FEA­TURE CAR

New Zealand Classic Car - - Feature Car -

hub­caps and new badges. In short, ev­ery­thing he needed for his restora­tion. He now had the ideal Trekka and all the nec­es­sary bits, and it was time to com­mence work.

This Trekka is called a long wheel­base 3-18. Ac­cord­ing to Tony, half­way through the pro­duc­tion run a de­ci­sion was made to chop the back off the Trekka and put a flat deck on it. So, it’s a fac­tory deal.

You could buy the Trekka in three forms: no roof and no tray, roof and no rear tray, or roof and fac­tory tray.

Tony’s Trekka was orig­i­nally sup­plied with a roof and no rear tray. The tray was built and fit­ted by the owner in In­ver­cargill. It was quite com­i­cal, be­cause the wheels had trav­elled so high that they had worn holes in the deck — clearly, it wasn’t a par­tic­u­larly suc­cess­ful ve­hi­cle for car­ry­ing ex­ces­sive loads.

When Tony was fol­low­ing up on some in­for­ma­tion from Gra­ham Lam­bourne, in Wainuiomata, they got talk­ing about Trekkas and Ki­wiana when Gra­ham said, “I’ve got a Trekka un­der the tree, you’re wel­come to have it if you want it.”

It just so hap­pened that Gra­ham’s ex­am­ple was iden­ti­cal to the Trekka Tony was restor­ing, com­plete with an orig­i­nal fac­tory tray — nat­u­rally, Tony took Gra­ham up on his of­fer. How­ever, when he got it back to Auck­land, the Trekka’s deck­ing and bear­ers were too rot­ten to use, though luck­ily the steel un­der­struc­ture was in­tact. Just by chance Tony then met a boat re­storer, Mark Sta­ple­ton, and he vol­un­teered to re­store the tray us­ing tongue and groove tim­ber. Sub­se­quently, Mark re­con­structed the

lower struc­ture ex­actly as orig­i­nal, and also man­aged to save the orig­i­nal drop-side and tail­gate pan­els so they could be reused. When Tony saw the qual­ity of the crafts­man­ship, he couldn’t pay the money fast enough.

The Trekka’s steel mud­flaps were com­pletely rusty, and Tony had to fab­ri­cate new items, in­clud­ing stay bars and fit­tings ex­actly as per the orig­i­nals. They were also painted cor­rectly. Tony points out that the in­side of the bear­ers are black and the out­side is body colour, ex­actly how they left the fac­tory. All the hard­ware, the hinges, chains and latches that were taken from the Trekka from Wainuiomata were cleaned and gal­va­nized be­fore fit­ment to Tony’s ve­hi­cle.

Early Trekkas also had two small Sparto-pat­tern stop and in­di­ca­tors on the back. The sec­ond run of pro­duc­tion ve­hi­cles used a Bri­tax com­bi­na­tion lamp, one change that’s no­tice­able on the later Trekka.

The Trek Concludes

The body it­self also re­quired at­ten­tion. Tony owns Cus­tom Me­tal­shapers Ltd, and spends his days work­ing on high-end restora­tion projects such as As­ton Martin, BMW and Jaguar. As such, the sim­pler con­struc­tion of the Trekka made it rel­a­tively straight­for­ward for him to re­fab­ri­cate and fit a new front valance as well as the area above the wind­screen frame, the lat­ter a re­gion where con­den­sa­tion had col­lected over the years. Tony also points out that the big prob­lem with the Trekka is that they were never painted on the in­side, caus­ing them to rust from the in­side out.

Tony also fit­ted a re­place­ment right-side front guard, a panel taken from an old Trekka he’d pur­chased for $200 — the only de­cent sal­vage­able part on that car. The only other task nec­es­sary was to fab­ri­cate and fit new lower door skins.

All the sus­pen­sion was stripped down to re­veal a to­tally bare chas­sis. The chas­sis was then blasted and painted black, while all the sus­pen­sion parts were also blasted, painted black, and re­assem­bled with new bush­ings all the way through.

New brakes were in­stalled, and the en­gine was cleaned and de­tailed. Tony thinks it will prob­a­bly re­quire a rebuild at some stage, and had the ra­di­a­tor ser­viced and re­taped the wiring loom. New glass was cut and in­stalled along with new seals. The fi­bre­glass roof was ti­died and re­painted with a satin fin­ish to repli­cate the orig­i­nal cream gel-coat. In­ter­est­ingly John Lisle from Cas­cade Auto Fin­ish, who painted the Trekka, used to work at the fac­tory, not on the Trekka line but just af­ter the Trekka. An­other orig­i­nal Trekka em­ployee re­con­di­tioned the hand­brake ca­bles. He worked at the Trekka fac­tory as part of the team that re­designed the hand­brake as­sem­bly — the ini­tial de­sign be­ing a re­ally hor­ri­ble old Eastern Bloc set-up, ac­cord­ing to Tony.

The paint sup­plier also told Tony of his many fish­ing trips in a mate’s Trekka — he and his fish­ing bud­dies would pop off the hub­caps and cook up the fish in them over an open fire, so

there’s been a lot of rem­i­nisc­ing and Trekka sto­ries along the way, most of them favourable.

Tony had the seats re­trimmed by Clas­sic Up­hol­stery in East Ta­maki. They also car­ried out some re­search on what car­pet was orig­i­nally used on the gear­box cover, and man­aged to find speck­led gray car­pet to match the orig­i­nal.

All in all, the restora­tion was quite a sim­ple job — one of the rea­sons Tony likes mil­i­tary and com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles. There’s min­i­mal chrome, no wall-to-wall car­pet­ing and hood lining, or loads of ex­tras that now cost thou­sands and thou­sands of dol­lars to re­store. Th­ese ve­hi­cles can be re­stored eco­nom­i­cally, and they’re as much fun as any­thing else to drive. In fact, Tony al­ready has plans for his next project, a can­vas-top Trekka wagon. He reck­ons there are still plenty of spare parts left over for at least one more, so it’s just about clear­ing some space and get­ting onto it.

Now, where have we heard that be­fore?

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