By Linda Clarke
Trevor Begg reckons he’s driven about 4.5 million kilometres in the course of his truck driving life.
The Ashburton man retired from the big rigs this month after 48 years with Rural Transport (previously Burnetts Motors).
Trevor has carted hay, stock, buildings, machinery and once a large concrete elephant, destined for life in a Mid Canterbury garden. The elephant generated a few odd looks on the highway.
The 68-year-old has been reflecting this week on a working lifetime spent largely on the roads of the South Island. He was encouraged to join Burnetts by his father-in-law and spent 18 months working as an off-sider to Bruce Scott, who was a good teacher.
His first truck was a little two-axle Commer truck, painted green in Burnetts colours, and equipped with a hiab for lifting heavy things.
He treated it well and it was the first 10 trucks (three brand new) he would go on to drive, hiab on the back.
Trevor has huge respect for the trucks he has driven, in the early days the maximum weights were around 30 tonne but some units now weigh 60 tonne. It is a huge responsibility sharing the road with other users and he says the secret is keeping a cool head when others on the road around him are making risky decisions.
He favours a four-lane highway between Ashburton and Christchurch and says there are plenty of idiots on the road already, especially those who pass at the end of the passing lanes.
Trevor has been in a couple of crashes, neither his fault, and has been first on the scene of some serious accidents, two involving trains. He helps and tries to forget what he has seen.
An unusual incident on the Killmog hills north of Dunedin sticks in his mind. He was driving a truck laden with heavy containers of meat back to Ashburton and going slowly down one of the final hills when he was passed by an elderly man on a bicycle – the cyclist was trying to brake and had broken the chain of his bike.
Trevor eventually found him intact on the side of the road, white as a sheet, after the road flattened out. He put the bike on the back of his truck and gave him a ride to Cherry Farm.
Trevor’s love of trucks and vehicles is seen in his private life too.
He is the president of the Ashburton Vintage Car Club and also a member of the Mid Canterbury Vintage Machinery Club.
He drives a modern red Holden Commodore, but he also has a 1937 Chev and a 1958 Morris Minor that he also drives as often as possible.
The Chev once belonged to his grandmother and was sold out of the family to be a farm hack. Trevor bought it back, loved it and made it mechanically sound.
The Morris Minor is still going strong too, thanks to regular servicing and grease and oil changes.
Keeping up the maintenance is key for a long, happy, motoring life.