Clive Taylor

Recovering A Lost Past

Old and new sit side by side in Clive Taylor’s truck yard. As home base for a thriving business, his yard is also a walk down memory lane for Mack.

It’s difficult to tell which Clive Taylor loves more: his collection of American 1930s and 40s Ford automobiles or his Mack trucks. Both are synonymous with toughness, reliability and a long tradition, and Mr Taylor has more than a pinch of loyalty to both.

The 73-year-old’s yard in Paraparaumu, nearly 50km north of Wellington on the Kapiti coast of New Zealand’s north island, is full of Macks, old and new, alongside 1930s Ford pick-ups and Cabriolets. There’s even an old fire truck and bread van from the 1930s. Importing vehicles from Florida, Kansas and California, Mr Taylor has been a collector and enthusiast since the 1970s.

Mr Taylor has also been buying Macks since 1973 after he borrowed $5,000 from his mother to purchase his first truck, which he quickly traded up to a R-Model. Since then he’s never looked back.

“I just like American trucks,” Mr Taylor says simply, “The American trucks are built well. They are a nice appealing truck. I’m not too keen on Japanese ones, so we’ve always gone for Macks. As I say, they’ve looked after us over the years and they are just good for what we do.

“We even imported a B-Model from America. It was the B61 – a little tipper. We did a Mack tour to America about twenty years ago. My own interest is in old cars, and we go to car shows in America whenever we can,” he says.

Mr Taylor’s shared history with Mack goes back almost as long as the trucking giant has been in New Zealand.

“I bought the first truck in the early 1970s – a R-Model. It was the second 285 horsepower model truck in New Zealand,” he says with a hint of pride.

Mr Taylor’s long association with trucks started after he dropped out of a building apprenticeship after school, and became interested in motors.

“I have driven trucks since I was in my 20s and I’m now 73. I still drive trucks – in fact I just drove this morning,” he says.

Perhaps it’s the kind of salt-of-the-earth loyalty to the Mack dealership that keeps Mr Taylor coming back.

“The truck has just been a really good vehicle and Mack New Zealand have been really good to deal with and looked after us over the many years. We’ve had a great relationship with Mack. I don’t know how many trucks we’ve bought with them over 40 years. We have bought second hand ones as well as new.”

Mr Taylor currently has ten Macks, but not all of them are on the road, and they’re not all collectibles. Mr Taylor’s sheds are not only a throwback to another time, but he oversees a thriving business in which Macks are the workhorses of his day-to-day operations. New Tridents work alongside 30 year-old trucks. The oldest Mack still in operation is a 1987 R-model.

“We have mainly dump trucks and low loaders. For the last two years we’ve been working on the 18km of expressway that is being built along the coast here. It’s mainly transporting diggers and loaders and rollers and pavers and doing hot mixing, carting all the metal in for the road.”

In actual fact, a 40-year-old R-Model is currently being restored and may bridge the gap between active workhorse and collectible.

“I have a 1977 R-Model that we’ve started to restore and bring back up to scratch. It will go to shows and it might still be used as back-up,” he said.

It might be just as well. Taylor Transport looks set to win a major contract involving another big highway construction project – a job that should keep the Macks busy for the next four years.

“We’ve just bought two new Tridents to go with the three R-models, but we hadn’t bought a new truck for eight years. We’ve traded some older trucks in,” he says, and “we have a couple of older Tridents for the transports.”

Taylor also has a quarry opposite his yard from which he carries products as far south as Wellington.

“We have a quarry and we carry aggregate, metal, and windblown sand into Wellington. It’s mainly tip work – truck and trailer,” he says.

Each of the trucks clocks up about 70,000km a year, and he observes how his drivers have taken to the trucks, many of whom have been with the company for over a decade.

“We’ve got older guys looking after our trucks. They wash them every day and keep them right,” he says.

Loyalty and tradition are in Mr Taylor’s blood. But the trucks-they-are-a-changin’ and Taylor is at least willing to go with the new wave of technology embedded in the vehicles.

“All these new ones are computerised. It’s all a bit above me. You just hit the M-drive and there is no lever and clutch. Away you go,” he said.