The truck that started it all: Bill Richardson's 1933 International D1
- 18 October 2020
“In 1967, I had an urge to try to find an old International truck my grandfather had owned.”
Bill Richardson fell in love with trucks when he was just six years old: the moment his little feet touched the running boards of Snowy Kidd’s Ford five-tonner, he was hooked. Trucks and everything wheels would go on to play a huge part in all aspects of Bill’s life: not only did he make them his life’s work, but they were his hobby too.
The 1933 International D1
Bill got the idea in his head to find, and restore, his grandfather Robert Richardson’s beloved 1933 International truck when he was a young man – and in 1967, the opportunity arose.
Bill found the very International truck his grandfather had owned a mere two blocks from the house he and wife Shona had made a home – and he bought it for £5, with plans to restore it to its former glory.
The first classic truck Bill Richardson collected - a 1933 International D1 once owned by his grandfather - sitting outside his business shortly after he bought it in 1967
The International truck had huge sentimental value to Bill. To Bill the truck – which, in his grandfather’s day, was painted the gleaming red of the family business, R. Richardson Ltd – was synonymous with his grandfather. The truck was there when the company made the shift from the small Southland town of Wyndham, where the Richardson family had settled after emigrating to New Zealand, to the ‘big smoke’ of Invercargill. To Bill, his grandfather’s 1933 International truck was one of the links between the family’s Kiwi roots in Wyndham, to its new chapters based in the city.
But Bill Richardson’s grandfather’s 1933 International truck was never restored. Why?
A chance encounter
Bill, Shona, and their son Harold – who was just a year and a half old at the time – were visiting Christchurch in January 1968. It was Shona who spotted another International D1 truck on the side of a road in the Garden City, as it was having new spark plugs fitted. The truck caught the Richardsons’ eyes and soon Bill had agreed with the owner to buy it. He drove the truck – which had an engine number just one away from his grandfather’s – back home to Invercargill. Shona – and Harold, in his car seat – followed in their Zephyr.
Originally destined to provide spares as Bill carried out the restoration on his grandfather’s truck, the second 1933 International was in such good nick that Bill opted to restore this one instead. The final touch in gussying up the second 1933 International was adding a lick of that distinctive red paint used by R. Richardson Ltd, and the transformation was complete. Guests to the Bill Richardson Transport World collection can today find this truck in Harold’s Shed.
And as for Bill’s grandfather’s truck, the first classic truck the transport entrepreneur collected – the vehicle that started it all can still be found here at Bill Richardson Transport World, too.
Bill’s first International truck today
Blink, and you just might miss it. Flashy wasn’t Bill’s style – and the final resting spot for the very first truck in his collection matches the sentimental and meaningful nature of its back-story.
Visitors to our collection are often spell-bound by the sheer size of our facility. Clocking in at a staggering 15,000 sqm, the museum reveals itself to visitors as they pass through shed after shed of treasures. In one inconspicuous little patch in the middle of the collection, visitors will discover Bill’s original workshop. Tucked opposite our replica Majestic Theatre, Bill’s workshop has been left largely untouched since his passing – eagle-eyed guests will notice the calendar has been left at March 2005.
(One change has been the installation of a CD player, which plays Robbie Williams – Bill was a big fan.)
That’s where guests will discover Bill’s very first classic truck, his grandfather’s 1933 International D1. The truck has been left in the condition Bill found it, and the Transport World team has no plans to restore it. This truck, which meant so much to Bill, is waiting there – just for him.