Diesel Dirt & Turf, Earthmoving News, Industry Insurance

All eyes on Daphne

Daphne the bright orange 1950s pickup is the latest vehicle to be restored and raffled by equipment insurer NTI in support of medical research.

As is the case year after year, April’s Diesel Dirt & Turf Expo was packed from end to end with some of the most impressive construction machinery the world has to offer. From some of Europe’s finest and most innovative attachments, to the latest towering dump trucks and excavators out of Japan – there was something cool to see everywhere you looked.

But one of the most unique and eye-catching vehicles on display didn’t come courtesy of any of the many heavy-hitting equipment manufacturers – it was proudly displayed at the stand of specialist equipment insurer NTI.

That vehicle, a striking orange 1954 Chevrolet pickup truck, was first spotted on a farm in the United States and brought to Australia, where it is set to become the latest vehicle to be restored and raffled to raise funds for Motor Neurone Disease (MND) research.

The truck, named Daphne, will be the sixth NTI has raffled in support of the MND and Me Foundation. Over five years, NTI has raised more than $1.5 million for MND research.

The truck was found on a farm in the US before it was brought to Australia and restored.

“Daphne is a ‘hot lava orange’ pickup truck, built with a 1954 Chevrolet Cab Over Engine body on a 1969 Chevrolet C-20 Pickup chassis,” said NTI CEO Tony Clark. “While the truck might be mid-century, she’s got modern features, including a 460hp LT1 Chevrolet Performance engine.

“Daphne was found on a farm in the USA and purchased by a young Australian working there. Its original owner was supportive of the re-sell once she’d heard about how it would be restored and raffled for the MND cause.

“Our commitment to raising funds for MND research comes after NTI’s former CEO Wayne Patterson lost his battle with the disease in 2018. We established the official NTI MND Research Grant to help fund research into treatment and to ultimately find a cure.”

NTI’s 2023 truck restoration has been made possible by generous donations, and General Manager Marketing for GM Australia and New Zealand Chris Payne said they were excited to be teaming up with NTI and Matt Stone Racing on a vehicle for a fantastic cause.

“For many years Chevrolet Performance LS crate engines have been the logical choice for builders of special project vehicles like this one,” he said. “This project truck is a terrific example of how the latest generation LT engines can now be used to provide big horsepower and incredible reliability, and really make it a special prize to help bring attention to MND research.”

Matt Stone of Matt Stone Racing said it was an added bonus that such a fun project was for a good cause.

“Our biggest contributing factor has been the time and the effort that’s gone into getting the work done and getting the truck built, juggling that with our busy racing schedule,” he said.

“It’s a great project to be involved in, with a lot of work in a short amount of time, but thankfully we come from a motorsport background so that’s something we’re used to. Partnering with the NTI crew who are very passionate about both the cause and the project meant that it was something exciting to be involved in.”

Daphne has made her journey from The National Diesel Dirt & Turf Expo in April, to MotorEx and the 2023 Brisbane Truck Show in May; with her next stop set for the Cooly Rocks On Festival from 7-11 June on the Gold Coast.

The raffle will be drawn at the NTI Supercars Round in Townsville in July.

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