Up­per Hutt car draw­card for cen­te­nary


A vin­tage car that once be­longed to the Shah of Per­sia, but now spends its days in Up­per Hutt, has made a rare ap­pear­ance on Welling­ton’s wa­ter­front.

The 1931 His­pano-Suiza, the only one of its kind in the south­ern hemi­sphere, would have been twice as ex­pen­sive as a Roll­sRoyce when it was new.

It is now in the care of Bris­tol Mo­tors owner Dave Wilkens, who re­stored it and looks af­ter it for its anony­mous owner in Wanaka.

‘‘He leaves it with us and takes it out on road trips. We do the gen­eral main­te­nance that is needed and I get to drive it around,’’ Wilkens said.

The His­pano-Suiza joined a new BMW i3 and an elec­tricpow­ered Tesla S on the wa­ter­front on Thurs­day to pro­mote the Mo­tor Trade As­so­ci­a­tion’s up­com­ing cen­te­nary in April, when some of the rarest clas­sic and vin­tage cars will be on dis­play along­side some of the mod­ern’s in­dus­try’s finest.

‘‘It’s the only J12 His­panoSuiza in the coun­try, so we con­sider our­selves very lucky to work on some­thing like this.’’

The car is be­lieved to be one of only nine open-top ex­am­ples of the Euro­pean-built car re­main­ing.

It was a ‘‘stun­ning and beau­ti­ful car’’, made even bet­ter af­ter a full restora­tion, he said, although that had been no easy task.

‘‘Get­ting parts and in­for­ma­tion was quite dif­fi­cult. There was a lot of time spent on the in­ter­net and ob­vi­ously look­ing at orig­i­nal draw­ings and things like that.

‘‘We ended up hav­ing to make a lot of parts for the car.’’

New Zealand’s Mo­tor Trade As­so­ci­a­tion (MTA) be­gan in 1917 when a group of Manawatu garage own­ers got to­gether in Feild­ing to set up a re­tail­ers as­so­ci­a­tion.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive Craig Po­mare said the an­niver­sary de­served to be marked in style with a range of pub­lic events show­cas­ing the his­tory of mo­tor­ing in New Zealand, as well as a look at where the in­dus­try is go­ing.

‘‘It will all just show how far we’ve come in the past cen­tury, from the Suiza to the Tesla – it’s phe­nom­e­nal.’’

The MTA’s ‘‘Car Show of the Cen­tury’’ will be held at Welling­ton’s TSB Bank Arena and Shed 6 from April 28-30.


Dave Wilkens with the 1931 His­pano-Suiza he be­gan restor­ing about eight years ago.

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