Rebel Yellow
Truck & Driver|November 2020
Manual gearbox trucks are getting rarer all the time, so we jumped at the chance to do some work in this 19-plate R500 to find out what it’s like
Dougie Rankine

At a glance

Make & Model: Scania R500 6x2 tag

Engine: DC13 13-litre six-cylinder Euro 6D

Power: 500hp

Torque: 2550nm

Gearbox: 12-speed manual + crawler

Operator: Rocks Off Gravel

This Scania is a recent purchase by Rocks Off Gravel, whose Daf XF was on the cover of our September 2019 issue. Their yard is also where my Foden Alpha lives. When the bright yellow R500 appeared a couple of months back and boss Scott Mealyou mentioned it happened to have a manual box, my first reaction was “ooh gimme a shot!”

Well, he called my bluff on that when the truck’s regular driver Kenny went on holiday for a week. “How do you fancy doing a bit of work in the Scania?” Scott asked. Having not driven a manual Scania since 2014, how could I say no? A manual next-gen has been high on my list of ‘Trucks I Want To Drive’ for a long time.

If you want a manual box these days, your choice is pretty much limited to either Scania or Daf. Scania offers the manual box in the R-cab, but not the S and you can have it on a V8 engine too, up to 650hp. This R500 was bought last year as one of a pair by Ashbrook Plant and Access Hire, but they didn’t hold onto them for too long. At less than a year old, and with 80,000km on the clock, it represented a big saving over buying a new one.

Rocks Off, based at Longridge near Whitburn, has a fleet of four trucks and they’re each allocated to an experienced driver, so there’s no worries about anyone struggling with the gearbox. The fleet is required to run onto building sites so it’ll no doubt come in handy. Trailers are extendable, rear-steering and Moffett equipped so there’s something available for the tightest of spots and unusual locations.

With the “normal” chassis height, tag axle, and 315/80 tyres on the drive axle it’s got a lot of presence. You may recall I drove an R410 LNG 4x2 for a week last December and although the cabs are the same, the R500 seems far bigger even though the cabs are externally identical. Some R-series can look a bit small on the road, but not this one.

The interior is well finished, with leather seats (not heated though), leather wheel and fridge. Nights out will be rare for this truck, so the R-Sleeper normal cab is ideal and if you’re under 6ft you can stand up inside it anyway. The overhead lockers are oddly small though, there’s a lot of plastic. Other than that, the layout is superb.

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