Innovation Fore-Runner

In Feature Dick Parker, Features, December 2021 / January 20223 MinutesBy Gavin MyersJanuary 15, 2022

The time that Dick spent at Road Runner Trailers with Neil Peterken and Pat Mear can be summed up in one word: innovation. We’d be remiss to write a story featuring these legendary names of the New Zealand trucking fraternity without looking at the contribution they made to the industry under the Road Runner brand.

This was a golden time for trailer building in New Zealand, when new ideas were brought to the fore, and the way things were done would be changed forever. In this regard, Road Runner was arguably at the head of the pack.

“There were a lot of firsts,” Dick says. “Neil was so innovative.”

This innovation included air suspension, the first movingfloor trailer for the Auckland Regional Authority, three-axle self-steer hard siders, and the modern house-removal trailer.

And in the late-1970s/ early-1980s came two trailer configurations we see everywhere today, B-trains and Tautliner Curtainsiders. “Neil brought in Tautliner curtainsiders from England, and he went over to America and came back with the idea of B-trains and introduced those here. Shorts had the first tipping B-train,” Dick recalls.

“When these innovations entered the market, they changed the game. It snowballed, especially the B-trains.”

The introduction of both Tautliner and B-trains, sometimes combined, were big coups for Road Runner. The first company to hook onto the Tautliner idea was Transport Container Pull Hire, and with them, Road Runner went big on the launch of this new gear, driving and parking the units all down Auckland’s Queen Street.

“I heard about Tautliner through IRTE, which I started in 1969,” Neil says. “I contacted them to see if I could take the Australasian rights for it. I kept ringing the guy and, in the end, hopped on a plane and ended up with the rights.

“It was a bloody mess the way they were doing it. It was in its infancy. I came back and built a curtain factory, no one knew how to do it here. I had to get a high-frequency welder made locally, too,” recalls Neil.

“There were quite a few firsts with Tautliner,” says Dick.

“We also did the first insulated curtainsider semi for TNL to cart ice cream. Dynes commissioned the first Tautliner to transport chip.”


1) The first Tautliner demo unit.

2 & 3) The first B-train built in New Zealand, carrying posts for Ramsay’s.

4) The first moving-floor unit in fibre glass, made for the Auckland Regional Authority.

5) One of the first tipping B-trains.


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