NEW ZEALAND CLAS­SIC CAR KITS & PIECES Words and Pho­tos Pa­trick Har­low

New Zealand Classic Car - - Kits & Pieces -

car was even­tu­ally sold to the brothers’ neigh­bour, who im­me­di­ately put it to good use on his farm. Al­though there was only 12kw (16hp) avail­able from its Robin flat-twin en­gine, ev­ery one of those horses was gain­fully em­ployed by cou­pling the mo­tor to not one but two gear­boxes. Drive ini­tially goes through a three-speed 100E Ford Pre­fect gear­box that, in turn, is mated to a Mor­ris Ox­ford four-speed gear­box — the re­sult be­ing that the Duzgo driver has ac­cess to four dif­fer­ent gears in ei­ther nor­mal, low, or very low drive ra­tios.

The Duzgo is no­table for its very low cen­tre of grav­ity, plenty of ground clear­ance, low gear­ing, light weight, and soft sus­pen­sion. Nat­u­rally, its mo­tor­cy­cle wheels were shod with knob­bly trail-bike tyres to en­sure this ve­hi­cle was ideal for ne­go­ti­at­ing muddy pad­docks or steep hill­sides. And while it can be driven on the road, the Duzgo was pri­mar­ily de­signed for the farm — where it ex­celled. De­spite be­ing only two-wheel drive, it can go al­most any­where un­der vir­tu­ally any con­di­tions and, with a car­ry­ing ca­pac­ity of ap­prox­i­mately 250kg, is an im­mensely ca­pa­ble and prac­ti­cal ma­chine.

This Duzgo soon be­came a com­mon sight as it cruised around the Whataroa district; that is, when it was not be­ing used on the farm to haul up to 14 bales of hay out to feed live­stock.

Four years later, when their neigh­bour de­cided to move, the Giles brothers bought the util­ity ve­hi­cle back for use on their own farm. How­ever, an ar­gu­ment with a Nis­san Pa­trol in 1987 caused ex­ten­sive dam­age to the Duzgo. The in­sur­ance com­pa­nies wrote off both ve­hi­cles, but Kevin de­cided to have a go at re­build­ing the Duzgo. Af­ter many months and more than a lit­tle mut­ter­ing, by 1990 the tough lit­tle util­ity ve­hi­cle was back do­ing what it was best at. By now, Kevin’s fond­ness for the car’s quirk­i­ness had been rekin­dled — so much so that when he moved to Christchurch to start a mo­tor­bike re­pair shop, the Duzgo didn’t get left be­hind on the farm.

The big shake

Sadly, the pres­sure of fam­ily and work com­mit­ments meant that the trusty Duzgo ended up be­ing left out­side for the next 10 years, parked up and ex­posed to the el­e­ments. Then, in the late 2000s, Kevin had an ac­ci­dent that forced him to slow down, and, with a lit­tle bit more time on his hands, he once again de­cided to get the Duzgo mo­bile. Upon in­spec­tion, how­ever, it quickly be­came ap­par­ent that the years of in­ac­tiv­ity had not been kind. Rust was start­ing to pop out, while mildew was grow­ing on the roof and deck. It was clear that a ma­jor restora­tion was on the cards.

Luck­ily, the Duzgo’s sim­ple con­struc­tion meant that this wouldn’t be too dif­fi­cult a job, as most of the pan­els were flat, and only re­quired a good bend­ing ma­chine and a ham­mer for con­struc­tion. Work started early in 2010, and the aim was to get the car to the painter by that De­cem­ber. True to Kevin’s tar­get, all the body and chas­sis work was fin­ished by De­cem­ber and dis­patched to Al­lied Auto Bod­ies for paint­ing. Un­for­tu­nately, due to work com­mit­ments, Al­lied wasn’t able to com­plete the paint and body work un­til Fe­bru­ary.

How­ever, be­fore Kevin could col­lect the Duzgo, disas­ter struck on Fe­bru­ary 22 in the form of a 6.3 mag­ni­tude earth­quake. The big shake caused dis­tor­tion to the Al­lied Auto Bod­ies build­ing, and it suf­fered some struc­tural dam­age. With the build­ing now off lim­its, it was an­other six weeks be­fore any­one could check to see if the lit­tle util­ity had sur­vived the quake. Even then, there was un­cer­tainty about whether it could be

Semi-re­tire­ment

Re­assem­bly work car­ried on as time per­mit­ted, un­til one day Hamish, Kevin’s son, phoned from Ja­pan to say that he had be­come en­gaged. He and his fi­ancé had de­cided to tie the knot in Christchurch in a year’s time, and, nat­u­rally, Hamish wanted the Duzgo as the wed­ding car.

Kevin thought that he had plenty of time to fin­ish the util­ity be­fore the wed­ding — how­ever, a week be­fore­hand, the Duzgo was a long way from be­ing mo­bile. Door cur­tains still needed to be made, the roof lin­ing had yet to be in­stalled, and there were still the all-im­por­tant WOF and reg­is­tra­tion pro­ce­dures to be tack­led. Rolling up his sleeves, he got to work and, fol­low­ing an all­nighter, on the day be­fore the wed­ding, the lit­tle Robin en­gine was fired up with no real dra­mas, and the first shake­down run was com­bined with the trip down to the lo­cal garage for the WOF test. For­tu­nately, there were no is­sues, and the Duzgo was front and cen­tre on the day of the wed­ding.

Th­ese days, the Duzgo is set­tling down nicely into semi-re­tire­ment. When Kevin and Linda go on hol­i­day, the Duzgo is gen­er­ally at­tached be­hind their Ford Kuga and A-framed to the hol­i­day lo­ca­tion, as its top speed of only 70kph means that it is safer and quicker to trans­port it around in this man­ner rather than un­der its own steam. On ar­rival, the quirky lit­tle ve­hi­cle is used as a run­about to tour sur­round­ing ar­eas at a leisurely pace — and, as you can imag­ine, it at­tracts at­ten­tion and makes new friends wher­ever it goes.

Hav­ing be­come very much a fam­ily icon, this Duzgo is un­likely to ever be sold again.

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