Mike Ponsonby, Managing Director of M. A. Ponsonby Limited, is a third-generation member of the haulage dynasty that began when his grandfather moved from County Donegal to Birmingham back in 1950. Starting off in removals before progressing to general haulage, Granddad Ponsonby would influence his descendents to follow in his footsteps. Passing away in 1994, he was held in such regard by grandson Mike that the gleaming Scania V8 you see before you now was named in his honour: Letterkenny Lad.
And it's a fitting tribute, for you'd be hard pressed to find a better example of a concours condition truck, and the Ponsonby's are renowned for quality, an attribute which can be traced all the way back to the standards set by the clan's founding father.
For Mike Ponsonby, a major part of the success story is the family's association with Scania: "Let's be honest," he says, "they're the best truck out there. "The uptime is second-to-none, our drivers love them and we always get good residuals. Although I'm MD, I'm also hands-on; I drive myself so I know what's what.
"My father bought his first Scania back in 1982 and their appeal, performance and reliability has endured to this day. Today, I run eight V8s, ranging from 520 to 730 horsepower. What's the best thing about them? – they let us get the job done, and that's what I'm all about. To all those people who harp on about fuel, I'd say what about getting the extra load on because of the time you've saved and the reliability of the V8? That helps you look after your customers better, and that's what really counts."
For a working truck, GG14 MAP, the M. A. Ponsonby vehicle we're looking at here, is exceptional. Replete with custom tool box, exhaust stacks, lights, beacons, air horns and a leather-clad interior with heated/cooled seats, TV/DVD, microwave, coffee percolator, and a fridge-freezer, it's a truck to die for.
"Regarding the Golden Griffin itself, as soon as I heard Scania was producing something special to commemorate its golden anniversary, I said, 'I'm having one!'. The limited edition was just for 50 trucks. Scania let you choose which number you wanted, and I went for number 30."
M. A. Ponsonby Limited
"All our V8s are high spec, but this one has something extra," says Mike. "It's a Golden Griffin, the limited edition model Scania produced to celebrate its 50th anniversary in the UK back in 2014. The fact that it is in the condition it is, is down to its driver, Lee Worsey. He keeps it in pristine order and has done since day one. You'd never know that it goes onto building sites every day of its life – Lee deserves a huge amount of credit for looking after it. He's away four or five nights every week, spends Saturdays cleaning it, and it really is still like new four-and-a-half years on – it's exceptional.
"Regarding the Golden Griffin itself, as soon as I heard Scania was producing something special to commemorate its golden anniversary, I said, 'I'm having one!'. The limited edition was just for 50 trucks. Scania let you choose which number you wanted, and I went for number 30. We did the deal in May 2014 and when it arrived I spent four or five months preparing it for the road.
"It's plated at 80-tonnes gross train weight and to be classified as an STGO category 2 we had to fit a subframe on the chassis in order to spread the weight across it and add strength. It went into service in September 2014 and since then it's never been a moment's bother. We've just repainted the chassis, so now it's ready for the next four years.
"In addition to working on hauling plant and machinery, the truck is a regular at shows, including Truckfest Peterborough, Gaydon and Convoy in the Park, where we've won Best Fleet for two years on the trot. That's something I'm really proud of, and I'm sure the Golden Griffin is a contributor to that."
All in all, it sounds as if Mike Ponsonby has found his perfect truck, not to mention the perfect driver to go with it! But if he could improve anything about it, what would his message to Scania be?
"That's a tough one," says Mike. "After all, it's pretty special already, isn't it? The only thing I would say, is that wouldn't it be nice if they gave us the V8 noise back as this truck is very well insulated inside. But then again, they've done that, haven't they – I remember reading they've backed off the insulation in new generation Scanias because the field testers said they wanted to hear more of the V8.
"So it's great to know Scania listens to its drivers!"