Times always changing when it comes to cars

Historic Auckland A convoy of cars ready for an afternoon run, waiting outside the Criterion Hotel, Otahuhu in 1903. The first car, driven by a man in a peaked cap, is steered by a tiller.
Historic Auckland A convoy of cars ready for an afternoon run, waiting outside the Criterion Hotel, Otahuhu in 1903. The first car, driven by a man in a peaked cap, is steered by a tiller.

When the New Zealand Herald launched 150 years ago this week, there were no cars on our roads, of course, and the paper was delivered by horse and cart. But when the first motorised vehicles did arrive here in 1898, the great Kiwi love affair with motoring began. Soon the Ford Model T was seen all around New Zealand; we began manufacturing vehicles here and even created our own Kiwi car - the Trekka. There have been many highlights over the past decades in New Zealand motoring and although factories closed down 20 years ago, we still love our cars - and this year will see a bonanza of new vehicles sales here.

Nicholas Oates in his Benz
Nicholas Oates in his Benz

Famous moments in New Zealand motoring

1898: New Zealand's first petrol cars arrive.

The first two cars to be used were imported by MP William McLean. The cars, two Benzs from France, opened the floodgates for the rest of the country to get on the motoring bandwagon.

1900: First motoring offence

Nicholas Oates from Christchurch was fined for speeding along Lincoln Road in his Benz at 21km/h, when the speed limit in towns was 6km/h. Oates was the first person in the South Island to import a car - and his Benz Velo is now on display at Southward Car Museum in Paraparaumu.

1903: AA NZ

The New Zealand branch of the Automobile Association (AA) was established as more cars started to make their way on to the roads.

1905: First Kiwi roadtrip

Two men complete the first long-distance drive from Wellington to Auckland, taking a week.

1907: Car import tariffs

To protect the local manufacturing, the government introduced import tariffs to all imports, including cars.

1910-1912: Ford Model T arrives in NZ

By 1910, 1000 Model Ts were on our roads.

1921: First New Zealand motor race

Muriwai Beach was the setting for New Zealand's first motorsport event.

1922: Ford assembly plant opens

Based in Wellington, Colonial Motor Company set up a plant specialising in Fords. Other plants opened in Auckland and Timaru. Ford took over the manufacture of vehicles in 1936.

1925: National Vehicle Register

The Governmemt introduced the national vehicle register.

1926: General Motors opens plant

General Motors (GM) opens an assembly plant in Hutt Valley at Petone. Chevrolet, Pontiac, Buick and Oldsmobile begin to filter out of the factory gates. Vauxhall joins the line-up in 1931.

1934: Auckland plants open

Seabrook Fowlds and Dominion Motors begin assembly of Austin and Morris vehicles in Epsom and Newmarket.

1937: WOF is introduced

Compulsory Warrant of Fitness (WOF) checks are introduced for all registered cars.

1941: Put that light out

The declaration of war with Japan meant restrictions on headlight use were put in place around coastal areas of the country, particularly the East Coast.

Auckland's Motorway network
Auckland's Motorway network

1953: Motorway begins

The first section of Auckland's motorway network opens.

1954: First Holdens arrive

The first Holdens arrive from Australia. The FJ and others soon become part of the Kiwi landscape.

1958: Dealer licences

Car dealers required to be licensed to sell vehicles.

1959: Bridging the gap

The Auckland Harbour Bridge is opened to the public.

1962: Interislander

The Interislander car ferry begins operational service, ferrying motorists and passengers across Cook Strait.

1963: Japanese plants

The introduction of Datsuns being assembled in Mt Wellington in 1963 signalled the arrival of the Japanese revolution. Nissan factories soon opened, followed by Toyota and Honda.

1965: Seatbelts compulsory

All cars from this year onwards were required to have seatbelts fitted.

1966-1973: The Trekka

The Kiwi built Trekka
The Kiwi built Trekka

The Trekka was a golden moment for the New Zealand motor industry, for it was, and is, the only vehicle to be designed and mass produced here. The Trekka featured the four-cylinder engine and chassis from the Skoda Octavia Combi and was exported to Australia and Indonesia with 2500 manufactured before production ended in 1973.

1969: Corolla launched

This year saw the introduction of the Toyota Corolla to the New Zealand market with Campbells in Thames assembling it locally.

1974: Oil crisis

The global oil crisis of the early seventies affected New Zealand and led to petrol stations closing on weekends.

1978: Holden Commodore launched

1978 Holden Commodore
1978 Holden Commodore

The New Zealand love affair with the Holden Commodore begins.

1981: Goodbye Pork Pie

New Zealand's greatest road movie hits the screen. Directed by Geoff Murphy, it follows the plight of the two-man Blondini gang driving a rented yellow Mini to Invercargill with police in pursuit.

1982: Manufacturing peaks

New Zealand car industry peaks with 123,000 vehicles being produced here in this year.

1985: Speed limit increase

David Lange's Labour government raises the national speed limit from 80km/h to 100km/h.

1984: Kit cars

The Chevron started a trend of specially made sports cars, followed by the Fraser in 1988, and Saker in 1989.

1985: Crumpy's Hilux

Barry Crump stars in the legendary TV ads for the Toyota Hilux. Cue the truck becoming the definitive farmer and tradesman workhorse all over the country.

1987: New licence system

The three stage - learner, restricted, full - licence system comes into effect.

1989: Unleaded

Petrol stations now sell unleaded fuel to motorists

1993: Speed cameras

Speed freaks were quite gutted with the introduction of speed cameras to roads

1997-1998: End of the road

The closure of Ford, Mazda, Nissan, Toyota and Honda plants in 1997 and 1998, signalled the end of local assembly plants.

1999: Say cheese

Photo ID driver's licences are introduced.

2009: Flat mate

New Zealand car crusher laws come into effect.

2011: Tunnel vision

The opening of the Victoria Park tunnel in Auckland brings things up to date with the Auckland Motorway network.

2012: Top of the T

New giveway rules come into effect. "Top of the T, goes before me" echoes in the minds of Kiwi motorists for many months.

- NZ Herald

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