It all started with Burt Munro setting a land speed record in 1967 on his trusty old Indian Scout Motorbike. That record still stands today. For Invercargill, this was only the beginning and if you haven’t yet had the chance to explore the motoring gems of this southern city, have a read and you will see why it is the classic motoring capital of New Zealand.
Roger’s GT Collection
Roger Whyte could walk past you on the street and you would never guess the ultimate collection of GT motoring history he has quietly hidden away. It’s a secret that few have been able to appreciate in the flesh, and one very strong testament to the common bond between him and his wife Diane. Imagine owning every model of GT from 1967 right through to 2015 - sounds a dream, right? It’s a reality for Roger and Diane.
With Southland reportedly having the highest ownership of classic vehicles per capita there’s a good chance their collection contributes significantly to that.
Classic Motorcycle Mecca
Invercargill is far from shy about celebrating Southland’s obsession with motorcycles. The recently opened Classic Motorcycle Mecca is a world class display, and with over 300 motorcycles and motorcycle related artwork there is certainly a deep passion for all things two wheeled. From the outside, the newly restored space is an architectural dream but the inside has proven to be something even more spectacular.
You name the motorcycle type - I can bet you it’s there. And if it’s not, I’ll eat my helmet.
A live workshop allows you to witness the restoration process. Be awed as you stand and watch expert mechanics tinker, making a very technical job look like child’s play.
Housed in a purpose built art deco building an entire city block wide, Transport World is a testament to another Southland legend of motoring, Bill Richardson, who had a lifelong passion for engines and is now a hero of transport heritage.
Among many rare and sought after pieces, there are gems such as the 1940 Airflow Dodge RX70 Texaco Tanker. Rumour has it that Bill Richardson was once offered a blank cheque for this piece but there was no way he was ever going to give it up, and you can see why. With everything from a world class Henry Ford collection to perfectly restored petrol bowsers and the quirky motoring themed bathrooms, this place lives up to the expectation you would have of New Zealand’s classic motoring capital.
Burt Munro Challenge & E Hayes Motorworks
Let’s get back to where it all started - the legend himself, Burt Munro. From training on the endless Oreti Beach (where you can still drive for miles), Burt went on to set a world record that still stands nearly 50 years on. There’s now an annual four day motorcycle rally, The World’s Fastest Indian movie and the E Hayes Motorworks collection - including the original record setting Indian Scout bike - to celebrate the man himself. It’s fair to say that Invercargill proudly lives and breathes this icon.
The red carpet to the capital
As you would expect, the road that takes you to the Classic Motoring Capital is a motorist’s dream. The Southern Scenic Route has been voted one of the top 10 drives in the world and the 610km journey on roads that wind through some of the most beautiful countryside in New Zealand deserves the accolade.
In the words of the recently re-made famous New Zealand film, Goodbye Pork Pie, “We’re taking this bloody car to Invercargill” and with the windows down and the engine purring, there’s no better way to arrive.