Shows, Truck events, Vintage

Kiwis’ passion for Kenworths on display at milestone truck show

In 2023, Kenworth marked 100 years since its first truck rolled off the production line, and New Zealand truck enthusiasts finally got to mark the occasion this month after Covid-related delays.

The sole Kenworth distributor in NZ, Southpac Trucks, put on an unforgettable show thanks to two years of hard work behind the scenes by over 100 staff.

The Mystery Creek Events Centre in the outskirts of Hamilton had plenty of room for the Kenworth 100 event – and being centrally located near a major transport route, plenty of infrastructure – but with registrations topping 800 units everyone was a little nervous how it would all work out.

Every model sold in NZ was represented, from the 1950s early imports to brand new T909s, C509s and SARs. Wall to wall Kenworths, all lovingly looked after, bling blinging like never before.

Kenworths old and new were represented over the weekend. Image: Rod Simmonds

Thursday February 1 was set-up day, with some early arrivals and merchandise, and about 100 trucks parked up by the end of the day.

By 11am on Friday February 2, another 150 trucks were in, and within the next six hours some 400 trucks arrived, one after another. With fleets together numbering 10, 20 or 40 at a time, it really was on fire.

As the sun set, the latecomers filled the vacant spots quickly, with the final trucks rolling in just before midnight.

In total, 756 Kenworths, all expertly marshalled and measured by Southpac staff!

Saturday brought the sun and the rain, but with some 10,000 people attending the free “public day”, it was a truck tragic’s dream.

On Saturday night, the special VIP black tie dinner was a fitting end to the huge occasion.

There were some eye-catching units on display. Image: Rod Simmonds

There were speeches, good food, good company and a hall filled with 20 plus SAR Legends or special new Kenworths on display.

Kenworths have been sold in New Zealand for over 50 years now, with early models privately imported for logging operations that were sourced from Kenworth Canada, where the specification was more similar.

Now all NZ Kenworths are custom-built in Kenworth’s Bayswater plant in Melbourne, tailored to suit the unique NZ conditions, axle loadings and weights.

This American import K100E Aerodyne classic was a highlight. Image: Rod Simmonds

Southpac Trucks, or as it was known 30 years ago, South Pacific Trucks, were the importer for Foden. With Paccar taking over, DAF and Kenworth all joined under one umbrella in NZ.

Many loyal Foden operators changed to Kenworths straight away, to keep their traditional American-sourced drivetrain.

Their success is obvious, with DAF and Kenworth leading their respective classes year after year, with impressive growth that shows no sign of slowing down.

Paccar and Kenworth senior management from Australia and the US attended the show, and were blown away by the scale of the passion Kiwis have for Kenworth!

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