The NTI Townsville 500 round of the Repco Supercars Championship saw National Transport Insurance (NTI) draw their latest fundraising raffle for Motor Neurone Disease (MND) research. The winner received ‘Daphne’; a customised 1954 Chevrolet cab over engine (COE) truck with a new drivetrain, custom pickup bed and plenty of modern touches.
Following ‘Roxanne’, a ’46 Ford, and ‘Jolene’, a ’46 Chev, that were offered in past NTI raffles, Daphne combined a 1954 Chev 5700 COE cabin with a 1969 Chev C20 pickup chassis and reproduction pickup tub.
The Loadmaster 235ci six that would have powered this truck when new was replaced with a Chevrolet Performance LT1 V8 crate engine, producing 343kW and 881Nm. The transmission was updated to a six-speed automatic out of a 2022 Chevrolet Camaro, with a Ford 9-inch diff with 3.5:1 ratio completing the drivetrain.
In terms of suspension, the ’69 Chev C20 pickup’s rear trailing arms and coil springs were retained, but a modern Chevrolet independent coil spring set-up was fitted at the front. Other upgrades included power-assisted four-wheel disc brakes with four-piston calipers, LED lighting, 18-inch TorqThrust alloy wheels and a fresh set of Nankang 255/60 R18 tyres.
While there’s evidence this COE may have been painted red originally, the rebuild saw Toyota ‘Hot Lava’, a bold metallic orange paint, applied. The truck’s grille and bumpers would have originally just been painted but were chromed during the rebuild, with new mirrors and badging fitted.
The pickup bed was lengthened and modified to suit the C20 chassis and COE combination. Reversed C1950s Ford F-Series flares were fitted, along with a classic ‘CHEVROLET” stamped tailgate and timber-lined bed floor.
A conversion to right-hand drive ensured Daphne would be more practical for use on Aussie roads, while a major interior upgrade included the addition of air conditioning, power windows, a modified instrument cluster (updated with Dakota Digital analogue and digital gauges) and a Pioneer touchscreen sound system.
A custom steering wheel and column, custom leather-trimmed beach seat and an E-Stopp electronic handbrake were also fitted.
Daphne was built by Gold Coast-based Matt Stone Racing, who run Jack Le Brocq and Cameron Hill in Chevy Camaro ZL-1s (under the banner of Truck Assist Racing) in the Repco Supercars Championship.
Parts and assistance to complete this significant project for NTI were provided by GM Australia & New Zealand, AC Delco, NAPA Auto Parts, Hughes Stepsides, PPG Paints, Gold Coast Electroplating, Classic Pickup Supplies, TyrePower, Addlife Timber Australia, Beenleigh Auto Trimming and several others.
Tickets to win Daphne went on sale in April, with almost 30,000 purchased ahead of the draw at the NTI Townsville 500 in July. Queenslander Peter Rodney was the lucky winner.
Total ticket sales of $580,000 topped last year’s $555,850 and is the highest in the six-year history of NTI’s fundraising raffles. The entire amount will go to MND research in Australia.
NTI’s commitment to this cause is a tribute to the insurer’s former CEO, Wayne Patterson, who lost his battle with MND in 2018.
“Daphne has set a new record for the most funds raised of any of our restored vehicles, and we’re thrilled so many people have supported this important cause,” said NTI CEO Tony Clark. “We are committed to supporting research to help find treatments - and ultimately a cure - for MND.”
Matt Stone, of Matt Stone Racing, added: “We always like when records are broken, especially when it’s for such a good cause. It was really good to see all the hard work and commitment from everyone involved coming out in a successful end result.”
To date, NTI has raised more than $2 million for MND research.