 R Model Mack on the back of a promise.

When you speak to Danny McMahon the first thing you want to do is buy him a beer. He exudes the kind of old-fashioned values you’d come to expect from someone who has spent over four decades hauling loads around country NSW and Queensland: loyalty, a kind word, and an ability to get the job done.
 
He is based in Tamworth, in the New England region of northern NSW, and the 61-year-old carts coal, grain, sand and gravel between Tamworth, Narrabri, Gunnedah and beyond. He estimates that he clocks up about 170,000 kilometres per year and he shows no sign of winding down.

Danny has had a love affair with trucks since childhood, when the boys from across the road used to let him behind the wheel of an old mail truck on the way back from deliveries.

“I just loved trucks from then and I have loved them all my life,” he says.

"I’ve been driving trucks for 43 years now,” Danny says. “I started driving tractors, then a truck, then a big truck and away I went from there. Then I started to work interstate.”
 
After spending over thirty years working for employers across NSW and Queensland, ten years ago he decided to strike out on his own after a conversation with a mate who was retiring from the industry.
 
“He was selling out to another company,” Danny says, “he asked me if I was interested in taking the truck on and I initially said no. We had a beer together and he asked me to give him a reason why I shouldn't. Despite not having any money I couldn't think of a reason - so I decided to give it a go."
 
"Ten years later, I'm still here," Danny adds.


Growing with Mack

Although in his early days he drove other brands of truck with his employees, Mack has always been Danny's truck of choice and since he started as an owner-driver he’s now onto his fifth Mack.

"I started off with an old CH Model Mack and I bought three new ones from JT Fossey's at Tamworth. Last April, I picked up the new Trident – my fifth Mack," he explains.

"I went to trade the CH Mack in for another model - but they just weren't competitive. So, I went to JT Fossey at Tamworth and they were nearly $15,000 better on the offer so I bought my first new Mack," explains Danny.
 
That was about 2010 and it was Danny's first taste of a new truck. As Danny’s business needs changed, so did the configuration of his trucks.

“I had a day cab there to start with, and then I wanted to travel further and I wanted to upgrade to a sleeper cab. Later things got more difficult with a single trailer. I lost a bit of work, so I sat down and had a bit of a think about it and I decided to buy a truck and dog.”

The revelatory mDRIVE

Danny says that the mDRIVE technology in the gear box is a revelation.
 
"I should have done it from the word go. I wasn't game and I didn't know enough about it and I probably didn't ask around enough. John, the dealer, asked me if I was going to the mDRIVE, he said once I did I’d never go back," he says.
 
"It just made this truck a totally different truck to drive altogether than the other one.”
 
“It makes the truck pull a lot better and it is a lot smoother on the driveline. It has better fuel economy and it is just so much easier," he says.
 
Danny says he gets about 2.2 kilometres to the litre on a good day. "You won’t get much better than that with a truck and dog pulling that weight," he adds.

Service with a smile

"It was the service there at Tamworth that keeps me afloat. They are very good to me. They drop what they are doing to help me. That is the big thing in life - helping others,” Danny says.
 
It’s when the going gets tough that you need the support. 
 
"They're a good mob of fellas in there and we get on really well together,” he says. “One Sunday, the boys stayed behind to help me pull the gearbox out of a truck so that I got going again for Monday. You can't go away from their service – they’ve been really good to me,” he says. 
 
Restoring the past

But behind all that, Danny is involved in a labour of love.

“I'm restoring a 1980 R-Model Mack to show off at the Mack Muster in Kyabram in 2020,” he says. "I go every time the show is on. It's a beautiful show, I’ve never seen so many Macks in my life.

"I bought the R-Model off a fella who had cancer. I went and saw him and he said he wanted to sell it to someone who would restore it or keep it. I promised him that I wouldn't wreck it and he sold it to me."
 
When Danny says he loves both the old Macks and the newer ones, it clearly shows.