The Kaipara Vintage Machinery Club is custodian of this 102-year-old, fully operational Clydesdale truck, a workhorse that served several masters in the Kaipara’s timber trade

Still trucking after 102 years

by Our Historical Detective

The Kaipara Vintage Machinery Club, situated in Harding Park, has a very interesting collection of items reflecting the heritage of the Kaipara. One of the most curious is a fully functional 102-year-old 1917 Clydesdale Truck.

Its story begins during the first world war, when it was manufactured by the Clydesdale Motor Truck Company in Ohio, USA. Destined for service in France, the truck eventually came as war reparations to New Zealand, where it worked on the Auckland docks until the 1940s. It was converted into a winch truck and worked in the timber mills of Putaruru in the latter days of that decade before Doug Clements bought it and drove it north to Mamarunui to work in the Elliot Brothers timber mill there.

That was in 1951, but the Clydesdale was far from retirement. It was sold on to Snow Appleton who used it to pull whole logs at Mahuta, then to Ralph Leaf who used it for the same purpose. In 1970 the truck was sold to Mawson Engineering, and Jim Manderson swapped it for an outboard motor.

That could have been the end of its story if it was not for Tracey McKenzie, who found the ‘heap of junk’ in 1994 and spent more than 1,000 hours to achieve the impossible. The Clydesdale truck lived again, and it still lives at the KVMC, still roadworthy on its solid rubber tyres, and a feature at field days and on crank up days. Still owned by the Manderson family, it’s a single piece of rolling history that helped make the timber industry thrive in its prime, and still delights visitors today.