New Zealand Classic Car - - Feature Car -

hen Tony Kat­terns was a kid, he re­mem­bers lis­ten­ing to adults talk­ing about lo­cal car man­u­fac­tur­ing and his grand­fa­ther say­ing, “Oh! The only thing New Zealand ever made was the Trekka, and it was a to­tal flop!” Tony had ab­so­lutely no idea what a Trekka was at that stage, think­ing it was prob­a­bly some weird, snow-go­ing ve­hi­cle used by the late Sir Ed Hil­lary to tra­verse the Antarc­tic re­gions. His grand­fa­ther was quite a placid per­son, but Tony clearly re­mem­bers the con­vic­tion of his state­ment — it was enough to ce­ment the Trekka name firmly in his mind for­ever.

Our Trekka tale might have ended then, but dur­ing the late ’90s Tony was an au­to­mo­tive restora­tion stu­dent, and he and a friend — Don Wak­en­shaw, nick­named Austin Don — de­cided to take a day trip down to Horo­pito for a look around the acres of dis­man­tled ve­hi­cles and parts. Tony stum­bled across a pe­cu­liar Land Rover– look­ing ve­hi­cle with a Kiwi on the badge and said, “What the hell is this thing, Don?” “Oh — that’s a Trekka,” came the re­ply. Be­cause Tony con­sid­ers him­self one for the un­der­dog, he couldn’t help think­ing the forgotten lit­tle Trekka was worth restor­ing, and that it would be nice to save a cou­ple of th­ese things one day.

So, that’s where Tony saw his first Trekka — num­ber 20 to come off the as­sem­bly line — and, be­lieve it or not, that ex­am­ple is still slowly rot­ting away at Horo­pito.

Track­ing Down a Trekka

Fast for­ward 15 years, and Tony de­cided to take the op­por­tu­nity to re­store a clas­sic com­mer­cial, a ve­hi­cle he in­tended to use as a run­about for his restora­tion busi­ness. Due to the con­stant work­load restor­ing cus­tomers’ cars, time would be in short sup­ply, so the cho­sen project needed to be small, sim­ple and read­ily avail­able. So, he thought, why not a Trekka?

As a pro­fes­sional re­storer, Tony knows the best way to save money and get a good re­sult is to start with a good car, and with that in mind, he be­gan to delve into the Trekka net­work. His first port of call was Todd Niall, au­thor of the book Trekka­dy­nasty. Todd was help­ful with sev­eral con­tacts in Auck­land who had Trekkas but, alas, none were avail­able for sale.

At about that time Tony bumped into his old friend Don Wak­en­shaw, and asked if he knew of any other Trekkas around. “Yeah sure, I’ve got five of them!” said Don, who at that time was living in Mor­ven and had col­lected about 100 Austins (hence his nick­name). Tony wasted no time, paid for a cou­ple of plane tick­ets to Christchurch, and the first South Is­land Trekka hunt was or­ga­nized. Af­ter com­pil­ing a list of con­tacts and plan­ning a bit of a road trip with Don as ‘In­dian’ guide, they went call­ing on col­lec­tors they knew owned Trekkas in var­i­ous states of dis­re­pair.

“We stopped in Ash­bur­ton to visit an old-time car re­storer. I got talk­ing to his neigh­bour over the farm fence about Trekkas, and he in­vited me over to have a look at the four ex­am­ples he had parked up in his farm sheds. He then sent us over the road to have a look at an­other sit­ting in a pad­dock. They weren’t hard to find, if you knew where to look!”

Fi­nally, Tony found our fea­tured Trekka near Dunedin amongst Larry Tim­pany’s small col­lec­tion of clas­sic cars. At one time Larry had worked for a Skoda dealer, ral­ly­ing one of its cars dur­ing the ’70s. He’d bought his Trekka through a farm auc­tion.

Tony was in­ter­ested in buy­ing this par­tic­u­lar Trekka be­cause it was run­ning, to­tally com­plete and un­mo­lested, with a live reg­is­tra­tion, and was the only re­stor­able flat­deck ver­sion he’d seen. Sub­se­quently, the Trekka was pur­chased and sent by rail to Auck­land.

On a later trip to the South Is­land Tony pur­chased a cou­ple more very good finds, choos­ing a sen­si­ble route by tak­ing the time to look for ‘good ones’, as most of the Trekkas dis­cov­ered were lan­guish­ing in open ar­eas, left to the el­e­ments and rust­ing away.

The Start of the Trek

Af­ter find­ing a good project, Tony’s next mission was to track down as many good spare Trekka parts as he could find. As luck would have it, he met John Bai­ley from Mata­mata, who had bought all the NOS Trekka/oc­tavia parts from Gee Mo­tors in Napier about 20-some­thing years ago, and had been sup­ply­ing parts to Trekka en­thu­si­asts ever since.

Af­ter a cou­ple of vis­its, Tony bought John’s en­tire re­main­ing stock for the grand to­tal of $1200. This in­cluded new sus­pen­sion parts, car­bu­ret­tors, steer­ing boxes, two dozen brand-new

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