The ballad of Joe, Eddie and the Scania 164
28 MAY 2019
Traditionally, Ireland’s troubadours have sung about strong men and daring deeds. Nowadays, they celebrate a rumbling legend from Sweden. This is the story of a poetic truck driver, the man with the V8 voice – and “The Scania 164”.
In the late 1980s Eddie Crozier is driving haulage all over Europe. Like many other truck drivers, he’s a big Scania fan. Being Irish, Eddie is also musical and a wordsmith. Behind the wheel he hums an idea for a song praising Scania trucks; especially his favourite, the Scania 142. The song is never finished, and Eddie moves to the US.
Meanwhile, back in Northern Ireland, a countryman changes career. After years working for bricklayers all over Northern Ireland, hod carrier Joe Moore decides to become a full-time country musician. As he plays pubs and clubs, Joe feels like this is life’s purpose. Soon his distinct deep voice and laid back personality makes him one of the most popular country acts on the local circuit.
Introducing: The Scania 164
Then something happens in Södertälje, Sweden. Ever since launching the 14-litre V8 engine in 1969, Scania has dominated the high-output heavy truck segment. But now, in May 2000, a new 16-litre V8 is introduced. The Scania 164 makes a huge impact and becomes a landmark engine, combining exceptional performance and excellent operating economy.
Eddie Crozier is back in Europe. The song writing trucker is almost hypnotised by the sound of this new, rumbling Scania 164 V8 truck he is driving. In the Alps, northern Italy and Scandinavia he meets other “Kings of the Road”. Listening to cassettes of American trucker songs, Eddie’s inspiration grows, and a soon-to-be-legendary song takes shape…
“…You could hear that wagon coming, with her mighty engine roar,
This big machine is strong and mean, drawing 40 tonnes or more,
There was no machine could touch her with my shoe down to the floor,
As I drove up the motorway in my Scania 164…”
Eddie meets Joe
Waiting for fish to be loaded in County Cork, Ireland, Eddie is asked for advice by some fishermen what trucks to buy. As Eddie answers the words start flowing, and in the back of his head the final verse of “The Scania 164” song is born…
“If you ever think of trucking or buying a wagon big and strong,
Have yourself some comfort as you go trucking on,
When going to a dealer then let him know the score,
That you just want to buy yourself a Scania 164.”
A few years later Joe Moore is playing in a bar outside Belfast when Eddie, by now producing Country and Western CDs, walks in. Eddie is enchanted by the singer’s voice: it’s almost like a rumbling V8 engine, he thinks. After the gig, he asks Joe to record an album together with him. This eventually becomes five albums. “The Scania Man” album is by far the most popular, and one of the songs is “The Scania 164.”
The Theatre Royal in the Scottish town of Dumfries is packed when Joe Moore takes the stage. The audience has come for “The Legends of American Country,” one of Europe’s leading country music tours. On the posters Joe is presented as “Mr Country” and “The man with the deep voice”, but most of the audience know him as “The Scania man”.
Joe plays classics by Kris Kristofferson, Kenny Rogers, Don Williams, and Johnny Cash, but soon the audience starts shouting, “sing The Scania 164!”
He does, and his fans rejoice.
A legendary song
Back on the other side of the Irish Sea in Banbridge, Northern Ireland, K. Mackin Transport has grown from one vehicle to a fleet of 25 trucks and 40 trailers in 15 years. The company’s vintage Scania collection is extremely popular at truck shows across Europe. Owners Kevin and Carol Mackin even built their own museum, dedicated to Scania’s V8 trucks. This is where we meet Eddie, who once drove for K. Mackin.
“The Scania 164 is my song giving praise to that mighty truck from Scania,” he explains, showing us the many rarities in the Mackins’ ‘V8 Room’.
“The trucking community of Northern Ireland is special. Trucking isn’t just a job, it’s a way of life for many people, and their vehicles are their pride and joy. Here, commercial haulage and country music are one.”
Many songs mention Scania trucks, such as “The Mighty 143”, “Keep ‘er Lit” and “The Scania Man”. But the most beloved is “The Scania 164”.
“For years it has been one of the most requested country songs on radio here in Northern Ireland, and it’s legendary among European truckers,” says Crozier.
Backstage with ‘The Scania man’…
Backstage, at the Theatre Royal in Dumfries, Joe Moore wipes the sweat from his brow and slowly pulls off his tight cowboy boots.
His laidback personality once made him one of the most sought-after acts on the circuit. Throat surgery meant he didn’t sing for several years, but now he’s back, more popular than ever. The audience calls for more.
“You know,” he says, “after the surgery and the break I was afraid they had forgotten me, but as soon as I started singing again, the gigs started to pile up. And my voice was even deeper than before.”
Nowadays, Joe mainly sings American country music, but the song Eddie wrote still looms large.
Yet, he confesses, “The first time I heard the Scania 164 song, I didn’t believe in it. It wasn’t really country to me and it was a little bit too slow. But we worked on it, Eddie and me, and I got hooked.”
All is forgiven…
In Banbridge, Eddie tells us he is slightly embarrassed by the first verse of his homage to the Scania 164:
“I used to drive a Scania Truck, Lord but she could go.
She was built up in Sweden; in a place they call Malmo.”
“I read somewhere that the company Scania was from Malmö in southern Sweden and I got it a little bit wrong. But I’m sure I’m forgiven…”
In Dumfries, Joe and band are playing an encore, before packing up their gear for a long journey north. Tomorrow night they’ll play “The Scania 164” at Corran Halls in Oban.
“Even though I never was a truck driver myself, I know a little about this world. Trucking and country music go hand in hand. And the Scania 164 is a magnificent truck, well worth its own song,” says Joe, before hitting the road.