The Trekka was produced initially by Motor Lines Ltd and then by Motor Holdings Ltd. About 2,500 were built and some were even exported to Australia. It utilised a Škoda Octavia engine and chassis, which were imported from then-communist Czechoslovakia. It resembled a Land Rover, but with limited off-road capability. It was produced in both van and ute formats.
The Skoda mechanicals were essentially reliable. The Octavia engine and gearbox, originally intended for a rear-engined / rear wheel drive vehicle were placed at the front. The gear linkages were reversed which gave an odd mirrored pattern to the gear change which took some getting used to (4th gear being where 1st should be and visa versa). That it was front wheel drive was an advantage when in muddy conditions in that "if you can get through it, you can get out of it". The bodies were made of fibre glass ("plastic fantastics") so 'body-rot' (rust) was not an issue in omnipresent wet or salty conditions. These attributes made the machine ideal and endearing for many rural New Zealanders.
Trekka has achieved a form of iconography as a representation of New Zealand "can-do" from the 1960s. It can equally be said that it is a product of an era of protectionism; the import licensing regime and heavy duties applied to most imported goods made it possible for a vehicle of predominantly New Zealand origin to be marketed. The marginal economics for limited production runs led to its eventual demise as a commercial product once importing restrictions were lifted.
Surviving as a motor vehicle curiosity in the collections of New Zealand and Australian vehicle collectors, the Trekka is best known for the success of low quality manufacturing and design, and as an output from economic protectionism. It was a success secured by the fact that it undercut heavily dutied imports on price grounds and that despite its flaws, suited the purpose for which it was made. Ultimately, the economic situation improved, and a plastic Skoda powered two wheel drive SUV no longer met the needs of an increasingly affluent rural sector.
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