New Zealand’s national car is a DIY Škoda

This is the Trekka, the only car ever designed and manufactured in New Zealand. It looks like the facsimile of a Land Rover Series I, it had a 1.2-liter Škoda engine, and it was built in 1966 to give overtaxed Kiwis wheels.

New Zealand in the 1960s was not, apparently, a South Pacific outpost of JDM street rods. Like many European countries at the time, it labored under suffocating car import tariffs. This made it fertile ground for the imagination of local Škoda importer Phil Andrews, who conceived of the idea of building a low-cost car intended primarily for agricultural use from the drivetrain of a first generation Škoda Octavia wagon, a locally produced steel body, and a canvas or fiberglass top—or no top at all, like on the beach photo above from the Trekka’s original sales brochure.

While the resulting car never lived up to its landroveresque looks, its local sourcing helped it skirt import tariffs to make it the cheapest car on the market. It was essentially a kit car, but it worked—and sold. Andrews’s Trekka enjoyed a few years of local success, selling around 2,500 copies until production was discontinued in 1973. Some were exported to countries around the South Pacific, and five cars even made it to Vietnam to serve as runabouts in the war.

New Zealand’s national car is a DIY ŠkodaS

The Trekka may be gone and forgotten—save for TrekkaWorld, its home on the internet—but Kiwi car engineering isn’t. The same year Phil Andrews launched the Trekka, a new Formula One team made its debut at the 1966 Monaco Grand Prix, the race used by John Frankenheimer as one of the scenes for his movie Grand Prix: McLaren Racing Team, founded by New Zealand racing driver Bruce McLaren. To say that they’re still around would be something of an understatement.

Hat tip to Misi Szilágyi for bringing the Trekka to our attention. You can see more photos at TrekkaWorld.