The engine coughs and splutters as if it had catarrh. "The air compressor," says Hans Eisele, sighing and turning the key to switch the ignition off again. He climbs out, uses the hydraulics to tilt the driver's cab forward, and takes a closer look at the engine, which is now exposed. "It's leaking a bit. Not surprising, given its age," he says, setting to work with a spanner. Hans Eisele is an old-school mechanic. He's been working for Liebherr in Bad Schussenried, where he normally spends his time fitting state-of-the-art concrete mixing trucks with mixer drums and conveyor belts, for 37 years. Today, however, the 62-year-old is dealing with the slightly leaky "old-timer", a 1977 Liebherr HTM 602 truck mixer.
For almost 40 years previously, this venerable vehicle had been in continuous service with Bétons Baatz in Luxembourg, where it made its rounds steadily and reliably. At some point, the company retired the vehicle, with its vintage Magirus undercarriage, and it started rusting away outside the depot. Liebherr bought the truck mixer back with the aim of returning it to its home in Swabia, restoring it and exhibiting it to customers and visitors as a reminder of the early days of the product range.