New Zealand Classic Car - - National And International News - Words and pho­tos: Quin­ton Tay­lor

Fol­low­ing its open­ing in 2015, Bill Richard­son Trans­port World in In­ver­cargill has mor­phed into some­thing more than just a truck and car mu­seum and is rapidly be­com­ing a fo­cal point as a mul­ti­pur­pose func­tion fa­cil­ity. The range and scope of events is im­pres­sive — from the an­nual Nep­tune’s Ball opener to the Oys­ter Fes­ti­val and its cap­ti­vat­ing light­ing show, to host­ing the cast from the lo­cal pro­duc­tion of Grease in a themed evening. And then there is the food!

Some ex­cit­ing things are hap­pen­ing un­der the roof of the mu­seum at the mo­ment, in­clud­ing the ex­ten­sion of the Mo­tor­cy­cle Mecca, which is set for re­launch later this year. The col­lec­tion is con­tin­u­ally evolv­ing, with ad­di­tions com­ing on stream as they are fin­ished.

The restora­tion work­shop is an amaz­ing place to visit, with some very in­ter­est­ing ve­hi­cles un­der­way. A re­cent ad­di­tion to the col­lec­tion that is cur­rently un­der­go­ing restora­tion, with the aim of fin­ish­ing it close to orig­i­nal con­di­tion, is a 1959 Volk­swa­gen Kombi am­bu­lance, which was lo­cated in Hast­ings and sup­plied by the for­mer In­ver­cargill agents for the Southland Hos­pi­tal Board, Clark Mo­tors. These dis­tinc­tive ma­chines chugged all over Southland and made many trips through to Dunedin Hos­pi­tal. One was based at Queen­stown and one in Gore, and it is thought that there were six in to­tal. The fleet sur­vived un­til around 1970.

Although it will be some­time next year be­fore the mu­seum’s ex­am­ple is on dis­play to the pub­lic, it has al­ready gar­nered a lot of in­ter­est. Some for­mer Southland Hos­pi­tal staff have made con­tact about the am­bu­lances, and pa­tients have re­called sto­ries. At 1200cc, and with a hefty all-up weight, the VWS must have made for in­ter­est­ing jour­neys! Con­tact Bill Richard­son Trans­port World if you have a story about these am­bu­lances that you would like to share.

One restora­tion work­shop staff mem­ber, Dar­ren Rob­bie, has a spe­cial in­ter­est in the Volk­swa­gen, as his fa­ther, War­ren Rob­bie, worked at Clarks at the time that the ve­hi­cles were sup­plied. He ad­mits to hav­ing some­thing of a keen en­thu­si­asm for the mu­seum’s one, de­spite be­ing dis­tracted by work­ing on a very nice race-prepped Porsche nearby.

“It’s been a lot of work, and we still have quite a way to go be­fore it’s fin­ished, but it’s start­ing to look good, es­pe­cially now [that] it’s on its cor­rect wheels,” Dar­ren said, who also told us that the am­bu­lance had come with its orig­i­nal own­er­ship pa­pers and would even­tu­ally be sign-writ­ten with all the cor­rect pe­riod de­tails.

While at an auc­tion in Hol­land ear­lier this year, col­lec­tions man­ager Graeme Wil­liams and col­lec­tion ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor Jo­ce­lyn O’don­nell “man­aged to lo­cate in Bel­gium the com­plete, orig­i­nal am­bu­lance in­te­rior fit­tings for the Volk­swa­gen,” a beam­ing Graeme re­vealed to us.

The ve­hi­cles were orig­i­nally fit­ted out in Ger­many, pur­pose built by the fac­tory, so it was thought that find­ing all of the orig­i­nal equip­ment in New Zealand would be dif­fi­cult.

“It’s great to get all this, and once we have done all the cabi­net work, then it will en­able us to com­plete the in­te­rior,” Graeme ex­plained.

The mu­seum is work­ing on a num­ber of other fas­ci­nat­ing ve­hi­cles as well. Also ob­tained at the auc­tion in Hol­land were a 1946 Woodie sta­tion wagon and the af­fec­tion­ately named ‘pop­corn truck’, on a 1928 Ford Model AA truck chas­sis. Once these have been through the work­shop, they will be added to the mu­seum’s col­lec­tion. An­other long-term pro­ject slowly mak­ing progress is a large 1935 Chrysler Im­pe­rial Cus­tom Le Baron CW. This very rare, straight-eight-pow­ered li­mou­sine was the top of the line Chrysler model in its day.

“We have re­ceived a lot of help [with this car] from a US col­lec­tor, and [the restora­tion] is get­ting along nicely,” Graeme said.

As the only oil com­pany that blends and pack­ages oil in New Zealand, Aegis Oil is pro­vid­ing un­ri­valled flex­i­bil­ity to Kiwi con­sumers. Ac­cord­ing to the com­pany, they al­ways hold stock of all their oils and of­fer overnight de­liv­ery, which is ad­van­ta­geous to busi­nesses be­cause it means that they can avoid ty­ing up cap­i­tal in large stocks of oil. They also of­fer the op­tion for busi­nesses to cus­tomize the pack­ag­ing with their own brand name. Aegis Oil of­fers lu­bri­cant so­lu­tions to a num­ber of in­dus­tries, and they have a range of oils spe­cific to clas­sic and vin­tage ve­hi­cles. Mo­tor rac­ing driver Paul Ra­disich is man­ag­ing direc­tor of the com­pany, and says he is proud to keep man­u­fac­tur­ing in New Zealand and pro­vide jobs.

More in­for­ma­tion can be found at aegisoil.

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