'Mini Mack' kumara-hauler makes it to Invercargill

A blown gearbox in the middle of the Pork Pie Charity Run from Kaitaia to Invercargill would be enough for most Mini owners to call it a day and go home.

But not Chris Westlake. When his gearbox failed in Whanganui last Saturday, he pulled inspiration from the Kiwiana movie Goodbye Pork Pie and said: ''We're takin' this bloody car to Invercargill, boy''.

Pork Pie Charity Run Minis gather in the Octagon, in Dunedin yesterday. Photo: Gregor Richardson
Pork Pie Charity Run Minis gather in the Octagon, in Dunedin yesterday. Photo: Gregor Richardson
A friend sourced a replacement gearbox from Wellington and together they installed it overnight so it was ready to run again the next day.

The 1965 Mini was one of about 70 which rolled into the lower Octagon in Dunedin, yesterday, causing a Mini traffic jam.

It turned heads because it had been modified to look like a Mack truck.

He drives for Kevin Reid Contracting, in Ruawai, near Dargaville, and he had always dreamed of creating a ''Mini Mack''.

Chris Westlake and partner Tracey Bigland-Frost, of Dargaville, next to their 1965 Mini which has been made to look like a Mack truck. Photo: Gregor Richardson
Chris Westlake and partner Tracey Bigland-Frost, of Dargaville, next to their 1965 Mini which has been made to look like a Mack truck. Photo: Gregor Richardson
He said the car had been turned into a ute in Christchurch in 1991.

Since buying it two years ago, he had added vertical stack exhaust pipes, two big air horns, mud flaps, loads of big rig lights, and most importantly, a Mack truck bulldog hood ornament.

''I wanted to 'truck-ise' the Mini to spread the message that us truckies and car owners need to work together, to stay safe on the road because we all want to get home.''

Mr Westlake had also built a trailer for his Mini Mack which had been loaded with kumara, supplied by a Ruawai farmer.

It was his community's way of supporting the annual Pork Pie run.

Mr Westlake had been selling them on his journey south and had so far raised about $500.

Photo: Laura Smith
Photo: Laura Smith
''Hopefully we'll sell out in Dunedin. We've still got a few here.''

So far, the run has raised more than $253,000 for the KidsCan Charitable Trust.

The pair made it to Invercargill in time for a black tie dinner last night.

john.lewis@odt.co.nz

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