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Historic Caterpillar collection to stay in New Zealand

First publishedin Aggregates Business Europe
March April 2013
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The Speeder
The Speeder: three face shovels and two draglines were imported into New Zealand

A world-renowned collection of 36 rare and historic Caterpillar machines is to stay in New Zealand. This has been made possible by Ben Gough, executive director of Gough Group, and his sister Gina Satterthwaite.

The Canterbury-based brother and sister have secured a deal which will see the machines and associated equipment remain in New Zealand following the sale in Rotorua of the privately-owned New Zealand Caterpillar Experience. The Experience has operated for the last seven years, and is well-known worldwide as a unique collection of rare machines. “When the owner, Lindsay Willis, contacted us to see if we were interested in buying the collection, it was too good an opportunity to pass up,” said Ben Gough.

“The collection is uniquely Kiwi, and reflects the contribution the Caterpillar brand and the Gough Group has made to the development of New Zealand infrastructure and farming.”

The legacy of the collection was also a key element in the decision for Gina.

“The history of the machines is also the history of our family, so retaining it in New Zealand, rather than losing it overseas, was an easy decision for us,” she said.

All the machines in the collection were sold or serviced by the Gough Group, and several of them are extremely rare, with only a handful of machines worldwide, including a 1928 Auto Patrol (one of only two known examples in the world) and a Speeder from 1937.

Initially the collection will be moved to a private location for storage while designs are developed for its new long-term home.

Planning has not yet begun but the intention is to have the historic machines on public view again at some stage in the future.

The New Zealand Caterpillar Experience collection includes classic vintage tractors, diggers, bulldozers and trucks.
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1928 15 Auto Patrol
Very rare machine: the 1928 15 Auto Patrol
The total number of Speeders built is unknown, but it is believed only five were imported into New Zealand: three face shovels and two draglines. The Speeder Machinery Company was one of many Caterpillar-approved auxiliary equipment manufacturers who supplied Caterpillar with a vast array of attachments.

The machine featured at the New Zealand Caterpillar Experience was found in Porangahau on the east coast of the North Island. Over 40 years of sea spray had taken its toll but the machine was completely restored, stripped and rebuilt to working condition.

The 1928 15 Auto Patrol is said to be a very rare machine. Caterpillar purchased Russell, the manufacturer of the grader frame, in 1928.

There are numerous other iconic machines in the collection dating back to the early 1920s, and these include Caterpillar's smallest machine, the Cat 22 to the monster D8 earthmover and classics such as the Cat D2.

Apart from a comprehensive range of Cat machines, the collection also includes a 1929 Dodge C cab service truck; a 1955 Kew Dodge 125A; a 1942 Ford three-quarter ton truck (Jailbar) and a 1942 Dodge Command.

In 1974, Lindsay Willis, the man responsible for the New Zealand Caterpillar Experience, formed a forestry contracting business that allowed him to work, hunt, and use Caterpillar bulldozers.

He became concerned that New Zealand machinery history was being lost as vintage equipment was scrapped, so he started saving as much as he could.

As a spare time project he set about restoring a Cat 22.

Over a 10-15 year period he amassed a large collection of interesting vintage Cat machinery, and to share his love of machinery with the public he had a 1,500m² facility built in Rotorua to house and display the best of his collection.

The New Zealand Caterpillar Experience was officially opened on 19 May 2006 when Lindsay cut the yellow ribbon.

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