Thursday 8 June 2017

Bill Richardson Transport World- Awesome!

Whenever anyone hears that we've just visited or about to visit Southland again, the person usually asks if we've visited Bill Richardson's truck museum. The answer has always been no, originally because an appointment had to made to visit, on other visits, we ran out of time and then lately, because we've seen so many different museums on our travels, what was one more? It wasn't a priority.
Bill's Shed
We nearly didn't visit this time either but Rachel kept insisting we would enjoy it. So when our original 2-3 week visit turned into 5-6 weeks, we set aside an afternoon when we knew we were going to be in Invercargill for the day. And I'm so pleased we did. 

This is one amazing transport museum and well worth visiting. Bill Richardson Transport World has one of the world's largest private vehicle collections, holding in excess of 300 trucks and classic cars which are spread over 15,000 square metres, in a purpose built building covering a whole city block.

There are also more than 150 vintage petrol bowsers, along with other motoring memorabilia. 

But first things first, we had a superb lunch in the busy cafe, the very aptly named and themed 'The Grille'. Meals and/or coffee can be had at the usual seating in the main body of the cafe or in either of the 1960/70s 'blast from the past' kitchen or lounge. It's scary when so many of the items are so darn familiar! And so retro now. I loved the TV, it was playing ads from the era.
'The Grille' Cafe
The first part of the building is known as 'Bill's Shed', it's a huge sparkling space with a mezzanine floor and offices around the outside. Sadly Bill died suddenly in 2005 aged just 64. Another shed is named after Bill's only son Harold who was just 29 and a senior figure in the family's trucking company, when he was tragically killed in a car crash in 1995. (Click the photo to read)

Bill's wife Shona & daughter Jocelyn along with her husband Scott now run NZ's largest privately owned transport company, HW Richardson Group. 

Bill's Shed
They have also continued to grow the wonderful legacy Bill left behind; his vintage collection of vehicles has been added to, the new building has been built and it's now open to the public. No more appointments needed to view this amazing collection.

The only working 1940 Dodge RX70 Airflow in the world- a star attraction
These vehicles sit in front of a large city mural from their period and are in a showroom that can be seen from the main road outside, a main road that happens to be State Highway 1 straight into the city. Perfect positioning for tourists on the Southern Scenic Route.

Most of the vehicles have a small sign with their details and many have a note from Bill. I love this personal touch and wanted to read every note. Unfortunately I'd have had to be there all day and more to read every one. 

The note above belongs to this Oldsmobile.

I'm back in the main showroom; Bill's Shed and there are some wonderfully old and colourful trucks...

...and a beautiful collection of pedal cars.

The next shed holds the 'big boys'...

...and a few 'odd boys' too.

Oh. My. Goodness. This shed holds some real beauties!

Imagine the work involved in polishing this lot. 

We were encouraged to check out the various toilets, both male & female, that were located around the complex. Aren't these just awesome? Although I missed the urinals where men can go about their business while watching people walk past outside through a one way mirror. That's a bit creepy.

Unfortunately, I can't tell you anything about this truck (I forgot to take a photo of the card) but it must be a rarity, it has a prime position.
ETA- In fact I have since found out that it is Mack AC ‘Bulldog’ truck and it was the truck that inspired Mack’s famous Bulldog logo.

Very old trucks...

...and another 'blast from the past', a collection of VW Kombis and their Kombi caravans. I started my working life in a Volkswagen/Audi dealership as a spare parts assistant. 

More vehicles outside storefronts including the model Anglia I wanted Mum to buy for her and me to use when I passed my license. Instead we got an earlier Ford Prefect 100E named Myrtle! Which wasn't quite the cool car I wanted to be seen driving.

There's still quite a few vehicles waiting to be restored and a number stored in sheds not on view. I couldn't get over how many vehicles there were, and how much money would have been involved in restoring and preparing them for display. Along with the ongoing maintenance. 

The curation of such a collection would be massive and I take my hat off to the person/people responsible.  

They have done a magnificent job, everything is well displayed with plenty of information and it' all kept in pristine condition. And there's just so much to see.

In another shed is a collection of tractors and small 'dozers.

And back in Bill's Shed, these very early examples of the motorcar...

Alongside these beauties...

And upstairs, mannequins model wearable art from Southland's previous FibreOctave shows.

Bill Richardson Transport World is a stunning jewel in Southland's Crown and a must visit if you're in Invercargill. But give yourself most of the day if not a couple if you're a petrol head. 

Transport World now has another feather in their cap; Motorcycle Mecca is a new attraction housed elsewhere in the city. In keeping with Invercargill's close ties and obsession with motorcycles it's a collection of over 300 motorcycles that date from 1902 and represent over 60 manufacturers. Tickets can be purchased at Transport World to cover both attractions.

If only he could see it now...

I took so many photos (surprise, surprise), it was hard to choose them for the blog. If you'd like to see more, I've uploaded them to a Flickr Album, click this link to view. 


  1. Dear Lady of the Lens'
    So comprehensive need to visit ....yeah right!
    You did all that in an afternoon?
    Have seen the Motorbike collection when it was in Nelson.....also top shelf.

    1. Thanks Jimu, yes, it's a must visit. I'm sure to revisit the next time we're down there and visit Motorcycle Mecca. I need to make more time. They'll have a 3rd string to the bow soon too, Dig This- bulldozers etc and where 'boys' can play with real diggers.

    2. Grunt Grunt...can hardly wait!

  2. great information and thank you for sharing..

    1. You're welcome, glad you enjoyed it and thanks for stopping by to comment, much appreciated.


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