After heavy overnight rain, Saturday 4 November dawned fine and clear, much to the relief of everyone taking part in the eighth annual Dave Carr Memorial Truck Run. This year it was so good to see a number of new faces and trucks on the run – along with the usual reprobates!

There were a number of people from outside the Christchurch region and a few who travelled down from the North Island for the first time, plus two Kiwis living in Australia as well. All up, we estimate about 160 people participated in the day’s event.

We all met up at the Highway Inn just off SH1 in Harewood for the pre-run get together, and after some participants enjoyed a cooked breakfast and a cuppa, everyone gathered for a minute’s silence to remember those the industry had lost in the last year. A briefing was given and we departed just after 9am for the first stop, which was the Tramway Historical Society (THS) workshops at Ferrymead Park in Heathcote Valley.

Once there, we managed to squeeze all but about eight of the 84 trucks, which included a restored Mount Cook Denning coach from the Protranz Classics collection, into the assigned area, with the rest parking just outside the gate on the roadside. The group was gathered together (akin to mustering cats!) and introduced to Alex Hunter and a couple of other members from the THS.

We split into three groups and were given tours around the workshops, with the highlight being a ride on the Kitson steam tram, the only one of its type left in the world that is still operational. This particular tram was built in 1881 in Leeds, England, and retired from active duty around Christchurch in the mid-1920s. The Kitson did several trips through the Ferrymead village and then back to the workshops area for everyone to ride on.

The trams that work on the Christchurch central city rail loop receive major restorations in these workshops and they do a lot of other outside work on trams from other locations as well. The old-school true craftsmanship shown on some of the restoration items in the workshops is second to none. When you see the dilapidated state of ruin that some of the old tram cars are in when they arrive, you wonder how many hours or years of work will be needed to get these back into a running, or even usable static, condition.

Once finished at Ferrymead, we set out for the next stop where we would have the barbecue lunch in Southbrook, Rangiora, and people were told this collection was going to “blow the lids off their lunchboxes” – which it certainly did. It had something for everyone.

We arrived at Daniel and Annette Smith’s house and yard area for the initial introduction to Daniel and to be met with a seemingly never-ending treasure trove of veteran, vintage, modern and classic cars, motor bikes, helicopters, aeroplanes, and some of Daniel’s own fleet trucks, along with a number of restored Fiat Bambinas and even a Thai tuk- tuk, which gave rides later in the day.

A Marshall traction engine made an appearance on the scene as well, driven by another Smith, Lachie, before being parked up, quietly steaming away near Daniel’s bar and man cave right beside the barbecue. Annette was the consummate hostess, helping out the chefs with new serving platters each time one was emptied and needed replenishing.

Some of the gear in the various sheds was simply amazing and the rarity of a number of vehicles in Daniel’s collection is unbelievable. There are cars from the late 1800s right through to a nearly new Rolls-Royce, a DeLorean, Aussie and American muscle cars, a New Zealand-made Trekka, steam-powered cars, even a mangled BMW that was salvaged from the central city area after the February 2011 earthquake. That vehicle is destined for the museum Daniel is building, where it will have rubble tipped back over it to make it look as though it is still where it was found and recovered, post-quake.

The helicopters in the collection range from smaller Hughes 300s and Hilliers right up the giant twin-engined Westland Wessex as used by the British military – one of which was modified to carry the Queen Elizabeth II around. Once it has been restored back to her colours, there will be a limousine from Daniel’s collection parked beside the helicopter that was used to drive the late Queen on official engagements. There is also the obligatory Hughes 500 as well, Squirrels and a naval Scout that was based on board the HMNZS Waikato.

From here, a lot of people made their way back to the Highway Inn for the infamous ‘bullshit session’ and charity auction. It was another great night at the inn, hosted by Kris and her crew. The drinks were flowing, along with the BS and superb meals. The total amount raised from the day was just on $5000, which was donated to the Tramway Historical Society, a cause which was very close to Dave Carr, who prior to his death in November 2015, spent many hours there, looking after the management of the workshops and staff as well as taking thousands of truck photos.

Many thanks to all who participated in this year’s event. The full list of people and businesses who supported the organisers this year is on the Dave Carr Memorial Truck Run Facebook page. Head there for some additional photos and drone footage from the day.