'Moonshine truck' out on display

Marlborough Truck and Trade Show

Last updated 11:00 01/10/2012

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From "moonshine runs" during prohibition in America to helping build the South Island railway line in New Zealand, 1930s Chevrolet trucks have seen their fair share of action.

A beautifully restored 1937 model, owned by Blenheim company Gill Construction Ltd, stood out from the crowd at the Marlborough Truck and Trade Show at Riverlands yesterday.

Owner Tony Gill said his grandfather used the Chevrolet trucks when he started the business in 1933.

They had various designs throughout the 1930s before the New Zealand Army took their 1940 model off them to use in World War II, Mr Gill said.

The army wanted to take more but the Ministry of Works stopped them, he said.

"The ministry wouldn't let them because we were building the Delta Base out at Woodbourne for the air force," he said.

Mr Gill's grandfather also worked on the South Island railway line based at Blue Duck Valley just north of Kaikoura.

The company had pictures of workers shovelling rubble on to the back of their Chevrolets, he said. But they were also used by US soldiers to load up cases of alcohol during prohibition in America.

The 1937 Chevrolet was just one of 70 entries at the Marlborough Truck and Trade Show yesterday.

Mr Gill bought his model in Reefton two years ago because of the family history.

"I thought we could do it up and keep her part of the fleet. It's a bit of history for the company.

"Ours are probably all in the scrapyard."

Mr Gill said his father told him about driving to Waikawa Bay in his Chevrolet with his children on the back to get a feed of cockles.

"It probably took them an hour-and-a-half to get there," he said.

Proceeds from the Marlborough Truck and Trade Show go to Riverlands School.

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- The Marlborough Express


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