Stepping into the breach

In Afterlifer, August 202211 MinutesBy Dave McCoidSeptember 24, 2022

It might be thanks to a high-profile first owner, a unique spec, or maybe some cool or quirky customisation, but – like people – some trucks remain in the limelight their entire life. We were recently pointed in the direction of just such a machine. Initially one of a unique pair of twins, we found it bridging a gap for its high-profile current owner.

I actually drive it myself,” says New Zealand rallying supremo Hayden Paddon. “I really enjoy it. It gives me some ‘me’ time – time to think and, to be honest, I just love driving it. I’m pretty good with the gears now – occasionally, a downshift might still catch me out, but it’s a lot of fun.”

You wouldn’t believe it, would you? Driving along, you pass the Paddon Rally Group team transporter coming the other way, yet the thought of looking deep into the windscreen on the driver’s side to see whose hand just gave you a wave doesn’t really enter your head. Even if you did and you thought you saw what you just saw, you’d probably say to yourself, “I swear that looked like Hayd…? Nah, you’re seeing things, you silly fool. Maybe it’s time you had a rest stop?”

But no, there’s a better than odds-on chance you were right. It probably was Hayden Paddon himself behind the wheel.

Heading the front of the team’s semi-trailer – for the time being – is the 2012 Freightliner Argosy originally owned by Aaron Parkinson’s Hog Haulage, one of a pair purchased by Aaron at the time. Not only were they the first two Generation 2 Argosys to hit the road, their black grilles ensured anonymity was not something either truck would ever enjoy. They made their mark on the Kiwi trucking landscape from the moment they drove out of the pre-delivery bay at Trucks and Trailers a decade ago.

“Both trucks gave me a great run,” says Aaron on reflection. “All the Freightiners have to be honest.”

On deck at the events the team attends, the truck would hardly be noticed by the bulk of attendees… but not all. We’d all take a minute to think ‘Aww yeah? Who were you once upon a time?’ Photo: Paddon Racing Group.

When we last caught up with this member of the duo, she was in the ownership of Josh Gemmell’s No Limit Trucking. He’d previously bought the Argosy and the Taupo-to-Auckland leg of TNL’s inter-island fresh-pork run off Aaron, and had just taken on the Wellington-to- Taupo leg also. The Argosy was to stay on the northern end and swap in Taupo with a new K200 Kenworth running the south end. (New Zealand Trucking, June 2015)

Since then, the Argosy has spent time at Heavy Haulage New Zealand – also owned by the Gemmells – and, more lately, D&D Carriers in Kaiapoi.

How the truck has ended up in the keep of the flying Paddon is, once again, the story of the early 2020s… Covid-19. Well, to be entirely fair, it is in part. The catalyst to the whole chain of events was the arrival in early 2020 of the spectacular semi the ‘Freighty’ tows, about the time all hell was breaking loose globally.

“We run three cars from our Highlands base in Cromwell,” says Hayden. “For a long time, that meant three trailers, which was a logistical and organisational pain. What we needed was one big trailer!

“We found the semi in Mount Maunganui. It was owned by ACDC drummer Phil Rudd and had only done 3000km in seven years. It was perfect.

“Obviously, the plan was, and still very much is, to back a tractor under it supplied by our key sponsor Hyundai New Zealand. However, Covid-19, and the supply-chain issues that have ensued around the globe in its wake, have delayed that. So, we looked at the budget and grabbed what we could in the interim. We bought the Freightliner in mid-2020, and she’s bridging the gap, allowing us to use the semi.”

With its 422kW (565hp) Detroit Diesel DD15, 18-speed Eaton Roadranger manual transmission and Meritor 46-160 rears on Air-Liner suspension, the Argosy is easily fulfilling its part-time role.

1 & 2) She’s still pretty tidy on the inside too. Hayden is not backward in saying how much he likes hauling the big semi to his events.

The semi has been re-configured to transport three cars in the rear section, as well as tyres, parts and compressors. In front, there are amenities, with the team control room up on the gooseneck. At the events themselves, a self-supporting awning is erected to the side, allowing the engineers and crew a clean and dry space to work on the cars.

When we caught up with Hayden at the Paddon Racing Group HQ at Highlands Motorsport Park in Cromwell, the team were assembling the cars and associated support equipment for the Rally of Northland just over a week away.

“We have eight full-time staff here,” says Hayden. “I live onsite. All I need is a room with a bed.

“There’s a lot to coordinate and boxes to tick when we’re travelling to away events. The semi makes it so much easier and cost-effective. It’s all in here! And, of course, you’re on an even tighter schedule with North Island rounds like this one. I have to be on the ferry on Sunday afternoon, it’s that simple.”

We met Hayden rolling north the following week. The Argosy looked a picture, all liveried up with the big semi in tow, belying the fact she’s well on the way to her second million kilometres.

Yes, there may be a newer and quieter Hyundai Xcient just around the corner, but for now, this instantly recognisable old truck is ensuring one of our modern motorsport heroes gets to where he needs to be so he too can do great things.

“If you do a story on this truck, you have to promise to come back and feature the new one!” says Hayden with a laugh.

Some instructions are just too easy to follow.

3) Some trucks always find their way into the limelight. Now here’s a cool name to have on your ownership papers!
4) Set up and ready to go racing!


Rest? Who needs rest! This year, the Paddon Racing Group team is contesting the Rally of New Zealand championship with three cars driven by Hayden, Ari Pettigrew, and Andy Martin, plus Hayden is contesting selected rounds of WRC2.

“There’ll be a little bit of back and forth overseas, but it’s all preparation for next year when we will contest the entire WRC2 series, as well as home events.

“Doing WRC2 with your own team is not the norm. You’d usually run with a European setup, but we’re taking our own car and people… doing it the Kiwi way!”

Hmmm, Bruce McLaren, Ed Hillary, William Hamilton…. doing it the Kiwi way worked before!

The electric rally car?
“Yes, that’s very much a work in progress. Aside from compliance and finding its fit, there’s ongoing development work. Rallying is hard on batteries. Although the stages are short, they’re intense, and the car has to present at stages, one after the other. That means recharging or battery swap-outs are not an option. It has to cope.

“It’s a fascinating project. It and projects like it are key to the sport’s future.”


“Hyundai New Zealand is extremely proud to help drive Hayden’s success, whether he’s racing at home or representing his country on the global stage. Our commitment to Hayden and his team is unquestionable. We are thoroughly excited about our motorsport activities, including the NZ Rally Championship with the Hyundai i20 AP4, the development of our Kona Electric rally car and our return to WRC2 with our i20 N Rally2 car.”
– Hyundai New Zealand

“Z Energy has partnered with Hayden Paddon for almost a decade, and much like Hayden is moving with the times. We are committed to supporting Kiwis with whatever fuel they need for their journeys.”
– Z Energy