One hell of a ride!



Each year truckers bring their pride and joy from near and far to display them at Full of the Pipe and one of the star attractions at the 2024 staging of Ireland’s premier truckshow with be John Templeton’s hellish, horror-themed pitch-black Scania 143 Streamline, affectionately known to us mere mortals as Hell Rider.

Festooned in nightmare-inducing images of snakes, skulls, motorbikes and the undead, it’s something of an oxymoron that John Templeton’s striking Scania 143 is to all intents and purposes the dream truck. Also owner of the universally celebrated Superheroes lorry, Scottish trucker John is known far and wide for his show-stopping trucks. 

His current award-winning Scania V8 Superheroes and Scania 143 Streamline Hell Rider models are as much at home at a truck show as they are out on the open road and they never fail to turn heads no matter the venue or occasion, be they polished to within an inch of their lives at a show or glistening and almost shape-shifting with their shimmering imagery as they roll out of a quarry.

The time, effort and money that John has invested into Superheroes and Hell Rider is staggering and the fact that these head-turning lorries are also working machines makes their immaculate and spectacular presentation all the more remarkable. The jet-black Scania 143 dubbed Hell Rider, for example, which will be hitting Mondello Park via Stranraer this weekend, hauls up to 15,000 tonnes of cement per year.

The modest and soft-spoken Scot purchased the truck seven years ago and over the course of three years, in conjunction with a good friend, meticulously transformed it into the dark thing of true beauty that today genuinely takes the breath away. He’s looking forward to bringing Hell Rider back to Full of the Pipe.

“I’ve been to Full of the Pipe a few times before and can’t wait for this year’s show. It should be a brilliant weekend. The last time I was over was for the last show in Punchestown a couple of years ago. I’ve been attending truck shows for around 15 years now and Full of the Pipe is definitely one I enjoy travelling to every year. I haven’t been to Mondello Park before but I believe it’s a fabulous venue for a show and I’m looking forward to it.”

John always maintains his lorries in tip-top condition as their spectacular appearance is a true labour of love for him, so there won’t be too much work required on Hell Rider prior to the eagerly-awaited weekend of July 13-14. “I’ll give them a good wash the day before and will wash them again when we arrive at the show. Then it’ll be a matter of polishing them for the weekend.”

By ‘them’, John means the Scania 143 and its matching 21-plate Vauxhall Movano van, which complements Hell Rider perfectly as it’s painted in the same colours and theme complete with ominous skeleton and tattooed tantalising lady. Together, the truck and van make for quite a pair!

From his base in Ayr, about a 30-minute drive up the Scottish west coast from Stranraer, John Templeton has been providing an outstanding haulage service for two decades, hauling cement mainly, airplane wings and also doing a bit of low loader work.

Having previously customised trucks with James Bond and Avatar themes, he really took things to the next level with his Superheroes Scania, which quickly became the stuff of legend not just locally but all over the UK and beyond.

Utterly overhauled to the tune of more than a quarter of a million pounds, Templeton’s extravagant Scania R730 V8 Superhero truck is a breath-taking unit that has to be seen to be believed, adorned on every possible surface of the body with a seemingly endless collage of superheroes. More superheroes than this writer even knew had ever been invented!

“There are 80 or 90 superheroes in total on it – 50 or 60 on the outside and another 30 on the inside,” says John. “There won’t be any more added. It’s been finished like that since we rebuilt it. That was a plain white Scania when I got it and we put a lot of work into it.”

Why put so much time and money into these lorries? They look incredible but the input is extraordinary… “It’s just what I do and there’s no particular reason for it,” the humble Scottish trucker shrugs. “I enjoy going to shows and when you are there you like to have something good to show.”

Returning again to Full of the Pipe, Hell Rider certainly more than qualifies as ‘something good’. Unbelievably, this sharp, fresh and immaculate truck is actually 30 years old. After buying it seven years ago, John rebuilt the engine and carried out an immense amount of mechanical work, totally transformed the cab and finished it all off with an extraordinary paint job. The phrase ‘drive it like you stole it’ is etched below a huge snarling skull on the back of the tank and below that the line ‘when there is no more room in hell, the dead shall ride the earth’, adapted to suit a truck from George A Romero’s Dawn of the Dead.

“I was inspired really by the line ‘drive it like you stole it’ and also by the idea of motorbikes and skeletons,” says John, whose Hell Rider lorry would not look out of place in a tattoo-themed art gallery. “Myself and a friend did all the work on it and I really enjoyed it.”

Hell Rider is a working lorry first and foremost and John is generally busy behind the wheel every week from Monday through to Friday at least. But he’ll take a few days off for a return visit to Ireland to take in the unique atmosphere of Full of the Pipe 2024. 

“There are five or six of us going over together and I’m sure it’s going to be a great adventure. Full of the Pipe is a top show and I’ve met a lot of wonderful people there in the past. Looking forward to catching up with them and meeting some new people as well. One of the great things about these shows is that there are a lot of like-minded people there.

“I’ve booked the ferry over for the Friday morning and we’ll return home on the Monday morning. We’re looking forward to it.”

And we’re all looking forward to getting up close and personal once more with the dark, macabre, black beauty on wheels known as Hell Rider!