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