I Do­minic, Kaspa is a name we’ve seen in the trans­mis­sion in­dus­try for a long time. How did you get into work­ing with cars?

New Zealand Classic Car - - TRADE PROFESSIONALS -

I started work­ing for a guy, Bruce, when I was 15, down in Pa­p­a­toe­toe — in those days, we were wreck­ing a lot of Amer­i­can V8s, and do­ing a lot of Mk1 Zephyr man­ual gear­boxes. When I was 19, we moved over to Otahuhu, and the house that we were work­ing out of burnt down one night. Af­ter that, my brother and I bought the place off the guy — we paid $5000 for what was left of it. That was in 1976. We bought a prop­erty in Kaka Street, Otahuhu, around 1977–’78, and we moved into a yard there. Then we bought the prop­erty next door, and, around 1987, we built our first fac­tory. Where did the Kaspa name come from — your orig­i­nal build­ing wasn’t haunted, was it? We were orig­i­nally on Cas­par Road, Pa­p­a­toe­toe, and when I bought the busi­ness it was al­ready called ‘Kaspa’. We went from Cas­par Road to Huia Road, and a few other places, be­fore we bought the place in Otahuhu. The name al­ways stayed, though.

The Kaspa name is as­so­ci­ated with au­to­matic trans­mis­sions. Do you just do au­tos, or will you work with any trans­mis­sion? We’ve been push­ing the auto side more than the man­ual side, but our busi­ness is prob­a­bly 30 per cent man­ual; the rest auto. We do things like diffs as well, but that’s an­other part of our busi­ness. We do ba­sic trans­mis­sion ser­vices through to full trans­mis­sion re­builds — we deal with trans­mis­sions only, so we don’t do ve­hi­cle ser­vic­ing or any­thing like that. On the Amer­i­can V8 side of things, gen­er­ally, we’ll cus­tom build the trans­mis­sion for the ve­hi­cle. We don’t tend to have a trans­mis­sion just sit­ting on the shelf. We im­port used trans­mis­sions from Amer­ica, and then, when some­body wants one, we’ll talk to them and find out what they want from the trans­mis­sion: what their en­gine is, what cam they’re run­ning, diff ra­tio, weight of the ve­hi­cle, and what they want to do with it. We’ll build the trans­mis­sion they need, rather than just grab­bing some­thing off the shelf and say­ing, “Mate, this will do it!”. Cer­tain trans­mis­sions can be made up to cer­tain horse­power, but you’d have to stop there and move on.

Since you’ve been deal­ing with trans­mis­sions for so long, how do you find keep­ing up with all the re­cent ad­vances in trans­mis­sion tech­nol­ogy? We’re con­stantly go­ing over­seas, do­ing sem­i­nars or cour­ses — I’ve been to con­fer­ences in the States and Aussie, but, be­cause of the way Euro­pean and Ja­panese im­ports are in New Zealand, we see a lot of stuff they don’t see in Aus­tralia or the States. We find our­selves work­ing with stuff they don’t re­ally get over there, but we adapt to that — it’s still a me­chan­i­cal thing you’re work­ing with.

Do you see a place for mod­ern-style, dual-clutch trans­mis­sions in the Amer­i­can V8 mar­ket? I think they’re go­ing to take off. The con­cept is great — you don’t get the wear on the gear­box be­cause you’re pre-se­lect­ing the gears. So, rather than go­ing ‘boom!’ and push­ing on a synchro, caus­ing wear and tear, your next gear is al­ready se­lected. You still get bear­ing wear, and wear in the dual clutch, but the tech­nol­ogy is get­ting bet­ter and bet­ter. They’re com­plex things, but we’re lucky enough to have good knowl­edge and in­for­ma­tion shar­ing — some­one will work with them, so it may as well be us.

What is cur­rently the most pop­u­lar trans­mis­sion in the V8 scene? For us, in the Ford range, it’d be the AOD and AOD-E. The AOD comes with an over­drive, and has a ca­ble for tim­ing and pres­sure. The AOD-E comes with a lit­tle com­puter, and

has an over­drive and lock-up torque con­verter. It’s got two modes, ‘Power’ and ‘Econ­omy’ — I’ve ac­tu­ally got one in my T-bird. In our GM range, the big­gest would be the 4L60E and 4L80E, rather than the TH350 or TH400, be­cause, again, they give you the over­drive. Bet­ter fuel econ­omy, saves the en­gine, and less noise — why wouldn’t you?

Speak­ing of the T-bird — how long have you owned it? I’ve owned the ’64 for about three years, and I’ve got an ’07 Mus­tang sign­writ­ten as well. I bought that brand new. The ’57, though, I bought that around 1987, I think. This guy came into work around the time of the share mar­ket crash, and he’d heard we were into T-birds — my brother and I both owned T-birds. He said he was bug­ger­ing off to the States, as he’d lost his money here, and gave a price for the car. I bought it — didn’t even have to look for it; it came to us.

Have you al­ways had a pas­sion for cars? Yeah, that’s re­ally how I got in­volved in the in­dus­try. I had a Mk1 Zephyr, but since then I’ve owned prob­a­bly 20 or more V8s. I bought an F100 for $1500 when I was 16, so it was a pretty quick step up into the V8s. I’ve had a 1970 Mus­tang 428 Su­per Co­bra Jet — it was fast! The en­gine from that is in my brother’s ’64 T-bird now.

Is there a fam­ily in­volve­ment with the busi­ness? My brother and I orig­i­nally bought the busi­ness to­gether, then, af­ter about 20 years, he went his own way and now runs his own trans­mis­sion place. I own the Kaspa brand, and Mike, who is my brother’s son, and I are part­ners in the Glen­field branch. My son is work­ing here as well. Vange Per­vo­lianakis, who bought the Otahuhu branch around 10 years ago, had been work­ing with me for about 10 years, and he knew ex­actly what he was buy­ing. Our Glen­field branch is part­ners with Silverdale, which is run by Brian ‘Bluey’ Mcclen­nan. Bluey and I are old mates — we’re leaguies, mate.

So you’ve got a bit of a back­ground in sport as well as in cars? Yeah, Bluey was the Ki­wis coach and the War­riors coach. I played league back in the ’80s, and coached Auck­land for half a dozen years. Be­ing a coach is like be­ing a boss — the qual­i­ties we look for in guys at work are the same qual­i­ties that we look for in play­ers. Around 2000, I was coach­ing this kid — a re­ally nice kid — when he was 18; I got him work­ing for us at Otahuhu, and he’s still work­ing for us. I knew he was a good guy, and good peo­ple can turn their hand to any­thing. I’d rather start with a good per­son, and build them into what they can be — you can’t change the per­son.

That’s a great-sound­ing phi­los­o­phy, Do­minic. Thank you for your time.

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